All quoted blurbs are from Goodreads.
This month I only ordered two books from the Book of the Month club.
American War by Omar El Akkad (2017). I can’t think of any better way to describes it than the Goodreads synopsis: “A second American Civil War, a devastating plague, and one family caught deep in the middle a story that asks what might happen if America were to turn its most devastating policies and deadly weapons upon itself.” Just frightening enough to make you wonder…
One Day We’ll All Be Dead and None of This Will Matter by Scaachi Koul (2017). Again, the Goodreads synopsis: “Scaachi deploys her razor-sharp humour to share her fears, outrages and mortifying experiences as an outsider growing up in Canada. Where strict gender rules bind in both Western and Indian cultures, forcing her to confront questions about gender dynamics, racial tensions, ethnic stereotypes and her father’s creeping mortality–all as she tries to find her feet in the world.”
My remaining Amazon haul! (Thank goodness for used books)
God Needs Me by Lynn Fox Adams (2009). This one was brought to my attention by a fellow Christian dysautonomiac. Lynn shares her story of being able to share and spread the message of Jesus Christ while she herself is mostly bedridden and home bound (like me!) Her story is affirmation that God can and will use anyone in His Kingdom!
Finding Me: A Decade of Darkness, a Life Reclaimed: A Memoir of the Cleveland Kidnappings by Michelle Knight with Michelle Burford (2015). I did not grow up in northeast Ohio, so I knew nothing about the kidnappings of Michelle Knight, Amanda Berry, and Gina DeJesus until the shocking news broke one afternoon in May 2013 (which I remember vividly) that they had escaped from their captor in Cleveland after a decade of living in secret and squalor. This is Michelle Knight’s memoir of that horrible time.
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows (2008). “January 1946: London is emerging from the shadow of the Second World War, and writer Juliet Ashton is looking for her next book subject. Who could imagine that she would find it in a letter from a man she’s never met, a native of the island of Guernsey, who has come across her name written inside a book by Charles Lamb….” I have heard great things about this book, so I am excited to give it a read! (And SHOUT OUT to my readers from Guernsey! Don’t think I haven’t noticed you!) ?
The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood (1985). I had to get this one because of all the hype surrounding the Hulu adaptation. “Offred is a Handmaid in the Republic of Gilead. She may leave the home of the Commander and his wife once a day to walk to food markets whose signs are now pictures instead of words because women are no longer allowed to read. She must lie on her back once a month and pray that the Commander makes her pregnant, because in an age of declining births, Offred and the other Handmaids are valued only if their ovaries are viable. Offred can remember the years before, when she lived and made love with her husband, Luke; when she played with and protected her daughter; when she had a job, money of her own, and access to knowledge. But all of that is gone now…”
The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead (2016). I’d been eyeing this one and had it on my to-read list on Goodreads, but when it won the Pulitzer, I just decided to buy it. Not shocking based on the title, the book is about two slaves, Cora and Caesar, who attempt to escape slavery via the Underground Railroad, all the while pursued by the slave catcher Ridgeway. I haven’t read a Civil War book in quite some time, so I’m definitely looking forward to this one!
The Brand New Catastrophe by Mike Scalise (2017). I can’t think of any other way to describe this without having read it aside from the Goodreads synopsis: “After a tumor bursts in Mike Scalise’s brain, leaving him with a hole in the head and malfunctioning hormones, he must navigate a new, alien world of illness maintenance. His mother, who has a chronic heart condition and a flair for drama, becomes a complicated model as she competes with him for the status of ‘best sick person.’ The Brand New Catastrophe is a moving, funny exploration of how we define ourselves by the stories we choose to tell.”
The Perpetual Now: A Story of Amnesia, Memory, and Love by Michael D. Lemonick (2017). Only the Goodreads synopsis can do this one justice: “Lonni Sue Johnson was a renowned artist who regularly produced covers for The New Yorker, a gifted musician, a skilled amateur pilot, and a joyful presence to all who knew her. But in late 2007, she contracted encephalitis. The disease burned through her hippocampus like wildfire, leaving her severely amnesic, living in a present that rarely progresses beyond ten to fifteen minutes. Remarkably, she still retains much of the intellect and artistic skills from her previous life, but it’s not at all clear how closely her consciousness resembles yours or mine. As such, Lonni Sue’s story has become part of a much larger scientific narrative one that is currently challenging traditional wisdom about how human memory and awareness are stored in the brain.”
