Lady luck and the universe conspired to test my coping skills recently and everything I wrote turned out really negative and complainy, not worthy of littering your inbox. Over the course of two weeks, each and every day brought something new to mope over. My laptop died and I sprained my toe, cutting me off from my favorite pastimes of writing and walking. I witnessed the malfunction of a heater and subsequent massacre of a tank of fish I’d been tasked with keeping alive. My book designer revealed that she was unable to design my book. I’ll have to push back the release date. A guy I was kind of digging told me that he didn’t need a shovel. (Because he wasn’t digging me back). A debilitating allergy attack stole more than one day.
But I still read! Here are the latest books. And I promise the next post will be happier because I can walk and write again and life really is beautiful and complicated and you can’t appreciate the highs without the occasional lows, eh?
Hungry Heart: Adventures in Life, Love, and Writing by Jennifer Weiner
I’ve read some of this author’s books in the past and this is her memoir. It’s hard for me to get excited about memoirs of people I don’t really know. Perhaps a bit too much detail. I didn’t really need to know about all of her grandparents and every one of her cousins, all of the books she read as a child, and every class she took in college. After about 150 pages (out of 400!) of way too much information, I stopped reading and drank a margarita.
Lilith’s Brood by Octavia Butler
Science fiction novel that was entirely too long. It took well over a week to finish this 750+ page behemoth. I don’t like committing to large books like this. Interesting premise, but entirely too much story.
The USSR and US went to war and destroyed the ozone layer and nearly every human being on the planet. An alien species swoops in at the end of the war and gathers all the remaining people on a ship near the moon. They suspend them in a sleep-like state for a couple of hundred years while they fix the earth. Lilith is one of the first humans they awaken and her job is to awaken other humans and teach them about the aliens and survival skills in preparation for reintroduction to a changed earth. That’s book one.
In book two, everyone is on earth. The aliens have modified all the humans so they can no longer have children without the aliens and the new children are alien/human hybrids. Some people accept this, like Lilith who has several children, but others, the resisters, are bitter and angry over this. They steal children, including Lilith’s only son. During the year plus her son spends with a resister village, he decides that humans should not be extinct and petitions to give them Mars and their fertility back. The aliens agree, but say that the stupid humans are going to make themselves go extinct, so it’s pointless.
In the final book, we focus on another of Lilith’s sons. I’ve devoted too many words to this novel already. The author really didn’t need to write this last section.
The Hundred-Foot Journey by Richard C. Morais
Delightful and quick read that tells the story of a man’s life. He was born and raised in India as a Muslim, cooking in his family’s restaurant. When tragedy strikes and a mob burns down the restaurant and kills his mother, his father takes the family to Europe. They settle in a small town in France and open a restaurant. We see the protagonist study under the famous French chef that lives across the street, move to Paris and become a famous French chef himself.
Tiny Beautiful Things: Advice on Love and Life from Dear Sugar by Cheryl Strayed
If I ever have my own place again, I’m going to buy a copy of this book and put it on my bookshelf. I’m going to highlight it and I’m going to reread it every few months. You, my dear, sweet readers, are always telling me that you appreciate my honesty and my authenticity. This book has honesty and authenticity times nine. Her prose, compassion, and writing voice are so achingly lovely and I want to read everything she’s ever written now.
I’m a bit obsessed with advice columns. Reddit.com/r/relationships is my addiction. I used to read Ann Landers everyday in the newspaper as a child. I subscribe to Captain Awkward on my feedly. This book is a collection of advice columns from “Sugar”, but she goes so much deeper than anything I’ve ever come across.
Her advice to a woman mourning a miscarriage:
“This is how you get unstuck, Stuck. You reach. Not so you can walk away from the daughter you loved, but so you can live the life that is yours–the one that includes the sad loss of your daughter, but is not arrested by it. The one that eventually leads you to a place in which you not only grieve her, but also feel lucky to have had the privilege of loving her. That place of true healing is a fierce place. It’s a giant place. It’s a place of monstrous beauty and endless dark and glimmering light. And you have to work really, really, really hard to get there, but you can do it. You’re a woman who can travel that far. I know it. Your ability to get there is evident to me in every word of your bright shining grief star of a letter.”
Her advice to a man who is unsure about having children:
“I’ll never know, and neither will you of the life you don’t choose. We’ll only know that whatever that sister life was, it was important and beautiful and not ours. It was the ghost ship that didn’t carry us. There’s nothing to do but salute it from the shore.”
I could gush and give you many more examples of the words that spoke to me, but I try to stop at 1,000 words per post and I’m already past that and haven’t told you about the other book I’ve read since my last post. I’ll leave you with one of my favorites:
“I don’t mean to be harsh, darling. I’m direct because I sincerely want to help you and because it’s clear to me that you’re an incredibly good egg. I know it’s a kick in the pants to hear that the problem is you, but it’s also fucking fantastic. You are, after all, the only person you can change.”
Guy tries to desensitize himself to rejection. It was okay.