This may be the best summer of reading yet in my adult life. I have so much time, what else could I do, besides write.
Life After Life by Kate Atkinson — I saw this book every where — airports, in opened bookbags, and laid face down on couches. I knew I had to read it, but once I started and figured out what was happened to Ursula, I was on the struggle bus and almost put it down. I love books set in WW2, especially in England, so this was both a dream and a nightmare. Atkinson does not hold back on the horror of the war; there’s a scene after an air raid that made me cry. But Atkinson also wonderfully portrays the famous war motto “Keep Calm And Carry On” and the can-do attitude of the British. The level of research and how she uses it to create a complete picture of the time is incredible. I could tell that she knew where each character was born, where and how they died, their favorite color and every little thing about them. Highly recommend this one!
The Silkworm by Robert Galbraith (aka JK Rowling) — I really love Rowling’s adult books. If she’d never ventured outside of Harry Potter, the world would be missing out on a rockstar. I was a big fan of A Casual Vacancy (and the fact that HBO is making a miniseries of it), but The Cuckoo’s Calling is by far my favorite adult book by Rowling. Cormoran Strike is easily one of my favorite male characters. He’s not supposed to be attractive, but despite how often he’s described as having pube-like hair, I still think I would date him. I was really looking forward to the second book, particularly since I knew that Rowling had written it completely uninterrupted, which is never the case for famous writers. Alas, I was disappointed. But if we’re honest, the fault is mine, not Rowling’s. Rowling is another great characterizer, and she did a great job of making me love Cormoran Strike, but he may have been too perfect in the first book. She shatters that completely in the second book, and reveals his flaws as a person. I was completely disillusioned, but reflecting on it now, I definitely had him on a pedestal. The writing is still engrossing, and I couldn’t figure out who the killer was. Maybe one day. I recommend this one, too, but The Cuckoo’s Calling first and forever.
Americanah by Chimamanda Adichie — If you’re looking for a book that makes you feel like you’re a smarter, wiser person by the end, then look no further than Americanah. My friend, Chris, wanted to read it together, but I ended up reading it before he’d even bought it. I got sucked all the way in. Ifemelu is another character that I fell in love with. She’s brave and funny and she’s seen some shit. As a Nigerian woman who came to America on a scholarship, who makes “something” of herself, her decision to move back to Nigeria seems backwards to most every one around her. But this is a love story, and living his life in Nigeria is Obinze, Ifemelu’s true love, a man I could love, too. Adichie covers race relations, politics, what it means to be an ex-pat and what it means to American often in the same chapter. I’ve talked with folks, like Chris, who don’t like how it ends, but it was perfect to me. In gossip news, Lupita Nyong’o, the current darling of Hollywood, bought the rights to make Americanah a movie. Folks, I will be there with bells on. Another highly recommended book.
The Maze Runner by James Dashner — My friend, Elise, had taken ill when I went to the bookstore one day, so I bought two books, one for her and one for me, so we could swap. She’s a prolific and fast reader, so I’m always excited when I can find a book she hasn’t read yet. It was a great sign that she hadn’t read this book, the first in the Scorch Trials, by James Dashner. Recently, I’ve been re-immersing myself in YA after I read John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars, a book I really loved. I knew a movie of this book was in the making and the premise intriguied me. Imagine waking up in an elevator that’s rising toward a light. At the top, you find yourself in a clearing surrounded by boys older and younger than yourself. You find out that you’re in a field with four walls, that each day the walls move to create four doors, and four boys go out into what surrounds the field — a maze. This book reminded me of the show Lost, every time a question was answered, there were three more in its place. I did not see the ending coming even as I was reading the last few pages. The writing is average. The characters blend together, but the plot was worth the time. If you have the time, why not?
Looking for Alaska by Josh Green — The second book I bought for the book swap with Elise was this lesser known book by John Green. The ironically named Pudge is a lovable lost teenage boy, who finds himself in the tragedy that is Alaska, a girl at his weird private school in the middle of no where. There’s cigarettes, alcohol and high jinks. There’s love and loss and life. The cast, lead by the Colonel, a less ironic nickname, is relatable, even to 28 yo Monet, which is impressive and something that Green really does well. These are not the Twilight teens that made me slam my head against the wall, instead these are characters I believe exist somewhere in the world. Elise and I agree that there seems to be a pattern with John Green’s book and now that I’ve learned it, I’m hesitant to read any more of his books. I don’t enjoy crying my eyes out. Despite that, this is a quick enjoyable read, but maybe not a beach read.