At 555 pages, this lengthy tome is the barely fictionalized story of Laura Bush told in compelling prose. Even though I liked the writing style and premise of Curtis Sittenfeld’s Prep, which I read a few years ago, I wasn’t thrilled about her plot twists. But this story is different: the plot wrote itself in Laura Bush’s life, and Sittenfeld just added the imagination and style. Alita recommended it and then sent it to me, and once I picked it up, I couldn’t put it down. Although it is fictional, it is an amazingly intimate and seemingly real portrait of our former first lady whose enigmatic quietude throughout her husband’s presidency intrigued the world. Great read!
On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness by Andrew Peterson
This fun fantasy is written by the popular Christian musician Andrew Peterson. He sets up an imaginary world and interesting characters who struggle against dark forces larger than themselves. The main characters are children who are spunky and creative: the best kind of main characters, in my opinion. Peterson plays with words (which I love) and has fun inventing interesting creatures and legends. There are more books to follow in this series, and I highly recommend it to those who have loved Narnia, Tolkien, or other fantastical linguists. Thanks, Seth!
An Irish Country Doctor by Patrick Taylor
I love Ireland, and I love stories of rural villages and the colorful characters that inhabit them. This book is compared by some to the All Creatures Great and Small series by James Herriot, but it falls short in so many ways. Even though I like the characters, the setting, and the premise, and I read the sequel in March, the bottom line is that the prose in these books is just too forced. The literary and cultural references (and explanations of Irish words) embedded into nearly every chapter are very contrived, and the overall writing style is more like “telling” than “showing,” a fatal flaw for any writer.
Outliers: the Story of Success by Malcolm Gladwell
Amazing. Another really cool book about a really cool subject by Malcolm Gladwell. He wrote Blink, which I read a few years ago and enjoyed greatly. This book tells the stories of particular successful people and what elements combined to bring them success. Even though natural talent and abilities definitely play a role, his thesis is that other elements are the most important contributing factors of the outlying success stories like Bill Gates and professional athletes. Even though it’s too late for a lot of us to become outliers, there are some valuable lessons and principles that he explores. A very interesting read! Thanks, Evan!
Cocktails for Three by Madeleine Wickham
Light, fluffy, and fun. Madeleine Wickham (aka Sophie Kinsella) writes mostly light, beach-type reading. Jamie lent me this book one day that I wasn’t feeling well, and my brain wanted to just take a little break. Sometimes it’s nice to get caught up in the worries of fictional characters and go on vacation from your own stressful life.