This month I read Australian, American, and British.
Breath by Tim Winton was recommended by my husband who remembers reading it many years ago. Since my 14-year old student, Mark likes surfing he thought it would be a good read. But what he forgot was that the story has some very inappropriate sex descriptions (and subject matter) that I had my student skip once I realized my faux pas. Yeahhh.
Winton writes beautifully though. It’s a dark story, darker than I would have preferred, but it’s one of those novels, at least for me, that expands your world and perspective because it wasn’t something I’d normally read.
I’m fairly certain Nicki Chen over at Behind the Story left a comment recommending this book. Since I had read Kristin Hannah’s other books like The Nightingale and The Great Alone, I figured it was a pretty safe bet. And when your life is in transition, sometimes a good solid read is exactly what the body and soul needs.
Although, it wasn’t exactly light-hearted. I knew the book was about the Great Depression (spoilers!), but I didn’t expect it to be so damn hard for the protagonist, Elsa. It was gobsmacked unbelievable what people went through during the “dust bowl”, and I learned a lot, actually.
Funnily, I told myself “if this doesn’t get better for her, I’m going to stop”, but I kept turning the pages. The novel is also billed as “the strength of mothers” but again, even though I’m not a mom myself, the story was so engaging. Kristin Hannah is turning out to be one of my favorite authors.
[Thanks, Nicki. And incidentally, she’s an author herself having recently published When in Vanuatu, which is fictional but I believe she drew a lot from her experience living on the island many years ago. I bought it, but like so many books, it’s on the TBR list!]
Home Fire by Kamila Shamsie was chosen by my 16-year old student. She got it off of her high school summer reading list and it sounded interesting. I’ve never read anything on Muslims, let alone British Muslims that I can recall. Kamila based the book on Sophocles’s play Antigone, so if you know about that story you’ll get a sense of what’s to come.
But read it because it’s good. The story unfolds through four different characters from two different British Muslim families, more or less centered on Parvaiz’s mistake of joining ISIS and wanting to return home to England. It’s a prize-winning novel that’s smart yet easy to access, and I’m looking forward to reading other books by her.
And that’s it! My life has been turned around and I’m still treading water, so the evening routine of reading before bed flew out the window along with normality in 2020. But if you’re interested in reading about my move so far, you can go here. The link will open in the browser.
How was your July? Did you get any reading done?