I love looking ahead to what I might be reading in the coming months, and I’ve decided to make a concerted effort to read the books I have on hand. No more buying books before I read the ones I have! Of course, Book of the Month club and Christmas will likely increase the number of books on my shelf, but…eh. Maybe it’s more of a half-hearted effort than a concerted one.
Fall Reading Update
All were excellent picks. Little Fires Everywhere and The Hate U Give may both make my list of 2017 favorites (please, everyone, pick up The Hate U Give!). Joshilyn Jackson was a great discovery—I’m looking forward to reading more of hers. Rebecca was a good eerie read for fall, and I think just about anyone will find at least one of Cheryl Strayed’s advice columns to be a pinprick to the heart.
I was upset with myself because my library hold for Beartown came in but I didn’t download it before it expired! I was trying to finish another book, planning Thanksgiving, and just generally being scatterbrained, I guess. So, back to the end of the hold list I go. Hopefully it will come in over the winter—a hockey read sounds like a good, snowy choice!
I want to at least squeeze in Sweetbitter and The Woman in Cabin 10 before the true start of winter. I may also start The Story of a New Name, though some others are calling to me more, so I may shelve it for a while. American War will depend on library availability but it also isn’t feeling urgent.
There’s so much to think about in the weeks before Christmas that I’ll probably pick up some brain candy—maybe even a re-read?
Winter Reading List
Once winter truly starts and we’re past the holidays, I’ll be ready to dive into this list. There aren’t any light reads on this list, so I’ll likely have to pair them with lighter fare, or some re-reads that I’m planning in 2018.
- An hour after England enters World War II, socialite Mary North signed up for service. Instead of direct involvement in the war, she finds herself teaching students who were rejected from the countryside after most other children were evacuated from London. This turn brings into her life Zachary, a young black student; Tom, an education administrator; and Alistair, Tom's flatmate who has enlisted in the military. Mary, Tom, and Zachary face a new normal in London as the bombings of the Blitz commence, while the ills of society--race, poverty, addiction--persistently remain the same. Alistair, meanwhile, faces the brutality, starvation, and violence of life as a soldier in Malta.
Cleave's prose can feel heavy-handed, especially at first, but I soon fell under the spell of his writing. His dialogue shines and is smart and surprisingly funny. In its wittiness, it recalls the type of conversations that seem to happen in youth, especially during late nights or intense situations--the intelligent volleying that immediately connects people. Cleave uses these conversations masterfully to create instant connections between characters facing extreme circumstances. Inspired by his own grandparents' experiences and letters written during World War II, Cleave tells a beautiful tale of love, loss, and bravery. Also check out my in-depth look at the history and writing of this book, the first in my Story of the Story series.More info →
- When her family learns of their ties to the wealthy d'Urbervilles, Tess's family pressures her to claim her place and elevate the family from poverty. The plan goes horribly wrong and Tess finds herself a grief-stricken, ruined woman. When she finds love and a potential new life with Angel Clare, she must decide whether to keep her past a secret or risk his rejection. Tess is truly a woman of her time, as are the characters around her, but Thomas Hardy was ahead of his. Hardy deftly illustrates the hypocrisy that dictated the expectations of women in this time and the pressures they faced to be pure, chaste, and angelic (the name "Angel" is a bit ironic here.). I loved this book, though it filled me rage on Tess's behalf. It was a little slow moving in the middle, but it's worth it to stick it out to the end. More info →
- Cyril Avery was born to an unwed mother in Ireland in the 1940s--an unthinkable and shameful thing, at that time. Cyril is adopted by Charles and Maude Avery, who are indifferent and self-centered, but not neglectful. From an early age, Cyril knows he's different: not a "real Avery," as Charles is quick to remind him, and realizing that he is not attracted to girls like his friends are--something that's even more shameful at that time in Ireland. In fact, Cyril harbors a deep love for his womanizing friend and eventual school roommate, Julian Woodbead. The book follows Cyril through his life, from his youth and twenties spent in hiding and public denial in a repressive Dublin to a more open life in middle age in Amsterdam and New York. Cyril's search for identity, belonging, acceptance, and family is by turns funny, frustrating, and sad. Some of the characters feel a bit like caricatures, but they serve to highlight some of the extreme attitudes Cyril, his mother, and so many others faced in those decades in Ireland. I loved this book, and though Cyril could be frustrating, I wanted to see him find happiness and contentment with himself. More info →
All of these except The Heart’s Invisible Furies are sitting on my bookshelf right now, and I’m planning to buy that one after seeing all of the raves—it sounds like one I’ll want to keep.
What will you read in the weeks leading up to the winter holidays? What’s on your winter reading list?