Following in the footsteps of March, April was another reading-heavy month. If there were any doubts as to how I'm managing self-quarantine, let this clear that right up: I'm reading. A lot.
April's selections were split 50/50 across fiction and non-fiction. Not something I did on purpose, but in retrospect I can see how that makes sense. I bounce around between the need to escape from reality and a curiosity for how other people handle life. Do you tend to favor one genre (or sub-genre) over another, based on what's happening in your life?
My two favorite books this month were The Authenticity Project by Clare Pooley and Books for Living by Will Schwalbe. The Authenticity Project is a work of contemporary fiction that follows the intertwining lives of six strangers brought together by a green notebook making its way across London (and a bit beyond). Each person who comes into possession of the notebook writes his or her deepest secret and then passes it along. The notebook brings each of them together in unexpected (and sometimes, not so unexpected) ways. It also included a couple of twists that kept me on my toes, along with a satisfying ending. Pooley's writing style is fluid, and she injects a lot of humor and heart into this story.
Books for Living was published in 2016, and I stumbled upon a used copy at my favorite neighborhood bookstore (Cream and Amber, in downtown Hopkins, MN if you're wondering). This work of non-fiction is a follow-up to Schwalbe's best-seller, The End of Your Life Bookclub, and I hoped it would be the perfect thing to pick up and put down before bedtime. It was. In each chapter, Schwalbe introduces a book that provides context and texture to his own life. The books span genres and include a mix of classics and contemporary selections. What really stole my heart and made this a book I looked forward to opening each night was Schwalbe's affable tone, vulnerability and openness to sharing personal stories and insights that wove into the books he chose to highlight.
The two books I liked the least this month were It All Comes Back to You by Beth Duke and Marketing Made Simple by Donald Miller and Dr. J.J. Petersen. I read Marketing Made Simple as part of a book club at work (my job is in marketing for a tech company). I had moderate expectations for the book and it didn't manage to meet that mediocre bar. I know this is lazy, but I don't really care to expend much more energy talking about it, so I'm not going to. If you're interested in marketing and want to know more about why I can't even with this book, let me know in the comments and we can chat about it there.
It All Comes Back to You on the other hand...whew. This one is complicated. The book is set in both present day to tell the story of Ronni, an assisted living nurse who has been left a life-changing amount of money if she writes the life story of one of her favorite residents who has died; and the past, as it jumps back in time to tell the story of that vivacious resident, Violet. I stayed up late (11:00 p.m. on a work night!) to read the book because the story was engrossing and well-written, with plenty of twists and turns for the two characters for whom it was mostly easy to root for. I say mostly because Ronni's story at times became a little muddled, especially a life-changing romance that just never quite felt right to me. One of those major plot twists came at the very end of the book, and it left me with such an overwhelming sense of ickiness and dismay that I couldn't possibly encourage anyone to put themselves through it. Unless you like that kind of thing, in which case by all means.
What I Read in April
This is a place to celebrate all the parts of yourself that come with age and experience. I'm here to share with you what I know and to explore with you the many (many) things I don't.