March Reads

Readingwise, March came in like a lion and went out like a lamb. Or maybe it was the other way around. The point is, I read some really good books at the beginning of the month, but the end of the month has been a bust of several DNFs in a row (not pictured or reviewed here). I am leaving out my book club book until after we meet next week; I’ll include it in next month’s recap.

Sourdough, by Robin Sloan//You know that feeling when you’re really hungry and then you eat a meal that is extra delicious and you think it might be the best thing you’ve eaten in ages? And then you know how, upon reflection, you don’t know if that food tasted so good because it was objectively excellent or because it totally hit the spot? And you know how it doesn’t really matter because you super enjoyed it? That feeling is this book. I mean at it’s core, the story is ordinary: person (a woman in this case) in a high-paying but unfulfilling job serendipitously finds a new path that is risky but feeds her soul. But at it’s heart (see what I did there?) the story is full of so much goodness: quirky, likable characters, a bit of magical realism, nerdy and foodie culture, and some sort of secret what what that makes it all such an enjoyable read. Also, the cover glows in dark. What more could I have asked.//⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️🌟//#mrsopusreads2018

A post shared by Renae Morehead (@mrsopusreads) on

Party of One: Truth, Longing, and the Subtle Art of Singleness, by Joy Beth Smith//I snagged this book because my friend Joy Beth wrote it. (I know Joy Beth from the Christ and Pop Culture members forum on FB, but I regularly forget that we are not BFFs IRL because I’m certain we would be.) I fully expected my thoughts to be along the lines of “this is the book I wish I could have read when I was single,” and while that’s certainly true and part of it, the book struck at something much deeper for me, and I’m afraid I’ll be working through these thoughts and feelings for some time to come. For me, it dredged up (but in a good way) lies about my worth and places of shame that never got rooted out as capital-F False and that—surprise!—didn’t magically go away when I got married. In that way, I don’t even care so much that I didn’t get to read it when I was single because I’m so glad I got to read it now. The book is warm, funny, insightful, and full of truth articulated in a way that sunk into my heart and not just my head.//⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️💫//#mrsopusreads2018

A post shared by Renae Morehead (@mrsopusreads) on

An American Marriage, by Tayari Jones//This novel is so good. Told from several different perspectives, it is the story of Roy and Celestial’s marriage and what happens to it when, a year and a half in, Roy is sent to prison for a crime he didn’t commit. The book takes on racism and mass incarceration, and it is compelling to see how the effects reverberate through this family. The characters are all flawed; their feelings and actions are complex and contradictory. The story is hard without being bleak. This one is well worth your time.//⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️💫//#mrsopusreads2018

A post shared by Renae Morehead (@mrsopusreads) on

Tattoos on the Heart: The Power of Boundless Compassion, by Gregory Boyle//Father Gregory Boyle, known as G to the gang members and former gang members he works with in LA, is such a good storyteller, and I’m glad I listened to this as an audiobook (which he read). This book is full of compassion and wisdom, and Father Boyle’s insight into the heart of God and the sacredness of life is challenging and beautiful. This book made me laugh and cry, and I recommend it for sure. While you’re at it, give a listen to Krista Tippett’s interview with Father Boyle on her podcast On Being.//⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️💫//#mrsopusreads2018

A post shared by Renae Morehead (@mrsopusreads) on

Frankenstein, by Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley//This was our book club pick this month. My main takeaway was that this is not the story I thought I knew from pop culture (also that the creature has become known as Frankenstein and is *everywhere*). I’m sure I would not have sought it out if it hadn’t been for book club. But that said, go ahead and read it if you’ve been wanting to; I’m glad I did.//⭐️⭐️⭐️//#mrsopusreads2018

A post shared by Renae Morehead (@mrsopusreads) on

Lily and the Octopus, by Steven Rowley//Despite my conscious feeling that I was mostly not in the right mood to listen it, this sneaky book totally won me over. I suspect this is one of those where I might not have liked reading it nearly as well; the narrator (Michael Urie) was excellent. This book worked for me on both levels it was aiming at: first, as a story of the process of grief Ted goes through as he notices something he hadn’t seen before on his beloved dachshund, Lily’s, head; and perhaps even more as the story of how Ted contends with that something—the octopus. I thought the magical realism aspects of the story were so masterfully woven with the “real.” This book was often funny (Ted’s relationship with his therapist was my favorite) and poignant. Even though I’m not a pet owner, I felt like this book allowed me to “get it.” The more I think about this book, the more I like it even long after I’ve finished reading. That’s surely a good sign.//⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️//#mrsopusreads2018

