Maybe I just write these because I like to keep track of what I’ve read. Maybe it’s to show off. But I think the real reason is that I wish more people wrote lists of what they’ve been reading. I am regularly finishing books only to go to WhatShouldIReadNext.com to find a suggestion. I click on any reading lists links I can find. So I’m trying to pay it forward I guess.
British Murder Mystery Series:
I have loved this genre since just after Annie is born. I tried to read classics and got utterly stuck. Bleak House is exactly as described- bleak. So I started reading a British murder mystery called A Test of Wills, the first in the Ian Rutledge series. Then after reading that series, I read the Bess Crawford series also by Charles Todd. Both are set in England in the years surrounding World War I. After those, I read the Maisie Dobbs series, set in the years after World War I. And then the Maggie Hope series, set during World War II. All that to say, I think I have exhausted my options in this genre but I really enjoyed them. If you’re a mystery fan, you should try one of these series.
I also got into non-fiction books recently. And not just history. I read The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up and promptly followed at least the first step of Marie Kondo’s organization program. She is a little obsessive about tidying- she described a few incidents of angering her siblings by tidying their rooms and throwing their stuff away. But, I practiced holding each item of clothing and asking, “Does this bring me joy?” and I ended up giving away several large bags of clothes.
I also read The Road to Character by David Brooks. I really enjoy Brooks’ column in the New York Times and was intrigued by a review I read of this book. Brooks investigated historical figures and looked at the character traits that set each apart. He said that people with character have practiced a “long obedience in the same direction,” something that stands out from our rapidly changing culture. I really enjoyed the book though it did get a little long.
Beyond the Beautiful Forevers by Katherine Boo is not exactly non-fiction, but it is based on Boo’s visits to Mumbai slums and is more non-fiction than not. The book was a very detailed picture of the slums of Mumbai and the issues of poverty on both local and global levels.
And I read Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates. Words cannot begin to describe this book. The language is beautiful and moving and the book itself is just devastating. Written as a long letter to his son, Between the World and Me is Coates’ reflection on being black in America. I’d strongly encourage everyone to read it. I have never looked at race and differences as deeply as he does in this book.
I read three books that I somehow missed reading in school. A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving was fantastic. Owen Meany is an unforgettable character and this book made me cry, laugh, swear and think. I was truly sad when I finished it as I had to leave behind an incredible cast of characters. That being sad, the book was one of the most complete I’ve ever read, if that makes sense.
At the beach this year, we shared our favorite books. All three of my brothers said East of Eden by John Steinbeck. So I read it. It is really good. You should read it too- family, humanity, fall, redemption, it’s all in there. I would put it in a list of my favorites- which I am compiling and will post here sometime soon.
Peace Like a River by Leif Enger was always on my parents shelf and I think at least two of my brothers had to read it for tenth grade English. A magical story of a boy and his dad and sister who travel through the US looking for his older brother who is on the run from the law. One part family drama, one part coming of age and one part beautiful poetic descriptions of America.