This one got me in the gut

It was a memoir and after about only 2 pages I was hooked. She went there and she went there fast!

Wait – what does that even mean? Sometimes, I am finding in this social media driven world, we (the collective we which includes writers and posters) use shorthand to express ourselves which can leave out the gushy details, the informative descriptions, & necessary nuances to our feelings when we review a book, a movie, a moment.

So I am going to go there to the best of my ability to explain what I mean by this statement.

In the memoir ALL YOU WILL EVER KNOW by Nicole Chung, you will know right away about the backbone of this read. She’s struggled with the terms of her identity and life as a Korean female adopted by a Christian family near Seattle. The terms by which she slowly – painstakingly slowly –  uncovers who she is and what she wants to learn about her roots is told in this tale very truthfully so the reader can feel the depths of her emotions and her internal strife.

It is wonderful, truly wonderful to read her words. They leave no room for wondering what she has left out. There are no what ifs and lingering loopholes. The only plot point, so to speak is what her future holds after the birth of her daughter and as she navigates life as mother as an adoptee who has moved through her life with her eyes wide open and wanting to open them more about the family who birthed her.

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Lisa See, The Island of Sea Women

It’s fierce. Let me just tell you that.

It’s rough in many many parts. Rough in the sense of sadness and strife.  It’s a magnifying glass onto a culture that is very strict in the way people should live their lives based on gender. There’s death and the fear of death at every turn of the story AND the page. Bottom line, don’t read it if you don’t want to feel and cry and know how deep sorrow has gone and can go in this world.

I’m guessing if you are a reader about a reader (that’s me) then these books just might be for you. It’s not that her books are about reading – they are not. But as a reader of many different types of fiction and pop fiction, these books are different and strong candidates to add to your spectrum of choices.

This is the second book of Lisa See’s I have read in the past two months. I read Snow Flower and the Secret Fan. I would recommend that one over The Sea of Island Women.

For now, I am taking a break but when I am ready I’ll be reading The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane.

Popular Books

Most Sundays or Mondays you can bet I am reading the (hard copy) New York Times Book Reviews section. I knew I loved books an inordinate amount when I began to read reviews of books as much as possible. And when I so thoroughly enjoyed the review of a book and set out not to read the book itself but simply to have others read the review – well, then I knew I needed to write about books in this blog.

I like to know what the popular books are and often I will read them. Not all of them. I have one too many times picked up a best seller only to really and truly dislike it. The plot is thin, the characters are not well drawn, you know, not a good book.

But here is the thing, the popular book has sold millions and millions of copies so you know what that means? Not every book is for everyone and I get a kick out of that.

A big ‘ol “Hmmmmmm.”

It’s not that the other readers who loved the book are dummies or that they don’t read a lot of books. There is just, in this world, always something for everyone and not everything is for someone. That someone being me.

I recently picked up a popular book from last year, purchased the paperback from Barnes and Noble, read it, and truly disliked it A LOT. I finished it because I was curious – did this have a good ending that maybe will turn my whole opinion around?

I also had to finish it to be able to parse it out and discuss with others. To me, consuming the entire piece of art creates the entire picture the author was attempting to display and you can credibly critique the book with more authenticity.

The most recent “popular” book, was a cliche from beginning to end.

While the end had a twist, you could see from the very first few pages.

So, I didn’t like it. And I’m not mad.

Because with popular books there is always something satisfying with reading and keeping up with pop culture. Reading popular books usually give me more than merely a satisfaction with keeping up but in this book’s case, I’ll take it for that.

I would also like to say that I don’t enjoy purchasing books from Barnes and Noble. I prefer an indy bookstore to keep money local and keep the store in business.

Independent bookstores are the shit. Plain and simple.

It’s where you know the owners fill it with such intention and intentional peacefulness, calm, so that an “all is good in the world” feeling takes over. Maybe this book and my selection is a sign that my B & N purchasing days are well behind me.

Good Books Only.

PS This is the worst review ever since I did not reveal the book title. Well, I do like to tell stories about books. I never said I like to diss books.

 

 

Monday Musings (about a book – obvi)

The Submission is thrilling me. It’s fictionalized but written about NYC post-9/11 in such a way I can imagine the events really taking place in real life NYC.

I guess I just summarized how many fictional writers want their books to be.

Real.

Even though they are fake.

Wow. Really getting to the good stuff here today.

