Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty
Swing Time by Zadie Smith
The Universe Has Your Back: Transform Fear to Faith by Gabrielle Bernstein
I'll Take You There by Wally Lamb
The Spy by Paulo Coelho
Talking as Fast as I Can: From Gilmore Girls to Gilmore Girls, and Everything in Between by Lauren Graham
Fall of Giants by Ken Follett
The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls
This month I did some major catching up! Thankfully I was able to make my goal for the year of reading 40 books! Whew! So... let's just go down the list, shall we?
Zadie... I'm beginning to think nothing will ever compare to On Beauty, but that's ok. It was still really exciting to be living in a world where a new Zadie Smith book came out. And, it wasn't a bad book... it just wasn't On Beauty. This book follows two girls who meet in a dance class when they are young. One grows up to be an assistant to a famous pop star opening a school in Africa and the other grows up to dance in big musical productions but then life takes a turn for both. Zadie Smith books are always filled to the brim with meaning on the state of the world, and I have to admit this book being so much about a pop star felt silly, and maybe that's where the meaning is. I'll have to keep thinking on this one for a bit.
Gabby! Ok- I'll admit since I am a bonafide Spirit Junkie a lot of this book felt redundant to a lot of Gabby's livestreams and blog posts. However, this book took a HUGE turn for me towards the end. All of a sudden it was like she was talking directly to me about how to BE in this world when it seems to be changing so much away from what I believe in. Anyway, I was moved which is why I keep subscribing to this Spirit Junkie lifestyle.
Anyone who knows me probably knows that I ADORE Wally Lamb. I've seen him multiple times at The Tattered Cover, I follow him on facebook, and I've read all of his books. So naturally, this one was high on my priority list. I'll Take You There features Felix Funicello (who Wally readers will remember from his Christmas book a few years ago and which was also turned into a made for TV Christmas movie). Anyway, Felix is an older man in this book with a grown daughter who he is close with. He's obsessed with movies and always goes down early to this old movie house to cue up a movie for his movie club... but when he is there he starts seeing old movie star ghosts. And these ghosts are there to show him his life, but with a twist... his life focusing on the women in it and what they've had to go through. His mother, his sister, his daughter. I'll admit reading this book at any other time, I would have thought it was a little cheesy. But we are not in normal times... we are in a time where my country just elected a tv character who is accused of assaulting women left and right over the most qualified person to ever run for the office of President of the United States of America. So, seeing that we are in this time period and seeing as how I'm a fan of the Charles Dickens Christmas classic... this book could not have been better timed... an elderly white male author paying tribute to women, it was beautiful.
Paulo Coelho's latest is a linguistic masterpiece. I loved the details and descriptions in this book. The story is of Mata Hari a woman who came to France and wow'd them with her entertaining dancing. She lived a lavish lifestyle and was in the spotlight and was eventually accused of being a spy. The story is told from the vantage point of Mata Hari writing a letter from the cell where she is being held before execution. I don't know much about this character in history, so I think the book fell a little short for me in the actual accusation and evidence, but maybe that's the point... I'd have to research more about this character to know for sure why she was accused... maybe I just missed it. But the descriptions... beautiful.
Another well placed release was Lauren Graham's auto-biography. Netflix just revived the show over Thanksgiving weekend and so Graham's book coming out on the tail end of that is strategic and smart. I don't know if I would have been as jazzed to read this if she wasn't back in the spotlight. Anyway, she writes much the same way as her character Lorelei Gilmore talks... and she's funny. I thought it was interesting, but I'm a fan... this book is definitely not for everyone.
Fall of Giants- Good Lord this book literally took me a year to read! I made it my mission to finish it before 2017 so I had to really hunker down on this one for the last 350 pages. A book that takes someone a year to read you might imagine that I hated it... but I didn't. It was just so large it's kind of cumbersome, and in a saga that sweeps the whole world there are many characters that I loved and some I wasn't so wild about. The book covers that time period that we've all become obsessed with the turn of the century and leading into World War I, the time when the poor were starting to question the way things have always been and taking a stance against old money. The times were a changing.... and Follett does a great job of showing us world events and feelings through his characters. My favorites were definitely Ethel in England who starts out as a maid in a grand house of one of England's rich lords. Ethel's story definitely portrays how things changed for women during the war. I also really loved Grigori and Lev from Russia. Grigori is the honorable brother and Lev is the younger brother always in trouble. Their stories are great. Anyway all of the characters have children and at the end of this first book in the trilogy you can see how the children will face a world with a wounded Germany and possibly another World War. I am excited to read the second book, I will have to pick it up soon.
The Glass Castle- This book kept coming up in the past 6 months. I've had multiple good friends tell me after sharing my mom's story with them that I needed to read this book. Then I also saw that it is becoming a movie in 2017 so since one of my aforementioned friends had lent it to me months ago and it still set in my leather recliner I figured it would be good to read it over my holiday break. This book definitely reminded me of North of Normal by Cea Sunrise Person, Cea had credited Jeannette Walls as having inspired her to write her own story... so there you go. This book wasn't as good as I thought it was going to be since there was so much hype around it, but it also has inspired me and I think in 2017 I want to interview my mom and get her story down on some pages. She's agreed to it... so we'll see where we go from that.
Anyway, that's a lot for December! What are you all reading? Anything I should add to my list?