A post shared by Renae Morehead (@mrsopusreads) on

The Late Show, by Michael Connelly//This was a basic police procedural, which I like. I liked reading it; I liked the detective. I’d read another one in the series (or I wouldn’t need to; either way is cool).//⭐️⭐️⭐️//#mrsopusreads2018

A post shared by Renae Morehead (@mrsopusreads) on

Dear Ijeawele, or a Feminist Manifesto in Fifteen Suggestions, by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie//This gem is only 64 pages long and is written as a letter to a close friend. It offers advice to Ijeawele on how to raise her newborn daughter as a feminist. I love that this was asked-for advice that Adichie offered before she was a mother herself and that she read it after her own daughter was born and said, “yeah, these are good; I want to keep them in mind for my daughter as well.”//⭐️⭐️⭐️💫//#mrsopusreads2018

A post shared by Renae Morehead (@mrsopusreads) on

A Wrinkle in Time, by Madeleine L’Engle//I gave Simon a box set of the Wrinkle in Time Quintet for Christmas and encouraged him to read at least A Wrinkle in Time before the movie came out. He and I ended up reading the book out loud together, taking turns page by page or paragraph by paragraph. Reading a book I love snuggled close to my ten-year-old = pure bliss. We saw the movie together too, and while it was enjoyable on its own, we both thought the book was soooo much better. Don’t settle for the movie.//⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️//#mrsopusreads2018

A post shared by Renae Morehead (@mrsopusreads) on

Bluebird, Bluebird, by Attica Locke//When I first picked up this novel, I was reading several books at once, but this one quickly became the one I kept returning to, the one I couldn’t put down. I feel like this book is hard to categorize: the cover copy calls it a “powerful thriller” (a Texas Ranger investigates two murders in an East Texas town), but it wasn’t necessarily wanting to know what happened or solving the mystery that made me unable to stop reading. While Darren Matthews was smart and troubled in all the usual ways of the smart-but-troubled protagonists in this genre, he was so well-written and layered that he avoided becoming the cliche. Instead of being merely backstory, Matthews’s ambivalence about growing up black in Texas and returning after law school with a sense of home and duty was central to the book, not because it was essential to the plot, but because it took the book to a deeper level. I would characterize this as literary fiction—character before plot. This book was perceptive and thought-provoking and unsettling and definitely one of my favorites of the year so far.//⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️//#mrsopusreads2018

A post shared by Renae Morehead (@mrsopusreads) on

The Great Alone, by Kristin Hannah//I really enjoyed reading this book; even at more than 400 pages, I finished in just a few days. I wouldn’t describe it as a page turner as much as say it went down easy. The setting of a remote Alaskan village in the 1970s and the characters that filled this story were the best part of the book. If I think about it too hard, it unravels for me (the hard-but-good living in the first half is a bit too romantic and the plot goes off the rails in the last third), but I don’t want to pick this book apart because, like I said, I really enjoyed reading it.//⭐️⭐️⭐️💫//#mrsopusreads2018

A post shared by Renae Morehead (@mrsopusreads) on

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, by Rebecca Skloot//I was intrigued by how this book came about—the author learned about HeLa cells in a biology class when she was sixteen and became consumed with telling the story of Henrietta Lacks. HeLa cells are used extensively in scientific research and are derived from cervical cancer cells taken from Henrietta Lacks (without her knowledge or consent) before she died. Skloot explains the significance of the famous cell line as well as the many ethical issues surrounding human cell and tissue research. She also recounts her relationship with Lacks’s surviving children and their confusion about exactly what it meant for their mother’s cells to be immortal and about their continued stake in her cells being distributed and used worldwide. I would have maybe preferred a long form article rather than a full-length book. It was fine; i just found the concept much more interesting than the fine points.//⭐️⭐️⭐️//#mrsopusreads2018

A post shared by Renae Morehead (@mrsopusreads) on

0 Comments