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lydia

Lydia's Page

I like reading books about war dogs, shipwrecks, and lady aviators.

Currently reading

The Rainbow Comes and Goes: A Mother and Son On Life, Love, and Loss
Gloria Vanderbilt, Anderson Cooper
The Vacationers: A Novel - Emma Straub

I read this book yesterday and it was an odd little venture. If you like portraitures of family life that don't really go anywhere, this is one of those stories. I feel like it was neither good nor bad. I listened on audiobook and had one uncomfortable moment where I was at a stop light when an extremely unexpected sex scene cropped up. Yikes! Sorry, surrounding motorists!

The Ocean at the End of the Lane - Neil Gaiman

It's finally time to call it: Neil Gaiman just isn't for me. I can absolutely appreciate why people love his stories, but they don't do it for me.

A Tale for the Time Being - Ruth Ozeki

Ahh, magical realism. What a delightful read!!

Gunpowder Green - Laura Childs

The second installment in this tea shop mysteries series was certainly better than the first. I'm going to keep reading them... but I have to remind myself not to expect too much out of a cozy mystery grappling with the technology of the early 90s.

Why Have Kids?: A New Mom Explores the Truth About Parenting and Happiness - Jessica Valenti

I've been meaning to pick this up for years and I'm glad I finally did. Curiously, it doesn't answer its titular question. I was expecting to be convinced that having kids is an important and meaningful undertaking. Instead, Valenti brings to light all the parenting discussions we should be having but aren't. If we could have these conversations, about the division of labor, the myths of parenting, and the ways in which we've made childrearing a thankless and endless job, then the importance and meaningfulness would rise to the top. 

Anne of the Island - L.M. Montgomery

Ahh, Anne. Every time I visit her I sigh wistfully. She's such a romantic dreamer! It's so fun to see her grow up without losing her core spunk and joie de vivre. 

Anne of Avonlea - L.M. Montgomery

Oh, Anne, you delightful girl! 

 

 

This installment bridges Anne's childhood and transition into womanhood. Though grown up, Anne remains imaginative and loving, and such a dear friend to revisit.

Out of Orange: A Memoir - Cleary Wolters, Barbara Rosenblat (narrator)

Well. This is an odd little memoir. I find it funny that it's titled "Out of Orange" given that only about 20% of the book takes place in a prison. The first 75% is backstory and setup. And a lot of talk about cats. So much narrative about cats. It's, uh, interesting. Not a masterpiece, but certainly not the worst thing I've ever read. 

My Life With Piper: From Big House to Small Screen - Larry Smith, Larry Smith

This is a nice, easy read that gives some good background and context to Piper Kerman's book (and, of course, the Netflix show) Orange is the New Black. If you're not a fan of the show, this probably won't be interesting to you. But it's good, for what it is.

Missoula: Rape and the Justice System in a College Town - Jon Krakauer

Wow. What a painful and important book. I simultaneoulsy feel like I have nothing to say and an entire treatise to write.

 

We all know there's a problem with rape and sexual assault in America, and especially in American colleges. We all know the justice system is flawed and frequently punishes the victims and survivors of assault far more than the perpetrators. But to see it laid out in such a thoroughly researched book was a hard pill to swallow. I'm so glad it was written and I hope it's widely read and endures until we see real and true reform.

Brain on Fire: My Month of Madness - Susannah Cahalan

Brain on Fire is an interesting journey through a prolonged illness, the body's collapse, and the struggle to find not only a cure, but even an accurate diagnosis. Though the author is a reporter and makes many references to her talent and humor, I didn't feel that this was particularly well-written or enjoyable. It was interesting, but not captivating.

Finding Audrey - Sophie Kinsella

This was one of those books that I liked so much I read it straight through in one day. It's the story of a young girl with extreme social anxiety, the result of bullying, and her journey back into herself. Audrey wears dark glasses to avoid eye contact, even with her family, and doesn't venture out of the house. But when her older brother's friend starts to visit, she begins to blossom.

 

While reading the book, I wondered if the male lead was meant to 'fix' Audrey or save her from her mental illness, which would have been aggravating to say the least. Instead, Kinsella did a great job of painting complex characters in a tough situation. Though Linus may help Audrey on her journey, she reaches her milestones all by herself.

 

Beyond that, the family and their interactions were really delightful and I had a great time with the sweet style of this read.

The Silent Wife - A.S.A. Harrison

I plowed through this slow-burning domestic drama today. You're told from the first few pages (and the back cover) that the prim wife who narrates half the book will soon murder the philandering husband who narrates the other half. Told in perspective-alternating chapters, we're left waiting and wondering exactly how the foretold events will come to pass. Now that the weather's nice, I guess I can comfortably classify this as a nice 'beach read' ... if you don't mind bringing murder to your beaches. ;)

Death by Darjeeling - Laura Childs

Conversely, this is a book I fully intend on recommending to my mom. Full disclosure: it's not good. Like, really not great. The writing is terrible, the plot lines are predictable, there's so much fawning over "the South" that it's hard not to write the whole thing off as racist. ...But it's also the first book in a murder mystery series that centers around a tea shop. So. I'm trying to look over all the insanities of this first book (including the most ridiculous, distracting, unreal names of the characters) and plow ahead in hopes that a good editor came along and shaped the future books into something better.

The Argonauts - Maggie Nelson

If you've been missing the kind of discussions you have in grad lit classes, this is the book for you. It's a lovely mix of personal narrative and literary criticism. I wouldn't recommend it to my mother, because I'm certain she wouldn't enjoy this king of long-form self-reflexive arc. But if you like sending up the personal for analysis (as I very much do), you'll probably like this one.

Mother, Can You Not? - Kate Siegel

This was another book that I really wanted to like, but just didn't. The book spiraled out of the Instagram account Crazy Jewish Mom, which posts screenshots of real text conversations between a 20-something and her #CrazyJewishMom. 

 

Turned into short stories, the concept didn't really land. The mom seems hilarious, but there are moments (the hyper-fixation on thinness) that are too much. The author tries to couch this by arguing that her mom wouldn't have to say such things if we didn't live in such a sexist world. That's a lukewarm argument if I ever heard one. And the writing simply isn't very good, unfortunately.

 

Alas.