I’m trying to read more books that I choose for my own reading enjoyment. Not for review, but because I’ve been wanting to read them or they caught my attention. Most of them have been talked about ad nauseam or have been on my to-read list for a long time so they don’t really need a full review. But, I’d still like to give them some space here on the blog, so instead, I’m offering mini-reviews of the books that won’t get full-page space here.
I’m reading several books at the same time right now. It can be hard to concentrate so it is nice to have options with the type of book and also the way I am reading. I have an audiobook, ebook on my Kindle, and a physical book going right now. My currents reads are AFTER YOU on audio. This is one I was able to get pretty quickly through the library. I’ve been wanting to know what happened to Louisa after ME BEFORE YOU. I’m reading UNIVERSE OF TWO on my Kindle. This is one for review and I started it and then realized that it doesn’t come out until August and I should have chosen one of the books that will be published in June and July. But, now that I’ve started it, I can’t stop reading it, I’m sucked in. It’s a WWII novel but set, at least in the beginning, in Chicago and Santa Fe, New Mexico. My physical book is THE BOOK OF LONGINGS, our June book club choice.
By: Sally Hepworth
Published: April 23, 2019 – Paperback March 10, 2020
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
If I really want to read a book and I can’t seem to fit in the time to physically read it, I’ll see if I can get it on audio, and thankfully our library had it and the holds list wasn’t very long.
Many readers have raved about this family drama/mystery. Many also suggested listening to it on audio, which is what I did. I was engaged from the first chapter and it held my attention all the way to the end. I did think the ending felt a bit rushed, but I still loved being a fly on the wall in this family drama. I was guessing all the way to the end of who the murderer might be. There was plenty to choose from, but I was surprised by who ended up killing the mother-in-law and why. The story is told in alternating points-of-view: Diana, the mother-in-law, and Lucy, the daughter-in-law. I don’t want to spoil anything, so if you need a fast-paced mystery, this is a good one to read.
THE WATER DANCER
By: Ta-Nehisi Coates
Published: September 24, 2019
Publisher: One World
I chose this one a while back through Book of the Month and then I decided to choose it for our book club read in May. Unfortunately, our group didn’t like it and it’s the second book we’ve read that wasn’t a win. I am interested in giving his non-fiction, BETWEEN THE WORLD AND ME a try since many have raved about that one and especially in our current climate, I’d like to learn all I can.
This story of the Underground was a bit of a slog for me. It was a 400-page book that easily could have been 200 pages. I would have been much more engaged in the story had it benefited from a tighter storyline. Instead, I struggled through many parts and then was engaged and interested in others. I appreciated the story, the history of slavery, and the pain and suffering it caused the families that were torn apart, brutally treated, and then sold again, but just not the way it was told, especially with the magical realism piece. Sadly, this one won’t be memorable or one I would recommend for those who want to read about the Underground or slavery.
CALL THE MIDWIFE
A True Story of the East End in the 1950s
By: Jennifer Worth
Published: January 1, 2007
Publisher: Weidenfeld and Nicholson
Many have told me I would love the Call the Midwife series on Netflix/PBS but have never taken the time to watch it. I didn’t even know it was based on a book series until I saw someone had read it. So, I right away went to see if our library had it and they did, on audio and it was available immediately.
The chronicles of Jennifer Worth, a midwife, in London during the 1950s was really fascinating. She doesn’t hold back and some of her descriptions of birth, death, and situations women may find themselves in are quite graphic. For the most part, her birth stories are smooth and end with a mother and child in good health. Unfortunately, that doesn’t always work out. The stories of Mary, a teen mother pregnant by prostitution, and Mrs. Jenkins, a widow who lost all her children, broke my heart. I was fascinated by the tools and minimal “medicine” used during births and am grateful that we live during a time of much better health care for mothers and babies.
I started watching the show on Netflix based on this book, and I was surprised how closely it followed the book, so far at least. I’d also like the check out the rest of the books in this series. I listened to it on audio and the narrator’s accent was a bit hard to adjust to and at first, I had to listen closely, but it got easier to understand as I made it farther into the book.
If you like medical memoirs, British books, or historical nonfiction, I encourage you to give this one a try.
WHEN LIFE GIVES YOU PEARS
The Healing Power of Family, Faith, and Funny People
By: Jeannie Gaffigan
Published: October 1, 2019 – Paperback (coming) October 6, 2020
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
I’ve been on the holds list at the library for this one and the couple of times my turn came up, I had to pass. But, this time I snagged it and I’m so glad. It was a super quick read and even though you think the topic would be dreary, it was just the pick-me-up I needed.
Already fans of Jim Gaffigan, I wanted to learn more about his wife and her miraculous recovery from a pear-sized brain tumor that was found lodged against her brain stem. This memoir focuses mainly during her time of discovery, removal, and recovery of the tumor. But, obviously, there are flashbacks to stories from Jim and Jeannie’s dating years, early years raising their kids, and stories from their professional lives mingled throughout.
Even though her discovery of a massive brain tumor (benign thankfully) is horrifying and completely put their lives in upheaval, her memoir is funny, witty, honest, and absolutely inspiring. She reminds us to not take eating for granted (her swallowing functions were affected after surgery), it’s ok to buy two puppies when you are recovering from brain surgery, to get the ice cream cone, and most of all, to never take your family for granted.
This was a fast read and even though I am now second-guessing every headache and dizzy spell, I am glad that Jeannie Gaffigan shared her inspiring story.
I’ll never eat a pear again. I never was a huge fan of them anyway. They are either too hard and taste like nothing, or delicious but an absolute mess. Pears are sort of a metaphor for life. I guess I do like pears. Just not pear-shaped tumors.Jeannie Gaffigan – When Life Gives You Pears
OFF THE CLOCK
Feel Less Busy While Getting More Done
By: Laura Vanderkam
Published: May 29, 2018
Another one from the library holds list that I had started and then didn’t get finished and then my turn came up again. It’s a short listen at just six hours, so I made sure I finished it this time.
Vanderkam is a time-management expert and I enjoy her podcasts, blog, and have read several of her books. Most of her advice on time-management is focused on those in the fast-paced work world with meetings and travel and juggling families at home. She has focused one of her books on just women in the workforce, but this one mostly applies to anyone.
Since I don’t work in a regular office setting with that 40-hour/week regular schedule, a lot of her advice and tips didn’t really apply to me. But, because my work is flexible and can be last-minute, focusing on the time you have to work is important. I appreciated her tips on scheduling your days, finding blocks of time to work in the fun around the tasks, and of course, finding ways to say yes to the things that bring you joy and no to the things that make you have less time for saying yes. That is a skill I’m still trying to get better at doing.
If you are looking for time-management advice, this is a quick read. I listened on audio, narrated by the author herself. Most people in the workplace could find useful tips from Vanderkam’s books as well as her other resources.
Time is elastic. It stretches to accommodate what we choose to put into it.Laura Vanderkam – Off the Clock
You can see all my other Quick Lit posts by clicking, HERE.