What I’ve Been Reading Lately

I’ve been reading some good stuff lately, y’all. These books probably deserve individual posts but I’m just trying to get back into the blogging groove, so here I am with a round-up. Let’s start with the most recently finished.

36300687French Exit by Patrick deWitt. I have a weakness for books about what I call “rich people problems.” You know, where urbanites with a lot of money and family squabbles get together and hash it all out. (Think The Nest or Seating Arrangements.) So I was immediately charmed and entertained by deWitt’s novel of a fractured family, mother Frances and her thirty-something son Malcolm. (They reminded me of Lucille and Buster Bluth from Arrested Development only not as ridiculous.) They are running out of money and are forced to make a serious life change. This novel was so witty, inventive, absurd, and went in a slightly darker direction than I had anticipated. And I loved every second of it, devouring it quickly. I’ve never read deWitt before. I’ve added his The Sisters Brothers to my TBR list.

Before that I gobbled up Ian Rankin’s Knots and Crosses, the first Detective Rebus 634407mystery. I’d been meaning to try this series for years now and I finally felt in the mood for a mystery. I have to say that Rebus is a very tortured detective, more so than I’m used to.  I’m not quite sure that I like him, but I’m willing to read another one to see if I do. In this one he has to deal with not only a brother that is doing something shady, but a deranged serial killer going after young girls in Edinburgh. His very deeply buried past experiences may hold the clue to catching the killer. This was a quick read and I’ve checked out the second one, Hide and Seek.

The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry was another book I’d been meaning to read for a while. Rachel Joyce had made a big impact on my with last year’s The Music Shop and I’d heard good things about Harold. I really liked it, and boy did it make me cry. Keep your tissues handy for this one if you’ve 9780812993295_p0_v1_s550x406not read it. Harold gets a letter from an old co-worker, Queenie Hennessy, who’s dying. Instead of posting his response in the nearest mailbox, as he sets out to do, he ends up walking hundreds of miles to see her, convinced that if he keeps walking she will live. I enjoyed the vicarious walk through England and getting to know both Harold and his wife, Maureen. They’ve gone through some things and not dealt with them very well, and as the book goes along it was lovely to see them both break out of old, destructive habits. This is a lovely, touching read. I added Joyce’s  The Love Song of Miss Queenie Hennessy to my TBR list.

The best read of the year so far for me has been Elizabeth Strout’s Olive Kitteridge.51wuQJpliWL._AC_UL320_SR206,320_ Linked short stories, all directly about Olive or mentioning her in some capacity, this was tremendously moving and just gorgeously written. I think Strout is going on my favorite writers list, especially since in the last two years I’ve adored her My Name is Lucy Barton and Anything is Possible. The woman can write! Olive is a cranky, no-nonsense, but ultimately kind and more perceptive woman than she’s given credit for. She’s no saint, and Strout doesn’t shy away from letting the reader see her fully, warts and all. This novel provides a kaleidoscopic view not only of her but of a town full of people with secrets, dreams, broken hearts, disappointments, and hopes, and I found it masterful. I can see myself reading this again.

My February pick for the #UnreadShelfProject challenge on Instagram was American Street by Ibi Zoboi. It’s a YA novel about a young Haitian woman named Fabiola who americanstreet_wblurbcomes to the US with her mother to live with her aunt and cousins in Detroit. Only, her mother gets detained indefinitely in customs and she has to travel to Detroit without her. It’s a culture-clash novel, a coming of age novel, and a meditation on race and poverty with a heavy dose of magical realism. There’s a lot going on here. But it was absorbing and gave me a better picture of Haitian culture than I had before I read it. I didn’t love it, but I always keep in mind that YA novels aren’t really written for a 40-something woman. I think that a 14 year old could really get into this and learn a lot from it. I’m glad I finally read it and now it can find a good home at my library’s book sale in the Spring. Hooray for reading my own books!

So that’s what I’ve been reading lately (aside from The Count, of course. That reminds me, I need to start reading my next 100 pages.) Have you read any of my recent picks? What have you been reading lately?

37 thoughts on “What I’ve Been Reading Lately

  1. I thought Olive Kitteridge was smashing, too. I’ve got Lucy Barton in my TBR–not sure why I haven’t picked it up yet because I think she’s a wonderful writer too.

