I thought it would be fun to share what I’ve been reading lately along with my verdicts. Here are 5 books I’ve read (or listened to) recently.
The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware
I quickly devoured this whodunnit. The plot is straightforward, but I’m always a sucker for an unreliable narrator. Lo is a travel writer who has recently experienced a traumatic break-in at her apartment. She thinks this upcoming Arctic Circle luxury cruise will help her relax and take her mind off things, but — while on the cruise — she thinks she’s witnessed a murder. Did she really? Or is she just sleep deprived? Or has she been drinking too much? I caught one twist and thoroughly enjoyed the ending.
Verdict: Recommend for a pool or beach read
Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson
A collection of narrative poetry that captures the excitement and pitfalls of adolescence as a minority. Absolutely beautiful. I listened to this one read by Ms. Woodson herself, and I think that’s the best way to go.
Verdict: Recommend, especially on audio
H is for Hawk by Helen Macdonald
I went into this memoir with high hopes, and I really wanted to enjoy it. It’s won so many awards and garnered such praise! Macdonald wrote H is for Hawk after her father’s sudden death, and she explores her grief as she trains a goshawk. There are some really lovely moments, especially as Macdonald describes her sadness and realizations about her father’s life and her attachment to him. However, I think the book ultimately falls flat as she interweaves her retelling of T. H. White’s similar experience in training a goshawk.
Verdict: Skip it and read the most memorable passages on Goodreads
Hillbilly Elegy by J.D. Vance
A 32 year-old Yale Law School grad’s memoir? Does he even have enough material for a memoir? He does. Vance’s successes belie his adolescent struggles in a blue collar, self-proclaimed “hillbilly” family. I got the impression that Vance’s impetus for writing this memoir was primarily political; however, those asides don’t detract from his gripping narrative.
Verdict: Recommend, but be aware of rough language and situations
Commonwealth by Ann Patchett
I LOVED THIS BOOK. I’d never read Patchett, but I hope to rectify that soon. I picked up this novel in the airport before Chris’ and my long flight from Boston to Milan. I devoured it, and then re-started it from the beginning. I don’t think I’ve ever done that before.
Commonwealth is a story of two families through generations and the repercussions of an infidelity. Sound familiar? (In fact, Anna Karenina’s first line would make sense here: “Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.”) But Patchett’s first line is just as gripping: “The christening party took a turn when Albert Cousins arrived with gin.” I do love a good first line.
Verdict: Recommend wholeheartedly
Do you agree or disagree with any of my verdicts? Want to recommend any of your recent reads? Let me know in the comments!