I was about to write this post and I realized that last week was days 233-239 and, if it will be a year in March, something was wrong. Apparently, in October, I totally messed up my counting and got off by, oh, a hundred or so days! Yikes, so today is really, truly day 339 of the quarantine!
The big news in our house is that yesterday was my daughter’s 12th birthday! Because of the pandemic, there was no party (although a couple friends left presents on our doorsteps), but she seemed okay with that. Next year, I’m sure that birthday parties will be all-out events! The only thing she said she wanted for her birthday was snow and, being the best mother in the world, I made sure that happened (okay, I might not have had any control over it, but I’m taking credit!). The kids had fun playing outside yesterday, but things are warming up today so I’m expecting the white stuff to be gone tomorrow, which is how I like it! I loved snow until I moved to Boston and discovered that snow that doesn’t melt within a few days just becomes ugly gray sludge!
And onto this week’s books! As usual, I am linking up with Kathryn at Book Date and her It’s Monday….What Are You Reading? blog hop.
This week, I finished:
The Paragon Hotel by Lyndsay Faye
(2.75 stars; Goodreads review)
I had never heard of this book before it was suggested in one of my book clubs, but it sounded right up my alley. Apparently, it wasn’t quite my alley after all. While I had high hopes, those hopes ended up falling flat.
There are two stories going in this book–one of Alice’s life in New York and one of her life in Portland. Both are fairly interesting, but I don’t understand why both are in this book. The New York story adds very little to understanding Alice and the Portland story is self-contained. What I found even more annoying is that the switching between the two stories did nothing buy interrupt any flow I had going with this book.
My bigger problem, and I realize this probably falls under the personal preference umbrella, is that this book was just exhausting–and it was a very specific form of exhaustion. It took me a while to put a finger on it, but it was if someone like me (an introvert) was stuck in a conversation for hours with someone who is just always on. If you know, you know. Honestly, if this hadn’t been a book club book, I probably would have DNF’d it.
So, this one definitely wasn’t a hit with me. However, I can’t say I would turn people away from this book–my issues may not be shared with others–but I probably wouldn’t recommend it.
The Little Book of Hygge by Meik Wiking
(3 stars, No Goodreads Review)
Okay, I’ve seen this book on a lot of blogs lately and I’m sure what I’m about to say will ruffle some feathers (for more than one reason), but here it goes. What a crock!
I don’t dispute that the Danes (and other Scandinavians) are happy. I get that being cozy is comforting. I realize that I need to rethink some of the lighting choices in my house. That is all true. But, here’s the thing, the Scandinavians are not happy because of their socks or blankets or candles or lighting. They are happy because they live in a welfare state. Wiking realizes this as he does kind of, sort of refer to it at a few points. This book is just a marketing attempt to sell Americans on something they won’t ever achieve because, as we know, the American dream is told hold onto to our own stuff, complain about paying taxes, pay even more for things that would be provided to us if we paid more taxes, and then just deal with all the added stress and anxiety that Scandinavians don’t have to worry about.
Did I drive everyone away with that rant? Anyway, this book had its good points, but I honestly think that if someone was truly looking for a self-help book that would actually do something, a book on minimalism would be a better choice.
The Fortunate Ones by Ed Tarkington
(4.25 stars, Goodreads Review)
This is the book that I didn’t know I needed to read.
It was the comparisons to The Great Gatsby that convinced me to give it a try, although rich boys at a private school didn’t really seem like my jam.
This isn’t a Gatsby retelling but clearly Fitzgerald’s work was an inspiration. Instead of flappers and bootleggers, we are in world of late 20th/early 21st century affluent Southern Republicans. While the political side doesn’t come until later in the book, the seeds can be seen in the early pages. This isn’t a book with very many, if any, truly likable characters, so you’ll have to be okay with extremely flawed individuals.
I was surprised at how quickly and completely I was sucked into this story. To be fair, I am not unfamiliar with this world as I’ve known people such of these in my life, but that only made the book more believable. This is also a story that just makes sense, and it helps to make sense of our current reality.
My only complaint with this book is that I felt the last third or so was inconsistently paced. At points it felt like we were going down roads that didn’t need to be traveled while others felt rushed. It wasn’t enough to leave me with a negative view of the book once I finished, but it was something that I noticed.
This is definitely a book that I would recommend to someone who wanted something based in reality that may add clarity to where we are today.
What I started this week:
A Fountain Filled with Blood (A Rev. Clare Fergusson and Russ Van Alstyne Mystery #2) by Julia Spencer-Fleming
This is the second installment in the crime fighting Episcopal priest mysteries and I’m quite liking it. For those that haven’t read it, I would say it would be in the realm of Louise Penny’s books (that being based on my reading exactly one Louise Penny book). Also, the titles are taken from hymns and make the books sounds heavier than they actually are. They aren’t light, but there is a far amount of levity and the relationships in the book can be quite charming.
What I don’t like is that my library only has the first book in eBook form and I have to get hardcovers from here on out. I don’t know why, but this is the sort of book I like to read on my kindle. I’m trying to make a dent into my own print book TBR and that’s hard when I keep having to get library print books! Also, it’s just depressing to go to the library right now–we can go in to pick up holds, but there is no browsing and all the books are blocked off from the public. It is much less of an emotional task to just download the book from Libby!
I’m still reading:
We Ride Upon Sticks by Quan Barry
The Witches of New York by Ami McKay
Monument by Natasha Trethewey
Middlemarch by George Eliot