Sorry for the lack of an extra post this past week – in between celebrating my birthday and relocating to Montana, things have been pretty busy. However, all that driving meant that I got through a number of books I have been excited about!
I would love to get some recommendations from anyone reading about books that you LOVED from other countries, or books published by smaller presses in this country that highlight diverse, interesting authors! Thanks so so much!
Books I read this week:
The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce
This is a beautiful and touching book – it starts as the simple story of an older English man who decides on the spur of the moment that he needs to walk over 700 miles to see an old friend who had written to him saying she is dying, but it becomes a much deeper examination of human motivation, grief and faith. My favorite of this week for sure!
These are the first two books in Ann Cleeves Shetland quartet, about a Detective Inspector names Jimmy Perez who lives in the Shetland Island, way up north in Scotland, where even mainland Scotlanders are considered to be neighbors and the sun doesn’t completely set in the winter. These books are acclaimed for their lyrical descriptons of the landscape, but I also appreciated the multiple perspectives and complexity of the characters in the mysteries. Cleeves manages to capture the enjoyably “cozy” mystery quality of a good Agatha Christie without ever falling back on the more claustrophobic house guest cast of suspects.
Both the books are great, and the character development of recurring characters is strong enough that I think reading them in order is important. I discovered this book through the TV show Shetland (currently available on Netflix) which has adapted many of the novels for the show. For readers of Louise Penny and Agatha Christie, here is another place based mystery series that might catch your fancy!
The Princess Diarist by Carrie Fisher (on audio-book)
I listened to this on audio-book, and while I liked it a lot, I think much of my enjoyment from listening to Carrie Fisher herself narrate her thoughts with her wry and sarcastic sense of humor. The ability to add inflection to her words added immensely to my amusement and my understanding of the author herself and the events she was describing. I did find myself feeling sad and sympathetic towards her 19-year-old self, and I think there were meant to be more of these, which I think would have helped alleviate the sense of pity and concern that I left the book with, even knowing that Carrie Fisher had become the women she was when she passed away last year.
Overall my verdict is that if you love Star Wars or Carrie Fisher, this is a worthwhile book to read, but you will like it more if you take the time to listen!
What went well
I made it through a number of books this week, and really enjoyed all of the ones I finished. This was a pretty white week however, although I branched out in terms of reading international authors, which I always find valuable. I also liked the reminder that I can take a break from hard-hitting literary novels and still be able to complete the challenge.
What didn’t go so well
I want to actually read this week. As much as I love audio-books, I also love watching my progress through a physical book, and I have been missing that. I also really struggled to find good epics not written by white men when I was looking for audio-books, and was incredibly disappointed in the diversity of recent Audie award winners.
What I am planning on reading next
I’m in the Yellowstone area, so I am itching to pick up some good natural history books this week, and for my birthday I was given a book called Women in Wonderland: Lives, Legends, and Legacies of Yellowstone National Park, and I want to get to the Terry Tempest Williams book, Finding Beauty in a Broken World. I also have loved reading books by Robin Wall Kimmerer, and I have a book of hers called Gathering Moss. I have loved the Shetland series, so I may start the next book in the series called Red Bones.