February 23, 2017

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Here’s what I got up to this month! Have you read any of these?

book review finding ithaka (1 of 1)

1. Difficult Women by Roxane Gay

Roxane Gay is a feminist writer & professor. She is one of my favorite writers. Her newest book, Difficult Women, is a collection of short stories and was released on January 3, 2017. 

Gay’s writing is unmatched. Every sentence is beautifully written. But more than that, the women in Roxane Gay’s collection are strong. They are put in unbelievably difficult situations — no wait, actually the situations are all too real if you are a woman. But it is the way they respond, the way that they are not defined by one event or one job or one stereotype or one man, that makes these stories so powerful.

Many of these women will not respond in the way you expect them to, or maybe even the way you think they should, and I think that that is part of what makes this collection of stories so great. A reminder to  not judge any woman for the choices she makes. I also particularly appreciated the relationships that the women in the stories have with each other. This is one of the best books I’ve ever read and I highly recommend it.

2. A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman

This was the February pick for the online book club, Beyond Words, that Christy and I moderate.

I absolutely adored this book. It was incredibly sad at times, but there was a lot of hope and joy as well. If you’re looking for a feel-good book that’s also beautifully written and packed with a lot of emotion, I highly recommend it.

Ove is a 59-year-old curmudgeon who feels like his life cannot go on after his wife dies. Through flashbacks we get a glimpse into his early life and the life he shared with his wife, which enables you to understand why he is the way he is.

One thing that I really liked about this book was that I saw parts of my husband in it — minus a lot of grumpiness. I would snap photos of some of the things that Ove said and send them to Nick and he would agree. Ove might be a 59-year-old curmudgeon, but I respected Ove’s values, his way of doing things, and his routines. I loved the things he said and the way he looked at the world. I think that this book reminds us that there is always more to someone’s story than you initially think so you shouldn’t be so quick to judge.

3. Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim by David Sedaris

David Sedaris came to Hawaii a few weeks ago, and my friend and I went to see him. He talked a little, read a few of his recent articles, and also read from his upcoming book, which is going to be an edited compilation of his diary entries.

Based on his writing, I expected him to not really want to talk to any of his fans, but he was so personable and funny and kind. He signed a book for me and made a little drawing in it. Anyway, in prepearion for the evening, I wanted to read another one of his books. I loved this book and recommend it. It was heavier than Me Talk Pretty One Day, but he approaches those heavier topics with his trademark sense of humor.

4. Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn

This was Gillian Flynn's first novel, and I think that it shows. I read her books in the reverse order they came out. First I read Gone Girl, then Dark Places, and then Sharp Objects. I think that she gets better with each novel. 

I enjoyed Sharp Objects, which is about a journalist who goes back to her hometown to write about two young girls who were murdered. I recommend it if you like thrillers or Gillian Flynn's other books. 

Kind of a spoiler ahead: What I enjoyed about this book – and what I enjoy about all of Gillian Flynn’s books – is the way women are portrayed. Flynn’s female characters are strong, cunning, and a lot more powerful than we give them credit for. Some are dangerous and destructive, some of them save themselves, some of them do the best they can to deal with whatever terrible situation life has thrown them. I want to read more books like Flynn’s books. I want to read more about women who aren’t do-eyed victims — even the ones that scare the crap out of me.

5. Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro

This dystopian novel is weird, thought provoking, challenging, and downright off putting. So of course, I loved it.

As a child, Kathy was sent to a boarding school for "special" children. It isn't until years later that she learns that she, along with her classmates, is a genetically engineered clone that has been created for the sole purpose of donating organs to humans.

This is not the first book I’ve read based on this premise, but it is the best one. How far will science go? Where will we draw the lines? This book was not only beautifully written, but also very thought provoking. I only recommend it if you think you can stomach a storyline like this.

6. Cat's Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut

This is one of the weirdest books I've ever read. Despite it being simple, it's hard to read. But the book's weirdness coupled with its themes make this a book I ended up loving.

Jonah sets out to write a book about the day the atomic bomb was dropped. He never does write this book. Instead, he finds out that one of the creators of the bomb has created something called Ice-9, which could cause the entire world to become covered in ice. Although he created Ice-9 to help soldiers in the US military walk through mud easier, Ice-9 could end up destroying the entire world and end life as we know it. You can probably guess where this is going. This book leaves you wondering if it will be something innocent, something accidental, that ends up destroying the world.

