Every Book I’ve Read So Far This Year (And Whether Or Not You Should Read Them, Too), Part Three

I think the last time I wrote one of these, I was lamenting my lack of motivation to read anything. I’ve felt much more motivated during these past few months, though I continue to acquire more books than I can or am willing to get through. Since July, my life has been all peaks and valleys and nothing really in between. That sort of unsteadiness has not made reading easy, but I’ve been trying! I promise. (Not that literally anyone cares how many books I get through in a calendar year besides me.) Anyway, here are the books I’ve read during the last three months and why I think you might – or might not – like to read them too. 

***

July

The Interestings by Meg Wolitzer

What’s it about?

A group of friends – “the Interestings” of the title – who meet at a summer camp for the arts in the seventies grow up. The novel follows them across decades, as their ambitions, talents, and class shape their lives and relationships with one another.

Did I like this book?

Yes. I thought some of the story was a bit clunky, but I generally found it hard to put down.

Should you read it? Why or why not?

Yeah! If you’re like me, someone who has been classified as “creative” since childhood, and have struggled with what you’re supposed to do with that creativity and the ambitions and expectations that go along with it, then I definitely think this is worth reading.

Friendship by Emily Gould 

What’s it about?

Two female friends in New York struggle with their relationship when one discovers that she’s pregnant. 

Did I like this book?

Yup! I remember reading it on the couch one afternoon, thinking about canceling plans because I didn’t want to stop reading. It also made me laugh out loud a few times, which is always a good sign.

Should you read it? Why or why not?

One thing I loved about Friendship was how well it portrayed modern female relationships within a certain demographic. Of course, that demographic happens to be my own, which is I’m sure why I related to it. I wouldn’t say you need to be a white, Brooklyn-dwelling woman in her late twenties to enjoy it, but it might appeal to you more if that is the case. 

Faithful Place by Tana French

What’s it about?

Detective Frank Mackey, who appeared in French’s The Likeness, discovers that the woman he thought might have run off on him years ago may never have left their poor Dublin neighborhood at all. When Rosie Daly’s suitcase is found in an abandoned house, Mackey returns to the neighborhood and the family he left behind decades ago to investigate her disappearance.

Did I like this book?

This one is definitely up there with The Likeness, which was previously my very favorite Tana French book.

Should you read it? Why or why not?

Yes, definitely. I love this series and would recommend this book to anyone who likes a good mystery. And in this case, a good family drama. 

Do Not Sell At Any Price: The Wild, Obsessive Hunt for the World’s Rarest 78rpm Records by Amanda Petrusich 

What’s it about?

Petrusich explores the small and fanatical community of 78 collectors and the stories behind the music they love. 

Did I like this book?

I loved it. I’ve been obsessed with reading about these collectors and famous 78s since I first discovered The Anthology of American Folk Music – compiled by Harry Smith, from his extensive collection of 78s – when I was in college.

Should you read it? Why or why not?

Sure, if you’re big into American cultural history or the origins of American music or record collecting. Or if you just want to read some well-written creative non-fiction.

*** 

August

Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood, and the Prison of Belief by Lawrence Wright

What’s it about?

Everything you ever wanted to know about Scientology. From the story behind L. Ron Hubbard to Tom Cruise, Going Clear does not disappoint. 

Did I like it?

Yes. This book was completely impressive in its scope. And was extremely well-written. 

Should you read it? Why or why not?

If you’ve ever wondered about Scientology, are interested in belief systems and modern religion, or enjoy reading The New Yorker, yes.

*** 

September

All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

What’s it about?

This ambition novel alternates between the stories of Marie-Laure, a blind Parisian girl, and Werner, a German orphan, in the years leading up to and during the Second World War. We learn at the beginning that both end up trapped on the French island of Saint-Malo while it’s under siege and it takes the rest of the book to find out how and why they got there.

Did I like it?

Oh my God, I loved it. So, so much. I’ve talked about my obsession with historical fiction here before, so this shouldn’t surprise anyone.

Should you read it? Why or why not?

Yes. This was one of my favorites – if not my favorite – this year. It’s cleverly crafted and the prose is gorgeous. I think the imagery from this book will stick with me for a long time.

A High Wind in Jamaica by Richard Hughes

What’s it about?

A group of children are kidnapped by pirates when their ship traveling from Jamaica to England is captured.

Did I like it?

This was a reread for me, so yes. I’m a big Richard Hughes fan. 

Should you read it? Why or why not?

This book isn’t for the faint of heart. Disasters, abuse, and murder abound. However, Hughes’ examination of the child’s psyche is, to me, incredible and makes A High Wind in Jamaica well-worth reading.

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