Reading Life – June 2015

June 30, 2015


As with everything ebbing and flowing for me, my reading life comes and goes. This update doesn’t have as many books to report as I would’ve liked. Italy was amazing, but it put a wrench in my reading life. I found myself unable to get into anything for a while. So below is a bunch of rambling about my last 3 months of reading – if you are looking for my favorite of the four, skip to the last book, The Secret History.

Four Seasons In Rome: On Twins, Insomnia, and the Biggest Funeral in the History of the World | Anthony Doerr
I read this around my trip to Alaska last year, after reading All The Light We Cannot See (one of my favorite reads of 2014). It feels both years ago and just last week. I don’t read much travel writing, but I love love love memoir. The first reading was fine – a bit babbling – but I sink into any behind-the-scenes details about an author’s process. It’s clear to me that the time Doerr spent in Rome colors the world of All The Light… Back to back they were lovely. I picked it up again on my Kindle on the flight(s) home from Italy. It was the perfect easy, meandering read and it was speaking about the land which I just experience for 8+ days. It was a way to sink deeper into and also continue living in that world.

The Art of Possibility: Transforming Professional and Personal Life | Benjamine Zander and Rosamund Stone Zander
I picked this up during the library haul after returning from Italy. Sadly, none of those books stuck nor did I finish this one. Here is where my energy for reading went flat. Call it post-vacation blues or the crazy uptick in work at my day-job, but I basically stopped reading for ~6 weeks. I enjoyed the philosophy and sentiment of this book, but I can’t say much more since I didn’t finish it (not the book’s fault).

The Girl On The Train | Paula Hawkins
And here’s how I dove back in to reading. First of all, my dad gave me this book for my birthday (thanks dad!), so there was some pressure to read it soon. He would randomly ask me if I started yet and I felt guilty saying no. Second of all, I gifted H an account for Christmas, and so far he’s “read” more books than me this year. So when I say I wasn’t “reading” for those 6 weeks, rest assured I was reliving awesome books like The Hunger Games and Girl With The Dragon Tattoo series.

Since I love the physical act of reading so much, audio book readers can make or break the experience for me. Case in point: The Hunger Games reader made Katniss sound whining and stupid. The voice in my head did not. On the flip side, Harry Potter on audiobook is MAGICAL.

TGOTT is not my kind of book. I don’t read thrillers often, preferring character-driver stories, and I hated Gone Girl so much, I gave up within the first 10 pages. It didn’t help that TGOTT was being promoted as “the next Gone Girl”. Sheesh. But what changed was H listening to it on audio book. The British women reading made the characters come alive for me. If I hadn’t listened to some of the book, I may have given up. Instead, I took it for what it was, a thriller, and enjoyed reading the story to its whatever conclusion. I would recommend this book to most of my friends, but I didn’t love it.

The Secret History | Donna Tartt
This is my current read and I LOVE IT SO MUCH. (Sending a thank you out to E who said I would). Tartt won the Pulitzer for last year’s The Goldfinch, another of my favorite reads from 2014, and TSH is everything I loved about The Goldfinch. Tartt puts so much pop-culture detail in between gorgeous descriptions of mundane scenes, all while propelling the young, male narrator along some moral gray area in which he is continually pulled along by characters and events stronger than himself. It was perfect to read traveling back to the east coast this month (we were in Maine and Massachusetts, the book is set in Vermont). I only wish I read it over a long, snowy Thanksgiving weekend, wearing a sweater, sitting near a fireplace. It made me crave coffee and whiskey and rustic dinners like baked chicken with potatoes. Also, gardening and rural Vermont. I have yet to finish it, but I can confidently say that, no matter the ending, this book goes onto my list of favs. (Check out this style storyboard for the novel too).

Reading Life is a recap of my thoughts about books I’ve recently read. I don’t intend to fully cover plot or purpose, but instead, would like to remember how reading these books made me feel. My experience of reading them. You can see all of the books I’ve read in my Library. I would love for you to share your own experiences with reading – if you’ve read any of the above, what you thought, and if you have any recommendations for me – in the comments below.


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  • Reply Lindsey June 30, 2015 at 12:58 pm

    Oh, I adored the Secret History too! Just so wonderful. Weirdly I am still resisting the Goldfinch, and I’m not sure why … but also glad you liked Four Seasons in Rome. I read it before All the Light and really enjoyed it. xox

    • Reply jtao21 July 1, 2015 at 10:22 pm

      Resist away with GF. It was a great read until the ending, so I loved SH much more. So awesome how it feels all morally gray, but really, it’s clear they’re bad people — and you root for them the whole time. And the language of east coast weather and college campuses and wealth. Loved.

  • Reply Open To Magic – Allowing Myself July 21, 2015 at 5:06 am

    […] books he chose was that they all dealt with “exile and return”. When I shared I’d just read The Secret History, he said it was one of his favorite books, and he’d just finished The Goldfinch by the same […]

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