Small Victories (Anne Lamott)

I’ll be honest…I’m not super excited about this book I just finished. But I don’t want this whole post to be bland so I’m going to start you off with a suggestion to go check out a podcast I’ve been loving. As you know from my bio line under the title of this blog (or if you’ve read my older reviews), I am a big Harry Potter fan. Not a super fan, per se, but I’ve read the books countless times and hold movie marathons of the series almost as much as ABC Family. If you, too, like Harry Potter and would enjoy hearing two Canadian academics talk about the books/movies/associated events, then go check out Witch, Please. Politics, intersectional feminism, and whimsical sound effects abound!

Anyway…here’s my actual review of this in-no-way-related-to-Harry-Potter book 🙂

Title/Year – Small Victories: Spotting improbable moments of grace (2014)

Author – Anne Lamott

Page count – 286

Rating – Buy/Borrow/Bypass + Goodreads 3/5 (Liked It) Continue reading “Small Victories (Anne Lamott)”

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The Husband’s Secret (Liane Moriarty)

I originally got this from my library before Valentine’s Day as part of their “Blind Date with a Book” project where you pick out a book that’s been covered with wrapping paper and has a cryptic description of what it’s about. I got overwhelmed with some schoolwork around that time, plus checked out too many books at once (even with using renewals to give me more time), so I never got to read it. This year, before classes became too busy, I decided to give it another go.

Title/Year Published – The Husband’s Secret (2013)*

Author – Liane Moriarty

Page count – 394

Rating – Buy/Borrow/Bypass + Goodreads 3/5 (Liked It)

*I’m going to start including the year the book was published because I think it’s important (for some more than others) to put a story in context. If there’s info in this section you don’t find helpful or something else you think I should add, please let me know 🙂 Continue reading “The Husband’s Secret (Liane Moriarty)”

A Million Little Pieces (James Frey)

It’s hard to place this book in one particular category. Is it a memoir? Is it fiction or non-fiction? It’s marketed as a true account of Frey’s time in rehab, but there is some dispute about whether all events are completely accurate. While I do think there should be some sort of disclaimer about “artistic liberties” or exaggeration, I also think that anyone who reads a memoir and believes that everything is 100% real with no stretching the truth to make the story more interesting from a marketing perspective…is fooling themselves.

I also believe that stories don’t have to be true to teach us something. Fiction has just as much power to take us to another world and empathize with people/characters whose experiences differ from our own. And that’s what this book did for me.

Title – A Million Little Pieces

Author – James Frey

Page count – 430

Rating – Borrow (I put this at a 4/5 “Really Liked It” on Goodreads, and I would recommend it…but I don’t know that I can read it again.)

(Big ol’ CW/TW on this story for: addiction, alcohol, drugs, rape, abuse) Continue reading “A Million Little Pieces (James Frey)”

Nobody Knows My Name (James Baldwin)

No, I didn’t finish this book in just one day! I was reading this alongside my last two books and happened to finish it at about the same time as Shrill. So you get two reviews in two days…Lucky you 🙂

Title – Nobody Knows My Name

Author – James Baldwin

Page count – 190

Rating* – Borrow

(*Rating system taken from Book Riot’s “Buy/Borrow/Bypass” tag)

This book is actually a collection of essays. Baldwin did write several novels, but he is perhaps even more well-known as an essayist. I picked up a few of his books after watching the Raoul Peck documentary I Am Not Your Negro (based on one of Baldwin’s unfinished manuscripts) and watching a few videos of speeches he gave (like this one – CW: the n-word). There’s something about his cadence when he speaks that keeps me enraptured. Continue reading “Nobody Knows My Name (James Baldwin)”

Shrill (Lindy West)

Please read this book. Especially if you’ve ever been someone who thinks that women are just “too sensitive” about online harassment, or if you think that fat people are “gross” or make comments about fat people’s bodies out of “concern for their health.” I think people believe those things because they’ve never really taken the time to truly listen to the voices of people actually living out those realities. Lindy West speaks about her experiences with humor and unapologetic grit – but also with far more grace and understanding than any of her tormentors deserve.

Title – Shrill: Notes from a loud woman

Author – Lindy West

Page count – 258

Rating – Borrow (Not one that I necessarily need to read again but would definitely recommend) Continue reading “Shrill (Lindy West)”

Ella Minnow Pea (Mark Dunn)

This is one of the best fiction books I’ve read in a while. It was just so clever, and I could not put it down!

Title – Ella Minnow Pea: a novel in letters

Author – Mark Dunn

Page count – 208

Rating – Buy. I will definitely read this again and anticipate recommending it frequently.

Ella Minnow Pea is a teenager living on the fictional island of Nollop, just off the coast of South Carolina. The island is named after Nevin Nollop, the (again, fictional) creator of the sentence “The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog.” (This sentence is a pangram, meaning it uses all the letters of the alphabet at least once.) This sentence is spelled out in tiles on a statue of Nollop, but as the tiles suddenly start to fall off, the islanders are forbidden to write or speak using those fallen letters. The book is written as a series of letters/notes between the inhabitants of the island, including Ella. As more letters fall from the statue, the letter-writers have to get creative with how they communicate to avoid using the forbidden letters.

A quick thought: Sometimes I find the use of long or complex words in a story as the author just wanting to sound smart. I didn’t get that vibe here. The characters simply seem to appreciate selecting exactly the right word to express what they mean. And it helps to highlight the change in language as certain letters become forbidden.

**Some SPOILERS ahead for minor plot points, but I won’t give away anything major or the ending. You should experience that fresh for yourself** Continue reading “Ella Minnow Pea (Mark Dunn)”

Silas Marner (George Eliot)

This was a pleasant little book. It’s not one that makes me excited to write a lengthy review or wish I could delve into writing an academic essay. But it was a lovely use of my time, and I think I want to read it again at some point. It reminds me of Pride & Prejudice in that way – I wasn’t too excited for that one either when I first read it, but additional readings have led me to appreciate it more.

Title – Silas Marner

Author – George Eliot

Page count – 185

Rating – Borrow

Silas Marner is a spinner and weaver. As someone who came from another town and – except for his yarn and linen deliveries – keeps mostly to himself, he is regarded by the country folk as a “miserly recluse.” Continue reading “Silas Marner (George Eliot)”