You know that feeling when you watch the Olympics, that feeling of awestruck disbelief that the people on the television are actually humans, not superheroes? I don’t think I’ll ever get over my awe of Olympians. So, since I’m not athletically inclined enough for the medal podium, I chose to follow my “Olympic” level ability to read and participate in the reading decathlon. Reading is MY kind of competition.
Let me be the first to tell you, reading 10 books in 10 days is NOT a cakewalk. I jumped in with the goal of reading short and easy to read books as well as finishing up some books I had previously started. I still wasn’t able to complete 10 in 10 (HOW do those Olympians stick to their training schedules, I’ll never understand..). But here’s a quick recap of the books I chose.
Only Love Can Break Your Heart – Ed Tarkington
1/5 stars: This book had great intentions and very little success. It seemed to be a coming of age story (and who doesn’t love a classic coming of age story?), but the novel started out slowly and it never grabbed my attention. This is a particularly impressive because the plot explores a multitude of topics. These story elements included: family dynamics, sexual abuse, mental illness, money problems, murder, religion, cults, high school drama, and even satanic worship…. I’d love to see a book that successfully navigates such a wide range of themes. I don’t think it is possible.
The Fireman – Joe Hill
2/5 stars: The beginning of my decathlon was not very successful. I logged two books that didn’t suit my fancy. The premise of the book is excellent. A spore infects the human population. The spore causes humans to spontaneously combust and, of course, there is no cure for those infected. Unfortunately, despite the interesting idea, “The Fireman” was about 400 pages too long. It included a plethora of very predictable plot twists and an unrealistic and un-relatable main character.
Looking for Alaska – John Green
4/5 stars: I chose to read some John Green books because I knew they could be counted on to be quick reads. Luckily for me, they were quick and intriguing. I loved the unique characters of “Looking for Alaska.” They will not be characters I soon forget, and that’s an impressive feat. Well done, John Green.
The Stranger – Albert Camus
* 3/5 stars*: Scanning my bookshelf, I found the smallest book and read it. “The Stranger” is a quick read from 1942 and I found it fairly interesting. This is definitely a book I will go back to read again because I feel that there’s no way I caught all the nuances the first time around. Camus had a subtle way of depicting his main character as relatable but also obviously not quite right.
The Great Gatsby – Scott Fitzgerald
3/5 stars: I kept up the classic theme by re-reading “The Great Gatsby.” I don’t remember when I read this book for the first time. I love that I notice a new detail every time I pick it up. That’s a quality I’ve always found admirable.
The Girl From Everywhere – Heidi Heilig
5/5 stars: This book was the gem of my decathlon. Originally I gave it 4/5 stars, but now that I have reflected upon the impact this book made on me I had to bump it up to 5 stars. The book was engaging, fun, and creative. It also made me fall even more in love with maps than I already was (not kidding, I’m in the market for some stellar antique maps now. Let me know if you have any). Just imagine if YOU had the ability to travel to the time and place drawn in a map you possessed. You’d be obsessed with maps too! This is definitely a book to add to your to-read list.
Me Before You- Jojo Moyes
2/5 stars: I love reading the “it” books-of-the-year because I feel like it helps me relate to the humans around me (normally something I struggle with). So I decided to read “Me Before You” and then I quickly remembered exactly why I don’t relate easily to others. The book was as predictable as predictable can be. The writing was easy to read and enjoyable. I longed for the storyline to be more substantive. Luckily the second book “After You” was highly enjoyable, so if you have time to kill, I’d still recommend curling up with the two novels.
The Nest – Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney
4/5 stars: Upon finishing this book my friend asked me what I thought. I vividly remember responding, “I’ve never read a book where so little happened and I LIKED it.” I can’t explain it, but I couldn’t put down the family drama of one family coming to terms with their inheritance, or lack thereof.
Paper Towns – John Green
4/5 stars: I was a little late to the game in reading this John Green novel. I also went against the cardinal rule of reading … I saw the move first (gasp I KNOW, I’m ashamed). However, I found Green’s writing, as always, engaging and fun. This was the coming of age story I was so desperately looking for “Only Love Can Break Your Heart” to be.
All the Single Ladies: Unmarried Woman and the Rise of an Independent Nation- Rebecca Traister
*2/5 stars: My thought upon completing this book was, “well, she tried.” The ideas were there but poorly presented. The book read like that crazy feminist you run into on the street that hasn’t showered in years and chastises you for shaving your legs. There were moments of brilliance, but I desperately wanted there to be more stories of real women and fewer statistics.