Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Book Reviews - Beautiful Stories of Books and People

Y'all, this was another one of those quartets where I really loved each book I found my way to. It had a book where I didn't know what to expect (and ended up loving), an illustrated gem, an author I'd read before and loved again, and a recommended read that was so great. Here's hoping one of these four is your jam, too.

Book Love by Debbie Tung was just a sweet read about books. It was a collection of simple illustrations that perfectly reflected what it's like to love reading. What I loved the most was there are tendencies I have as a reader (e.g. I loathe book covers with the movie poster), and it was so affirming to see that was a thing others felt strongly about, too. There's comfort in a book that just makes you think/say, "Yes, I know that exact feeling." This is my second book by the author (Quiet Girl in a Noisy World was the first), and I so love how she describes and details life. It's a quick read, but it's just one of those books (about books) that will make you smile.

Read this book if - You love reading and want that love shared in illustrated form. You just want a happy read.

Oh, and here's one of her illustrations. Y'all this one is me with @clubbookmobile for sure.

Image result for debbie-tung book love

The Bookshop of Yesterdays by Amy Meyerson was such an unexpectedly wonderful read. I hadn't heard much of anything about this book, and I read it for my online book club. Y'all, I loved this one. At its core, this is another book that's about the connections we can find in reading/books. It's also about the complexities of emotions and relationships. Miranda is a 28 year old teacher. She finds out that her Uncle Billy has died. With this, he's left his bookstore to her. The complicated layer of this is that she hasn't talked to her uncle she was 12 years old. She remembers an argument between her uncle and her mother, but she was never told what happened. All she knows is there was something so big involved that it resulted in long-term estrangement. The first part of the story is then Miranda figuring out what to do with the bookstore which isn't in the best shape. In addition to this, Billy has left Miranda some clues to reveal some additional stories and truths he feels she needs to know. These are left in various books, and she has to piece together what they mean, who she needs to talk to, and where to go next. Unbeknownst to Miranda, there were many secrets Billy had. Her book quest is unraveling them to better understand him, as well as their relationship. Their story was definitely one that kept me reading and wondering what was happening. I loved how the story was slowly told as Miranda found different clues left by Billy. There was quite the twist in the quest, and I didn't piece it together until just before it was revealed which I always love in a story build. This one was a unique blend of mystery and drama and family and emotions. It was also about the ups and downs of the independent bookstore - It was a love letter to them of sorts. All around, this was a well-crafted story full of great characters. It also definitely got my online book club talking, so if you need something like for your own club, this is definitely one to check out.

Read this book if - You want a book that is about books and people and all the feels. You want a mystery that is slowly told and revealed. You want a story that is about the complexity of relationships, especially family.

No Happy Endings by Nora McInerny was a honest and authentic memoir. This is my second of her books (The first being It's Okay to Laugh - Crying is Cool, Too), and above all else, she tells real stories. She is someone who is living a life she never could have expected in so many ways, and she is willing to share what that experience is like. In this book, she focuses on the after of losing her husband Adam. In this after, something happens she never expects, she falls in love. This book is the story of how she continues to remember and love Adam, and also how she settles into this new normal. I think this is a story others might be reluctant to share, but I appreciate that she is willing to "go there" in sharing that there is no textbook way to go through life. We all do the best we can with what we have, where we are, and the time we're given. Most of all, she speaks to how important it is to find your people and things you love, and to make a life full of that however you can. Again, what I love about Nora's books (we're on a first name basis, right?) is that she puts her story out there into the world. She shares what it's like to experience loss, what it's like to grieve, and what it's like to live without. She also share what it's like to find joy, what it's like to find yourself, and what it's like to continue living for someone. I take so much from her stories full of literally all the feels there could possibly be. This is one of those authors that I'll continue to read whatever she decides she wants to share with the universe.

Read this book if - You want a story full of all the feels. You want something honest about how unexpected life can be. 

Girl Walks into a Bar. . . by Rachel Dratch was a memoir shared with me by a friend. This was a book where I again appreciated how it was so honest and authentic. I obvs know Rachel Dratch from SNL (Debbie Downer for-ev-er y'all), but I knew very little of her story beyond that. In this memoir, she shares lots of stories when things didn't go as she hoped. For example, she was supposed to have Jane Krakowski's role on 30 Rock, but was swapped out after the pilot. She remained on the show in another capacity, but y'all can you imagine how that would feel? She also focuses on stories about trying to make it in improv, life after SNL, and also dating in her thirties/forties. Y'all, this was a memoir that I loved for its honesty. I think it's easy to write a book where everything goes your way, and you've made it. However, the memoirs that have real power and connection are ones like this. They talk about the good stuff, of course, but also share when things weren't quite so awesome. I loved how much I got to know Rachel Dratch as a human. It was a story I didn't expect, and I really related with. I especially appreciated the candor with which she talked about motherhood and being childless in a world focused on those choices. This part of her story also takes a turn that I had no idea about, but again, I loved how she shared navigating that part of her journey. This is a quick read, but also one that was just a solid memoir that I took a whole heckuva lot from.

Read this book if - You like memoirs that give you a deep view into someone you know, but don't really, really know's life. You like relatable stories.