“Little Women” was a favorite book during my girlhood. I’m happy to find that it’s still a favorite book now! So well-written, so filled with valuable lessons of life, so full of hope and goodness! As a girl, I enjoyed reading about the games they played — giving plays, P.C. and P.O., Camp Laurence, Castles in the Air and Amy’s will. Upon re-reading them, I find them still every bit as enjoyable! And this time around I appreciated, more than when I was young, the life lessons learned by the sisters — Meg’s Vanity Fair, Jo’s Apollyon, Amy’s lime drop anguish and her later failed attempt to host a stylish luncheon, Meg’s ups and downs after her marriage. I also loved some of the vignettes on interactions between the characters — Beth going over to Mr. Lauren’s to thank him for the new piano, Laurie following Jo on her way to submit her manuscript, Laurie’s reaction after Jo refused him, Beth confiding to Jo at the seashore about her terminal illness, Meg’s wedding in which she chose not to follow traditional customs, Marmee’s heart-to-heart talks with Jo, and the March family giving their Christmas dinner to a poor family they knew. After reading Louisa May Alcott’s journal, I can tell a lot of these content came from real life experiences of her and immediate family, which makes me like the stories even more. Love, love, love the book. Will probably read it again in another couple of years.
Three words that describe this book: Fun, hear-warming, hopeful
You might want to pick this book up if: You want to read good, heart-warming historical fiction that gives a reader a sense of hope.
If you, like me, have been scared off by the hype around “Where the Crawdads Sing,” stop running — it totally lives up to its reputation! The story follows Kya, a woman living in the North Carolina swamps, both as a young girl growing up alone and as a grown woman. An outcast from her community, Kya is almost completely isolated. When the town playboy turns up dead and his past with Kya is revealed, she has to try and break through both the town’s distrust of her and her own defenses. Part romance, part murder mystery, and part coming of age, this book always has something to keep you turning the pages. Owens’ writing is atmospheric and enchanting, and the love Kya shows for her marsh is almost enough to make me want to brave the mosquitoes and see it myself.
Three words that describe this book: Atmospheric, Suspenseful, Heartbreaking
You might want to pick this book up if: You love suspense, stories about broken but strong women, and Southern accents.
Rinker Buck purchased a team of three mules and a wagon to travel from Missouri to Oregon with his brother … in 2011. While traversing dangerous terrain, dodging interstates and chasing mules in slippers, Rinker brings the early Oregon trail pioneer’s stories to life in the book “The Oregon Trail” by describing his own modern challenges, and then comparing them to the challenges that the pioneers faced. Woven throughout the book are his memories of his father, giving the book a personal touch I was not expecting. While much of the book is serious, humor is sprinkled throughout, making it an entertaining read.
Three words that describe this book: Entertaining, educational, personal
You might want to pick this book up if: you enjoy American history, travel, or enjoy reading about unusual adventures.
The “Paper Girls” comic series begins with four 12-year-old girls delivering their paper routes in 1988. What follows includes a trip to 2016 to encounter their (gasp) 40-year-old futures. Much time travel and monster action follows, with plenty of inside jokes for those of us who were around in 1988 and remember some of the significant events and changes since then that might be hard to understand if we just arrived from 1988. The colors and artwork are vivid, the characters are funny and lovable, and the story is fast-paced and surprising. This relatively short run comic ended July 2019 — check them all out at once because you won’t want to wait to see what happens in the next one! Also, it was recently picked up to be an Amazon show, and you know you’ll want to read the books before you see the show!
Three words that describe this book: Funny, Sci-Fi, Friends
You might want to pick this book up if: you like the Netflix show “Stranger Things.”
“Neverwhere” is an early Neil Gaiman novel that looks into the depths of London — both in terms of the existential crisis of a young urban professional and what happens when said yuppie discovers there’s a whole world below the London Underground. What follows is a venture-quest full of unexpected characters and situations that are simultaneously completely impossible and totally believable. There are shadings of Terry Pratchett and Piers Anthony, a touch of Lovecraft, and a fair helping of Gaiman’s ability to re-imagine familiar folklore and mythology.
I listened to the audio book and Neil Gaiman’s voicing skills make the story come to life.
Three words that describe this book: imaginative, madcap, down-below
You might want to pick this book up if: You ever wondered if the ragged guy talking to himself in the subway station was actually perfectly sane.
I found “Never Too Busy to Cure Clutter” to be full of helpful, practical, non-judgmental information, presented in a fun style, and not so prescriptive or rigid that it made me chafe at the idea of it. And the author definitely understands that people are busy and not (probably) interested in taking tons of time to get rid of clutter and organize.
