- originally published September 9, 2015 -
Reading is a great thing to do all year round, but especially in the summer. I was able to read a few books this season that I really liked!
The first was “Where’d You Go, Bernadette,” by Maria Semple. For some reason I didn’t expect this book to be as incredibly clever as it was (it is seriously such a good story!). I guess I judged the book by its cover and thought that it would be a mindless vacation read. It is actually such an endearing story with many details, twists, and turns. It’s a clever mother-daughter-family tale, and very unique to the world it takes place in (you really get a sense of their West Coast life, and I was ironically reading it on my very first visit to the West Coast). You should totally read this!!! If you want to, of course.
Then I picked up “Pilgrim at Tinker Creek,” by Annie Dillard. I have been meaning to read more of her essay books ever since I read through the entire “An American Childhood” in one long day of temping as a receptionist at an office in NYC. This book, however, took a little more time. I ended up reading it in bits throughout the summer, which isn’t something that I normally do…and I haven’t finished yet. I guess that’s why it’s classified as a collection of “essays,” because it’s not quite one continuous story. I am, however, intrigued by the way that Dillard observes the world with such care and an attention to detail that very few people are wired to master. You can’t read through a book like this too quickly, or you might miss the profoundness in quotes such as this one: “…that beauty and grace are performed whether or not we will or sense them. The least we can do is try to be there.” Just. so. lovely.
Last year, I was wandering around a NY Barnes and Nobles with a gift card when I saw “Someday, Someday Maybe,” by Lauren Graham, sitting on the “new release” shelf. I was drawn to it because, of course: “Lorelai Gilmore wrote this book!” But I mostly wanted to read it because it was about the journey of an actress trying to “make it” in her field, and all of her experiences. While I am not an aspiring actress, I have a lot of friends who are…and being an aspiring musician/writer isn’t too much different. Needless to say, I didn’t buy the book that day. Instead, I got “An American Childhood” by Annie Dillard (since I’ve mentioned this one twice now, you should know that it’s another incredible read, in my opinion, with some of the most lovely descriptions of the most simple things in life – I couldn’t put it down.)
So, this summer I knew that I had to find that Lauren Graham book, which led me to literally 10 different Barnes and Nobles (where it didn’t exist anymore?), and then I finally ordered it on Amazon, which I should have done in the first place because it was waaay cheaper. Anyway, I once again was not expecting this book to be really good (I don’t know why I act like a book snob all the time!), but obviously I wanted to read it, and it’s a good thing I did because…IT IS SUCH A GOOD BOOK. Seriously, any person pursuing a creative field, or really anyone, would laugh out loud reading this book. It’s so relatable, serious, and hilarious all at once. I couldn’t put it down. My favorite passage was this: “‘She’s in a play, remember? But then she quits. She quits acting altogether, almost because she loves it too much. It’s too important to her and she doesn’t want to do it for the wrong reasons, for anything resembling ego. She’s ashamed of herself for even wanting to compete, for ‘not having the courage to be an absolute nobody.’ I always loved that line.'” This is when one of the characters is talking about a J.D. Salinger story, which is an important theme throughout this book. Seriously so relatable. I even feel like I got to know Lauren Graham a little more through reading it. Yup, I would definitely recommend this.
Last but definitely not least: I finally read through “Suprised by Joy,” by C.S. Lewis. I’ve been meaning to read this for a few years now, and my friend Camilla gave it to me as a gift this past spring. Written in Lewis’ classic voice, this was another excellent read. It is full of powerful passages such as this one: “…the Divine humility which will accept a convert even on such terms. The Prodigal Son at least walked home on his own feet. But who can duly adore that Love which will open the high gates to the prodigal who is brought in kicking, struggling, resentful, and darting his eyes in every direction for a chance of escape? The words compelle intrare, compel them to come in, have been so abused by wicked men that we shudder at them; but, properly understood, they plumb the depth of the Divine mercy. The hardness of God is kinder than the softness of men, and His compulsion is our liberation.”
And this concludes my first blog post about books.