I read 5 books in September, 4 Fiction, 1 Non-fiction. 3 were on Kindle, 2 in print. If this month had a theme, it would have been YA fiction. Yay YA!
The Fault in Our Stars by John Green. This book was so good, I don’t even know what to say about it. I picked it up because of it ranked highly on NPR’s recent and controversial 100 Best-Ever Teen Novels. It’s about a girl with cancer, but it’s not maudlin. I cried so much, but I would read it again in a heartbeat. It’s definitely captivating.
Bitterblue by Kristin Cashore. This is the final book in Cashore’s Graceling trilogy, and it was my least favorite. The story is dark and disturbing and Bitterblue isn’t as strong mentally or physically at the heroines of the previous two books, which made me feel less comfortable. I’m glad I read it – happy to have had the stories resolved, but I wouldn’t recommend it unless you’ve read the other two.
Why Have Kids? by Jessica Valenti. This was an accessible, quick, and solidly researched read. The title is a bit misleading (if catchy), as the book really discusses what some of the major issues with contemporary motherhood are, not really so much whether or not one should have children. If you read a lot about feminism or news stories on mothering “controversies”, there isn’t a lot new for you here. I was familiar with most of the cases that Valenti mentioned, but I still found myself shaking my head in agreement a lot. She does a really great job of laying out the major issues. One thing that I took away from the book was the idea of Motherhood as a relationship, not a job. I think language is very powerful, and while much of mothering is hard work (just as being a spouse, a good friend, niece, daughter, etc can be hard work), it is not a job. I am building a life-long relationship with my daughter and I think that’s a better way to frame it. I also appreciated that idea that maybe having kids isn’t supposed to be fun. It often is of course, and I do get a lot of joy from my daughter, but the idea that it should always be fun is way too much pressure to put on any relationship or person (no matter how small and adorable).
Princess Academy by Shannon Hale. The third YA book of the month! I had this title on my To Read list for a while and when it popped up as a Kindle Daily Deal ($1.99!) I picked it up. It was an entertaining read – a fantasy novel set in the country of Danland, where the prince must choose his princess from a community chosen by priests – in this case the isolated community of Mt. Eskel. The eligible girls must then attend the Princess Academy to learn all those skills (reading, commerce, diplomacy) necessary to be a princess. It was a good read, and Hale has just published a sequel, which I imagine I will pick up one of these days.
Absolute Friends by John le Carre. Another spy novel from le Carre, which ranges from 1960s West Berlin to early 2000s “War on Terror” and focuses on 2 “absolute friends” – the Brit, Ted Mundy, and the German, Sasha. I have found that le Carre novels rarely have happy endings (the picture he paints of espionage is not a particularly uplifting one) and this was no exception. I think I’ll be taking a little break from spy novel after this one.