The other day it struck me that this year is almost over. I've been slow to write about my recent reads, but I really have been reading more this year, albeit not quite as much as I ideally wish. I've just started another four books, but until I've finished them, I'll leave you with the books I read for the summer season.
Atonement by Ian McEwan - I must admit, I watched the film ages ago, before I ever picked up the book. I tried it out a few years back but never stuck with it. So, here we are now, safely on the other side; and better for having read it. McEwan is an incredible writer. His language is so descriptive, the imagery encircling the reader without effort. It helps that the storyline itself is vivid and captivating--the character development is superb and the complexity of relationships is reflective of life. There's no shying away from anything in this book, nor any fictional feel-good tie ups at the end. Atonement is romantic and heartbreaking. I'm ashamed that I hadn't read any of his work before, but I intend to devour more soon.
The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion - After losing my grandfather two years ago, I had thought to pick up Didion's book as a way to cope; and while Didion truly gives voice to the way grief manifests, it's not a hopeful book by any stretch of the imagination. That said, It's always comforting when you feel you aren't alone in your grief, and so I'm grateful for this book. Despite its raw melancholy--which is necessary, to be sure--I felt a sense of peace after finishing it. Besides, the insight into Didion's marriage was intriguing; Joan and John certainly shared a beautiful love and life.
The Encyclopedia of Trouble & Spaciousness by Rebecca Solnit - A truly poetic and perceptive essayist, Solnit will forever be a favorite of mine. She weaves not only words, but worlds. I learned so much about place and people, economics and politics, environmentalism and capitalism. I don't think I'll ever look at America the same way. Solnit's book jumps around the continents, and she holds nothing back--no topic is off limits, no opinion tempered. I love her honesty, her mix of realism, criticism, and optimism. While she doesn't offer outright solutions to the problems in this world, she nudges the reader in the direction of progress, both in ideology and action. If you read anything this year, make it this.
We Were Feminists Once by Andi Zeisler - Such a spunky and intelligent novel! I thoroughly enjoyed Zeisler's critical eye and wit as she tackles the ways in which feminism has been commodified since its early days. This is truly an eye-opening book about the tactics used in our modern, digital, consumerist society to persuade spending habits and subtly reinforce gender stereotypes. Zeisler spares no one as she uncovers the hypocrisy in everything from feminist cosmetics to feminist celebrities. My only critique is that she doesn't really offer ideas for the future, how we can reclaim feminism as the political movement it was, rather than the brand identity it now is. I want her advice on how to take the trendy and titillating out of a serious and significant crusade against inequality.
What's next? I recently re-read Americanah and am working my way through This Changes Everything by Naomi Klein. There are a few others on my radar for the end of this year, and as the weather continues to move us into winter, I'm eager to spend more time curled up on the couch with a good book. The cold months are always the best for reading, aren't they?
What have you been reading lately? I love to talk books, so send me an email or comment below and let's chat!