I seem to remember saying that I’d be doing more reading once the semester was over. But between travel and, um…sleeping?…yeah, it was probably sleeping, I actually only read 4 books in May (and I’ve already equalled that in June). So hey! Short post!
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Silence, Shusaku Endo
My book journal remark on this book was “It’s good…but…” It’s good, but, I expected to be blown away based on reviews I had read recently. (And reviews of the recent movie, which, after reading the book, I can tell you I would not be able to stomach. Sensitive souls beware!)
Gilead, Marilynne Robinson
I loved this book. It’s my second favorite of the year so far, and only because it would be next to impossible to dethrone my first favorite. There are so many bits that stick. For one: “I have wandered to the limits of my understanding any number of times…and I’ve scared myself, too, a good many times, leaving all landmarks behind me, or so it seemed. And it has been among the true pleasures of my life. Night and light, silence and difficulty, it seemed to me always righteous and good.”
American Nations: A History of the Eleven Rival Regional Cultures of North America, Colin Woodard
Woodard’s hypothesis in this book is that there were several established cultures vying for control of the North American continent long before the Revolutionary War began. I’ve lived in 3 of the 11 regions he delineates, and his exposition of history from this viewpoint explains many of the similarities and differences I’ve noticed in those cultures. One big disclaimer: this is largely about who holds political and social power in a given region; so if you think “but what about [x cultural group]?” this probably explains why they’re missing. The author justifies this in the introduction, but could’ve done a better job reiterating throughout the book. Oh, and read the intro if you’re on the fence about this book; it’s largely a summary of the following chapters.
Four Ways to Forgiveness, Ursula K. LeGuin
Since this sounds a lot like a self-help title, I should probably point out that it’s fiction – four novellas, to be exact. These stories are all set within the same world as most of LeGuin’s adult novels, but they also stand on their own if you’re not familiar with those. And we could all use more stories about forgiveness, right?
What’s the best book you read last month?
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That passage from Gilead is beautiful.
The writing in Gilead is just gorgeous. I had a hard time deciding which passage to share.
I haven’t read any of these so I’m excited to dig in!
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They’re all good!
I bought Gilead at a second hand store recently so I am looking forward to reading it soon. I love that excerpt you shared. Her writing seems absolutely beautiful.
It really is beautiful. Some people might find it a bit of a slow read, but I really enjoy those sometimes.
I’m gonna have to check out Gilead–I’ve heard good things about it, and your review just solidified it! :]
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Last month? Let me think! I loved Spaceman: An Astronaut’s Unlikely Journey to Unlock the Secrets of the Universe by Mike Massimino. Interesting about space, but interesting about teamwork and perseverance in a more global way. I put Gilead on my Audible wish list!
Spaceman sounds fascinating – thanks for telling me about it!
Gilead and Hannah Coulter are two favorites of mine (I saw that you mentioned the latter in your last book review post). I just finished A Piece of the World by Christina Baker Kline and it was similar to these two, but a darker tone. There is just something so nostalgic and beautiful about reading elderly people’s life stories, even if they are fictional elderly people, lol
I agree – will have to check out A Piece of the World!
[…] The Righteous Mind: Why Good People are Divided by Politics and Religion, Jonathan Haidt: This book is excellent for understanding the root of moral judgments that differ from yours (and also for understanding your own). It examines the guiding role of intuition in forming morals and thus political and religious opinions. I found this to be a good companion read to American Nations, which I read a few weeks before. […]
I have never read a book by Ursula K. LeGuin though I have heard of them before. i will check out the novellas!
If you like YA I highly recommend her Wizard of Earthsea series!