Sunday, June 9, 2019

Book Reviews - Masterful Storytelling

Oh, hi. This is quite the eclectic mix (as is more often than not the case), but one thing they have in common is the quality of the writing and storytelling!

I'm Fine and Neither Are You by Camille Pagàn is a story of the things we think we know about people, but don't. Penelope and Jenny are best friends. Penelope thinks she knows everything about her friend, but when a tragedy happens, she realizes this isn't the case. Jolted by this discovery, she starts to reflect and evaluate her own life. Y'all, this was a vehicle for reflection told through a fictional account of a friend's realization that the truth was not what she thought it to be. It was such an emotional portrayal of what it might be like to find out information like this. Once Penelope starts to process this, she turns the mirror on her own life. What has she built for herself? How is her marriage? Her kids? Her happiness. The story is about Penelope reconciling the story of her friend, but more than that, it's about her story and where she wants to go next. I felt more emotional in reading this one than I anticipated. I think it was the story of being at a crossroads where you have those tough conversations with yourself that just made me feel a certain kind of way. There's one quote in particular that I bookmarked that has really stuck with me, "No one is the person everyone else thinks they are." All the truth, right? Again, this is just one of those books that's a story that makes you feel a certain kind of way. In reading about the characters, you also start thinking about yourself. It was a powerful read, and I really, really dug it.

Read this book if - You're looking for a book built around the question of how we can know someone, but not know them at all. You want a fictional read that will cause you to reflect on your real life.

The Whole Town's Talking by Fannie Flagg was just a gem of a read. It's the story of the people in Elmwood Springs, a small Missouri town, told through the generations of its residents. It starts with those who first settle in the town in the 1880s, and it goes all the way through until the 2010s when times are obviously very, very different. The book is divided by decades, so you see both the residents and how the historical happenings of the time also impact life in their small town. The beauty of this book comes in the simple story it tells, but that's also a really complex story of relationships, most of which span generations. There's also a really unique way that the original residents of the town are integrated through Still Meadows. Again, this is a story about people. I found that in each generation I was captivated by the residents that were introduced, and I felt more of a connection as I became more familiar with each of the families. I breezed through this read because I was so enjoying being a part of this town's history. I was also really swept away by some of the love stories. And y'all, there was even some thriller-esque elements here that kept me turning those pages. This was such a unique read, but also it was so familiar, and I really loved it!

Read this book if - You just want a really good book about people.

Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life by Anne Lamott was a book that I feel like I need to read again to really take it again. I recognize that's a weird way to start a review for a book I'm reading for the first time, but y'all, that also speaks to the book that this is. This is a book about writing, and it's a book I've heard referenced a lot, and I had never read myself. It's a beautiful reflection on how the author teaches others to be writers. The way she describes it all is such vivid and wonderful language. As she explains writing, she's really also explaining life. She helps those reading understand that writing is how you connect to yourself. If you're a writer, it's something you cannot ignore, and you need to let yourself explore your life and emotions to let things out. She also reflected on confidence in writing and overcoming perfectionism which was all the truth, especially for someone who can struggle with those feelings. The reason I say I need to read this again is because the language is so much to take in. I was simultaneously trying to take in her points and appreciate the beauty of what was written. Reading again, I think I could better zone on specific points, and I've marked lots of pages to return to. This is just a book that's an experience, and it's one I'm glad I now (finally) know. 

Read this book if - You want a book that gives you all the things to think about around writing and living.

Sorry I'm Late, I Didn't Want to Come: An Introvert's Year of Living Dangerously by Jessica Pan was an interesting premise. The author decides to shed her introvert tendencies for a year. Instead, she decides to focus on being more "extroverted" and saying yes to more things, particularly those that might scare her. This includes talking to strangers, trying out comedy (in a few forms), and finding more friends. For this one, there were definitely parts of the adventure I resonated with. Specifically, it was the stuff about finding friends. There was some good stuff on loneliness, but more than that, I appreciated the reminder of how darn hard it can be to find friends as an adult! This was a memoir that was so honest. To go through this experience, the author really had to commit to this experience. I'm not sure I would have found that courage to keep going through all these things, so I really appreciated seeing how she put herself out there. It also made me reflect on how I might do this more, as I live (and love) that introvert life. This is an interesting read given its honesty and unique premise. I do have a hunch it might be a slightly better read for introverts just for the relatability, but at the same time, that's what I know, so who knows? Also, thanks to Andrews McMeel for the giveaway copy to check out and review!

Read this book if - You want a memoir reflecting on taking on a unique adventure in life. You want something that explores introversion and extroversion.