Tuesday, November 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.

Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH by Robert C. O'Brien: This ended up being quite an engaging children's book. I loved the idea of extra-intelligent rats who wanted to build their own civilization and had moral qualms about stealing. At times my suspension of disbelief was stretched a bit far, but overall I thought it was a fun and interesting book, and I would share it with my kids.

La traduction est une histoire d'amour by Jacques Poulin: I succeeded in my goal to read a book entirely in French this year. I thought the book was very sweet and I liked a lot about it (the narrator, the element of mystery), but ultimately there was too much left unexplained for me to want to recommend it.

A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara: This book is very well written but also extremely dark and depressing. A reviewer on the Slate Audio Book Club said something like, "When I wasn't reading it I wanted to be reading it, even though the actual experience of reading it was unpleasant." That is a very apt description of my experience with this book.

On the Road by Jack Kerouac: I enjoyed this more than I expected. There are the obvious flaws — the characters have problematic views about women and minorities, and their life of drugs and sex eventually gets boring to read about — but their escapades are so bizarre and ridiculous that I found them quite amusing most of the time.

Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption by Bryan Stevenson: This book is challenging but very, very necessary to read. It takes the statistics I already knew about the problems with our criminal justice system and illustrates them with personal stories of blatant discrimination and injustice. This should be required reading for every American.

Writing My Wrongs: Life, Death, and Redemption in an American Prison by Shaka Senghor: This was the first memoir I'd read by a convicted criminal who admitted to his crime and did the time for it. While Just Mercy showed me the worst of the prison system, this showed me more of the day-in, day-out experience of someone in prison (which isn't that great either). I learned a lot from this book and would recommend it.

The Story of My Life by Helen Keller: I didn't realize how little I knew of Helen Keller's life until reading this autobiography. It's mind-boggling to think of what she accomplished, even given the obvious privilege she enjoyed through her family's wealth and connections. Besides impressing me with the facts of her biography, this book was simply enjoyable to read — the writing is beautiful.

Adoption Parenting: Creating a Toolbox, Building Connections by Jean MacLeod and Sheena Macrae: This was a mixed bag, as you might expect from a collective of adoptive parents trying to single-handedly fill the gaps in adoption information. It's very comprehensive (within the specific realm of international adoption — something you might not realize going in) and there's a good deal of helpful information, but it also could have used a LOT of editing help.

A Streetcar Named Desire by Tennessee Williams: About the only good thing I can say about this play is that it's well written. Essentially it concludes that there are two approaches to getting a bad hand in life — fantasy or reality — and either way ends badly. That's way too dark for my taste.

Families Where Grace Is in Place by Jeff VanVonderen: While I appreciated what this author had to say, this book fell short of what I was looking for. He accurately describes the problems in many marriages but then fails to provide the kind of concrete suggestions he has for parenting. And his parenting advice is very Christian-ized but is actually quite similar to other secular books, like Parent Effectiveness Training. I'd recommend this if you're coming from a very conservative Christian background looking for a new understanding of marriage and parenting.

Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh: I enjoyed the audio narration by Jeremy Irons, but the book itself fell flat for me — too dry and melancholy, and the story meandered too much. The writing was beautiful, the dialogue was funny, but the book ultimately disappointed me.

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

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