Wednesday, June 15, 2016

What I've Been Reading Lately (Quick Lit)

Today I'm linking up with Modern Mrs. Darcy's Quick Lit to bring you some short and sweet reviews of what I've read in the past month. For longer reviews, you can always find me on Goodreads.

We actually squeezed in two weekend vacations recently, and I managed to get a good bit of reading done! I've also run through a slew of short audiobooks, which has helped me feel like I'm keeping up with my TBR list. Here's what I've gotten to in the last month!

The Name of God Is Mercy: A conversation with Andrea Tornielli by Pope Francis: This was a good overview of what the Year of Mercy is all about. The first half is a Q&A with a journalist, and the second half is Pope Francis' announcement and explanation of the Year of Mercy and how Catholics can most fully celebrate this jubilee year. There were parts here and there that were a bit vague or that I didn't really agree with, but on the whole I found it a really good explanation of what this year is all about.

Will I Ever Be Good Enough?: Healing the Daughters of Narcissistic Mothers by Karyl McBride: This is a good, not great, self-help book that I think is probably useful to some people but over the top for many. I picked it up because Captain Awkward references it frequently. I do think the basic structure of the book is useful, and that McBride's exercises are probably helpful for people who have extremely destructive mothers or mother figures, but otherwise there are better books you could read — or you should just visit a counselor.

Fourth of July Creek by Smith Henderson: The writing in this was beautiful, on the whole, but the subject matter wasn't a good match for me. It's a dark book steeped in sex, violence, abuse, drugs, prostitution... you name it. There are few likable characters and just about everyone has made a huge mess of their life. I can see how other people like this book, as I liked a lot about it, but not enough to want to recommend it.

Washed and Waiting: Reflections on Christian Faithfulness and Homosexuality by Wesley Hill: I was hoping for a thoughtful explanation of the case for celibacy, an explanation of how the author has embraced this part of his identity, and an encouragement for churches to better support their single and celibate members. Instead there was a drive-by face-value review of the "clobber passages," and then a really depressing story of Hill's loneliness and his conclusion that he just has to bear his cross like Jesus. The contrast to me was clear between the people I know who feel called to celibacy and those like Hill who feel like they have no choice.

The Fellowship of the Ring by J.R.R. Tolkien: After putting off reading this trilogy forever, I enjoyed this first book more than I expected. I liked the character relationships and, for the most part, the plotting. The characters aren't exactly one-dimensional, but they do tend to fit into familiar character molds, though I think that's OK for an adventure story like this. I can see why people like the series, even if I didn't fall in love with it myself.

Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer: This was a reread for book club, and I determined this time that one reason I dislike the book is that the author seems to be mocking his protagonist. Between this and Everything Is Illuminated, I don't think Safran Foer's larger-than-life characters and bizarre plots are for me.

The Mysterious Affair at Styles by Agatha Christie: I've started rereading Christie's books as one of my reading goals for the year, and reading this first one made me glad I did. I thought I'd figured it all out, that I saw exactly what our narrator couldn't see, and then she fooled me in the end anyway. It's delightful to be back in Hercule Poirot's company again.

Man's Search for Meaning by Viktor E. Frankl: I've read a number of concentration camp accounts by now, but this one was definitely different in its detached, clinical approach. The first part of the book details the three stages a concentration camp prisoner goes through, and the second part describes Frankl's approach to psychotherapy, called "logotherapy," about finding meaning in one's life. I think this is probably worth a read, but it wasn't as life-altering as I expected it to be based on other people's descriptions.

When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi: This was a beautifully written memoir of Kalanithi's transition from doctor to patient as he faced his own terminal diagnosis. His meditations on time, values, and legacy were incredibly powerful. I'm glad this has gotten the attention it has.

The Two Towers by J.R.R. Tolkien: I had a harder time getting through this one compared to the first one. The company's all split up, and rather than bouncing back and forth and building suspense, Tolkien gives us the three stories one right after another, each time starting back at the breaking of the fellowship. It was still enjoyable, though, and I'm looking forward to reading the finale of the trilogy.

Murder on the Links by Agatha Christie: This was enjoyable as expected. I was able to keep up while still being surprised, which is really all I ask for from a good murder mystery. Also, I couldn't help picturing Giraud as Gilderoy Lockhart, which made everything more amusing.

The Husband's Secret by Liane Moriarty: This was an enjoyable enough read, if not as brilliant and powerful as Big Little Lies or What Alice Forgot. Moriarty's writing of individual scenes is still excellent, but the overall plot I found rather predictable and not that compelling.

What have you been reading this month? Share over at Modern Mrs. Darcy!

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