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April 20, 2020
Tips & Tricks / What We're Reading Now

What We’re Reading Now

quarantine books

I’m finally settling my mind (wow, it took a month!), and have the attention span to cozy up with a good book. I turned to my novel-devouring friends for some recommendations. Here you go:

(The links below lead to the book at RJ Julia; you can buy online or they are offering curbside pick-up).

Barbara is reading:

The Art of Stillness: Adventures in Going Nowhere by Pico Iyer
A follow-up to Iyer’s essay on “The Joy of Quiet”, he talks about the adventures that can be had staying in place and going nowhere. The beauty and necessity of bringing stillness into our increasingly interconnected and chaotic lives. It’s a particularly important message in these very difficult times.

Where The Crawdads Sing by Delia Owen
My son gave this to me for Christmas. A bookclub favorite, I read it quickly and enjoyed it all the way to the end. The book is part romance, mystery, courtroom drama and ode to nature, all of which make for an intriguing tale about, Kya, the town outcast who lives in the marshes outside of her town.

A Better Man: A Chief Inspector Gamache Novel by Louise Penny

A Better Man is the 15th book in The Inspector Gamache series.  More than cozy mysteries, Gamache is to Canada what Hercule Poirot is to Belgium thanks to Louise Penny.  Start with the first book, Still Life, and read through them in order.  You’ll need the context and you’ll be hooked.  Inspector Gamache is a national treasure!  

For the more ambitious… 

Penguin Little Black Classics (Box set)
This collection of 80 little black books showcases a wide range of writers from the Penguin Classics list – Balzac,  Austen, Marx, Keats and Kipling to name a few. It is a wide and diverse collection including drama, poetry, fiction to history from all around the world spanning centuries.  The beauty of this series is that you can pull a “little” book off the shelf at any time and read a passage.  It doesn’t require a huge time commitment.  A perfect opportunity to revisit some of the great works of history now that time is on our side.

 

Liza is reading:

 

Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid
What RJ Julia has to say about it: Grace under fire is the only way to describe Reid’s everyday heroine – a twenty-something woman who will take on whatever comes her way in order to make her own way in today’s world of race conflict and internet infamy. A heavy subject written with a light hand, this is a book for anyone, and everyone should read it and take notes.
For the boomers who are wondering why the world they imagined didn’t happen.

 

Sort of in the same vein – set in the music world.  Fun, easy read.

 

“Fantastical” books that are not usually in my wheelhouse, strangely I have read a bunch of them and they are well written and may appeal to readers:

 

According to RJ Julia: Ninth House thrusts readers headfirst into a dark portrayal of Yale and New Haven, CT, filled with secrets, ghosts, and unspeakable evil. It’s a mystery, a ghost story, and a journey of understanding for a young woman who has lived a life twisted and tormented by forces she couldn’t hope to understand. The world within this novel is propulsive and intense. You won’t want to put this one down.

 

RJ Julia Staff Review: A modern, wonderfully layered fairy tale we’ve waited years for, beautifully told by the author of The Night Circus, a book I wish I could live inside of. The Starless Sea is a gorgeously written love story to books and storytelling. Hints of The Neverending Story, Alice in Wonderland, and numerous other comforting classics blend seamlessly with a unique series of stories that blend into one, unlike anything I’ve ever read before. I know that when I read this book again I will notice more details that I missed the first time around, and I can’t wait to explore it again. Thank you, Erin Morgenstern. It is beautiful. And perfect.

 

RJ Julia Staff Review: To say much of anything is to ruin the beautiful nature of this amazing book. But, imagine if you could bind, into a book and out of your head, a memory. Then, imagine that you are approached by a stranger who seems to know you and you begin to wonder if you are missing something valuable, that you simply can’t remember. I don’t think I’ve ever turned pages so fast! Beautiful writing, wonderful characters, I fell into this story so quickly… then I both couldn’t wait to see what happened and never wanted it to end.

 

A Thriller:

 

From Indie Next List: “The Silent Patient is an outstanding thriller centered on a spellbinding mystery with a shocking twist; in other words, you are going to love this book. Alicia was a talented painter and devoted wife until the night she was discovered still as a statue and covered in blood, having apparently killed her husband. The answer as to why has remained locked inside of Alicia, who stops speaking following the murder. Six years later, Theo, a young psychologist, is determined to get the mysterious Alicia to spill all of her secrets. The final surprise will have you rethinking every riveting scene in this brilliant debut.”

 

Family Drama:

 

RJ Julia Staff Review: When choosing who to spend your life with, you may not always know the back story of what made them who they are. But, what if you did know and chose to be with them regardless?

I found Ask Again, Yes thought-provoking, engrossing, and quite moving. Two families, neighbors with crisscrossed lives in a multitude of ways, endure an unthinkable tragedy. The characters, each impacted in their own way, stayed with me long after I closed the book.

 

Messed Up People:
RJ Julia Staff Review: When it comes to exploring the complicated nature of human relationships, there is no better writer than Sally Rooney.  Able to perceptively reveal brutal truths about love, pain, growth, and the things we do for appearances, her novel Normal People is a sharp and transfixing look at the evolving relationship between Marianne and Connell, two students who can’t seem to want to disentangle their lives through years of shifting circumstances.  Rooney writes with a particularly visceral intimacy between her characters, and she has left me with what is sure to be my favorite book of the year.

 

Ava is reading:

Emperor of Ocean Park…. I love mysteries and anything to do with the Martha’s Vineyard.

In his triumphant fictional debut, Stephen Carter combines a large-scale, riveting novel of suspense with the saga of a unique family. The Emperor of Ocean Park is set in two privileged worlds: the upper crust African American society of the Eastern seabord—families who summer at Martha’s Vineyard—and the inner circle of an Ivy League law school.

A memoir of betrayal and self-discovery by bestselling author Glennon Doyle, Love Warrior is a gorgeous and inspiring account of how we are all born to be warriors: strong, powerful, and brave; able to confront the pain and claim the love that exists for us all. This chronicle of a beautiful, brutal journey speaks to anyone who yearns for deeper, truer relationships and a more abundant, authentic life.

 

After the death of her beloved grandmother, a Cuban-American woman travels to Havana, where she discovers the roots of her identity—and unearths a family secret hidden since the revolution…
RJ Julia Staff Review: With a sly adjustment of a pin on a Pachinko table, the gambler’s fate is changed. And so Min Jin Lee plays with the fates of her deeply felt characters as we follow them through generations in Korea, north and south, to Japan. Epic yet intimate, sweeping yet close to home.
All time favorite: Traveling Mercies, Anne Lamott because she is the best.

 

Mimi is reading:
RJ Julia Staff Review:  I struggled over this book like no other in recent memory. I still dream about the characters. I carry the story with me every day, like weights on my shoulder. I remind myself that great literature has that power. Four young men are making their way in Manhattan and are bound together by that special glue that comes from being college roommates. The author lavishes the most attention on the unique and damaged Jude, and his relationship with others. As the story goes on, he is truly the catalyst for the events that play out around him. At some point, you will put down the book, but you will ultimately have to finish what the author started.

 

Written as a letter to his son and the world, “Between the World and Me,” is a meditation on being a black man in America. It gives insight to his personal experiences and the current frameworks in which we live.

 

A brilliant and brave investigation into the medical and scientific revolution taking place around psychedelic drugs–and the spellbinding story of his own life-changing psychedelic experiences.

 


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