The book was published 7 years ago which was the 10 year anniversary of the September 11th attacks. Yet, it brings me back to that time that I cannot believe it’s coming up on almost 20 years ago.

That doesn’t seem right.

Time is so fluid, untouchable, graceful and clumsy at the same time.

But wait – thank you, book for doing that!

Another huge part of this book is not just the time travel but it’s the fact that now with our current state of politics with a racism and discrimination in the air, the book (in which almost every character is reckoning with their own bias and prejudices) faces these topical issues.

This is why I am recommending The Submission be picked up immediately. It will help you understand more clearly our current times while further understanding our past times.

 

 

Lately

Lately I have been reading stellar books.

I found Sally Rooney and I am so glad I did!!

Normal People by Sally Rooney

It’s just the type of book that makes me want to keep reading great books!

Conversations with Friends by Sally Rooney

Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens. Very pretty prose and very much a page turner, all in one!

Snow Flower and The Secret Fan by Lisa See. What a tale. It was dark and yet there was a lotta love. I just can’t wait to read more of her books!

Becoming by Michelle Obama. It does seem fictionalized in a way. Did that really happen? She and he sometimes seem almost too good to be true. I am so very happy it happened and I think you will be happy too once you pick up this memoir.

I am in the middle of The Submission by Amy Waldman, which is a fictionalized NYC post-September 11th tale. I was not even 40 pages in and loving it! This is still the case on page 105.

 

Current tear

When I am finishing books quickly and always on to the next within 24 hours or less of finishing a read I call that a tear.

I am on a tear!!

It is the kinda tear where you grab a page from a book and not the kind that falls from your eye when you are crying.

So this tear has included The Heir. (it rhymes)

The Heir is by Susan Rieger

Other books on this tear include:

Saints for All Occasions by J. Courtney Sullivan

Maine by J. Courtney Sullivan (Yes – Saints for All Occasions was THAT good I immediately had to read another one of this authors right away. That itch was real!)

Daisy Jones and The Six (A Reese Witherspoon book club recommendation) by Taylor Jenkins Reid

and now I am in the middle of The Bright Hours by Nina Riggs.

This book is so sad. The writer is a late 30s woman, mom, wife, sister, daughter who is dying of cancer. And it is her memoir as she was dying. Yes. It goes there. It goes all the way in.

I remember someone telling me NOT to read it. How’s that for a book blogger? I take your recommendation and I throw it to the ground!!

I just tear up that non-recommendation!!

My recommendation that you should follow is to start right away on Saints for All Occasions. It will start your tear and you might even tear up!

 

 

2019 is here and it is January 2

So perhaps this is the year that I update more regularly. I don’t know yet.

Stay tuned!!

Until then, please note recommendations from my 2018 READ list:

The Lost Family by Jenna Blum

Educated by Tara Westolver

The Perfect Mother by Aimee Malloy

 

2018 is here and it’s February 2

This subject title could be more creative but it’s definitely direct. I wanted to get directly to it so no time for too much SUBJECT LINE editing.

Lilac Girls: By Martha Hall Kelly

I read this book on a Caribbean vacation after I had picked it up at the Take a Book Leave a Book Library at the resort. Oh how I wish I had taken a photo of the view from this library.! It was dreamy. Lots of books to peruse with posh interior/exterior lobby. The breeze, the blue green shades of couches and mirrors and the beautiful shelves.

So I’m looking and looking and don’t see anything I have heard of until The Lilac Girls is there just waiting to be picked.

Well, what a pick!

This is a strong debut and a wonderful companion to my The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah love.

It’s a definite page turner, heart-wrencher. It reminded me of my post The Nightingale quest to read more World War II books. I’m on that quest again!

Now I’m in to the 4 grade approved Nathan Hale’s Hazardous Tales collection and enjoying it very much.

Book-tober

“Let us read, and let us dance; these two amusements will never do any harm to the world.”
― Voltaire

Yes! This month there has been a lotta reading going on. You know it. Well, you wouldn’t if you read this blog exclusively instead of talking with me in person. I update in real life. On the blog, not so much.

Here’s what I’ve read recently:

Option B by Sheryl Sandberg

Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

Graphic Novels by Jennifer Holm and Matthew Holm – Sunny Side Up and Swing It, Sunny

Also in Book-Tober I will be visiting the independent book shop Books Are Magic in Cobble Hill for the first time. The first time of what I hope will be many times.

Brit Bennet who wrote The Mothers (What?! You haven’t read it yet?) will be speaking and reading.