So, now that I’ve read all of Gillian Flynn’s books, what else can you recommend?


Are you a member of Beyond Words: A Bloggers’ Book Club? In March we are reading The Girls by Emma Cline. Click here to join!

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16 responses to “What I read in February”

  1. You’ve had a great month of reading, it seems! I loved Gone Girl, and might have to continue with the other Flynn books 🙂

  2. I’m so glad that we picked A Man Called Ove for this month’s book club! It was so good, and I could kind of see my dad in Ove a little bit. He’s very much a rules follower and has his usual routines and stuff. I’ve added Never Let Me Go to my TBR list, it sounds really interesting, and I know that we’ve talked about how much I love dystopian novels. And I’m so bummed that Gillian Flynn hasn’t come out with any new novels lately! I read them in the same order that you did, and I totally agree that you can see her writing style progress throughout her career. She has a novella out called The Growup which was a very quick read, but really just left me wanting more. I read The Girl Before recently and thought that it was a very good thriller, but the lead female characters weren’t exactly the strongest of characters. Hopefully we won’t have to wait that long before another one comes out!

    • Carolann says:

      I saw that novella when I was googling to see when Gillian Flynn was coming out with another book, but I wasn’t sure what that was about. I just requested it from the library so I’ll probably be reading it soon! I hope she comes out with another book soon. I can’t imagine how she comes up with these books but I’m not complaining. I also requested The Girl Before. It looks really crazy which is perfect for me. Thanks for the recommendations, I know I can always count on you for a good book recommendation!

      Have you ever read Stephen King? I think his books are more gore and horror so I’ve always stayed away, but I have friends that love him.

  3. Jen says:

    I swear I am so behind on book reading. I have plans to go to our library next week and just scan for new books! 🙂 I’m going to make it happen haha.

    • Carolann says:

      That really is so much fun. I am planning to go do that today because I have to pick up a book for Nick. He requested a cookbook which is something I never thought to do. Hopefully he makes something good for me this weekend 😉

  4. That’s the same order I read Flynn’s books and I totally agree! She got better with time!

    • Carolann says:

      I almost wish I read them in the order they came out, but I can’t complain too much because I loved all of her books! I hope she comes out with a new one soon!

  5. Carly says:

    Sharp Objects was my favorite by Flynn too! So cool that you got to see David Sedaris and have a book signed. I’ve never read any of his work, other than my french teacher in high school reading us parts of Me Talk Pretty One Day- but I don’t really remember any of it. I’m still (slowly) working my way through Ove, but it’s definitely a feel-good book!

    • Carolann says:

      I read A Man Called Ove slowly as well. I really like David Sedaris. I feel like you either love him or you hate him and think he’s totally obnoxious. He writes about the most mundane aspects of his life in a super interesting, hilarious way, but he also writes about some more difficult topics too. He has so many books but I think that Me Talk Pretty One Day is the one that most people start with if you feel so inclined!

  6. Emma says:

    I adore your recommendations – they are so thoughtful and considered!

    • Carolann says:

      Thank you! I appreciate that a lot because they are my hardest posts to write and they take me a while. But I love sharing my favorite books on my blog

  7. Sarah says:

    Giving me some good ideas for March books! My mom read A Man Called Ove and really liked it even though it’s pretty sad at parts. The movie came out at our local one-screen cinema back home and they went to it (I think it’s a foreign language film?) and they loooved it.

    • Carolann says:

      The movie looks so good! My mom bought the book before I even read it but she hasn’t gotten around to reading it yet. I think she will love it. I think you would like it!

  8. Audrey says:

    Did you know A Man Called Ove is a movie, too? I found that out while watching The Oscars last night.
    David Sedaris is one of my favorite actors. I really, really want to see him read some of his work live. He visits Ohio and I just haven’t made it to a reading yet!

    • Carolann says:

      I was looking something up about the book and I saw that it’s a movie. I have to figure out how to see it because it looks so good!

      I like David Sedaris a lot and seeing him in person made me like him even more. He’s a really nice guy. He chatted with everyone who came up to him, signed our books, and made little drawings in them based on whatever we were talking about. If you ever get the chance to see him, go!!

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