From the Bookshelf: What I’ve Been Reading

I’ve been an avid lover of books all my life. During certain seasons of life, I didn’t read as much as I wanted. Then there have been phases of reading one book after another in rapid succession. The past couple of years, I have read pretty heavily. I like the site/app Good Reads-sort of a Facebook for book lovers-and it’s helped me develop a reading list and discover new reads. Last year, I set up a Good Reads Challenge to read 25 books. I came in right on the money, finishing up #25 right around New Year’s Eve. This year, I set my challenge to 30 and I’m a little behind. I started the year well but got sidetracked with a bum book that kind of temporarily soured me.
Anyway, I’m back in the reading chair and thought I’d share what’s been on my nightstand lately.

The Rumor by Elin Hilderbrand. This was a pretty popular book on many “Summer Reads” or “Beach Reads” list this year. I picked it up on the last official day of summer and decided it would be my last hurrah to the season. The book was set in Nantucket and while no one was on vacation, there was a constant theme of beach, summer, tourists, and lobster lurking in the background. There’s an illicit affair, some illegal activity, a frustrated writer, and teenage angst going on with the story told from different perspectives. The most interesting perspective is that of “The Town” which gives the reader the lowdown on how of all of the events are being repeated around town and gives credence to the old saying “That’s how rumors get started.” I ended up enjoying this much more than I thought I would, and was anxious to see how it would all end.

Next, I picked up Last One Home by Debbie Macomber. Macomber is the Queen of the Hallmark Channel with many of her books being made into movies or series. I just stumbled upon this one and picked it up because I wanted something sort of light. Our campus was under a terror threat and the whole country had just felt the pain of another school shooting so who else can you turn to except the woman who created Mrs. Miracle? This is the story of three sisters that have been estranged since the middle one left home at eighteen to marry her no good boyfriend. Her struggle back into the family, and back into a real life for her and her daughter after years of abuse is the primary focus of the book. It was just okay for me, but it was pretty much what I asked for when I checked it out of the library so I won’t complain.

Then, I started The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins. This had been on my reading list for a long time, and a fair number of my Good Reads friends had read and enjoyed it. It’s a psychological thriller that was compared pretty heavily to Gone Girl-a thriller from a few years back that was made into a popular movie. (A movie of The Girl on the Train is in production now.) The central character is Rachel, the girl on the train, who rides into London each day. During her ride, she catches glimpses of a young woman that she names “Jess” for whom she creates a life and personality. When Jess who’s really named Meagan goes missing, Rachael becomes a key player in unraveling what happened. I didn’t love the book but I didn’t hate it either. I didn’t feel like it lived up to the hype surrounding it.

Currently, I’m reading two books. I rarely attempt two at a time. However, when I picked up Last One Home, I also picked up Anne Lamott’s Small Victories: Spotting Improbable Moments of Grace. It was on my list because I know several people who simply love Lamott. I’ve had a hard time in the past really getting into her writing but I thought I’d give it another go. It’s a collection of essays so I usually read an essay or two per day which is slow going but I’m enjoying it. Lamott is a Christian who loves Jesus, hates George W. Bush, and uses the F word liberally. She’s also a recovering alcoholic. She’s not your traditional Christian writer but I’ve enjoyed her essays and found many great passages worth remembering. I especially enjoyed her essay on visiting prisoners in San Quentin. I’m still going with it, and I’m glad I picked it up.

Several years ago, I signed up for a Popular Authors Book list at my local public library. I selected a handful of authors that I liked at the time, and upon the release of any new books by them, the library automatically reserves a copy for me. For the most part, I’ve lost interest in recent years of most of those authors and I generally decline the book. However, when I received the call about Nicholas Sparks’ See Me I decided to go with it. I used to love his books but haven’t read one in years. But since I was in the closing pages of The Girl on the Train, I thought why not give it a try? So, I’m about halfway through and it’s going okay. It’s a fairly long book so I hope it holds my interest.

Have you read anything good lately?

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