My Documents by Alejandro Zambra (2015). My husband picked this one up after seeing it on the Internet somewhere and thought reading something by a Chilean author would be interesting. Glancing through it, it certainly looks intriguing. “Whether chronicling the return of a mercurial godson or the disappearance of a trusted cousin, the worlds of these stories are so powerful and deep that the works might better be described as brief novels. My Documents is by turns hilarious and heart-stopping, tragic and tender, but most of all, it is unflinchingly human and essential evidence of a sublimely talented writer working at the height of his powers.”
Juniper by Kelley and Thomas French (2016). My mom lent me this one after she read it for work (she’s been a neonatal intensive care nurse for almost forty years.) It’s about a little baby born at 23 weeks’ gestation, weighing one pound, four ounces. This memoir documents the challenges, ethical and medical, of keeping their daughter and others like her alive.
A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman (2014). This one has received a lot of acclaim and it seems like just the type of book to make me go “awww.” “Behind the cranky exterior there is a story and a sadness. So when one November morning a chatty young couple with two chatty young daughters move in next door and accidentally flatten Ove’s mailbox, it is the lead-in to a comical and heartwarming tale of unkempt cats, unexpected friendship, and the ancient art of backing up a U-Haul. All of which will change one cranky old man and a local residents’ association to their very foundations.” (And since the book was originally written in Swedish, apparently the correct pronunciation of Ove is “ooh-veh.”)
Girl at War by Sara Nović (2015). The book drew me to it instantly because it is about the first war I really remember. “Zagreb, summer of 1991. Ten-year-old Ana Jurić is a carefree tomboy who runs the streets of Croatia’s capital. But as civil war breaks out across Yugoslavia, soccer games and school lessons are supplanted by sniper fire and air raid drills. When tragedy suddenly strikes, Ana is lost to a world of guerilla warfare and child soldiers; a daring escape plan to America becomes her only chance for survival. Ten years later Ana is a college student in New York. She’s been hiding her past from her boyfriend, her friends, and most especially herself. Haunted by the events that forever changed her family, she returns alone to Croatia, where she must rediscover the place that was once her home and search for the ghosts of those she’s lost.”
If We Were Villains by M.L. Rio (2017). This once was recommended to me by a fellow blogger fresh off the press (it was released on the 11th of this month). “Oliver is one of seven young Shakespearean actors at Dellecher Classical Conservatory, a place of keen ambition and fierce competition. In this secluded world of firelight and leather-bound books, Oliver and his friends play the same roles onstage and off: hero, villain, tyrant, temptress, ingénue, extra. But in their fourth and final year, the balance of power begins to shift, good-natured rivalries turn ugly, and on opening night real violence invades the students’ world of make believe. In the morning, the fourth-years find themselves facing their very own tragedy, and their greatest acting challenge yet: convincing the police, each other, and themselves that they are innocent.”
A Place of Healing by Joni Eareckson Tada (2010). I love Joni so much. As a quadriplegic for 40+ years, she truly knows what pain and suffering is, and this book was written while she was in the throes of chronic, unrelenting pain. “A Place of Healing is not an ivory-tower treatise on suffering. It’s an intimate look into the life of a mature woman of God. Whether readers are enduring physical pain, financial loss, or relational grief, Joni invites them to process their suffering with her. Together, they will navigate the distance between God’s magnificent yes and heartbreaking no’s and find new hope for thriving in-between.”
The Invisible Bridge by Julie Orringer (2010). This 758-page behemoth arrived in the mail Saturday, and I was surprised because I’d forgotten I’d ordered it earlier in the week (the beauty of brain fog is every time you buy something, it’s like a gift when you open it!) “From the Hungarian village of Konyár to the grand opera houses of Budapest and Paris, from the lonely chill of Andras’s garret to the enduring passion he discovers on the rue de Sévigné, from the despair of a Carpathian winter to an unimaginable life in forced labor camps and beyond, The Invisible Bridge tells the unforgettable story of brothers bound by history and love, of a marriage tested by disaster, of a Jewish family’s struggle against annihilation, and of the dangerous power of art in a time of war.”
Aw, man, 16? That’s one way to tell I had a bad month health-wise…But in my defense, I will point out that two of those books were gifts! Three of the above-listed books I have managed to read already. Two kinda meh, one I loved!