Each part of the house has its own section, and suggestions for things you can do if you have 30 seconds, one minute, five minutes, or 15 minutes, plus longer weekend project ideas. There are a few fun quizzes throughout, to determine things like your suggested closet organizing style (mine is “visual,” even though my actual closet is closer to the “super-organized” description). Though I don’t agree with everything (I’m NOT getting rid of my physical books/media/photo albums in favor of digital versions, though I may weed them), there are a LOT of things in this book I’m going to try. In the intro, the author says to take what you like and leave what you don’t, so I feel like I’m totally in line with that!
Three words that describe this book: practical clutter control
You might want to pick this book up if: You could use some fun tips on keeping your house clean and uncluttered in whatever kind of time you have.
“Stay Sexy and Don’t Get Murdered” is a dual-memoir from the hosts of popular podcast “My Favorite Murder.” They tell stories that have been touched on in episodes of the podcast, as well as other topics that have never been discussed. Each chapter is under a certain theme or inside joke often referenced in the podcast, such as “Stay Out of the Forest” or “Sweet Baby Angel,” and it was interesting to see how they incorporated stories from their pasts to jokes on the show. I loved it because it was like hearing words of wisdom from two older friends who swear a lot and have experienced very relatable lives, all while through a lens of humor.
Three words that describe this book: Irreverent. Hilarious. Nostalgic.
You might want to pick this book up if: You love true crime and comedy and swearing.
“Giraffes on Horseback Salad” is a graphic novel depicting a movie written by Salvador Dali, meant to star the Marx Brothers, which was pitched to MGM in 1937, but was never made. The author of the graphic novel, Josh Frank, calls himself a forgotten pop culture archaeologist and used source documents from the Dali and Marx estates to re-create Dali’s vision in graphic novel format, but as if it were the movie. Manuela Pertega’s artwork is fantastical — you may forget that Dali himself did not illustrate this book. While the artwork steals the show, it does feature the Marx Brothers, so there is humor, song, romance and drama. It pits “normal” society versus dreamers, asking at one point, “Reality is the nightmare of the dreamer, isn’t it just?”
Three words that describe this book: Surreal, Funny, Unique
You might want to pick this book up if: you like surreal art — even if the humor or the story doesn’t appeal, the artwork is worth checking the book out!
I really enjoyed “The Rescue Artist,” which I read for the 2019 Book Riot Read Harder Challenge book of non-violent true crime. The story of the theft of Edvard Munch’s “The Scream” from Norway’s National Gallery in Oslo in 1994 (the same morning the Olympics started in Lillehammer) is the through-line of the story, as well as profiling Scotland Yard Art Squad detective Charley Hill, who eventually recovered the painting. The story meanders into major art thefts and art thieves in history, how those cases were often worked (or not), Munch and his works, museum security and more. I actually liked how it wandered around topics, always coming back to “The Scream” and Charley Hill. It’s how my brain works, but might be annoying to some who like a straight-line story.
However, in a classic case of judging a book by its cover, I first saw the paperback version of this title at a bookstore, which drew my eye with its brightness and the dynamic illustration on the cover, plus the pull-out quote about it being fast-paced, rollicking and beautifully written. Then I realized it would work for one of the Read Harder challenges, so I requested it from the library, which only had the hardback with a much less interesting cover! So even though I was enjoying it when I read, and it was pretty fast-paced and well-written, etc., I found myself loath to pick it up because the cover turned me off so much! So, it took longer than it should have, but I’m glad I finished it.
Three words that describe this book: art theft investigation
You might want to pick this book up if: You enjoy art, true crime written with some humor, detective work, or mysteries.
Hurston’s 1937 novel “Their Eyes Were Watching God” is a classic work, and it contributed to the Harlem Renaissance. The novel follows the romantic life of Janie, who searches for a lasting love throughout her life. Janie marries three times and each of her relationships is unique, with none of her three husbands meeting her expectations or needs, but all in different ways. Janie is stubborn and determined, but faces expectations from her husbands and society in general to be more subservient to her men, something she wrestles with and even rebels against. The novel also explores African American life and culture in the early to mid-twentieth century. The setting of Eatonville, Florida, is based on Hurston’s own upbringing in this African American town. Eatonville was — and is — unique because it was a haven for African Americans in an era of segregation and white supremacy. Hurston also uses heavy dialect throughout the novel, which can be hard to read, but reflects her desire to highlight African American language and culture. The Harlem Renaissance is still often remembered as a time in which African American men flourished artistically, but Hurston’s work reminds us that African American women contributed to the arts as well.
Three words that describe this book: Historic, romance, African American culture
You might want to pick this book up if: You enjoy classic literature, especially from African American and/or women writers