Another season has come and gone and boy have I been reading a lot the past couple of months! Luckily, I’ve had some time off during the spring, which gave me a lot more time to read than I usually have when I’m in my usual work routine. I’ve read quite a variety of books over the past few months, some great some not so great, but overall I’m happy to keep my 2019 reading goal chugging along as planned!
Betwixt-and-Between: Essays on the Writing Life by Jenny Boully ~ I was at a point earlier this year where I was facing an intense bought of writer’s block and just generally feeling uninspired and not creative. Not only are these bouts of writer’s block annoying from the perspective of being productive, but they also coincide with me feeling like I’m not completely myself. Jenny Boully a writer and professor and while this book is about the writing process, it’s not a how to on being a writer. She explores so many different aspects of being a creative throughout the essays in this book, that I found incredibly inspiring, however, unlike a lot of self-help books, this collection of essays felt down-to-Earth and relatable.
China Rich Girlfriend by Kevin Kwan ~ While I was on vacation in Tahoe in March, I brought along the second book in the Crazy Rich Asians series, China Rich Girlfriend, for a fun, easy holiday read. I loved the first book in the series, however the second book left quite a bit to be desired. It included all of the opulence and humor that I loved in the first book, however the plot of this book was far less put together than the first book. I really liked most of the characters in the first book, but the second book, with its convoluted plot, made me really dislike certain characters. Despite the negative review of the second, I will definitely read the third book in the series, because I hear it’s much better than the second!
The Push by Tommy Caldwell ~ After reading China Rich Girlfriend I craved reading something with a bit more substance. Deciding to read The Push also coincided with my getting into rock climbing. Tommy Caldwell is by far one of the best and most accomplished rock climbers of all time. In the book, Tommy Caldwell writes about his childhood and his entire rock climbing career, throughout which he has experienced some major setbacks (including being held hostage while on an expedition and losing an index finger). The story culminates in Tommy’s landmark first free ascent of the Dawn Wall on El Cap in Yosemite, which was one of the most impressive feats in big wall climbing ever. I absolutely loved this book not only because of the inspiring nature of his story but also, because as an amateur climber, there’s a lot to be learned from Tommy Caldwell’s career.
Alone on the Wall by Alex Honnold ~ I obviously liked the climbing books this spring! After finishing The Push, my boyfriend recommended I read Alex Honnold’s book, Alone on the Wall. I was super excited to read this book because I had just watched Free Solo, which if you haven’t watched already, you must! I definitely preferred Tommy Caldwell’s book to Alex Honnold’s mainly because of the writing. Alex had a collaborator, David Roberts, who wrote part of the book. I understand the need to have another voice in this book, mainly because Alex is very cavalier about a lot of the things he’s climbed and you need another person’s perspective to portray the scope of his accomplishments. On the flip side, it wouldn’t have worked to have someone write about Alex’s climbing because free soloing is such an intensely personal experience that you need to hear it straight from the horse’s mouth. I did like how clear they make it when it is Alex or David writing, however because it is two very different voices jumping back and forth, the book doesn’t read as smoothly as it would if it were just coming from a singular author.
Conversations With Friends by Sally Rooney ~ After hearing loads about Sally Rooney’s books, I finally found her first book in my local bookshop and promptly scooped it up. I really loved this book for a multitude of reasons. For one, there’s something about Sally Rooney’s writing that is both incredibly beautiful yet easy to understand. The book is about two friends with a somewhat tumultuous and complicated relationship. One of the girls, Frances becomes involved with a married man and conflict amongst the two friends arises. I absolutely loved how Rooney portrays female friendships with complexity and depth that is so often left out of novels with strong female characters.
Sex & Rage by Eve Babitz ~ I read this book while I was on a work trip to LA, and it was the perfect place to read it! This book is about a woman named Jacaranda, who grew up in LA and begins to run in a very artsy, influential group of friends. She gets tired of the vapidness of her friends, who are more interested in using each other for their own personal gain than anything else, and moves to New York to pursue a career in writing. While she tries to escape all of the toxic people in LA, she comes to find that they follow her wherever she goes. Overall I liked this book quite a bit, more for the writing than the plot though. The plot wasn’t bad but the book is written in a very dream-like stream-of-consciousness style, which isn’t always everyone’s cup of tea.