October was a great month for reading.I read 6 books, 5 of which were fiction, 1 in print, 5 on Kindle. 2 of the books I read this month have become go to recommendations when folks ask for reading suggestions!
The Buddha in the Attic by Julie Otsuka. This novel covers the arrival of Japanese “picture brides” in America in the early 1900s through marriage and childbirth and work to the internment of the Japanese during World War II. The writing style is pretty unique (not many things are written in first person plural), and I think that means you will either love it or hate it. I really enjoyed it and it was a very quick read.
A Secret Gift: How One Man’s Kindness–and a Trove of Letters–Revealed the Hidden History of the Great Depression by Ted Gup. I heard about this book a while ago (probably on NPR), but it wasn’t available as an eBook, so I just filed it away as a book to read “someday”. When it showed up on the Maryland Libraries’ Overdrive site, I checked it right out! This is my one non-fiction book from October, and it explores the life of the author’s grandfather and fellow residents of Depression-era Canton, Ohio, through one action of his – the anonymous gift of cash to respondents to a newspaper ad in Christmas of 1933. Gup may have been most interested in unravelling his grandfather’s secrets, but I thought he also did an excellent job showing the effects of the Depression on a wide swath of individuals. It really brought the experience home.
Where’d You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple. This is one of my new “Go To” recommendations. It is smart and funny and well worth reading. Bernadette Fox, MacArthur Genius award-winning architect, mother of a middle schooler, and total recluse has gone missing and her daughter is trying to figure out where she has gone – mainly using emails to and from her mother. I don’t want to give too much away, but I will say that I highly recommend this book.
Outlander by Diana Gabaldon. So… Outlander is one of these popular series and I really expected to like it. It involves time travel, which is really the only subset of science fiction that I enjoy and most of the novel takes place is the swashbuckling Scottish highlands. There were parts of the book that I liked – I liked the main character, Claire, and I enjoyed reading of the ways Claire, a nurse, dealt with medical emergencies in the 18th Century, but, and I fully accept that this makes me a literary prude, there was way too much sex for my taste. I’m not opposed to sex in novels at all, but there was so much that I found myself thinking, stop having sex and DO something. So there you go, good story, marred for me by too much sex. I think I will skip the rest of the series.
The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks by E. Lockhart. This YA book, set in at an elite New England boarding school, tells the story of Ms. Frankie (great name!) Landau-Banks, sophomore, feminist, and infiltrator of the all-male secret society, the Loyal Order of the Basset Hounds. Frankie is smart and unconventional and reckless in that way that only teenagers can (or maybe should) be. A fun read.
The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern. This is my other new “Go To” recommendation. A fantasy novel that centers around a competition between the proteges of two magicians and that takes place, mostly, eventually in the context of the Night Circus, a beautiful, magical travelling circus open only at night. I loved this book.