After falling into a bit of a reading slump at the end of last year, I now find myself back on track (and that was before our stay at home order left me with even more time to read). Following the lead of Modern Mrs. Darcy, I’m sharing some quick reviews of what I’ve read lately.
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The Dry by Jane Harper
This Australian debut novel is a mystery that takes place in the midst of a drought, hence the name. The main character is a federal agent who returns to the hometown that he and his father were (literally) run out of years before. While looking into an apparent murder-suicide involving an old friend, he begins to uncover secrets about the mystery that caused him to leave town in the first place.
Our book club read this book earlier this year and everyone was enthusiastic about it, which rarely happens. Speaking for myself, the story immediately pulled me in and kept me turning pages until the end, exactly what I want from a mystery.
Untamed by Glennon Doyle
Glennon’s much anticipated third memoir explores the many ways we as women are taught to be “good” or tamed and the price that the collective “we” (women, our families, the world) pay for those lessons.
Like all of Glennon’s work, Untamed is funny, touching, powerful, intimate and, above all, authentic. Some of it resonated so deeply with me that I took pictures of pages and texted them to my kids. Other sections I read aloud to my husband. To be sure some parts were challenging – I’m a “good” girl after all – but I was moved and it’s fair to say changed by it.
You know you love reading when you read books about reading and this one didn’t disappoint. I saw myself on page after page, from having a literary confession (I generally don’t enjoy the classics) to needing deadlines to keep my reading on track (hello…book club meetings) to having fantasized about owning a bookstore.
As I write this I’d Rather Be Reading is a Kindle Deal for 99 cents although I enjoyed it enough that I plan to invest in the actual book. It would also make a good gift for any avid reader.
Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
I’ve just admitted above that I don’t usually enjoy the classics, but Marybeth in our book club chooses a classic as her pick each year and I’m so grateful she does. These books (when I read them…another confession) challenge me, round out my reading and generally make me feel more accomplished.
Her pick this year was Fahrenheit 451, about a society where possessing books is illegal and firemen set fires to books to enforce the law. I’ll admit that I liked the premise of the book better than the way it was written (I found it confusing), but I did become more interested as the story went on, enough so that I was disappointed at where it ended.
The Alice Network by Kate Quinn
Another thing I’m grateful to my book club for is encouraging me to read historical fiction and this was one of our recent picks. The publisher describes The Alice Network this way: “Two women—a female spy recruited to the real-life Alice Network in France during World War I and an unconventional American socialite searching for her cousin in 1947—are brought together in a mesmerizing story of courage and redemption.”
There seem to be so many WW II novels on the market these days that the parts of the story that take place in WW I set this book apart. This won’t make my list of favorite books this year, but the story, and especially the characters, were memorable.
Holy Envy: Finding God in the Faith of Others by Barbara Brown Taylor
Barbara Brown Taylor is a writer, professor, and Episcopal priest. In this her latest memoir, she writes of her experiences teaching a world religion course at a small Appalachian college and how that journey first challenged and then transformed her own faith.
As Taylor explains in the book’s introduction, Holy Envy is about “the high cost of seeing the divine mystery through other people’s eyes.”
Carnegie’s Maid by Marie Benedict
This historical novel imagines what kind of woman might have inspired Andrew Carnegie to become one of the world’s most famous philanthropists. The answer comes in the form of a young woman who migrates from Ireland to the US and finds herself employed as a lady’s maid in the Carnegie household.
What are you reading? I’d love to hear.