    Nice to see a post from you and learn what you’ve been reading!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Glad to see you back! Whenever one of my blog friends goes missing for a while, I wonder how they are. I know you’ve been taking care of other stuff, though, too–and probably having a lovely time with your son 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I am always having a good time with my son! He’s a joy. 🙂

      The new job is stressful mostly because I’m doing the job of two people. Once I hire my new assistant I think things will settle down and I’ll have more energy at night for blogging. Once my son goes to bed I do my yoga because it makes me feel good, and then it’s 9:30 and I’m tired and just want to read and go to bed. I hope to be more visible around here soon.

      Like

  3. French Exit sounds like one I definitely want to look for and I think Harold Fly is waiting on my shelf right now so I’ll have to get to it. I like books with older people as the main characters (usually). I might need to give Olive another try, I picked it up years ago but couldn’t get into it. Maybe it was just timing. I like short stories especially when they are connected or have a theme.

    I’m appreciating your approach with this post too, I’ve done something similar at the end of each week so it’s good to hear a bit about what others are reading. I’m working on my post like this so stay tuned. 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I hope you learn to love grouchy old Rebus in time. He changes over the course of the series and I think they get better and better as they go along, Intriguingly he ages in real time unlike most fictional detectives and Rankin handles it well – he’s roughly Rankin’s own age so at each stage Rankin knows what it’s like to be a man of that age, if you see what I mean. Plus, as the series goes along, Rankin begins to tie it in to the major political and social changes that have happened to Scotland over the last couple of decades, so you get a lot of insight into that too – I often think they’ll be studied by future social historians. Have I brainwashed you yet? 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I was hoping you’d chime in with your take on Rebus! I definitely was intrigued by him and want to see how I like him in another installment. I’m a sucker for a compelling detective and mystery novels are my go-to fun genre. I’m feeling the need for some escapism in my reading now so I’ll be giving him another try for sure. Thanks!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. The only one I’ve read is the Patrick deWitt, which I think you probably guessed. Although I have all the Strout books on my TBR and am thinking of just starting with her stuff from the beginning (rereading Amy and Isabelle) and reading straight through (well, over time, not all in a bunch)!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I always admire just how diverse your reading is. American Street really caught my attention and I love books that help me learn about different cultures, sorry to hear that you didn’t fully click with the story though.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. yay for reading good stuff!! I added The French Exit to my Goodreads wishlist after I saw your comments there. It looks great! Thanks for all of the recommendations… you read the BEST books!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I have read three of these (French Exit, Olive, and Harold) and I loved them all, too! And for pretty much the same reasons as you. Sisters Brothers is also good, and so is Queenie – it’s so nice that you have them both to look forward to! I haven’t read any others by Strout, but I definitely plan to.

    I’m glad you read American Street for me, because I always see it at the library and think what a pretty cover it has. Now I know what it’s about. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Lots to love here! My book club just picked French Exit for our May club so I’m excited to read that one. Sisters Brothers is quite quirky-maybe see the movie first? LOL

    I read Harold Fry awhile ago but don’t remember much about it, other than i liked it. And Queenie is being sent to me in the mail shortly, so I have that to look forward to! You shouldn’t apologize for writing short reviews either, I love your round-ups.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Ooh this is the first review I’ve read of French Exit that made me want to give it a try! I have had a fatal attraction to rich people problems books, and they are mostly no good and very annoying, and I’m trying to move away from that life. But French Exit sounds like it bucks the trend and is genuinely good, and I’m adding it to my list.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. I read The Sisters Brothers in 2017 I believe. It is a very interesting book… very unlike anything I had ever read before.

    I also have a copy of American Street, but have yet to pick it up.

    “It’s a culture-clash novel, a coming of age novel, and a meditation on race and poverty with a heavy dose of magical realism. There’s a lot going on here. But it was absorbing and gave me a better picture of Haitian culture than I had before I read it. I didn’t love it, but I always keep in mind that YA novels aren’t really written for a 40-something woman.”

    I love getting a new perspective on a culture I’m not familiar with, in this case Haitian culture. I do tend to also struggle with YA books, so I think this is why I’ve been putting it off 😦

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s