This is the year of the book in my world. At least, reading was a priority in January and I’m hoping to keep the momentum going.
January allowed me time to read a few books, some of them short and all in different topics. I found them all enjoyable save for one so that seems like a good record.
First, let’s get the unpleasantness out of the way. The one I hated:
Breathing Lessons by Anne Tyler
The story is told around one day in the life of a Maryland couple. We travel with them, meet friends and family, and learn their back history as they reminisce.
It’s tedious and feels too long. The characters all are annoying and not at all sympathetic. The main character views the world through her own special lens and her expectations are both unrealistic and cringe inducing.
The chapters are too long as well. I kept reading, thinking conditions would improve, only to find myself in so far I hated to cut bait at the three quarter mark. Learn from me. Save your time.
The Winter People by Jenifer McMahon
This work of fiction is intriguing. There’s history, relationships, a present day story, mystery and even a supernatural presence.
I like the way the story jumps around from long ago to the present day. There’s nothing predictable about this story and I enjoyed every minute of it. It takes place in January so winter is a great time to read it!
The Race For Paris by Meg Waite Clayton
You can’t go wrong with a book by this author. To be clear, this isn’t my favorite of hers but it was a great read and inspiring to boot. Strong female characters are a trademark of hers and this title was no exception.
A major theme here is how women journalists were slighted during World War II and how much harder they had to work than the men, only to still not earn respect from anyone in charge.
Sad but thought provoking and it makes you feel some gratitude for how far we’ve progressed.
Queen Bess: Daredevil Aviator by Doris L. Rich
There have been just a handful of books written about Bessie Coleman, most with dubious reviews. However, this one sounded good and it’s published by Smithsonian Books, a trustworthy source.
I already wrote about Bessie so I don’t want to dwell here but would highly recommend the book. It’s hard to piece together a true biography about someone like Bessie Coleman. She lived in a spotlight but there are some inconsistencies in what was published about her during her lifetime. She left behind few letters, journals, etc. that might help to build a clear picture of this woman’s life. So this book is slender and much of it is about context – what was happening around her in terms of society and race.
I loved this book, am intrigued by the woman and would recommend it to anyone.
The Blood Of Emmett Till by Timothy B. Tyson
This is another one that gives a lot of societal context. This is a huge help for those of us who didn’t live in this time period. This book is graphic, poignant and carefully crafted to tell a story that’s been told many times. This is done in a way that is fresh and relevant.
It’s tough to read and hard to put down – a sure sign that the author has done a good job telling a story that no one wants to think about but that desperately needs to be known. We aren’t that far removed from what happened to Emmett Till and there are lessons here for us all.
Big Cherry Holler by Adriana Trigiani
This is the second book in her Big Stone Gap series. The series takes place in a very rural Virginia coal mining community called Big Stone Gap. The heroine was the self proclaimed town spinster until an exciting series of events occurred in the first book.
Bottom line- I adore these books but you have to start with Big Stone Gap. And really, you can’t go wrong with any book by this author. I have yet to find one I didn’t like.
Cat Stories by James Herriot
James Herriot had a successful veterinary career before putting pen to paper to write some classics about the animals and their owners he encountered in his small town practice in England. James Herriot died 25 years ago this month but his wisdom, humor and charm love in his short stories and books. Being partial to cats and beautifully illustrated books, this was a nice break from the racist south after reading about Emmett Till.
The Blue Day Book by Bradley Trevor Greive
This is a glorified picture book for adults to lift your spirits when you are down. All of the pictures are of animals! I pull it off the shelf occasionally and am pretty sure that many of us need something like it to brighten our day occasionally.
A Nation of Immigrants by John F. Kennedy
Another slender volume, it gives a short history of immigration to this country beginning with Colonial times through the early twentieth century.
It provides a good snapshot of where we all come from and a timely reminder that most of us aren’t really from here. Our people all came from someplace else and many of them were treated badly when they arrived. In other words, it’s still timely today even though it was published in 1964.
I don’t normally share about the books I read but there were so many good ones last month I thought you might enjoy a rundown.
Which leads to my next question. What are YOU reading? I’m always looking for recommendations!