Hello, friends! Can you believe it’s October already?! I can’t! But I’m pretty pumped. It’s shaping up to be a good month, in part because I have some great books to read.
For the past year or so, I’ve been trying to get back into reading for pleasure. As an undergrad, I didn’t really feel like I had time—and if I ever did read a novel, it would usually suck me in and I would ignore my schoolwork for the next 36-48 hours while I finished it. Also, to be honest (and I imagine this is pretty common), watching Netflix and scrolling mindlessly through social media has taken up a lot of the leisure time that I used to spend on reading. But since graduating last year, I’ve read a lot more books than I have in awhile. I’m trying to keep this up now that I’m back in (grad) school, and so far, pretty good!
Today, I’m sharing some books I have read lately, what I’m reading now, and what’s sitting on my bookshelf, waiting patiently…
Just finished: The Overstory by Richard Powers
People have been recommending this book to me for months, so I finally picked it up a couple weeks ago! It’s a book about trees, people, and how they interact—so, VERY much up my alley. As you can see from the cover, it won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction last year. Pretty neat!
I enjoyed this book a lot. It tells interweaving stories across generations, with a hefty dose of wonder at the amazing and underappreciated things that trees do. I can get behind that! I must confess, though, this book was hyped up to me SO much before I read it that it didn’t quite live up to the high expectations. There were also a few moments of the author’s writing about women that made me raise an eyebrow. I still enjoyed it quite a lot, and I liked most of the characters (especially Patty. I love you, Patty!!), but it wasn’t favorite-book-status for me. If you like people, trees, and/or stories spanning decades, I would definitely recommend it!
(One final note: I went into this book and read about the first quarter of it thinking it was nonfiction. Yes, I know it says “A Novel” right there on the cover, front and center. Somehow I missed that the first dozen times I opened it. I kept wondering, “How did this guy get these random people across America to give him incredibly detailed accounts of their childhoods and family history?” Finally, the words “A Novel” permeated my brain. I was so impressed with Richard Powers’ journalistic prowess, but the book makes a LOT more sense as a work of fiction.)
(Okay, I lied. I have another, more final note. I keep accidentally referring to this book as “The Understory” instead of The Overstory. Similarly to how I sometimes mix up cellulose and cellulite. Yikes.)
Just finished: The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
Apparently, I missed the media circus around The Night Circus when it was published in 2011. My friend Shelby recommended it to me awhile ago, and I checked it out from the library several times, but never got around to reading it until this past weekend. Well, now I get what all the fuss is about! Despite initially throwing me off with its unique writing style, this book sucked me in to a delightful fantasy-grounded-in-reality world that I haven’t yet stopped thinking about.
The Night Circus‘ central premise is its title—a circus that is only open at night—but it’s also a love story, a fairy tale, and a story about telling stories. To me, it was pure wish fulfillment, in the best way possible. The book was filled with gratuitous, detailed descriptions of the circus itself, as well as the beautiful gowns worn by the main character and an ornate clock that plays a surprisingly significant role in the story. The star-crossed-lovers dynamic was both familiar and fresh. It’s a story that reminded me why I fell in love with reading in the first place. It also inspired some of my goals for the upcoming months, oddly enough—I’ll elaborate on that in an upcoming post. 🙂
Overall, I ended up liking this book more than I thought I would! If you (like me, apparently) were living under a rock in 2011 and haven’t read it yet, and you enjoy a splash of fantasy, I would recommend it.
Currently reading: Men Without Women by Haruki Murakami
Murakami is my friend Cate’s favorite author, so I’ve been meaning to read one of his books for awhile now. When I saw that this one was on Barack Obama’s list of recommended reads for the year, I put it at the top of my library checkout list. Thanks, Obama!
Men Without Women is a book of short stories. Again, the title does a lot of work here in explaining the premise. As of writing this post, I’ve only read the first of seven stories, and I’m enjoying it so far. Translated from Japanese, Murakami’s writing has a deceptively simple yet direct and powerful quality. It reminds me a bit of Therese Marie Mailhot, whose memoir Heart Berries I read earlier this year. (Shoutout to the ACPC book club!) I’m looking forward to finishing this one.
On deck: A Wild Sheep Chase by Haruki Murakami
I decided to go all in on the Murakami (thanks, Cate!) and checked out another one of his books for later. A Wild Sheep Chase is a novel, not a short story collection, so I’m excited to mix it up and read that one soon.
On deck: Educated by Tara Westover
I’ve heard a lot of buzz about this book this year, and I intend to check it out of the library soon! As far as I know, it’s a memoir about a woman who comes from a Kimmy Schmidt-like upbringing and becomes, well, educated. Looking forward to switching it up with some creative nonfiction.
That’s what’s on my bookshelf for now! (Well…not entirely, but I have some details to save for the upcoming post I hinted at above.) Have you read any of these books? What did you think? What’s on your bookshelf? Do you have any recommendations for me? Let me know, and see you next time!