I learned recently that I’m a really, really slow reader–at least according to this super unofficial online quiz that I took a few months ago. I’m a reader. I love books. I love to be reading. I always have at least one book that I’m in the middle of and 200 others on my TBR list. Regardless of my love of books and reading, I’ve been so frustrated my whole life by the fact that I’ve never been able to cover nearly as much ground as other people. It made me feel like a fraud. Real literature lovers can finish a book in a day, right? Most friends that I have who are readers, finish 4 or 5 novels in the time it takes me to make it through one.
Because of this and a few other factors, I have an unspoken suspicion that I might have made it all these 32 years with an undiagnosed learning disability. I’m open to looking into that but I kind of don’t want to know the answer either way. Regardless, this one simple, completely unscientific test gave me all the permission I need right now to know that I’m doing okay. Permission to listen to Audiobooks and permission to take my time. I just happen to read slowly and that’s all. I’m not a fraud. I’m not stupid. I’m not lazy. I’m just doing what I can as I can. That small thing feels like I’ve unlocked something deep inside of me.
I’ve always wanted to talk more about books and reading on this blog but I felt like I couldn’t since I wasn’t able to read that much. But I can actually do anything I want to. So as Winter draws to a close, here’s a list of all I’ve read this year.
A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman: 10/10 would recommend the audiobook version the very most. Ove is a curmudgeony old man who is ready to die but is given new life after he gets involved in the lives of his neighbors. It sounds so simple but I think it’s an incredible look at how self-involved we can become and forget the world around us.
The Secret History of Wonder Woman: 3.5/5 stars (who says we need a consistent rating system?). I wrote about this one for our Virtual Book Club.
Heartburn by Nora Ephron: I’ll give this another 3.5/5 stars. I also wrote about this for book club.
Behold the Dreamers by Imbolo Mbue: This was incredible! 10/10. It was a long novel that focuses on the lives of two very different families who have so many more similarities than one would ever expect. A Wall Street executive hires a man who immigrated from Cameroon to be his driver and the way their families become intertwined is so natural and incredible. I truly can’t recommend this enough. And since it’s so long, I can totally recommend the audiobook version–the narrator gets all the different nuanced accents perfectly and even sings some of the traditional songs.
Gods in Alabama by Joshilyn Jackson: So great! I grabbed this on a whim because I love stories of small town life and the secrets, rumors, and expectations contained therein. This book is incredibly funny and also incredibly tragic. I found myself gasping and holding back tears as often as I was laughing out loud. The inside flap starts: “For 10 years Arlene has kept her promises, and God has kept His end of the bargain. Until now.”
A Curated Closet by Anuschka Rees: I feel like so many bloggers have written about this, so I don’t really need to. But I will say that this book helped me think about things that I ordinarily would have never really thought about. Sure, it’s about your wardrobe and honing a style. But it’s also about being mindful about the things that you own and spending your money well. I learned a lot about myself going through this book! I recommend it to anyone who feels like they’ve got a roadblock between themselves and their clutter.
Dinner: A Love Story by Jenny Rosertrach: I picked up this book from the library because I’ve followed the DALS blog for a long, long time and I love the simplicity and approachability of their recipes. What I got, though. Was so much more. It truly is a love story! It’s not just a cook book–it’s the story of the building of a family with a lot of recipes in between encounters. It’s not a recipe book that’s categorized like any other where there’s a section on desserts and a section on entrees. It’s more like, “At that point in our relationship when we were trying to woo one another, these are some dishes that we ate a lot.”And “when I was recovering from childbirth, here’s what we were eating most of the time.”It’s so beautiful. I want to gift this book to every woman in my family.
The Mothers by Brit Bennett: This book feels like it was written about people that I know. It’s another small-town type of book. The Mothers refers to the older women at a church called The Upper Room who are the prayer warriors and therefor, the all-knowing narrators of the story but it also refers to all the different ways that women mother throughout the course of their lives. Having grown up in the church, this is a setting that I was all too familiar with. The story itself was so approachable and relatable. I loved it and I’m looking forward to the film that will inevitably be made about it.
Books that I’m actually reading right now:
Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders: I’m actually listening to this on audible because I’ve heard incredible things about the performances for this one.)
The Handmaids Tale by Margaret Atwood: Okay, I’m not actually reading this yet because I bought it on Amazon and it hasn’t gotten here yet but the second that it does, I’ll rip it open and start it. It’s our March Pick for our Virtual Book Club.
Have you read anything since the start of the year that you’ve really loved? What do you think, do audiobooks really count as reading? I used to think no but I’m starting to change my tune a little bit.