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Ignorance | Milan Kundera- This little novel is a very literal exploration of nostalgia. Like, too literal. I really love books that center on nostalgia, but this was basically the philosophy of nostalgia with a thin storyline to explore it. The book uses the irony of Homer’s homecoming as a basis to examine the expat experience, and to look at memory and forgetting, but it only serves as a framework for thee author to expound on his own ideas about the subjects. If you’re looking for something tender or atmospheric, this isn’t it, though if you enjoy a more straightforward take, it might be for you. Also, fair warning, everyone is miserable in this novel.
The Sense of an Ending | Julian Barnes- From the literal first page I knew I had a winner. This actually ended up giving me everything I had wanted from Ignorance and didn’t get, and it was glorious. Barnes explores memory and nostalgia in such an elegant, layered way with plenty of feels and room to reflect on one’s own life. Plus, it had a great plot twist at the end, and just enough messiness in it’s tight structure to leave some space to make the book highly worth discussion. I loved it. A strong 4.5 stars, and one of those books that will stick with me very intimately in the very best way.
The Dream Thieves | Maggie Steifvater- I continue to love this series on audio. I love the narrator, I love the characters, I love the plot line thats just enough magical to satisfy my YA fantasy loving self. This book centers more on Ronan who is such a fascinating and well built character, and I just really appreciate how Stiefvater handles him. This series is the perfect brain break and fun read when I can’t pick up a physical book. I’ve already started the next one, and will really miss these characters when I finish!
Blue Lily, Lily Blue | Maggie Stiefvater- The third book in The Raven Cycle, and still loving it! On to the final installment!
Hey Kiddo | Jarrett Krosoczka- I love a good graphic memoir, and this one did not disappoint. I loved the art style and the honest look at a complicated family. Just a solid story, beautifully told. I feel like saying too much about it will ruin it, but if you also enjoy a good graphic memoir, this one is absolutely worthwhile.
The Hours | Michael Cunningham- After reading and LOVING Mrs. Dalloway this past December, I knew I needed this book in my life. Annnndddd it turned out to be that magical 5 star read we all hope for every time we crack open a new book. I loved how Cunningham took Mrs. Dalloway and made it something wholly his own, while pulling out some of the most important elements and bringing them into the modern world. He also really nailed the stream of consciousness style and that magical ability to focus on the micro to showcase the macro; zooming in on those little details that end up saying something profound. I can absolutely see why this won the Pulitzer, and it’s one of those books that will not only stick with me, but one that makes me grateful to have read it. I will say that if you haven’t read Mrs. Dalloway, this might be a little less impactful without that context.
Dark Lord of Derkholm | Diana Wynne Jones- A nostalgic childhood favorite, this was the read aloud my brother and I chose for our road trip this last week, and it was perfect. Funny, easy to read aloud and to follow, but with a fun, layered plot and a good message. Highly recommend this one if you enjoy middle grade/YA, because Diana Wynne Jones is truly magical.
At Dusk | Hwang Sok-yong- This was dense in the best way, and much like Elena Ferrante, deceptively straightforward. I picked it up because it was on the international Man Booker Prize long list and I really enjoy books in translation, and am so glad I did. This author is apparently beloved in Korea, and he does a wonderful job with alternating storylines between two characters and working with themes of nostalgia, the effects our choices have on others, and what it means to be successful. These characters are so alive, and their stories so developed despite being under 200 pages. Well worth the read, and I hope to see this on the short list!
So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed | Jon Ronson- This was so well done! A great look at how public shaming operates in the age of social media. Ronson manages to be sharply funny and compassionate at the same time, and this is narrative enough to suit the style of non fiction I enjoy. Plus, it’s just morbidly fascinating, honestly. This is our IRL book club pick for April and I can’t wait to discuss it with the group.
Turbulence | David Szalay- This was short and underwhelming for me. I read about 3/4 of it and just DNF’d it because it wasn’t doing anything for me. The concept was great, but the execution was painfully mediocre, which was so disappointing. This comes out in July, and a big thank you to Scribner for gifting us an early copy!