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The Books I’ve Read This Year – March through May 2015

The Books I’ve Read This Year – March through May 2015

I’m a little behind in updating this series on books I’ve read so far this year. One reason is that I really haven’t been reading as many new books. Instead, I’ve been rereading books that I wanted to further absorb, and I wasn’t sure if they really should count or not. I’ve also been sleeping in more and trying to be kinder to myself in order to clear up some health issues. I haven’t gone back to the hectic crazy mornings with the Today Show in the background, but I don’t always take time to read and write. I’m trying to be better about it now that school is over, but it’s not a top priority.

But all of that doesn’t mean I haven’t been reading at all. I read and listened to some fairly good books in the last three months. My two favorites were audio books that were both highly praised and highly rated.

The Nightingale – Kristin Hannah

The Nightingale - Kristin Hannah

These two novels share many similarities. Both are set in France during World War II and both revolve around French citizens and their experience of the war. I’ve read many WWII novels by now, and these two really stand out along with with Jodi Piccoult’s The Storyteller.

The Nightingale follows the parallel stories of two sometimes estranged sisters throughout the war. The younger sister joins the French Resistance, while the older sister remains in her home to wait for her husband and care for her young daughter.  The ending was a bittersweet surprise that had me engaged right up until the end.

All the Light We Cannot See – Anthony Doerr

All the Light We Cannot See - Anthony Doerr

In All the Light We Cannot See, a young blind girl is exiled to the French coastal town where her father and grand-father grew up to wait out the war with her great-uncle and his housekeeper. This novel also features parallel story lines that converge at the end. The other main character is a young German orphan, who eventually turns soldier. A third arc follows a German officer, who is searching for something precious, and his life depends on finding it in time – or so he believes. I was so engrossed in this book that I actually sat inside on the sofa and listened to the last hour because I couldn’t wait for my commute the next day to find out what happened.

Three Daughters – Consuelo Saah Baehr

Three Daughters - Consuelo Saah Baehr

The other books I read in the past few months were less enchanting but still worth reading. I particularly loved Three Daughters by Consuelo Saah Baehr, which on my list of Amazon recommendations. The story is set in Palestine and then America from the early to mid twentieth century and follows three generations of women in a Palestinian family. I have very little knowledge of Palestine and certainly not during this time period. It was fascinating to learn about history through the fictional lives of these women. I definitely recommend it to anyone who likes historical fiction and is looking for something less typical. It was a nice change from all of the Downtown Abbey esque novels.

Take Me With You – Catherine Ryan Hyde

Take Me With You - Catherine Ryan Hyde

I think I found Take Me With You by Catherine Ryan Hyde on my Amazon recommendations list as well. It was out of my usual genre, but I decided to take a chance on it. It was definitely a quick read, and I stayed up late on the second night to finish it up. A divorced middle-aged high school teacher spontaneously invites two young brothers to join him on his annual RV trip. The summer becomes a pivotal time in all three of their lives. There are a few heartbreaking moments throughout the book that revealed to me how invested I’d become in the characters. This would be a good summer read.

My Sister’s Grave – Robert Dugoni

I have honestly no idea what motivated me to download this book because I generally avoid mysteries, thrillers and serial novels. I think the description left out the fact that it was the first book in the new Tracy Crosswhite series by Robert Dugoni, because I probably wouldn’t have purchased it otherwise. For a typical, contemporary mystery novel it was fine, but it’s just not my cup of tea. If you like the detective serials, you will probably enjoy it. This was another quick read.

My Brilliant Friend – Elena Ferrante

My Brilliant Friend - Elena Ferrante

My mother recommended this book and sent it me as a Kindle gift, and I ended up having a love/hate relationship with it. This book does not fall into the quick read category. I felt like it took forever to get through it. The story begins in the fifties in Naples, Italy and follows the lives of two girls as they navigate a complicated friendship. The story, perhaps a fictionalized account of the author’s childhood, is told from the first person perspective of young Elena. At times, it was very difficult for me to like Elena (Lena) and many more times, I actively disliked her friend Lila. I could certainly empathize with Lena and her feelings of being less than or on the outside or just wanting to be seen as enough, but I also wanted to shake her and tell her to forget about selfish Lila. Lena is also awkwardly candid about her struggles through puberty and first experiences with sex, which were definitely uncomfortable.

I hated the ending mostly because I was unaware that it was the first in a series and promptly rated it four stars instead of five. Yes, instead of five. Even with all of my discomfort and dislike while reading this novel, it was oddly compelling. I loved the descriptions of Naples in the fifties and the sense of chaos and poverty and general hopelessness that pervaded. I will definitely read the next two books in the series, but I many need to give it some time first.

Other books I’ve read in the past three months:

Total new books read so far in 2015: 21

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