As I’ve mentioned several times this year, I’m participating in Modern Mrs. Darcy’s 2017 Reading for Growth Challenge. This has been great because it’s helping me grow my reading horizons – as it’s supposed to – and has gotten me to try new books. I think that expanding your literary horizons is great for getting to see what else is out there and also making you a better writer. It helps you to experience different writing styles, which can make a huge difference in how you create your own style. Plus, it’s always good to see what else is out there!
Most of the books I’m reading this year fulfill some element of the reading challenge, but some are not (like Big Magic).
The Sympathizer: It won the Pulitzer Prize in 2016 and for good reason. To quote Amazon: “With the pace and suspense of a thriller and prose that has been compared to Graham Greene and Saul Bellow, The Sympathizer is a sweeping epic of love and betrayal. The narrator, a communist double agent, is a “man of two minds,” a half-French, half-Vietnamese army captain who arranges to come to America after the Fall of Saigon, and while building a new life with other Vietnamese refugees in Los Angeles is secretly reporting back to his communist superiors in Vietnam. The Sympathizer is a blistering exploration of identity and America, a gripping espionage novel, and a powerful story of love and friendship” (The Sympathizer). It’s a book with elements of spy-craft, immigration problems, trying to find where you belong, and more. Rating: 4.5/5
Big Magic: What I love about this book is how Gilbert puts creative living in perspective. I’m sure the vast majority of creatives want their work to be successful or to change the world or something, but everything you make doesn’t have to. In fact, Eat, Pray, Love was Gilbert’s fourth book. Her fourth! And even if nothing Gilbert makes in the future comes near to the success of that book – or how many lives were changed because of it – it doesn’t matter. That book and the subsequent movie touched so many lives. But, most importantly, it touched hers. Most creatives may want to be successful, but more importantly, they have to create. If I don’t write, even just on this blog, I feel like I will die. In this book, Gilbert reminded me of that, and to stop putting so much pressure on myself. Everything I write doesn’t have to win awards or be a commercial success. I just need to write, and for myself. [See my full review here] Rating: 5/5
Harry Potter & the Cursed Child: I get why people weren’t wild about this book, but I thought it was still good. Part of what makes the Harry Potter books Harry Potter is J. K. Rowling’s writing, and while she came up with the story for this book, she didn’t write it, since it’s a play. (The Fantastic Beasts movie was the first screenplay she wrote.) I did think that the storyline was fairly believable all things considered, and I really liked it, even if it doesn’t have anything on the original books. Rating: 3/5
Written in My Own Heart’s Blood: This is the most recent book in the Outlander series, which follows a World War II nurse who accidentally goes back to the eighteenth century and then later chooses to stay there. It’s a series about history, family, love, sacrifice, and the question of what is meant to really be. It had the most perfect ending, but I’m also glad that there’s at least one more book in the series. I’m not quite ready to say goodbye to the Frasers yet! (If you’re not sold, the TV show has been called “the feminist Game of Thrones”.) Rating: 5/5
And I’m currently reading: The Six of Crows
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