First off, wash your hands. 20 seconds (don’t cheat).
Kudos to those of you whose creativity has sparked and who have been doing on-line workouts and organizing their cupboards and taking freebie courses. Me? Between the compulsive checking of social media and forwarding of funny memes and gifs I find it hard to focus on anything else, meal-planning and stretchy pants aside.
Until today that is. Today, I put on jeans (to ensure they still fit) and am self-isolating in my bedroom office to bring you my latest MOAM Book Club. You’ll find no classics, should-reads, or any sort of pandemic fiction. You will, however, find some great books I’ve enjoyed recently. I hope you’ll enjoy them too.
UPDATE: I started writing this post earlier this week. I am no longer wearing my jeans, but I did put in my contact lenses as I was starting to get those annoying dents on my nose. I’ve been doing a lot of chatting on the phone, enjoying zoom drinks, and didnâ€™t get as far as I thought I would.
Consider this the first part of my list, to be continued as the week(s?) goes on. Another thing to consider: if you click on the book titles, or the pretty pics, you should be redirected to Amazon. And if you buy from that link, I just may make around $0.14… Every little bit helpsâ€¦
So, without further ado – here are some books reccos. Would love to hear what you think..
AskÂ Again,Â Yes This story about two NYPD families reads like a movie. Two rookie cops live next door to one another in the ‘burbs. All is peachy keen until The Event that tears them apart. The book follows the kids from each family as their paths cross and uncross. An examination of love, memory, mental illness and forgiveness.
The Nickel Boys by Colson Whitehead: Another brilliant novel by the author of The Underground Railroad (which you should also read. See review here) If you’re looking for uplifting, move on. This one’s a killer. A black boy in the deep south in the 60’s finds himself in the wrong place at the wrong time. Instead of heading off to college, he is sent to a juvenile corrections centre with disastrous results. Based on the true experiences of ward in a reform school in Florida, this is a brutal, yet amazing read.
The Testaments by Margaret Atwood: Forget about this being a sequel to the book The Handmaid’s Tale. Think of it as a continuation of the TV series. This felt like Atwood wanted to ensure that the future seasons of the show followed her vision, as opposed to the show runners (remember Game of Thrones going off-book?) No question it’s a great book – a Booker winner? Hmm….I needed to read it to tie up the stories of Gilead. And the book does just that. With a bow.
The Last Book Party by Karen Dukess: Twenty-something Eve is an aspiring writer with zero confidence. After quitting her entry-level publishing job, she lands a job as an assistant to a bigwig writer, ready to embrace life in the summertime cottage fast lane that is Cape Cod. Cue bad choices, unrequited crushes, family dynamics and angst and you’ve got yourself a fun, somewhat soapy read. Some may also over-identify with their own experiences in similar worlds in their â€˜20â€™sâ€¦.Maybe.
Turbulence by David Szalay: This is a super short, super swift read about connection and turbulence – both in the air and on the ground. Each chapter follows a different situation in a different city (divided by airport code – pretty cute framing device). These little snapshots left me wanting more, but I liked ’em while they lasted.
Dear Edward by Ann Napolitano: Speaking of turbulence….Dear Edward is the story of a 12-year old boy who is the sole survivor of a plane crash. That’s right. I was terrified to read this book but I’m so happy I did. Napolitano flips back and forth from the flight, and the stories of those on board, to Edward’s new life. This is a fast-paced, devastating yet exhilarating story. Even though you brace yourself for what you know if coming, you can’t look away. With all travel on pause for the next while, it’s the perfect time to crack this one open. Get your kleenex handy.
The Dutch House – Anne Patchett: This family drama takes place over the course of 50 years. After growing up in a Gatsby-esque world of splendour, a brother and sister find themselves booted out of the family home when their dad remarries. This is their story as they back to check on “their” house year after year, reflecting on their lives, where they were, where they are, and where they think they’re going.
A Woman is No Man by Etaf Rum: This story takes us inside the lives of a Palestinian family in Brooklyn. Old school rules clash with modern expectations with tragic results. This is the generational story of the daughters of tradition trying to raise their voices – and have them heard. I loved it.
All We Ever Wanted by Emily Griffin: Looking for a good, fun, cheese-read? Look no further! This one reminded me a tiny bit of Celeste Ng’s books mixed with the Netflix show Elite. New money, old money and no money all clash at a fancy Nashville school when nudey pics get sent around. And while we always want to be on our kids’ side, should we?
The Water Dancer by Ta-Nehisi Coates. If magical realism isn’t your thing, move on. But if it is, youâ€™ll get right into this poetic novel. Slavery, separation of families, justice and reunification. There is a lot going on in these pages in terms of people, places, time and space. I keep re-writing and deleting plot summaries but each time I either complicate, or over-simplify, what this book is all about. Itâ€™s brutal and beautiful and reminds me so much of Toni Morrisonâ€™s work. It haunted me long after I finished it.
American Dirt by Jeanine Cummins: Oh, where to begin with this one? There is so much noise surrounding this book. Short version: the novel was getting a lot of positive press, even receiving Oprahâ€™s coveted blessing. And then the controversy and criticism took over: cultural appropriation, trauma porn, right-story-wrong-voice, the list goes on (google for more info). This movement of who can tell what stories makes me very uncomfortable (see: Joseph Boyden, author of one of my all-time faves, The Orenda – which you should read if you havenâ€™t. Review here). Every reader must make their own decision on what books they will read. This one is a fictionalized tale of a mother and son escaping gang violence in Acapulco, trying to make their way North to the US. I could write an entire blog post on this book alone, and am happy to have an actual book club meeting about it anytime. But for now, read it for yourself. Or donâ€™t.