June 30, 2017

Everything I Read in June

I'm in a reading rut this year. I'm seven books behind my goal of 55 books this year (which was, admittedly ambitious) but I've gone whole days without reading, something I don't think I've done since college. I've read so many books this year that I didn't like, that it's been hard to pick things up again.

I'm desperately in need of a good read. I'm mulling over which books to bring on vacation next month, so suggestions are welcome!

In the meantime, here's a look at what I've read this month:

"In the Woods" by Tana French - Since "The Trespasser" came out, I've been really eager to read Tana French. I've heard amazing things about her latest book but it was at my local, neighborhood bookshop that someone recommended I start with French's first book, "In the Woods." The six-book series doesn't follow any chronological order but rather involves some of the same characters, all detectives in the Dublin Murder Squad.

I enjoyed this book. I gave it three stars. The novel begins in Ireland on a summer day in the 80s when three kids go out to the woods to play, and only one comes back. The case goes cold and, years later, Detective Rob Ryan, the child left behind, finds himself back in Knocknaree, the town he grew up in, investigating the murder of a young girl that may have ties to his missing friends.

I can't say why I didn't rate this book better without giving away spoilers, but I will say that if you like crime novels (which I actually don't) or are interested in mysteries, this is a quick read that will be perfect for a long flight this summer!

"The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down" by Anne Fadiman - This book was heartbreaking, yet fascinating. A nonfiction book, it goes into remarkable detail about Lia Lee, a Hmong girl in Merced County, CA who developed a seizure disorder at 4 months old. Lia's family are Hmong refugees who didn't speak English and couldn't convey to her doctors what was happening, especially since, early on, she stopped seizing before she arrived at the hospital. The book is a tragedy of errors telling the collision between Western medicine and Eastern culture. Lia's parents wanted to slaughter animals in an offering to help bring her soul back, the reason, they thought for her seizures. Lia's doctors' were frustrated at what they deemed noncompliance by her parents for failing to give Lia her medicine when they couldn't understand the directions, particularly in regards to dosage and times, as culturally, they tell time by the light of day and the rooster's crow. Lia's parents were frustrated at what her doctors' were doing to her (taking blood when they believed she had a finite amount of blood or performing a spinal tap, which they didn't understand the point of). When translators were used, they were Hmong custodians at the hospital or the Lee's teenage daughter.

It's hard to say I loved this book because of the subject but I loved reading it and, I honestly think this should be required reading for any medical practitioner.  I highly recommend this book. We read it for my book club and it was interesting to see what perspective people took - siding with either the doctors or the family. I'd be curious to know what others think.

"Echoland" by Joe Joyce - When I travel, I always try to pick up a book at a local bookstore that takes place in the city or country I'm visiting. While in Dublin, I picked up this book which had recently been awarded Dublin's One City One Book choice. The shopkeeper highly recommended the book and I couldn't wait to dive in.

I didn't like it. I had a really hard time following the dialogue, something I've never struggled with in a novel before, and the book just dragged on. Set during WWII or, The Emergency, as it was called in Ireland, Paul Duggan is tasked with following someone thought to be a German spy, as part of his role in the Army's Intelligence Division. At the same time, his uncle, a politician, asks him to help find his daughter, who may have been kidnapped. The entire book involves Duggan going back and forth between the two cases and, in the end, they are maybe, somehow, a little bit, but not really linked? I wouldn't recommend it.

"The Handmaid's Tale" by Margaret Atwood - I actually read this last month before we chose it for our June book, but I'll review it now!

The premise of the book is a dystopian world where the birth rate is on a significant decline because of environmental factors. Offred, the main character, has been rounded up to serve as a handmaid, with the sole responsibility of getting pregnant and giving her Commander, a child. In this book, women have been relegated to the role of baby makers, and Offred's only goal is to survive.

I read this book in high school and don't remember anything other than the fact that I loved it. In our current political climate, I was looking forward to reading it again and watching the Netflix series. I had heard great things about the new Audiobook release, narrated by Claire Daines, so I downloaded that. I'm disappointed to say that this time around, I couldn't get into it. I didn't like Daines' narration and I had a hard time following. I do think this book deserves a read but I recommend actually reading it.

So that's everything I've read this month! I've just started "The Devil in the White City" by Erik Larson but, as I said, I'm looking for recommendations!

Have you read any of these?

What have you read lately that you loved?

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