Books I Read This Week 2019 – 10

After all that wonderful reading last week, I only got to read four books this week. It was a long work week.  Here are my goodreads reviews. If you’re on goodreads, add me as a friend so I can see your books too! I’ve also started an instagram account where I join my love of reading with my love of art.

The Valedictorian of Being Dead (4.5stars): This is a powerful book. Despite a few jokes here and there, it’s not a funny book. It’s not your typical dooce stories. It’s an honest and raw book on the profound toll depression can take on your life and the lengths to which one might be willing to go to release themselves from the grip of it.

Back when my kids were in their toddler years, I used to read dooce and while I didn’t relate to many of her stories, her blog was compulsively readable. It was honest (maybe honest is not the right word since everyone writing online is presenting a version of themselves) and funny and it gave me something to do during those endless nights with little babies. I stopped reading it over the years and have maybe checked in on her site twice in the last ten years. 

Nonetheless, when I saw this ARC, I knew I wanted to read it. I have my own stories with depression and knowing how raw she can be, I wanted to read what she wrote. I knew it would be well written in her compulsively readable style.

This book was probably one of the rawest descriptions of depression I’ve ever read. The feelings and thoughts were articulated with such honesty that it hurt to read them. It was hard to get through much of this book, especially if you can connect with any of the feelings/thoughts. I found myself connecting with her mother and feeling such an overwhelming sadness of watching your kid go through all that and also such awe at her showing up for her daughter again and again.

It’s so easy to believe that the pieces of ourselves we share online (or even offline for that matter) are who we are. But they are far from it. The truth is always far from what we see. It’s layers and layers of complicated truths. And of course even with this book we won’t ever know the full story but I am still grateful Heather chose to write this story, chose to articulate what depression can feel like. We need more stories of the not-so-pretty but honest parts of life so all of us can feel less alone in our mess. So all of us can be more compassionate towards each other.

thanks to netgalley and the publisher for an advanced copy in return for an honest review.

The Unwinding of the Miracle (4 stars):  Reading two really sad books back to back was maybe not the best idea. Two books about death that both also have bits that are really hopeful and both remind you to live life.

Like The Bright Hour: A Memoir of Living and Dying and When Breath Becomes Air, this is a book about dying. The main character starts by telling you that they are dead by the time you read this. 

Much of the book comes out of the blog Julie had while she lived with colon cancer. It’s heart wrenching in bits, inspiring in others, and beautiful in yet others. What I really appreciated was the honesty she shares in its raw form in many, many parts of this book. The anger, the resentment, the frustration and the total unfairness of it all. 

The whole time I was reading this book I was thinking that I need to be more grateful for my life. I am not that far from the age Julie died. Life is unpredictable and it’s short and it can change on a dime. It’s hard but important for me to remember. 

The Last Romantics (4 stars):  I really enjoy stories about families and this one has all the bits I love. It’s about siblings who are deeply affected by their dad’s passing and the impact that has on their mom. Their journey over the years as they are close, get upset with each other, keep things from each other, support each other and all the other things siblings do.

Early Riser (2 stars): It’s clear I’m going to be the outlier here. As someone who has never read Jasper Fforde before, I am not exactly sure what compelled me to pick up this book in the first place. I do read a bunch of science fiction and I’ve read many dystopian novels and I can be a big fan of the absurd, clever humor. I’ve devoured and loved every book by Douglas Adams so I thought this might be fun.

But then I got lost almost immediately. One review I read said it might be fun to read this on audio but I am wondering if that’s what went wrong for me. If I should have just read it on paper instead. Or if I should have read it more in one long sitting, etc. I just kept getting disconnected from the story and never had any attachment to any of the characters. 

I thought of putting it down many many times throughout and in retrospect that’s exactly what I should have done. Midway through this would have been a 3-star read but by the end I was so tired and frustrated that I could not possibly give it that. 

There are many, many fans of the author and maybe one day I can pick up a different book and give it a shot but for now, I’ll move on.

And there we go, a small week of reading. Here’s to a better week next week.

Books I Read this Week 2019 is a year-long project for 2019. You can read more about my projects for 2019 here. I am also tracking my books in real time on Good Reads here. If you’re on Good Reads add me so I can follow you, too! I’ve also started an instagram account where I join my love of reading with my love of art.

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