Spring Reading

Yikes. I haven’t done a book review since the end of February. That doesn’t mean I haven’t been reading, although it has been harder with all my online writing. Here’s a quick overview of what’s been occupying my mind most evenings this spring.

MARCH

“The Mistress of Spices” by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni

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I liked the premise of this book — a sorceress/magician who moves to modern-day California to help heal people’s broken lives using the power of spices. It reminded me of extreme naturopathy! The book itself, though, was hard to read and didn’t draw me in as intensely as I’d hoped.

“Bury Your Dead” by Louise Penny

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Though I’m not a mystery fan, I do love Penny’s fast-moving novels always set in French Canada. This one was the best I’ve read yet, set in a wintry Quebec City, full of history about Samuel de Champlain, the fascinating and mysterious ‘founder’ of Canada.

“Toxin Toxout” by Bruce Lourie and Rick Smith

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See my review on TreeHugger about this excellent book — all about how to detoxify our bodies and lives.

APRIL

“The Cider House Rules” by John Irving

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My aunt Jane recommended this book to me after hearing some established writer say it was one of the most influential books in their life. I have to agree, it’s a powerful read, all about women’s rights, abortion, and adoption. I think everyone should read this book.

“The Firebird” by Susanna Kearsley

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Talk about profound disappointment! I enjoyed Kearsley’s other books so much, but this one was awful. The storyline was horribly contrived, about an estranged couple who could communicate with their minds. The only reason I kept reading it was because I took it to Honduras and it was a library book, so I couldn’t just pitch it and buy another book in the airport! Don’t bother with this one.

“I Always Loved You” by Robin Oliveira

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There was a romance, apparently, between artists Mary Cassatt and Edgar Degas. It was entertaining, if a bit slow-moving and stilted at times, but I do love descriptions of late 19th-century Paris, so I was content to finish the book.

“Love, Dishonor, Marry, Die, Cherish, Perish” by David Rakoff

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I certainly didn’t expect a novel in rhyme, but that’s what I got — and it was awesome! The storyline itself was a bit depressing, and while I understand that many modern authors want to depict ‘reality,’ I tend to read to escape and to be entertained and uplifted, which means I gravitate toward happier stories.

“All You Need Is Less” by Madeleine Somerville

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One awesome thing about writing for TreeHugger is getting free book copies to review. This one is written by a young women from B.C. who reminds me a lot of myself. You can read my review here.

MAY

“David and Goliath” by Malcolm Gladwell

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This was the first of Gladwell’s books that I’ve read. (Listening to most of “The Tipping Point” on CD doesn’t really count.) It was very interesting, and I found myself recounting a lot of the stories to Jason because they were so intriguing. But I also found Gladwell’s writing style to be a bit repetitive. It seemed he kept beating home the same points about big guys vs little guys, over and over again. It became irritating, eventually. Did anyone else notice that?

“Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close” by Jonathan Safran Foer

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My book club selected this one to read and discuss together. To be honest, I wasn’t a big fan of it. I don’t gravitate toward the style of writing that writes around the main message, leaving the reader to guess what’s actually being discussed. I prefer straightforward descriptions of what’s going on, not playing deciphering games, which I felt I had to do throughout this entire book. Oh, and I could never seem to remember the title.

“Longbourne” by Jo Baker

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This is “Pride and Prejudice” retold from the perspective of the servants. It was good, though not riveting. I expected more overlap with the P&P storyline, which was actually quite minimal. Still, I’d recommend it to anyone wanting a lovely foray into old Britain. It makes me miss my Victorian literature classes at university. There’s nothing quite like a delicious old novel…

In conclusion, I need something really good to read, something that engulfs me and leaves me feeling weak, emotional, and deeply satisfied. Any suggestions? Historical fiction is what I’m really craving these days.

you might also like:
Books I read in February
All the wonderful books I’ve read in January
November Book Reviews

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3 thoughts on “Spring Reading

  1. I’ve missed your book review posts. I always enjoy seeing what you have read and what you recommend. 🙂

    “Love, Dishonor, Marry, Die, Cherish, Perish” has been on my TBR list for a while. I’m a fan of Rakoff’s work and love hearing his stories on This American Life, although I agree they can be quite depressing.

    Have you seen the movie version of Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close? I haven’t read the book but I loved the movie.

    If you’re craving historical fiction, I highly recommend Sashenka by Simon Sebag Montefiore, which I loved. His writing is so powerful and because he is a historian as well as a fiction writer, Sashenka is both compelling and historically detailed. I am just about to order his second novel, One Night in Winter and I can’t wait to start reading it. I know it will sweep me away into another time and place.

    1. Awesome. Thanks for the recommendation! I’ll definitely look it up. It’s funny because I was actually thinking of you as I wrote the book review. I was wondering, “Does anyone actually care that I’m doing that?!” and then I remembered you commenting in the past that you love my reviews 🙂

      1. Aww, yes, your reviews are appreciated. 🙂 I always enjoy reading book recommendations from my favourite blog authors! Talking of book recommendations, have you come across Emily J’s blog (The Bookshelf of Emily J. before? I think you would probably enjoy her posts.

        Just one word about Montefiore: you mentioned in this post that you prefer happier, more uplifting stories. His books certainly engulf the reader but because they deal with such dark times in Russian history, harsh themes underpin them. They are very good though!

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