October Reviews

October is such a long month for the teachers who I know- we have zero days off, there are fall parent-teacher conferences, the grading has really started stacking up, and, given that we went back at the beginning of August, we are TIRED (teacher-tired coupled with mom-tired is no joke, trust me). But, the one benefit is that it seems like I usually get quite a bit read- I need to escape, I guess. 

This month I was able to get through six books, and of a wide-variety. Three were nonfiction, one was a graphic novel, two were about immigration, and two were from well-respected female writers (some of these are overlapping, don't worry, I can do a little math). I have found myself craving contemporary literature lately, yet I find myself reading more nonfiction than ever, in my attempts to educate myself and feel like I'm doing my part to be informed.

I started off the month with Bob Woodward's Fear, which was fascinating, yet at times a bit repetitive in terms of the content I had already read in Fire and Fury. Nothing surprises me anymore, I guess, so the pages and pages of the ridiculousness that happens in the White House is pretty much what I expect to happen these days. This was the first book I've ever read by Woodward and I found him much more accessible than I thought he might be. 

On the complete opposite end of the spectrum, I read Dear America: Notes of an Undocumented Citizen by Jose Antonio Vargas and Tell Me How it Ends by Valeria Luiselli, both of which cover the lives of undocumented people in America. Vargas focuses on his own story as a Filipino who had believed he was documented up until his late teen years, and then had to deal with navigating the education system and the journalism profession with this obstacle to deal with. Luiselli focuses on her perspective as an interpreter for children who are trying to seek asylum or citizenship in the country. Both were incredibly sobering and are books I'd urge people who have a narrow view of immigration to read.

When I had heard that Nick Drnaso's Sabrina was nominated for a Man Booker Prize, I pre-ordered it immediately, as it was the first graphic novel to obtain that honor. It is a quirky, yet sobering work, that comments on the role of the media, mental health, and what it means to be alone. Truth be told, I think I'd rather read the novel version of it (which does not exist), since the minimalist nature left me with many questions. 

If you're fans of Orange is the New Black and good literature in general, Rachel Kushner's The Mars Room is right up your alley. Romy, the main character, is serving a life sentence, while leaving her young son in the care of her mom in the Bay Area. The story jumps between the past and present as we learn about her life as an exotic dancer prior to her arrest, and how she manages to survive in prison. While not exactly a light and uplifting story, I couldn't put it down. Kushner's a fabulous writer and her pacing left me frantic for more information, especially as she divulges more and more. 

Lastly, I just finished Barbara Kingsolver's newest novel, Unsheltered, a few days ago and I had mixed feelings about it. The story is set around a family in the present, who is struggling with a crumbling house, mountains of debt, an unexpected grandson, and an ailing father-in-law. The past inhabitants of the house also split the story time, when a determined young science teacher faces a great amount of push-back from wanting to teach about Darwin in school. My biggest problem was that I was much more drawn to the present story than the past, making those sections often difficult to get through. The book was nearly 500 pages, and while there were several parts I really enjoyed, I was thankful when it was over. I don't regret reading it, since as a whole I think some of the parallels were intriguing and the connection made by this problematic home was thoughtful. 

1,705 pages

1 comment:

  1. Ooo Mars Room sounds good. Adding it to my Goodreads TBR.