Remember my big summer reading list?
Well, like most lists in my life these days, not much got crossed off. (Insert embarrassed monkey emoji.)
Including the two books that I was reading when I made that list back in May (and not including the books I read for school), I ended up starting seven books, but I only actually finished four of them.
In line with Modern Mrs. Darcy’s philosophy (a’la John Irving), I’ve stopped reading books that I don’t like. I used to never do this, but it really held me back as a reader. I’d have tons of books I was “in the middle of” because I wouldn’t just admit that I didn’t like it and move on. Now, it’s easy. I just put it down, and mark it off my list. (Well, because I’m OCD, I actually “cross it off” the list to indicate that I didn’t actually read it but made the conscious choice to stop, as opposed to “checking off” a book I finish.) Anyway, three books fell into that category for me this summer — maybe I was particularly selfish with my reading time?
Also, for what it’s worth, three of the four books I finished were audiobooks. That wasn’t on purpose necessarily, but it’s indicative of the stage of life I’m in. I don’t have lazy afternoons at the pool for reading right now, but I DO have late nights folding laundry or earbuds on an early morning walk. I’ve come to really appreciate audiobooks as a form of reading and find that some books are even better in that form. I’ve even started allowing them for my students in class. More on that some other time maybe, but check out this article if you’re interested.
SO… Which four did I enjoy?
- Me Before You by Jojo Moyes – I actually wanted to dislike this book because it was so popular and “everywhere,” but it absolutely lived up to its reputation. It drew me in immediately and left me thinking about the plot line and characters for weeks after I finished. (I just watched the movie last weekend and LOVED it too. I cried like a baby.)
- The Nest by Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney – This was another one that seemed to keep coming up in book talk everywhere, so I chose it as my summer book club read. I didn’t find the plot of this one particularly riveting or developed, but I did really like the characters, and I thought the family dynamics of adult sibling relationships – especially when it comes to money and inheritance – were (sadly) pretty accurate. This wasn’t a favorite, but I’m glad i read it.
- When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi – This is a nonfiction memoir written by the chief resident of neurosurgery at Standford in the year following his own lung cancer diagnosis and leading up to his death at the age of 36. I can’t really explain how much I LOVED this book. His story was powerful and captivating, and his writing was profound and beautiful. I’m trying to get copies of this to teach in my eleventh grade English class, and I won’t be surprised at all if it becomes “required reading” for all students (especially med students) one day. If you ignore all my other recommendations – READ THIS BOOK.
- Truly, Madly, Guilty by Liane Moriarty – I’d mentioned before here that I had not read many positive reviews of this book, but I decided to read it anyway because I’m a big fan of Liana Moriarty and I wanted something “light” to end the summer. This was not really the light-hearted book I was hoping for – it actually deals with some pretty serious marriage and parenting issues – but I DID end up liking it a lot. Maybe it was because my expectations were low, but I also think the fact that I listened to it (as opposed to reading it) was actually an advantage for this book because of the different voices and characters the narrator used (although I think she messed up a few times). True to Moriarty’s form, it was entertaining but also made me think; in fact, it led to some really good conversations with Jeff! I don’t think it is her best book (What Alice Forgot and The Husband’s Secret are my favorites), and the “formula” is very similar to Big Little Lies, but I still really enjoyed it.
(I also read Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell, which wasn’t technically on my list, and loved it. Very thought provoking – especially when it comes to raising and teaching children.)
And which three did I abandon?
To be clear, none of these were bad books. I respect anyone who writes a book – especially a memoir – and all three of these came highly recommended from reliable sources; but, in the end, they just didn’t do it for me right now.
- Coming Clean: A Story of Faith by Seth Haines – I wanted to like this book so much, and I honestly tried… for months. I think Haines is a good writer and his book is important, but it did not keep my attention and just wasn’t super relevant (although I do think his experience with sobriety can be applied to LOTS of different addictions in our lives) for me at this point.
- The Year We Turned 40 by Liz Fenton and Lisa Steinke – This was one of Modern Mrs. Darcy’s summer reading picks, but it just felt a little cheesy to me. It was a little like What Alice Forgot with a little magical/fantasy twist, and I just couldn’t get into the fantastical side.
- The Girls by Emma Cline – I have to admit that I really didn’t give this one a lot of time/attention to win me over. I’m sure it is good (and it’s certainly received a lot of positive attention), but the writing style was a little too “wordy” and “artsy” for me right now. Even in the audio version, this just felt kind-of slow, and I could never really get into it.
Of course, as you might have expected, I’ve continued to add books to my list at a much faster rate than I’ve been checking them off, but I still have grand plans of getting to them all… One day. For now, I’ve just started Glennon Melton’s new book Love Warrior on audio – it’s read by her which makes it that much better. I’m only a few chapters in, but I really like it so far. I was hesitant to read it – for many reasons, the least of which being the fact that it is about her marriage and she and her husband announced their separation just weeks before it’s launch – but I ultimately gave in to the hype (even Oprah loves it!!) and am glad I did. I also just got Eligible by Curtis Sittenfeld from the library (for, like, the third time), and I have You Will Know Me on my Kindle (I swiped it for a steal a few weeks ago) ready to go when I’m ready for it.
What did you read this summer? Have you read any of the above? Are you a fan of the audiobook like me? Do you ditch books you don’t like?
Lots to talk about today friends! Humor me?