February Reads (2014)

February 2014

The Glass Castle: A Memoir by Jeannette Walls

I’ve been meaning to read this book for quite some time but kept putting it off because I thought it would be too dark and depressing.  There were plenty of times I wanted to reach into the pages of the book and shake the parents.  But there were also times where I could forget the neglect and be awed by the meaningful lessons and inspired insights the parents gave their children.  As the reader, I was compelled to ride the roller coaster of emotions so common in dysfunctional families.  High highs.  Low lows.  Walls captured the beauty and zest that so often accompany dysfunction in a vivid and authentic way.  This book is a thing of beauty.  Flawed, painful, messy beauty.

Out of the Easy by Ruta Sepetys

Brothels and bookstores and bad boys, oh my!  I picked this book after enjoying Sepetys’ debut novel Between Shades of Grey.  Another work of historical fiction – this one set in 1950s New Orleans – but with a very different feel.  I liked this book even better than her debut both because of the character development and the pacing.  The plot and setting grabbed me and kept me turning the pages.

Let’s Explore Diabetes with Owls by David Sedaris

As you would expect from Sedaris, this book is filled with essays about small moments that the author’s voice makes funny.  The compilation also contains some great pieces of fictional satire.  While this wasn’t my favorite collection from Sedaris, it’s was still a fun read.  Good, just not great.

The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky

I have wanted to read this book since I saw Stephen Chbosky speak at last year’s Santa Barbara Writer’s Conference.  I finally got around to it and was glad I did.  The main character is incredibly likeable and sweet without being saccharine and Chbosky was able to channel the teenage voice of his main character with all the charm, nostalgia, and innocence I want in a coming of age novel without the angst for angst sake present in so many other books in this genre.

Messenger by Lois Lowry

I liked this book better than Gathering Blue, though not as well as the Giver.  It did help to have read the other two books, though I’m not sure it’s essential.  This was a super fast read and had the trademarks of a Lowry book – a well paced plot with not so subtle commentary on deeper issues (e.g. greed, desire, contentment, purpose, sacrifice).

Motherhood: The Second Oldest Profession by Erma Bombeck

Written in the 80’s this book is remarkably undated.  Sure, there are a few references to relics of the past (e.g. the freedom of a ten foot phone cord) but for the most part this book serves as a reminder that the challenges of motherhood are relatively timeless.  Bombeck would have been the queen of all mommy bloggers if she was still with us.  Her satire is witty, honest and fun.

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