I always feel like reading in Autumn. Of course, I always feel like reading, so that’s no surprise. But Fall feels like a turn towards the contemplative, a break after summer’s hectic pace. Not that Fall isn’t busy, just that it has a routine, unlike carefree, spontaneous summer. Anyway. What was I saying? Right. I feel like reading. So here’s a brief review of a couple of wonderful things I’ve read lately (I’ve read much, much more than these books, but you’re just getting the highlights) and a list of some books I think I’ll read pretty soon.
I Have Read:
The Lost Books of the Odyssey by Zachary Mason
Love, love, loved it, but I’m a classics nerd. If you didn’t like The Odyssey, skip it. Otherwise, it’s just brilliant. It’s like jazz or hip-hop or dancehall or some other kind of endlessly inventive artform that remixes itself over and over, saying something different by saying the same thing. It’s more of a collection of short stories than a novel, in which each chapter is a “might have been,” a parallel universe to Homer’s epic. Love, love, love.
Why We Broke Up by Daniel Handler (YA)
I read this and immediately bought it for a friend. Min Green tells the story of her relationship in retrospect, trying to figure out where it all went wrong (maybe from the very beginning?). Min is a clever girl, and the book is full of in-jokes for cinephiles. Even though Handler’s making it all up– he’s been known to do that— it’s still very effective and not at all off-putting for the cinematically disabled (including yours truly). And, even though it starts off pretty badly, and you know it’s just going to get bruise-pokingly worse, the book really does end on a sweet note, with all being set right in the world again. Warning for sensitive readers: Min does lose her virginity in this book, and that’s a big deal to her, but it happens mostly “off-screen,” as it were. Still, concerned parents might want to vet this one first themselves.
My Story by Elizabeth Smart
I didn’t expect to love this book as much as I do, which is maybe a backhanded compliment, but hey, sometimes I’m a jerk I guess. Even while reading it, the simplicity and straightforward style of Smart’s narration lulled me into the sense of this being a simple book, just mere reportage. But it has stuck with me in a way that belies the effort and craft that went into the writing and the beauty of Smart’s message. I catch myself referring to it in casual (and not-so-casual) conversations. It turns out this book might be pretty amazing. Or maybe it’s Smart herself that I admire, her clear spirit, her resilience, and her generous-hearted attempt to share her experiences with the public? Either way, pick it up and see what you think.
The Soft-Spoken Parent by H. Wallace Goddard
This was the right book at the right time for me. Generally I don’t advocate particular parenting books, because every parent and every child are different, and what works for one relationship might not work for another. Goddard’s book was a much-needed reminder of how I already want to approach my parenting, and offered kind and gentle suggestions for how to be a kind and gentle parent. Goddard is LDS (as am I), and he weaves his faith in with his background in child psychology and family therapy pretty seamlessly. I really appreciate his suggestion that before I approach my son, I need to make sure my heart is in the right place– and that “right place” should be with God. We should see our children as God sees them, Goddard advocates, and as God sees us, and as we want to be seen by God. Some of this may seem like standard advice–don’t discipline when angry, take time to understand your child before you offer correction, but kind but firm, above all make sure your child knows he or she is loved–but I needed the reminder. Thanks, Wally.
I Want To Read Soon:
The Time It Snowed in Puerto Rico by Sarah McCoy
The Violets of March by Sarah Jio
This Burns My Heart by Samuel Park
Russian Winter by Daphne Kalotay
Committed by Elizabeth Gilbert
Wild by Cheryl Strayed (Is that a fabulous name for an author writing a book titled “Wild” or what?)
The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley
What do you feel like reading these days?