Translatlantic by Colum McCann
I began reading this book without many expections, since I had read McCann’s Let the Great World Spin and been less than wow-ed by it. It was a beautiful novel, if a bit fragmented and slightly confusing. (I also might be able to attribute this confusion to the time I read it, which I believe was somewhere in the sleep-deprived stupor following the birth of my son. So who knows.) But I love going into a reading experience with low expectations because it allows me to be completely blown away. And blown away I was. I found this novel absolutely beautiful, weaving raw human emotion into historical figures, and subtly and eloquently spanning generations, without feeling burdened or overwrought. McCann manages to bring together so many disparate elements of the human experience seamlessly and thoughtfully. A really gorgeous read, all around. I think I’ll have to go back and reread some of McCann’s other novels with a (relatively) clear mind and a bit more sleep.
Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson
My mom gave me this book several months ago, saying it was incredible and I had to read it, and like any good daughter I brought it home and let it sit on my bookshelf for 6 months before picking it up. It’s nonfiction, which isn’t usually my bag, and since it’s about the justice system in the US as it pertains to people on Death Row, I was afraid it would be just plain depressing. (I’m a real peach, I know.) I wish I hadn’t waited so long. I haven’t quite finished it yet, but I will soon because I can’t. put. it. down. Yes, parts of it are extremely difficult to read. Being confronted with injustice and unfairness and racism does not make for beach reading. However, Stevenson is really a fantastic writer, and gives his stories so much hard and passion that even the most discouraging anecdotes about our damaged justice system are laced with hope, simply because there are people out there like him that are fighting against it. It also convicts me, over and over again, page after page, how important it is to raise our families to have strong social justice values and to “walk the walk” when it comes to what we’re telling our kids about racism, justice, and social responsibility. This book manages to raise some important, uncomfortable questions while also being a page-turning great read.
The Marriage of Opposites by Alice Hoffman
As a general rule, I try not to read about a book before starting it, because I like to dive into a book without knowing where it’ll take me. (Why yes, sometimes this turns out badly.) So I was basically halfway through the book before I realized that the main character was the mother of Camille Pissarro, the famous artist. But I loved that- because this book isn’t just a story about a painter’s mom- it’s a love story, a tale of loss, and betrayal, and redemption. The writing is hauntingly beautiful and the story of this strong-willed woman making her way in the Jewish community of St. Thomas in the early 19th century is intriguing and feels fresh and modern. Loved it.
So… what are you reading? What should I be reading next?
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