A quick recap at the end of every month seems to be the smartest way to talk about what books I’ve read from my 2017 reading list, so here they are.
The Paris Wife by Paula McLain
This was from my 2016 reading list. I listened to it on audiobook, and actually enjoyed it. Of course, I believe it would have been more enjoyable if I had read it myself, but we take what we can get, right? This novel was so interesting not only because it follows the life of Ernest Hemingway and his early life during their time in Paris, but because you get snippets of the lives of other hot writers of the time like Sherwood Anderson, Gertrude Stein, and Scott Fitzgerald.
It was eye-opening, as I’ve never read any historical fiction about these authors in their time, but know that Paris was the place to be in the 20’s. It wasn’t just writers there – but painters, musicians, and models. Social circles were huge, and while Hemingway and his wife were poorer than other people in this book, they still managed to vacation in other countries and stay for weeks at a time without working or making any money.
I wholly recommend this novel to you if you’re a fan of the Paris age and all the prolific writers that came out of that time. I give it a 5 out of 5. While it is fiction, I think the portrayal of lifestyles is accurate.
The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt
It took several weeks for me to slog through this novel-the supposed best-seller that everyone should read. It reminded me so much of All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr. It had so much potential and it just kept falling flat. I’m not saying it isn’t a great novel. I just didn’t enjoy it.
It was overly descriptive and things took too long to develop. I understand it was meant to build on the life of an orphan boy and explain why he turned out so rotten, but I just didn’t care. Maybe I’m too harsh?
Give it a read if you like. It was well-written, so I give it 4 out of 5 stars. It just wasn’t for me.
The Secret History by Donna Tartt
I figured since I was reading The Goldfinch, I would go ahead and get Tartt’s other novel out of the way, and I’m sure glad I did. I am so happy I’m done with her writing for a while. Her books are obsessively long. She’s a great author, but I’m a fan of books that cut to the chase, and her flowery language and descriptions had me chomping at the bit. The audio version was like 25 hours long, and I know it could have been cut down to 15 hours if she’d skipped the bullcrap.
Still, I found the plot interesting. It’s not a thriller or a mystery, but it follows one college boy who gets caught up with a weird group of students who have some messed up ideologies. It’s an interesting read, but far too long, and the characters seem too old for their ages.
Selfish, Shallow, and Self-Absorbed: Sixteen Writers on the Decision Not to Have Kids by Meghan Daum
This was a short book, but I enjoyed it. I also listened to this on audiobook. ALL THE AUDIOBOOKS – it’s the only way I can get any “reading” in with my statistics class destroying my life. Anywho, this is a collection of essays by writers (none that I have heard of before) about their choice to be childless. Some of these stories angered me, but some were very relatable. I have never wanted children, and as a stable, married 26 year old, people are starting to ask questions.
If you are like me and do not want to have children, you might enjoy this book. I don’t think it is earth-shattering, but it does have insights into how women (and men) have been treated over the ages when it comes to having children. It also discusses the typical opinions we hear about women who do not desire children – that they are selfish, freaky, and not quite right.
I didn’t end up reading “After You” yet, because life got hectic and I had to return the books to the library. I’m not sure what I’m going to jump into next on the list. It will probably be something that’s available on audiobook, as well as a couple of e-books.
What did you read in January?