What I’m Reading (and what are YOU reading?)

This has been a helluva year/eighteen months/whenever, so it’s no surprise that book sales have increased 29 percent compared to last year at this time.

We all have reasons for reading whatever it is we read, whether it’s the newspaper (or just the sports section or comics), a fashion magazine, graphic novels (even when we’re grown up), YA (even when we’re grown up), Stephen King, predictable Harlequin romances with hunky men and buxom women on the cover, science textbooks, or Twitter threads. I read to remember that the world isn’t always a shitshow, or when it is, that there is hope. I read for courage when I’m feeling not courageous. I read for ideas on how to make a difference, even if it’s simply to remind someone that they’re enough.

I also read to lose myself in another world for a while and to not think about my own. And that’s OK, too.

I read a LOT of memoirs while writing my own memoir (read an excerpt here), and they’ve all helped me, in some way, to complete the first (tenth, actually) draft, which is currently in the hands of an editor and my writing group.

With all the partisan bitching and divisive news cycles, reading memoir helps me feel like I’m part of something more significant. Real-life stories of childhood, young adulthood, family, divorce, death events, circus performing, falling in love in Paris, sexual healing or transformation…give me those! I need to be reminded that I’m more than just the present moment.

Currently, I’m reading Ariel Levy’s The Rules Do Not Apply. It’s a grief-y kind of memoir, bold and broad, and, unlike some books I start, I will finish it.

I’m also, finally, reading Joan Didion’s The Year of Magical Thinking. I thought it would make me cry (thus why I avoided it for years), and it does in parts, but it also makes me rethink some of the ways I’ve written my own memoir. Her writing is dense. I get lost in and sometimes cringe through the accounts of her relationships with famous people and a lifestyle so way beyond my Midwest upbringing it makes my eyes glaze over. Yet, her writing is accessible. There are so many lines in this book that make me think, Wow… I never thought to write/think about my feelings like that, so richly simple.

In fiction, I love to lose myself in a good rom-com. Big name authors, lesser known authors, I don’t care. Give me love, lust, disappointment/heartbreak, reconciliation and make-up sex. That’s a good way to spend a Saturday afternoon.

I also want drama and unexpected twists (but no horror or graphic deaths). Currently, I’m not quite halfway through William Kent Krueger’s Ordinary Grace and I already don’t want it to end, just like I didn’t want his This Tender Land to end. So so so so good. (Also, give The Four Winds by Kristin Hannah a read. I also just purchased The Nightingale to read before it becomes a movie.)

That’s my current reading list. Please add your current book(s) to the comments! I’d love to know what (and why) you’re reading what you’re reading. (And if you want to read to find common ground with others (pun intended), you can read my book! Common Ground: Writings on Family, Change, Loss & Resilience.)

7 thoughts on “What I’m Reading (and what are YOU reading?)

  1. I just finished reading Tying the Scot by Jennifer Trethewey. It’s a light-hearted, smile-inducing romance novel set in Scotland in the early 1800s. I loved it. Such fun. I’m currently reading North of the Tension Line by J. F. Riordan. It’s very well written, but I almost gave up on it because nothing was happening. But I decided to keep reading to 100 pages, and now, I’ve been drawn in. A couple of weeks ago, I finished reading The Last Ballad by Wiley Cash, which I really enjoyed for its writing and its subject matter. I’m also reading Chicken Soup for the Soul–101 Tales of Canine Companionship. Because I love those doggie stories!

    1. Thanks for the suggestions! I will look them up 🙂 The Chicken Soup books always get me in the feels, too. Have you ever submitted an essay to them?

  2. An eclectic array of choices, Lynn – several I’ve already read and several will be added to my TBR list. I loved The Year of Magical Thinking, though I read it hoping for some magic for myself, and found it just raised more questions I needed to work through (thank goodness for therapy!) I read This Tender Land and I think my feelings about it were colored a bit because I had just read Last Bus to Wisdom by Ivan Doig. If I had read them the other way around, I may have liked the Krueger more. I’ve since gone on to his Cork O’Connor books and like them a lot. I had the same experience with Kristin Hannah’s The Nightingale and All the Light We Cannot See. They were similar enough in topic and style, but I read The Nightingale first, so I liked it better. I did just finish her Firefly Lane and really enjoyed it, especially because the book takes place in Seattle, where I live, and it opens in the 70’s, which was when I moved here from the midwest. Very nostalgic! I recently finished Malorie, Josh Malerman’s sequel to The Bird Box. It was creepy with an edge-of-my-seat pace, and now they need to make the movie 🙂 A memoir I really enjoyed that I would recommend was Heating and Cooling: 52 Micro-Memoirs by Beth Ann Fennelly. It’s very different from other memoirs and totally engaging. Happy Reading!

    1. Is that Firefly Lane the story that the Netflix show is based on, do you know? I’ll give Heating and Cooling a look, thank you! I tried the first Cork O’Connor book and I couldn’t get into it. I think I’d been reading too much Louise Penny mysteries that my brain was fried on them so maybe I’ll give them a try again once I’ve read some non-mysteries for a while. Have you seen the Netflix show about Joan Didion? The Center Will Not Hold. I’ve watched half of it and, like her books, it’s very dense. Thanks for the recommendations!

      1. Yes, it is the book the Netflix show is based on. It is one of my daughter-in-law’s favorite books, and she wasn’t impressed with the series. She said they changed a really important part of the story and that she didn’t even make it through the first episode. So, of course I had to read it as well, so I could watch the show and be just as outraged LOL I had not heard about the Netflix show about Joan Didion. I will have to give that a look, thanks!

      2. OK, so now I have to read the book! I wasn’t a big fan of the first few episodes, but was OK with it by the end. Enough to watch Season 2, if there is one. I might change my mind after reading the book.

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