It’s been a crazy month – visitors, Thanksgiving, freelance projects, the end of fall and the creeping in of winter, and trying to settle more deeply into this Boston life that is now mine. I’ve been reaching for beloved authors and old favorites this month. Here’s what my eyes have been scanning – on the T, curled up on the couch, snuggled in bed, over solitary lunches, and any time I have a free moment:
Grace (Eventually): Thoughts on Faith, Anne Lamott
I’m a fan of Lamott’s essays on faith and life – I loved Traveling Mercies and enjoyed Plan B – but this volume disappointed me. Too much political ranting, not enough substance. I do love her honesty, and she is at times wildly funny, so this was still entertaining. Just not her best work.
The Long Winter, Laura Ingalls Wilder
After blogging about storing up sunshine, I decided to reread this installment of the Little House series (I’ve read all of them over and over, but it’s been a while). And I’d forgotten how brave and patient Ma is, how brave and funny Pa is, and how honest Laura is – at least with herself – about the daily struggles of life on the prairie. I loved it as much or more than ever, and I may just have to reread the whole series yet again.
Russian Winter, Daphne Kalotay
Stunning. Completely stunning. Russian history and the ballet and Boston and romance and family history, all intertwined beautifully. Read this book if you love any of the above topics, or just love a good story. It’s gorgeous, and complicated, and utterly wonderful.
Winter Solstice, Rosamunde Pilcher
I read this book every year. I love, love, love it – the descriptions of a tiny town in northern Scotland, the struggles and joys of each character, the way everything works out so satisfyingly in the end. And, of course, it’s a Christmas story, with plenty of miracles. It makes me laugh and cry and wish I could climb into its pages and live there a while.
Chains, Laurie Halse Anderson
I’m recently fascinated by colonial history, living in Boston – so this book captured me instantly. Isabel is a slave girl living in New York in 1776, torn between protecting herself and her sister, and spying for the rebel cause. New York was occupied by the British for much of the war, so I’d never read much about it before – but this was a wonderful perspective on it. Full of intrigue and compelling detail. I finished the month with Forge, the sequel (see below).
The Secret History of the Pink Carnation, Lauren Willig
I listened to this one on audio during my commute to my first temp assignment – but somewhere in the middle I lost interest in both the story and the audiobook. A fun premise and compelling characters, but ultimately I got a bit bored. Maybe I’ll pick up the paperback edition sometime.
What We Eat When We Eat Alone, Deborah Madison and Patrick McFarlin
I read this book mostly during my solitary lunches – so appropriate for the subject matter. And it was so fun. People eat hilarious, odd, delicious and varied things when they eat alone, and this entire book made my mouth water and made me laugh. Great for people who love to read about food, or who eat alone regularly.
Anne of the Island, L.M. Montgomery
I stuck this one in my bag to read on the T, one day when I was feeling a little blue and needed a good dose of life at Patty’s Place. I love, love, love Anne’s college adventures, and the warm coziness of Patty’s Place never fails to cheer me. And I love L.M. Montgomery’s gift for sketching minor characters – the hired man Sam at Valley Road, the postmistress there, Aunt Jamesina, even the cats.
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, J.K. Rowling
After seeing the (dark, grim, brilliantly acted, suspenseful, tear-jerking) movie, I picked this one up and reread it for the second time this year. And as I always do, I reread the last 150 or so pages again after finishing the book. And I welled up several times. If you haven’t read these books yet, what the heck are you waiting for?
Forge, Laurie Halse Anderson
This sequel to Chains (see above) is just as compelling and well-researched as its predecessor. The story of Curzon and his friends at Valley Forge both broke my heart and made me laugh – and several plot twists made me gasp in surprise. Little bits of historical journals and letters appear at the beginning of each chapter, making the story feel even more real. There’s a third book, Ashes, coming next year, and I can’t wait to read it.
What have you been reading lately? I’m always eager to know.