Tuesday, December 15, 2020

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.

Truth and Beauty by Ann Patchett: This is a memoir of Patchett's relationship with fellow writer Lucy Grealy. It was a realistic depiction of the kind of relationship that is deeper than friendship, someone who becomes chosen family and a non-romantic kind of soulmate. The story will feel familiar both to anyone who has this kind of a relationship in their life, as well as anyone who has ever loved someone with an addiction, a mental illness, and/or a chronic health condition.

You Should See Me in a Crown by Leah Johnson: This was a lovely and powerful YA book about finding your voice and smashing expectations. The main character, who has tried not to draw attention to her Black, poor, queer self for the four years of high school in a white Indiana suburb, finds herself in the running for prom queen solely because she needs the associated scholarship to afford her dream college. Along the way she sparks a romance, re-kindles an old friendship, and absolutely blows up what the town has always thought "prom royalty" should be.

The House of the Spirits by Isabel Allende: I quite liked Allende's Island Beneath the Sea, but this one was a much different style that I did not enjoy. The characters in this book were all a little bit fantastical and hard to relate to, and the character we spend the most time with is a truly terrible human being. I actually appreciated the historical fiction aspect of this that gave an on-the-ground look at living through the political upheaval Chile went through in the 1970s, but I wish she hadn't done it through this mess of a family saga of over-the-top characters who make bizarre choices and treat one another terribly.

The Body in the Library by Agatha Christie: This was a solid contribution to Christie's oeuvre. I wasn't able to put all the pieces together until it was explained, and while the solution was complex, it wasn't unbelievable. I still prefer Poirot's pomposity and deduction to Miss Marple's meek and humble way of hiding in the shadows of the story and intuitively knowing the answer before she has any logic to back it up. But this was an enjoyable and quick read and made me more interested in continuing with the Miss Marple series.

I'm Still Here: Black Dignity in a World Made for Whiteness by Austin Channing Brown: This was my favorite read of November. Channing Brown has written a book that goes beyond those of earlier generations trying to turn a spotlight on America's racism; she starkly faces down the well-meaning white people who run progressive organizations and talk about diversity, pointing out the specific ways in which white guilt is handed to her to absolve and a barrage of microaggressions are explained away by those who want to consider themselves the "good" ones. I'm glad this book finally got more attention this year, and glad that I finally got around to reading it.

A Fatal Grace by Louise Penny: Well, I gave Penny another chance, and I'm still not really a fan. Penny has done a nice job of painting a picture of this small town and its inhabitants, and she can craft a mystery well, but there are too many haphazard details sprinkled in that come out of nowhere and aren't always resolved. I'm not feeling a strong pull to continue with the series at this point.

Looking back:
One year ago I was reading: Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, The Next Evangelicalism, and The Watsons Go to Birmingham--1963
Five years ago I was reading: Middlemarch, The Unthinkable, and A Snicker of Magic
Ten years ago I was reading: I Like Being Married

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