Recent Reads

Anyone in need of a little summer reading?

I’ve been on a reading roll lately (hello nice weather!), and have come across some really great ones. Some of these are fluff reads, some are deep reads, and some are just a little different, but I’ve enjoyed all of them. Since I’m constantly on the lookout for great reads, I thought I’d share them with you! Plus, it’s been a while since I did a book post!

burial rites

Burial Rites by Hannah Kent: I literally cannot say enough about this book. It’s a beautifully written story, loosely based on a real person. Agnes Magnúsdóttir was the last person executed in Iceland. This novel is about her final months living with a family while awaiting her execution. Gradually you hear her story, and fall in love with her. But it’s not just her you come to care about – by the end of the book, I felt for all of the characters. Hannah Kent does a masterful job telling this story in such a way that’s both brutally honest and touching. This is the type of book that sticks with you for days after you read it. It’s an easy read in that it’s well-written and engrossing, but it’s also a very intense read. As a warning, I cried!

I keep trying to get my book club to read Burial Rites, because there is a ton of stuff to talk about. The discussion questions online aren’t very good though. I can see a lot of discussion about law versus justice, faith and hope, truth and perception. And also about the question of good versus evil, or scales of evil. Is an “evil” act ever justified? I don’t want to spoil it for you, but once you read it you’ll see that that last question has a couple applications for this story! I’d also love to explore the family, and how their feelings and treatment of Agnes change. There are some very fundamental moral issues in this book dealing with the human condition, that could be really interesting to examine.

dinner

The Dinner by Herman Koch: Our book club read this, and it’s been one of our best discussions. A lot of people hated the story, but it’s incredibly well-written and incredibly controversial. The story unfolds over the course of a meal, and deals with a family’s shared secret (or not so secret) crime. Again, I don’t want to give too much away.

The characters are largely unlikeable, which is kind of a strange thing to say about a book you’re recommending. But it works in this story. We talked about that a lot, and about family dynamics, and about how people react to tragedy.

I wouldn’t call this light reading, but if you’re looking for a book that will make you think, definitely give this a try!

fault in our stars

The Fault In Our Stars by John Green: This had to be on my list. HAD TO BE. I avoided it for a while, despite several recommendations, because I don’t generally enjoy “deathbed” stories. Then several friends read it one right after the other, and kept talking it up, so I caved. I read the first pages and was laughing out loud, and knew I’d have to finish it.

This is the first book I’ve read by John Green, but it won’t be the last. It’s funny, heart-wrenching, and compelling. Sure, the story itself is a little trite, but it’s a young adult book. What got me about this was the depth of emotion he managed to put into the characters. Yes, it was a little predictable, but what wasn’t predictable was the pain I felt for the last 40 or so pages.

When I finished this, I told a friend it was the kind of book I didn’t want to talk about, because I didn’t want anything to take away from the way it made me feel. That’s still true. Just read it….but have the Kleenex handy.

orange

Orange is the New Black by Piper Kerman: Ok, yeah, I know. This is all the rage now, what with the Netflix show (which I tried to watch – horrible). I found this book incredibly fascinating. Not for Piper, who was honestly a little annoying, but for the women she met in prison. Granted, this was a minimum security facility. However, the bonds between the prisoners was amazing to me. The courage and grace some of those women possessed was something I didn’t expect – and yes, that’s awful of me to say. What I loved most about this book was that it challenged my preconceptions of “prisoners” and reminded me that we’re all just trying to survive.

partials

Partials by Dan Wells: This is purely fluff. I love a good YA novel, especially when there’s a strong female character. Kira is. Some of the other characters (MARCUS) are incredibly annoying, but I devoured this book. Long story short, it’s about humans and their genetically engineered counterparts, the partials. The human race is being attacked by a virus that kills all babies, and Kira believes the partials hold the answer. It’s the first in a trilogy, and while the story is somewhat predictable, it kept me engaged the entire time. This is one of those stories that would be great for teens who aren’t big readers, because it’s really fast-paced.

wither

Wither by Lauren DeStefano: Another fluffy YA read, though I think there’s actually some things worth discussing here as well. It’s the first in a trilogy. I haven’t read the other two yet, and to be honest, I’m a little concerned. The first book ended in a way that has me questioning where the rest of the story goes! This is about Rhine, who is kidnapped and sold as a bride. There’s an understory that guys die at 25 and girls at 20, but to be honest that’s not the main focus of the first book. Yeah, you know it’s there, but it’s not a driving factor really. I know, it sounds terrible, but just take my word for it. The things I liked about this were the characters…Lauren DeStefano does a great job of making you care about just about all of them. It’s also a quick read – I read this while camping, in one day. There are a lot of subtleties that I think only adults would pick up on….for example, the cover. There aren’t any mention of birdcages, but you realize that Rhine is essentially a bird trapped in a cage. And the title is symbolic too. I won’t ruin it for you, but it was really neat to pick up on some of those things as I was reading!

Hopefully at least one of these will strike your fancy! Have you read any of them? What did you think? What are your other book recs?