One of my intentions with this blog is to share the books I have read each month. Here is what July held for me in terms of reading.
Hostage by Guy Delisle- I don’t often read graphic novels (I can only think of one other I have read, which is Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant by Roz Chast, which was excellent and came into my life at a very appropriate time). I am open to start reading more of them though. I am starting to think of them more as short stories or novellas, rather than ruling them out as simply “not for me”. This book is a nonfiction account of Christophe Andre´, a Frenchman working for Doctors Without Boarders when he was kidnapped in Chechnya in 1997. The author/illustrator really gives you a good sense of what he went through, in terms of monotony, hunger, fear, discomfort, and pain. It gave me a sense of place, which I really value in books, graphic novel or otherwise. I read this very quickly, which I guess is the nature of graphic novels, even those over 400 pages.
The Children’s Crusade by Ann Packer – This is one of those books that’s hard to explain what it’s “about”. It’s a character (as opposed to plot)-driven novel about a family, a house, relationships, and the passage of time. The book bounces around through time and different character’s perspectives. I really enjoyed it, but others may find it drags a bit, especially if you need a page-turning plot to enjoy a book. The main theme of this book is family dynamics.
What Falls From the Sky by Esther Emery – A friend told me about this book; I had never heard of it! I enjoyed this memoir and its message about disconnecting and living intentionally. Many of her thoughts will stay with me, especially the part about living our lives with an audience in mind. We all spend too much time online, and this book really got me thinking about why and how much is too much, and if it is even practical/possible to live without the internet in this day and age. It would certainly be a challenge.
Redeployment by Phil Klay – Excellent book of short stories about the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts and the soldiers who were (and are) involved and the aftermath. Really accurate depictions of PTSD and war, so maybe triggering for some. The one small issue I have with this book is the many (many) acronyms and abbreviations used by the military, however that is certainly accurate. I had to look up a lot of them.
Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders – I can see where this is something of a polarizing book. It may be the oddest book I have ever read. For about the first third, I wasn’t entirely sure of what was going on. I almost gave up on it, but I’m glad I stuck with it; by the second half, I had a hard time putting it down. If you can get over the quirkiness of it, it’s really good. It is a book about a footnote of history, and at its core it’s a book about grief. It’s narrated mostly by ghosts who are stuck in purgatory (Yes, I did have to look up “bardo”- it’s a Buddhist term for a state of existence between life and death) and about the death of Abraham Lincoln’s young son, William. It’s very Sixth Sense-ish (which is a challenging phrase to say out loud, by the way). This book sent me down a wiki rabbit hole, which I always feel is a good sign in books. When a book makes me want to learn or read more about something, it’s served a good purpose.
My favorite this month: Lincoln in the Bardo