Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Books I Read in April

Well, look at that, another month has passed, time for another check in on the books I read.

I had good plans of popping over here mid-month and writing up a real kind of post. You know, the kind I used to write before I started this PhD thing. But here's the thing about academia. April is the worst month of the year for us. It's just unbelievably cruel, everything that has to get done before an academic year wraps up. I'm still up to my eyeballs in grading and term-papers and all that fun stuff. But on top of that, my kids decided to have a super exciting month of illness! I dealt with lots of vomit, several rounds of fevers, a nasty chest cold that all three kids can't seem to get over, and endless snot-faucets, all accompanied with lots of middle-of-the-night shenanigans that made everyone involved super happy. Also, the baby popped out two molars, and made sure to let me know how she felt about it. Also, potty training continues with the three-year-old, which means I spent two hours yesterday scrubbing poop off the carpets and play tent in his bedroom. So anyway, all that is to say, I've had some other things going on, and a post did not happen.

But the horizon looks rosy indeed! My very last class happens tomorrow, and then I've still got a week scrambling to get my papers written and grades submitted, but after that! After that my summer is looking gloriously open! Which means maybe I'll have more time to write!

But probably, ironically, less time to read, since I will be losing my glorious daily commute. That commute is the only reason I finished five books this past month. Do you want to hear about them? Here we go.

Educated by Tara Westover

Have you heard of/read this one yet? It's getting tons of buzz, New York Times bestseller, all that. Honestly, I could write a whole post about this book. And maybe I will soon. Because I have lots of thoughts. Lots and lots and lots of thoughts. And feelings. Lots of feelings. I'm not sure a nonfiction book has ever made me feel this way. It was strong, and it was visceral, and it was anger. In fact, one night while I was listening to this and cleaning up, my husband asked me if I was angry at him. I realized that I'd been short and snapping, and I said, no, I was not angry at him, I was angry at this book. Well, not the book itself, and not Tara Westover (the author,) but more her family, and the situation in this book. I'm probably not doing a very good job of convincing you to read this book, but yes, honestly, I think you should read it. Everyone should read it, and then talk with me about it. I need to talk to people about this book so I can process my emotions here. Have you read it? Can we talk?

The Turn of the Screw by Henry James

I picked this up because I wanted something good and something short while I waited for another book to come off my holds list, and this delivered both. James is a brilliant writer, but I actually found myself pretty annoyed at his style here. It just felt like he (well, she? the narrator is a female) could never just say things plainly. But I guess heightened suspense and literary ambiguity and whatever. The mix of ghost story and possible weird Freudian psycho stuff would make this a perfect October read, if you're looking.

Shadows of Self by Brandon Sanderson

Mistborn #5. What to say about this one? If you love Sanderson, you'll like this one. If you don't care for fantasy, nothing you need to see here.

Paradise by Toni Morrison

This one has been on my to-read list forever. Morrison is one of those author's I've always been meaning to read, but never gotten around to. Until this month, when I finally decided to cross her off. But apparently this book is #3 in a trilogy? I didn't know that until after I'd read it. And I'm not sure how necessary it is to read the other two first, I didn't feel like I was missing anything. However, I will caution against listening to this one, the prose/narrative style doesn't lend itself well to follow easily on audio (at least, I personally felt that way). Otherwise, the writing was beautiful, the characters interesting, and the story just utterly heartbreaking. It's one of those books I'm glad I've read, but I didn't exactly enjoy being in the middle of reading it, because you know how it's going to end from the beginning, and everything is just so sad. So I recommend it, just don't expect it to be full of happiness and springtime.

Exit West by Mohsin Hamid

I'd read a couple positive reviews on this one, so added it to my holds list when scrolling through my library lists. What those reviews didn't mention was this book technically falls into the genre of magical realism, which as you may remember, is not my favorite genre. But guys! I actually liked this magical realism! First off, it was fairly subtle, only one element really. Second, it added quite a bit to the themes of the story, so I loved that. I recommend this book in general. It was a powerful, humanizing perspective on the global immigrant/refugee crisis we've got going on right now. It was also a love story, but not a typical one. It was shortish, and well written, and all around quite good.

Okay, that's it for April! Read any of these? I'd love to hear about it! (Especially if you've read Educated, what did you think???)


  1. I finished Educated not too long ago and basically concur with everything you wrote on your Goodreads review, ha ha. I think I spent like, half an hour just talking about the book with my husband right after I finished just because I needed SOME way to try and process all the feelings.

    First, I could never figure out if her family was actually full-on LDS (and just survivalist and crazy and extremist), or if she was fLDS, as is mentioned at one point in the preface, I think? And if they were attending regular LDS services, I wondered a lot at her community and such.

    Also, I think it's terrifying that her brother isn't locked up or something. I wonder if she had to get a restraining order or something after publishing, or if she's just never gone back home since.

    1. I believe her family was full-on normal LDS, although yeah, whatever is going on with the bishop or stake leadership in that ward, I have no idea! Also, there's some interesting tidbits online about the family if you care to look into them (the brother Tyler has a blog, they all have strangely public facebook accounts so you can figure out who they are in real life, etc.). Anyway, it is quite the book!

  2. Educated is my favorite read so far this year because, like you said, it gave you all sorts of feelings. And it begs for discussion. I wish I had read this before I decided on my book club read for the year. I kind of became obsessed with her story and was listening to all sorts of interviews with her. Maybe Amy should read the book and you guys do a book blab on it? :)

    1. I'm actually reading it with my two other book clubs right now, but if Amy every gets around to reading it, I'd love to talk to her about it too! And you! Maybe we could do a planned group discussion with everyone who just needs to talk about it!

  3. Hmmm, it sounds like Educated might be a great book for my book club. I’ll have to keep it in mind when we’re deciding on our lineup of books for next year

    Also, what a month you had! I am so sorry. It is so hard to have sick kids, especially if you have any other commitments.

    1. Yes! It is a fabulous book club book! We just did this for our May book in my club here, the discussion was last night, and it was the best discussion we've had so far! Everyone had major things to talk about, everyone was so into it, it was fabulous! Everyone also said that this was an amazing book club book, even though most people didn't actually enjoy reading the book itself (funny how that happens). If you read it, I'd love to talk to you about it!

  4. I finished it, Suze!!! I don't know if I can wait two months to talk about it either! Magnificent story that is definitely not over.