How is it possible that July has come and gone already? In the blink of an eye isn’t even accurate anymore. My reading quota has definitely slowed down in the past few months, and July had an additional “hiccup”. I bought a spinning wheel! Thus, in addition, to being distracted with new knitting projects, now I am also busy learning how to spin. And anyone who knows me would attest to that, that I just get pretty much obsessed when it comes to aquiring a new skill. Anyhow, I did make it through several really good books this month, and to top it off, ended it with one of my all-time favorite retro re-reads.
Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail (Cheryl Strayed) ♠♠♠♠♠
I enjoyed this adventure very much. I loved how honest and vulnerable the author approached the retelling of her journey and how relatable her problems were. She was an average girl, deciding to begin a trip of healing on a whim, without really knowing what to expect, without really being prepared, and without asking for help or guidance (specifically from family and friends). Her reasoning that “selbst ist die Frau” really struck home with me. I feared with her, I laughed with her, I dreamt with her, and I healed with her. What more can you ask off a book? I’d read this again. And you should read it too!
Flirting with Felicity (Gerri Russell) ♠♠
This ain’t no Nora Roberts story. Unfortunately! She would’ve catapulted the premise of this book to amazing heights. Aside from the fact that this love story was unrealistic and the courtship way too perfect, I had several issues with Russell’s interpretation of what going green means. The author’s uneducated and naive view on sustainability was so blatantly apparent that I am thinking it was only used because it gives the novel a contemporary edge as being environmentally-friendly can be seen as somewhat of a fad right now. I was disappointed with this book, and doubt I will read any other of this author. Nora Roberts just needs to write her books quicker for me to be able to indulge in my guilty pleasure of romance literature 🙂
My Sister Rosa (Justine Larbalesier) ♠
Pseudoscience babble meets horror YA novel. Terrible execution – is all I have to say about this. And please, young readers, do not believe anything this book puts forth as (neuro)science. In fact, I am going to shamelessly suggest here for everyone who is interested in science and research to check out my friend’s blog in hopes she can shed some light on what research findings really mean and how they’re misrepresented in mainstream media. Also, I gotta be honest, I had real-high hopes for this book and I am seriously sad that it let me down this much – the premise was so damn cool and it being a YA made it even better.
Death Comes for the Archbishop (Willa Cather) ♠♠♠♠
What a beautiful piece of work. The descriptions of New Mexico and the character development are outstanding. Despite it being a slow story, I was engaged the entire time. Willa Cather is one wizard with words. I will definitely check out any of her other books. I am a huge fan of language over plot.
Come Sundown (Nora Roberts) ♠♠♠♠
Nora Roberts does her thing. Fun and quick just as I had expected.
Knit The Season (Kate Jacobs) ♠♠♠
Oh, how I adored the first two books in this trilogy. This one, unfortunately, fell flat. Everything seemed rushed. Plots weren’t flushed out. Too many different scenarios and character subplots made the entire story feel crowded – not every character needs their journey neatly wrapped up. Nevertheless, this novel is still filled with wonderful knitting anecdotes, fun yarn descriptions, and cozy knitting club evenings. It’s worth a read only if you feel compelled to complete this trilogy. Also, although this is a minor point, the cover art is just plain terrible.
The Complete Maus: A Survivor’s Tale (Art Spiegelman) ♠♠♠♠♠
Honestly! This was a very raw and emotional read for me – I’ve only recently begun to read more WWII stories as I have been inundated with such during high school and in general growing up in Germany. I think a graphic novel was the perfect medium for this story. Art Spiegelman created an honest and unadorned view on surviving the holocaust, building a new life in a foreign country, and dealing with mental illness. His own estranged relationship with his father and his efforts in understanding his father’s life story only added to the complexity of this piece of work but really elevated its humanness. This is for sure a book that I would love to own and display on my book shelf.
Die Verlorene Ehre der Katharina Blum (Heinrich Böll) ♠♠♠♠♠♠
I cannot begin to describe the literary genius that is Heinrich Böll – he is a modern marvel of language, a complete Wunderkind of the Schachtelsatz, an ideal of taking the mundane and making it special. He uses words like a chef uses spices, flavoring scenes and plots with just the right amount of sadness, laughter, intellect, or wit. His eye for current events and their essence is legendary and I wish I had just a smidgen of his talent in distilling complex concepts into simple and understandable portions, which he then takes and remixes into unique, yet recognizable stories. I don’t know how well his works translate into other languages, but even if only one tenth of it comes across, you will still be witness to one of the most relevant authors of the 20th century. Die Verlorene Ehre der Katharina Blum was my introduction to Heinrich Böll. Mandatory reading in early high school, I remember I could not put this book down (once I actually picked it up to read – yes I was that teenager who never wanted to do any homework). Within the first sentences, I knew I had come across what is now one of my all-time favorite books and authors. Reading it, I became so angry with the press and specifically gossip newspapers that at times I had to pause. I related to almost every character in the story and truly felt I was part of the ongoing events. The same thing happened during this month’s re-read. I got angry. But I also fell in love again with Böll’s language and his forever long sentences, complicated further by the use of a millions adjectives, adverbs, and clarifiers. I am still salty thinking about how media messed with the young protagonist’s life but yet I am so darn glad that I, on a whim, decided to make this book my retro re-read for my girls book club. Oh how I just love Heinrich Böll.