It’s spring, and this month I finally felt like getting out of the house. We went to two wine tastings, had friends over for a game night, and we’re planning a trip to California next month for my husband’s college reunion. That got me thinking about this year’s 30-year high school reunion. I returned to Facebook this month and signed up for a Facebook page for my reunion, just to see what’s happening in the world of my high school classmates. That was a mistake. I may be 30 years out of high school, but I discovered it takes only an instant to feel just as small as I did then.
I read a LOT this month, although this list includes a children’s book, a novella, and a comic. Still, I’m surprised how much I covered, and it feels like I read Parable of the Talents a long time ago.
Here’s what I read in March:
- Parable of the Talents by Octavia Butler
- The Astonishing Color of After by Emily X.R. Pan
- We Fed an Island by Jose Andres
- The Black God’s Drums by P. Djeli Clark
- Captain Marvel Vol. 1 by Kelly Sue DeConnick
- The Great Believers by Rebecca Makkai
- Fruit of the Drunken Tree by Ingrid Rojas Contreras
- The Library Book by Susan Orlean
- Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J. K. Rowling
- Melmoth by Sarah Perry
- Trust Exercise by Susan Choi
My favorite read? Without a doubt, The Great Believers was my favorite book of the month – it tells such a powerful story about the mid-80s AIDS crisis, and it was deeply emotional without being melodramatic. I had high expectations for this one and it met them.
Fruit of the Drunken Tree was a really interesting look at Colombia during the time of Pablo Escobar. I enjoyed Melmoth for its eerie, atmospheric story, and for YA readers, The Astonishing Color of After was beautifully written. And I loved reading Susan Orlean’s book about the Los Angeles Central Library. I thought she covered a few too many topics, but her book was fascinating. For anyone who’s interested in the power of public libraries, I recommend this book.
Most disappointing read? The book I had to force myself to finish was Susan Choi’s Trust Exercise. I found it maddening and pretentious. I was also disappointed in Jose Andres’ We Fed An Island, because though I appreciated what Andres did for Puerto Rico, it was repetitive and simplistic. Andres could do no wrong and the government could do no right.
What I read for challenges:
- TBR Pile: Parable of the Talents
- Nonfiction: We Fed an Island, The Library Book
- Read Harder Challenge: The Black God’s Drums, We Fed an Island, The Library Book
- Reading All Around the World: Melmoth
- Reading Women: The Astonishing Color of After, Harry Potter, The Great Believers, Fruit of the Drunken Tree
What I read for book clubs: I re-read Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone for Sword and Laser. It was really interesting to go back and experience the first book (20 years later) after reading the whole series. I didn’t love Sorcerer’s Stone the first time around and nearly didn’t read the rest of the series. I was struck by the repetition of themes and plot structure in each of the books, and also by how Rowling sets the groundwork in this book for some of the more complex elements of the series. I was also struck by how Rowling chose to make Hermione unlikable in this book and quite a bit less competent than she is in the later books.
What I’m reading now: Nicole Chung’s All You Can Ever Know, a memoir about a Korean woman’s adoption by white parents.
What’s coming up: Sally Rooney’s Normal People. Also, I’ve got a virtual pile of books from the library that I’ll have to figure out whether to read and return. Help!
- The Just City by Jo Walton
- The Language of Secrets by Ausma Zehanat Khan
- The Overstory by Richard Powers
- On the Come Up by Angie Thomas
- The Likeness by Tana French
- The Friend by Sigrid Nunez
- A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas
Added to my TBR: I added books from the Women’s Prize and Stella Prize longlists, and I added Theft of Swords (the next Sword and Laser read), and The Gilded Wolves, a book I heard about on What Should I Read Next.
Things that made me happy this month: I thought Aidy Bryant was great in Shrill, which I loved though I thought the final episode fell a bit flat. I’m also finding the final season of You’re the Worst really intense – like yelling at the TV intense. Though we may be the only people actually watching this show. And I’m still listening to the music from Captain Marvel, which was a good superhero movie with a great soundtrack.
I’ve been watching a Great Courses lecture program on food gardening, and I’m getting ready for this year’s garden by testing my soil, growing seedlings, and washing out all my pots (who knew you’re supposed to do that?). It’s not warm enough yet for planting but it will be soon!
Thinking about getting older, I appreciated this editorial from restaurant critic Frank Bruni over the weekend. He writes about how your restaurant preferences change as you get older, which made a lot of sense to me and echoed things I’ve heard from my parents. I’m pretty fascinated by how our perspectives change as we get older, both in good and bad ways, and it seems to me that appreciating how we age is a lot better than fighting it. Easier said than done, I realize.
Hope you’re enjoying spring and reading something good. Happy April!