March Reads

I keep meaning to make other posts, but it keeps being the end of the month already and time to post the month’s books!

The Little Book of Hygge: The Danish Way to Live Well, by Meik Wiking. One of the statistics in this delightful little book is the number of people who think hygee (pronounced hoo-ga) is translatable. Of course, I can’t say for sure, but my sense is probably not. This book, though, puts enough words to the concept that I think a non-Dane can get the gist. I first heard of the concept of hygge following the thread of a friend who is/was trying to combat SAD and looked to how Nordic cultures make it through long, dark winters. This book is almost a coffee-table guide (though small), with short definitions and examples. I think I’m naturally bent toward all things hygge (think hunker down and get warm and cozy and comfortable surrounded by good friends and slow, lingering pursuits), so I found this more life affirming than life changing.

The Princess Diarist, by Carrie Fisher (read by Carrie Fisher and Billie Lourde). I listened to this one, and it was good to hear Carrie Fisher’s familiar voice. I liked the book, but didn’t love it. Honestly, it made me sad, not because of Fisher’s recent death (though that makes me sad too), but because of the angst and pain of nineteen-year-old Carrie (the actual diary entries are read by Fisher’s daughter Billie Lourde). The book is largely (though not only) about Fisher’s (apparently-well-known-but-news-to-me) affair with Harrison Ford during the filming of Star Wars. At one point, Fisher reflects, “I loved him, and he let me.” That kind of relationship is one of my most hated plot lines, and it’s only worse when it’s a true story.

The Girl Who Drank the Moon, by Kelly Barnhill (read by Christina Moore). I loved this middle-grade read so, so much. I want people to read it (or listen to it), so we can talk. I find it hard to talk about without giving away too much of the plot–because when the mysteries begin to be revealed, that’s all the stuff I want to talk about. This book is imaginative and thoughtful and lovely. The little dragon (I can’t remember his name) who fits in your pocket but thinks he is enormous and doesn’t want to scare anyone is one of my favorite minor characters of all time–and he has my favorite line in the book. I will be listening to this again.

The Underground Railroad, by Colson Whitehead. I really did like this book. The subject, of course, is hard and heavy. It took me a while to get into, and I think it was probably because I had just finished Homegoing and maybe that story was still resonating in me. I think this book deserves all the attention and accolades that it is getting.

The Night Circus, by Erin Morgenstern. I started this book forever ago and only got about 30 pages into it before setting it aside. It wasn’t that I wasn’t interested but that I own the book and my library holds and other things came along and distracted me. But when I finally did pick it up again, I read all 512 (well, 482) pages in about three giant gulps. In fact, one night I read past midnight only to wake up at 4 am to finish the book by 6 am. It was a little (big) gem. I get the impression from reading a few reviews that people either love it or hate it. I loved it.

Wonder, by R. J. Palacio. This was our book club book this month, and it was simply fantastic. The book is told in several different voices and centers on ten-year-old August. Auggie was born with a facial deformity (he says, “I won’t describe what I look like. Whatever you’re thinking, it’s probably worse), and for fifth grade he is going to attend a school for the first time. Palacio does such a good job with each of the voices–whether a middle schooler or a teenager, male or female, each of the characters is well done. The story is sweet (heartwarming even) but not saccharine. All of the characters have flaws, and each new point of view adds something important–and human–to the story. I can’t wait to read this with Simon (nine years old); it’s such a good–and broadly applicable–story that explores empathy (or lack of it) and kindness (and lack of it) without being the least bit heavy-handed.

The Long Way Home, by Louise Penny. This tenth book in the Inspector Gamache series was a miss for me. It was easily my least favorite of the series so far (well, maybe not easily, The Brutal Telling, number 5, was also not my favorite). The mystery was not a murder but a disappearance. I wasn’t bothered by that changeup, but the mystery seemed a little thin and the scenes repetitive. And then the end? We can talk if you’ve read it, and I won’t give a spoiler here but I hated it. Still, I think this series is great and will, of course, continue to read.