Imaginary Book Club: Midwinter reading

More mid winter reading from my cozy bed. In order from favorite to least favorite.

1. A Lesson Before Dying by Ernest Gaines.  Thumbs up.   Pretty sure I wandered into this award winning book based on an Oprah book club selection. But it was really good. It wasn’t a laugh a minute and it didn’t leave me feeling proud of the United States or human beings in general. But I read it quick looking forward to finding out what would happen and it left me deeply moved and thoughtful and aware of the importance of how people treat each other. Favorite quote #1:  "A hero does for others.  He would do anything for people he loves, because he knows it would make their lives better.  I am not that kind of person, but I want you to be . . . You have the potentials.  We all have, no matter who we are."  True that.

2. Heft by Liz Moore. Two thumbs up. Fascinating and moving. It didn’t seem like a book I would like when I read the description but I really liked it. I was really struck by Arthur. Maybe because I’ve gone through some hermit-ish type periods in my life. Nothing on his scale but I still felt such empathy. I wished I could come sit and watch television with him. I will think of him when I run into strangers on the street or store or something. Because maybe you taking the time to smile at them and share a laugh will be the only other voice they hear all day. I was also very moved by Kel. I liked him so much and rooted for him. The depth of his grief really struck me and how adrift it left him. What an awful thing. I found his mother confusing. Mostly because she hid so much. 

 3. The Light Between Oceans by M.L. Stedman. Thumbs up. Sweet and moving. But I knew where things were headed. There was just no way other way they could go. There was so much pain involved for so many people and someone or possibly everyone was going to end up with the short end of the stick and there was just no avoiding that. But it was easy to understand how it happened and to know nobody meant anyone any harm but that that doesn’t keep people from still getting hurt.  My favorite quote: "Sometimes life turns out hard, Isabel.  Sometimes it just bites right through you.  And sometimes, when you think it's done its worst, it comes back and takes another chunk."

 4. Running Like a Girl by Alexandra Heminsley.  It’s a short book about a girl that had never run and how she decided out of nowhere to train for a marathon and ended up becoming a life long runner. I got sucked in after reading the introduction.  It spoke to me.  I find it beyond frustrating to read about people that just love running and always have and it’s such a pleasure. I hated it when I first started. There was nothing fun about it and I had to make myself do it. Now I have more perspective on it and can grasp that it’s work and that work requires effort and that some days will be good and some days will be bad. I also understand that I feel strong and capable and confident because of it. Sometimes while I’m running. But always when I’m done. I appreciated that she talked about what a death march her first marathon felt like. I also appreciated when she talked about how intimidating she found running stores and like she was a poser and didn’t belong there.  From the intro that spoke to me and that I will forever think of when I someone asks me about running:
 "Running is awful.  It feels unnatural, unnecessary, painful.  It can hijack you with breathlessness, cripple you with panic, and overwhelm you with self consciousness.  It isn't a warm fire or a deep sofa or a cup of tea and a smile.  It is cold and hard and unforgiving. 
It is also the pleasure of being outside on a sunny day, feeling the prickle of the sun on your skin.  It is the delight of feeling your body temperature rise despite the crisp winter breeze against your face.  It is feeling blood rush around every part of your body and coming home to a welcoming bath and a delicious curry, your skin still glowing an hour later.  
And, as I have learned, it is an honor, a privilege, and a gift."
Yes.  Yes.  And more yes.  

5. Sloppy Firsts by Megan McCafferty.I guess I liked it. Maybe?  30 pages in I couldn’t believe I was wasting my time on it. It is some serious Young Adult fluff. But I found Marcus really interesting. And I found her social awkwardness easy to identify with. And my best friend switched schools after 8th grade so I could especially sympathize with feeling lost without a BFF and not sure who to hang out with. And then the last 100 pages flew by as I eagerly looked forward to seeing what would happen. And now I kinda want to know what happens next. I tried Googling it. Wikipedia has saved me reading further into a series just to find out what happens.  I didn’t find as much on this one as I'd like so now I kinda think I want to read at least one more book to find out a little more.  I’m surprised. But apparently I liked it more than I thought? Eh.
6. The Non-Runner's Marathon Trainer by David Whitsett. I didn’t read this for the training guide part. I already had a training plan and I already had a pretty good idea on the basics. For me this book was really about the mental preparation. Because it’s about a college course that has you run a marathon at the end. There are two teachers. One that seems to be in charge of physically getting the class prepared and the other that helps the class get mentally prepared. There were lots of techniques about being positive and visualization. Each chapter also had lots of first hand accounts from students in the class of how they used that technique and what they did. It's not great but I liked it as part of my marathon preparation.  I liked Jeff Galloway’s book better for learning about the physical parts of running. But I really liked the mental preparation in this one. Mind over matter is real but that doesn’t mean it comes easy.

7. Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell.  Two thumbs down.  It has whole sections that are kind of Harry Potter-ish fan fiction and hated all of it.  I started out reading all the fanfic trying hard to follow and like it.  Because I love Harry Potter so how could I possibly not like something similar.  But I didn't like them, didn't see the point of  them and finally just started skipping ahead.  I liked the book better then but not much.   The characters were well written and I felt they were alive and in the room with me which is such a testament to great writing but they didn't do much and I wasn't super curious where anything was headed.   I mostly just started looking forward to being done with the book so I could move on to a new book.  It wasn't awful but I just wouldn't recommend it.  And that kills me because I loved  Eleanor & Park so much it's nutty.  Oh well.  

1 comment:

Kristen Hewitt said...

I love this list and may read "Running Like a Girl". I've never been able to run either....maybe this will inspire me!

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