April Reads

April may have gone by in a flash, but I feel as if I’ve been operating in slow motion. I hope this general lack of motivation doesn’t stick around because it’s been affecting all aspects of my life — WODs (workouts) at CrossFit, getting up early in the morning, coming up with ideas for my blog and for Parentables, my desire to go out with friends, and even the number of books I’ve read this month. Last week Jason and I sat down to talk about loosening up our schedule a bit to ensure that we have time to be alone together each week and the empty, unplanned days that I need to charge my internal battery. I’m no longer the social butterfly I was back in university and — shocked gasp! — actually crave those quiet nights in with my PJs on. Anyways, back to this month’s reading list:

1. “The Distant Hours” by Kate Morton

distant_hoursThis book is historical fiction with a dark Gothic twist. The whole thing was quite creepy and, since I have a very low creepiness tolerance, there were a few times I was reading alone at night when Jason was at the gym and I had to put the book down until he got home because I was getting too jumpy and tense. It’s set in Britain, jumping between the WW2 era and the present-day, focused on a gloomy castle where lots of strange things have taken place. As entertaining as it was, “The Distant Hours” was not nearly as great as Morton’s better-known novel, “The Forgotten Garden,” which I read last year and loved.

 

2. “What Happened to Anna K.” by Irina Reyn

I already blogged about my reactions to this book, which I really enjoyed. It’s a modern interpretation of “Anna Karenina.” You can check out the post here.

3. “Half Broke Horses” by Jeannette Walls

HalfBrokeHorsesThis is the prequel to “The Glass Castle,” which I read last month. Walls tells the story of her grandmother Lily’s incredible life growing up on a ranch first in Texas, then in New Mexico, and later running her own huge ranch in Arizona. I was impressed by her fortitude and perseverance. Most impressively, she got a teaching position at age 15 and rode her horse all alone through the desert for 500 miles to take the job. I have trouble imagining a modern 15-year-old doing the grocery shopping, let alone tackling a trip like that. Another story that touched me deeply was Lily’s younger sister’s suicide after getting pregnant, abandoned by the baby’s father, and shunned by the town and priest. It was sickening to read of the judgmental way in which she was treated. Despite that, I couldn’t help but feel nostalgia for an era of greater self-sufficiency and inventiveness. Life is so easy now by comparison, and I can’t help but wonder if it causes us to take it for granted.

4. “419” by Will Ferguson

photo: quillandquire.com
photo: quillandquire.com

This novel won the 2012 Scotiabank Giller Prize, but I was drawn to it after hearing about my aunt and uncle’s recent trip to Nigeria. 419 is the section of the Nigerian criminal code that deals with fraud and obtaining money in illegal ways. Uncle Harold told me it’s the kind of book you should never read before going to Nigeria, and he’s right. Now that I’ve read it, I’m terrified to go there! It was a deeply unsettling book, mostly because of the desperate lengths to which someone will go to get ahead, even if it destroys other people along the way. It was disturbing also because it touches so close to home. A Canadian man dies as a result of a 419 scam which grew out of one of those emails we’ve all seen in our inboxes at some point: “So-and-so in Africa needs your help!” etc.

Have you read any of these books? What are your thoughts? I’m particularly interested to hear people’s reactions to “419,” since I can’t stop thinking about that one.

You know, a lightbulb just went off in my head. Maybe my lethargy is affected by the fact that all the books I read this month are truly depressing, mostly about hardship and gloom and injustice. Perhaps May’s focus will be on happy books, books to inspire and books to entertain. Yes, that’s a good idea.

You may also like:
January Book Reviews
What I’ve Read in February
A Good End to March: East and a Completed Book List
Why I Must Read 52 Books This Year

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10 thoughts on “April Reads

  1. Read some David Sedaris which will always cheer you up. Also Goat Song by Brad Kessler. I don’t know if I recommended this to you before, but it’s a really charming book about a writer and his wife who move to a farm, and start raising goats in order to make goat cheese. It will make you smile, and think about goats in a whole other way.

    1. Thanks, Kelly. I’ll do that and check the library later today for those books. I love stories about back-to-the-land living, so I’m sure I’ll like the goat one. Right now Jason and I are reading “A Box of Matches” aloud at night and it’s hilarious. I love how he can go on and on about the most mundane things and make them entertaining, i.e. the hole in his sock.

  2. so far, I’ve read two of your recommendations (What Happened to Anna K and The Forgotten Garden). Both were so good I’m going to request more of your recommendations from the library!

    1. Yay! That’s what I love to hear. It’s hard to recommend books to other people because tastes are so subjective, but I’m happy to hear you liked them.

  3. Sometimes I feel lethargic in springtime, too, and I think it might be a seasonal thing. With the sudden burst of new growth all around me, it seems like the world has sped up and I have slowed down by comparison. But, judging from the work on your blog, not to mention all the work of 2 young children, a house, garden, cooking, working out AND reading all the books that you do, I think lethargic is probably the last thing that you are!

    1. Well, thank you very much, Denise! I do keep busy, but it’s the kind of busyness that requires a lot of effort, instead of the natural-flowing hyperactive energy that sometimes flows out of me! Hopefully that returns soon.

  4. Based on the results of our little doodle exercise from a few weeks back, I disagree with your assessment that you are not a social butterfly. You have the most jam-packed social schedule of anyone I know. If I want to spend an hour catching up with you over a cup of tea I practically have to book it a month in advance. No wonder you’re exhausted!

  5. I just read Half Broke Horses in April as well AND also had a birthday in April! I’ve been missing from the blogging world for awhile but am slowly getting caught up on all the Feisty Red Hair I’ve missed out on, it’s great to be back!

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