Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Reading Recap: April Edition

April was a good month for reading. 

The difference between a good and bad month is often determined by how many books I have previously started (spoiler alert, May will be terrible).  I was able to tie up some loose ends on books I had started before April and therefore my total was this year's record: 6!

Raising Great Kids
"In a child's life, parents are the dispensers of truth and reality."  "Parenting is a temporary job."

I was reading this book for a mom's group I led this winter for our church.  We finished in April after reading a chapter (or two) a week.  There was a lot discuss and I even worked up questions for each chapter.  

Some things I didn't agree with (you're not evil if you put your baby on a sleep schedule) but overall, this book helped me be more intentional with my kids and more thoughtful in my family life.  Definitely worth it, though a little overwhelming at times.

Letters to Malcolm, Chiefly on Prayer
"We must lay before him what is in us; not what ought to be in us."

I started this small book in March, thinking I would read it in a day.  That was not realistic.  C.S. Lewis packs so much into a sentence.  I had to read and reread some things to fully understand.  And then, there are still some things I didn't get.  

This book is deep and paradigm shifting in the area of prayer.  If you've had questions about prayer, how it works, why bother, why is it so hard, grab this book.  Lewis isn't preachy and doesn't give a list of how-tos.  Instead, this is presented in a series of letters.  He is a fellow searcher and these are simply his observations. Learning from observing is my favorite. 

I will definitely be rereading this one.

Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore
"Something's wrong in the air, you know, when a book costs less than a bullet.  Or a coke."

I borrowed this from Overdrive and listened to it while walking the dog.  It was a solid story and I found myself enjoying it more than I expected. 

There is a dramatic event at a bookstore that causes a bookseller to look into her past and solve puzzles to figure out why.  It's not high-brow literary fiction but it is a good story.

"We cannot help but be interested in the stories of people that history pushes aside so thoughtlessly."

This was a book that was wildly praised when it was released last year.  I got it through book of the month club but never read it.  That's what usually happens.  I get excited, get the book, and decide to wait...

When my book club picked it for April, I was thrilled to already own it.  

This is a sweeping family saga in a literary style.  It is beautifully crafted and the story-telling is Ah-Mazing.  The family is Korean but due to the war, they have to move to Japan.  Over generations, the family changes and so does the style. 

At the book club discussion, many of the other ladies were not happy about this change.  They loved the beginning but the final 1/3 was offputting.  It didn't bother me that much.  I saw it as a reflection of the way society has changed and was impressed by the author's skill in writing different styles so well.

This book would not be safe for my mom.  The ending (that last 1/3) of the book focuses a lot on sex. 

I'm certain Pachinko will win an award or two and I'm glad to have read it.  I learned so much about a country, a culture. 

People are serious at book club, yo.

No One is Coming to Save Us
“Everyone says that reading is a good thing, but Ava had started to wonder. People look at you with suspicion if they see you reading, like the reading itself shames or indicts them, like it is a plot against them.”

Another book club pick. 

I liked this book but I hated this book. 

The characters were compelling.  I couldn't stop reading because I needed to know what happened to them.  The book was rife with insight that resonated with me (see quote), truth phrased in new ways. 

But...the book needed an editor.

I had a hard time with a few sentences and I began thinking, "Why is my brain not working??"  I did a little deep diving on goodreads and discovered that others had the same problem.  Missing punctuation, misplaced words, and stray capitalizations made it hard to distill the meaning sometimes. 

Much like Pachinko, No One is Coming to Save Us is about a family struggling with poverty and class and all the ways life is altered by those things.  Both books feature mothers who are willing to do anything for their children and children who want more from life.  Maybe it's a common trope, but it was interesting reading about a Korean family and an African American family struggling with the same things at different points in history and in different countries. 

I wish I could have gotten over the errors in the text, and given it more stars, but that was so grating by the last page I exclaimed, "Thank God I'm done!" 

Crazy Rich Asians
"Many of the wealthiest people here make an effort not to stand out, and most of the time, you would never know you were standing next to a billionaire." 

I have a thing about books that get made into movies.  I'd rather read the book first (don't most people?).  This book is being made into a movie and will be released this summer.  It was important to me to read it first.  

The story is about a couple who goes to China to meet the man's family.  It turns out the man, Nick, is part of a super elite class and this leads to all sorts of hijinx.  It was a fun story and a peek into another culture I have little exposure to.  

I listened to this on audio and I highly recommend it.  The narrator was great and read the Chinese words and names fluently so I picked them up quickly.  However, I ran out of time on overdrive and was stuck.  I put my name at the bottom of the hold list (you are #78 out of 78 requests) but feared I would lose the thread and have to start from the beginning.  Instead, I bought it on my kindle and finished it quickly.  

Now, I just have to wait for summer so I can see it on the screen.  sigh.

So, it was a good month of reading for me.  I managed to read multiple books on the same theme (class) unintentionally.  The authors are diverse and I even got in a little non-fiction.  

How was April for you?  What's the best/worst thing you read?

Are there any book to movie adaptations that you're excited about?  I just started Sharp Objects because I heard about the HBO version.  Does this make me a sucker for the media machine or a pop-culture princess?  

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