Books I Read This Week 2019 – 31

Solid reading this 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 Huntress (4 stars): I usually stay clear of historical fiction, especially ww2 fiction and this book was over 18 hours on audio so I kept trying to convince myself not to read it. But the ratings were so high and the reviews were so raving that I kept coming back to it. Finally this week I decided it was time to tackle it.

And I am glad I did.

Like many others, I had never heard of the Night Witches and learning more about them was one of my favorite parts of the story. In fact Nina’s portions of the story were the very best in my opinion. The story is told from the perspective of three different characters: Nina, Ian, and Jordan and they all come together in the end. Nina’s chapters start way in the past and build up to today so we learn the most about her backstory. Ian’s chapters are about moving the plot forward so not a ton of character development in those sections, they are more plot driven. And Jordan’s sections are really more about the Huntress. I wanted to know more about the huntress too, and how she ended up being who she was. I felt she was the least layered character in the story. 

Regardless, this was a fantastic story and I am really glad I read it.

The Bookish Life of Nina Hill (3 stars): This book was really sweet and I enjoyed reading it, but like many others in this genre, I am not sure it will stay with me past this year. I have read many books like this where I find I am enjoying it in real time but then it won’t really stick with me. If you’re looking for something sweet and fun, this one will do the trick.

The Expectations (3.5 stars): “Price turned toward Ben now as they walked. ‘Your opponent is always going to want to avoid pain, but you run toward it, you go looking for that pain. Then you’re not afraid, and you win.’ He turned to look ahead again.”

This story takes place in a Prep School on the East Coast and it has some of the themes of “Prep” and “Old School” and other similar novels around the quiet richness, the entitlement, the “properness.” But at its core this novel is about growing up and finding your own identity, your ability to navigate peer pressure, struggling between fitting in and standing out. It’s about what’s said and what’s not said. It’s about the lives of quiet desperation many live. It’s about the things we don’t share especially during teenage years. 

‘”When I was thinking about people to photograph, I just thought that you seem pretty self-conscious a lot of the time, as though you aren’t sure” – snap – “how you come off to other people, and that difference between how you suspect you might come off” – snap – “and how you actually come off is interesting. It gives you” – snap – “a sort of vivid look, and I wondered f I could get that” – snap – “on film.” Snap.’

What I loved most about this story is that nothing gets resolved. There are many threads in the story and the author could have easily been tempted to follow them. But many of them are left unsaid. We don’t know what will happen and that makes this book so much more real to me. I usually like my plot lined buttoned up but I loved that it wasn’t so here.

The urge to belong, the yearning to understand, the struggle to be cool vs being kind, and the angst of having some freedom and yet not quite being an adult are all portrayed beautifully in this story.

Thank you to netgalley and Little, Brown and Company for an early copy in return for an honest review.

What I Wish I Knew When I was 20 (4 stars): I had heard about this book a long time ago and had intended to read it. More than ten years later, I am finally able to finish it and I am so glad I did. It was a fantastic read with lots of great stories, tangible/practical advice, great shift in mentality and perspective. It’s great for a teen going to college, but it’s also great for those of us who are older and could use an injection of new perspective and energy. Well worth the read.

The Players Ball (2.5 stars): I read this because there were parallels to Billion Dollar Whale and Bad Blood and I was in my twenties for much of this story so I thought it would be interesting to read about all the craziness during the birth of the internet and domain registration craze. As it turned out, I think this book didn’t end up being nearly as interesting as the other two. Maybe the author thought the salacious nature of the topic would be enough to carry the book, or the quirkiness of the main characters. But, for me, neither did the trick. I felt like the nuance, the richness of layers of research, and the depth was missing. It didn’t turn out to be as interesting nor as insightful as I would have hoped.

I Am Her Tribe (4 stars): “my hope for you is that you greet your reflection with kind eyes. that you never look to someone else for your belonging.”

i have highlighted so much of this book. Danielle knows how to put vulnerable feelings into words so well. Her simple poems are deep and profound.

“do not fast forward into something you’re not ready for or allow yourself to shrink back into what’s comfortable growth lives in the uneasiness the in-between the unfinished sentence you are a season of becoming”

some pieces resonated more with me than others, of course, but those that did jumped off the page and made me feel less alone.

“give yourself permission to be where you are and to still be loved for it”

these are words i will carry with me and pass on to my kids and remind myself of when i am in those dark moments.

“how you choose to show up magnetizes what shows up for you”

and they are words i will hold near my heart to remind myself to stay open and show up as my full self in the world. so i can make room for others to do the same.

“my heart serves as an invitation for others to show up + share their brightest, most authentic light what a gift i give to this world when i choose to remain open”

they are words that remind me of who i want to be. who i long to be. and what i yearn for.

“there is no greater love story than you in all that you are.”

i loved every moment of this book.

The Nickel Boys (4 stars): Another masterpiece from Colson Whitehead. This story based on Arthur G. Dozier School for Boys is heart wrenching and eye opening. It breaks your faith in humanity and doesn’t sugar coat the truth. It’s a brutal story and it’s beautifully written. Not having grown up in the United States, I know very little of all this horrible history and feel the need to educate myself. Elwood’s internal hope and the hopelessness of his real life are beautifully intertwined in this novel but in the end you are still left broken and angry and sad for his horrible and unjust life.

State of the Union (4 stars): “The trouble is, marriage is like a computer. You can take it apart to see what’s in there, but then you’re left with a million pieces.”

I don’t think it’s possible for me not to like a Nick Hornby book. There are so many reasons why from his sarcastic/bitter/clever humor to his witty dialogue. But what makes him stand out, for me, is the humanity his characters have. They are always flawed, always full of quirkiness, and always so very real.

This book is very short. It’s about a couple and we get to experience their dialogue as they meet at the bar across from the marriage therapist’s office ten times. It’s almost totally dialogue and neither of them are super likable. 

But they are both human. And I think like many of his other books, Hornby has some acute observations about marriage and people in this short short book. 

“…I think we should acknowledge that we have a flawed marriage. We live on a fault line, and the house might collapse at any moment.”

I laughed, I winced, and I had to pause and think. I loved every moment of getting to experience some Nick Hornby again.

And there we go, an okay week of reading. Here’s to a great 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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