My commitment to 2020 is to be more diligent with both reading and writing about reading. I have procrastinated the crap out of 2019, and in the interest of getting a fresh start, here is a quick wrap on the books I read but didn’t get around to posting.
To Heaven and Back, Mary C. Neal, MD
- This is a difficult book to write about, and is partially responsible for my procrastination. Mary C. Neal had a Near Death Experience (NDE) while white-water kayaking (totally relatable!) and wrote this book to share with the world her proof that Heaven exists and to help people find their way “back” to God. Not a book for me, I’m afraid. In addition to her NDE, she also lost her son in an accident, and this is what inspired me to read it. I was hoping to find some insight into what my friends have been going through since they, too, lost their son in an ATV accident. Truthfully, I don’t think it’s possible to understand their loss, but I am going to continue to try to get closer. Rating: Not for me.
The Woman in Cabin 10, by Ruth Ware
- A more fantastical mystery than Ruth Ware’s in a dark dark wood, but not without some entertainment value. I like it enough to read more of her books, but only because I’m hopeful that this is not her best work. Rating: Maybe borrow it?
Conversations with Friends, Sally Rooney
- I didn’t love this book, and I didn’t hate it. I’m not even sure how to describe it. Two young college women who used to date now spend their days engaged in philosophical discussions with an older journalist, while one of the girls has an affair with said journalists husband, which is a secret to no one. They all just seem misguided and selfish, moving strangely through life and trying to find some kind of meaning within the naive philosophising of youth. Rating: I wish I had skipped this one.
Stardust, by Neil Gaiman
- Once upon a time, I watched a delightful and charming movie called Stardust. I was equally delighted to find out that this movie was based on a book of the same name by Neil Gaiman! So I bought this book immediately and read it on a flight. The book is not exactly how I remember the movie, but it was wonderful all the same. A young man sets off to find a fallen star to present to his true love as a matrimonial gift. Once he finds the star, which turns out to be in the form of a young women, he and the star travel together back to his home, and, well, adventure ensues! Rating: watch the movie for sure.
The Other Einstein, by Marie Benedict
- In an emerging new genre, this book is written from the perspective of the first wife of Albert Einstein, who was a gifted physicist in her own right. She was accepted into a university physics program at a time when women were rare at university and virtually non-existent in advanced sciences. If the book is to be believed, Einstein was originally attracted to her intelligence but over the course of time was, at best, not a nice person, and at worst, abusive. He may even have claimed contributions that she made to his theory of relativity as his own ideas. Men taking credit for the work of women, a story as old as time. Rating: Read it, develop a healthy dislike for Albert Einstein.
The Difference, by Marina Endicott
- Marina Endicott comes through again with a simply magnificent book about two sisters on a sailing adventure around the world in 1912. The elder sister is married to the captain of a merchant ship, and the younger sister accompanies them on the trip in an attempt to calm her inner demons. The book elegantly weaves stories of Canadian residential schools (our great national shame), cultural relations, and the true story of the purchase of a young Polynesian boy from his father as the main characters seek to calibrate their own moral compasses. Marina’s writing is just beautiful … I can’t recommend this book highly enough. Rating: BUY IT.
Haunted Ground, by Erin Hart
- Grandfathered into the right to dig the Irish peat bog, a family comes across the grisly remains of a red-headed Irish woman who appears to have been beheaded a century ago. As archaeologists search for clues to the woman’s identity, a modern-day missing person’s case is also underway to locate a mother and young son from the same community. I didn’t love it. Rating: Skip it.
That completes my book list – I’ll publish a full (short) list of my 2019 books as well, which you are more than welcome to skip.