While some people read a lot while they are on vacation, I do not. I know this seems counter-intuitive, but by the time I finish a day of chasing the kids around Vermont or Yosemite, I’ve cobbled together food in our hotel room or apartment and I’ve gotten everyone to bathe, all that I want to do is sleep. So this will be a rather short reading round-up!
Books I Loved
The Things We Keep by Sally Hepworth: Not an easy read, since it’s about a 38 year old woman with early onset Alzheimer’s disease, but it was written with great thought and insight. The reader is left with a lot to consider; it would be an interesting book club selection.
My Big C: Still Here After All These Years by Nancy F. Radin: I’m completely biased here. Nancy is my cousin and I’m in awe of what she has accomplished. Putting my bias aside, her story is one of incredible resilience and strength. Nancy was diagnosed with terminal cancer before we made Aliyah (and we’ve been here for 13 years) and she was given 18 months to live. Her persistence and humor have been awe-inspiring and she’s now put her experiences down on paper. It’s a quick, entertaining and inspiring read.
Dancing with God by Rabbi Mark Hillel Kunis: Prayer is a very individualized activity and it’s not a given that everyone connects well through this medium. While there are many books on prayer and how to connect, I have found that most of them are theoretical and not particularly helpful. This book, however, was uniquely practical. It involves loads of hands-on exercises that allow the reader to really practice the techniques and tools that Rabbi Kunis presents and to digest each piece of the spiritual puzzle in a practical way. This is a how-to book that really offers a well built and thought-out how-to.
Books I Liked
I had such great expectations for Rise and Shine, Benedict Stone by Phaedra Patrick. She wrote The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper which I absolutely adored. This one was written in the same vein, about an older man set in his ways who comes to understand himself and others as a result of unlikely events. I did enjoy it, but I didn’t love it.
Notorious RBG: The Life and Times of Ruth Bader Ginsburg: I’ve been meaning to read this for awhile. RBG is definitely an amazing person and it’s worth reading about her path to the Supreme Court and her background. I enjoyed the writing style and certainly the topic.
Yaakov The Pirate Hunter by Nathaniel Wyckoff. I was approached by this author and asked if I wanted to read and review his children’s adventure story. That, in itself, was fun. The book is adorable and intriguing. I assume that there aren’t many interesting books out there with Torah observant heroes and heroines and this one really does a great job of weaving some Jewish background into a gripping story of adventure. I certainly recommend it for parents who want their kids to enjoy a fun adventure story.
Four Letters of Love by Niall Williams: This was a sweet, sleepy book but I think it was a bit too sleepy. It was an interesting look at a few characters and how their lives intertwined, but the writing style felt detached enough that I never really connected with the characters.
The Rich Part of Life by Jim Kokoris had lovely characters and an interesting story line, but it dragged at times. I read another of his books first, It’s. Nice. Outside, and it was absolutely outstanding. Looks like he developed his writing style in the decade between The Rich Part of Life and It’s. Nice. Outside. I wouldn’t bother with this one; just go right to Outside.
The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend by Katarina Bivald: My family let me loose in a bookstore in the middle of Manhattan, but I knew that the kids wouldn’t last for long. Talk about pressure. So I grabbed a few books, including this one which I’d never heard of and didn’t have time to Google before buying. It had a great premise but dragged at times. I didn’t love it, per se, but I enjoyed it as a quick summer read.
Books I Didn’t Finish
To the Bright Edge of the World by Eowyn Ivey: I kept thinking that maybe I’m just not intellectual enough to enjoy this book about Alaska exploration in the early 1900s. But when my dad told me that he was bored by the book as well, I knew it wasn’t just me (since my dad loves these types of books). I bid it adieu after about 15% with no guilt.
Perfect by Rachel Joyce: It fascinates me when authors are inconsistent. One of my all time favorite books is The Unlikely Adventures of Harold Fry and yet this book, by the same author, was so hard to follow that I put it down. I actually read 50% of it and kept hoping that I would have some idea of what the heck was going on, and then I finally gave up on Joyce and her convoluted, weird storyline.
What’s Up Next?
I’m currently finishing The Mother’s Promise by Sally Hepworth which I enjoy, but don’t love. Her book The Things We Keep was better. I’m about to start Beartown by Fredrik Backman and if it’s half as good as A Man Called Ove then I’ll love it. I’m also reading Faithful by Alice Hoffman (another book I bought on the run with the kids while we were in an airport!).
I’d love to hear what you’re reading!