This is a list of books I’ve been reading, with a little description. To be updated…
Wild, by Cheryl Strayed
Genre: Woman Communes with Woods to Come to Terms with Mother’s Death Memoir
I could have called this an outdoor adventure memoir, but I needed to also clarify that the hike in the book has a profound purpose and that purpose is what I found most interesting about the book. Ever since Tiny Beautiful Things, I’ve loved Cheryl Strayed and her ability to perfectly capture the profound emotion in the human experience while also telling a great story. This book was no exception. I read it at the end of summer and spent 4 days not being able to put it down or stop thinking about it when I did. She makes herself beautifully vulnerable, and her perspective on the world is one that needs to be read.
Tenth of December, by George Saunders
Genre: Short Story Anthology
This book was loaned to me by a close friend whom it had really impacted. Read it if you appreciate interesting prose. Saunders manages to achieve a rawness in his writing that really struck me, and some of the bizarre stories he tells have sat with me even months after finishing the book. He makes realities that don’t exist feel very much like they do.
The Defining Decade, by Meg Jay
I started off the summer with an age-appropriate book about the new ways of being a 20-something in this world where the 20s have become like a second adolescence. I would highly recommend this for anyone who is lost and in their 20s, as it’s written by a psychiatrist who deals mostly with people who are lost and in their 20s.
The Song of the Lioness quartet, and Trickster’s Choice and ” Queen, by Tamora Pierce
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy
Secondly, I journeyed back to my real adolescence and re-read my favorite young adult fantasy series. I was actually impressed/shocked by how enjoyable they still were. TP is still one of my favorite authors.
Prodigal Summer, by Barbara Kingsolver
Genre: Environmentally-conscious Adult Fiction
By an author recommended to me by my 9th grade science teacher, this was also the first book of hers I read, in 9th grade. I wonder what my 9th grade self felt about all the erotic nature scenes… My appreciation for this book has only grown with time. It’s a beautifully written book about relationships at different stages of life, all of which are delicately interconnected and immersed in the natural world of rural Appalachia. (Other faves by Kingsolver: The Poisonwood Bible, Pigs in Heaven, The Bean Trees)
Tiny Beautiful Things, by Cheryl Strayed
Genre: Extremely-Quotable Subtly-Psychoanalytical Memoir-esque Advice Anthology
This was recommended to me on one of my weekend adventures, and it was one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever read. It’s a collection of sometimes dark, sometimes revealing, always emotional letters by people needing advice to advice columnist “Sugar,” revealed to be Cheryl Strayed. Her responses manage to be empathetic, pithy, blunt, and TRUTHful (aka full of that elusive “Truth” that we all seek once in a while) all at once. It’s amazing.
I’ll just include a quote and hopefully it will entice you: “The most terrible and beautiful and interesting things happen in a life. For some of you, those things have already happened. Whatever happens to you belongs to you. Make it yours. Feed it to yourself even if it feels impossible to swallow. Let it nurture you, because it will” (pg. 133).
Taking Our Places, by Norman Fischer
Genre: Buddhist-inspired Memoir-esque Lifestyle Meditations
In my quest for becoming zen about my new place in life, I picked up this book on what it means to be Mature, from a Buddhist monk’s perspective. He uses his work with a small group of adolescent boys as a springboard for his contemplation of the paths we can take toward truly “growing up,” and what advances us along those paths. I found his analysis of the qualities of truly “mature” people thought-provoking and appreciated the resulting spiritual guidance.
Basket Case, by Carl Hiaasen
Genre: Cleverly-Humorous Mystery Adult Fiction
This is a super entertaining quick read for those of us who appreciate colorful characters and clever twists of language. I lol’ed (for real) every time I read a chapter, and they are short. It’s about a talented writer stuck (by a hilarious series of events) writing the Obituaries section of his local newspaper, and his lucky break when he happens upon a murder. (My favorite image was him clobbering an assailant with an ex-pet lizard named Colonel Tom; upon his death, the protagonist stuck him in the freezer to protect the friend who’d gifted it to him from realizing that he had died.)