Breath by James Nestor ** 1/2
The basics: James Nestor takes a a look at the most basic act we all do- breathe. Curious about how breathing has effected our past and present, Nestor takes along on n his quest for answers and finds that we are all doing it wrong. Diving into historical, religious, and scientific research and techniques, Nestor searches for answers behind the mysteries of breathing.
My thoughts: I enjoyed the premise of this book and that it was from Nestor’s personal struggles that helped him create this work of literature. However, much of the book was over my head with scientific phrases I couldn’t begin to comprehend. Overall, I was glad that I read it, because I truly did glean new knowledge, I just wish I hadn’t felt so stupid during it.
A Promised Land by Barak Obama *** 1/2
The basics: From his time before politics, up through part of his first term, A Promised Land delves into a behind the scenes look into Obama’s life and how one election turned it upside down. With some fun stories thrown in along the way, he also gives the reader an understanding of his reasoning and thought process behind many of the policies he put into place during his presidency.
My thoughts: I love Obama, so I was really excited to read another one of his books…. But A Promised Land was long winded and discussed too many politics for the average reader to care about. Having lived through all of his policies and decision making, I understand his take on wanting to defend himself and his actions during his presidency, but I wish he could had done it in a more timely fashion, with more personal notes. I have yet to decide if I will read part 2.
White Ivy by Susie Yang ***
The basics: White Ivy, also known as Ivy Lin is not exactly the girl next door. A thief and loner, she begins her story with her childhood, growing up in suburbia Boston with first generation American parents. We follow along as she drifts through life, unsure of what she really wants, other than success, which she believes to have found when she reconnects with former classmate Gideon. Obsessed with image and a life that could be- Ivy does anything she can to stake her claim in Gideon’s family, even if it means death and despair.
My thoughts: It’s difficult for me to finish a book where I hate every single character. But I did it with White Ivy. Partly because it was a book club pick and partly because I was intrigued by what would happen to our main character. However there is no atonement for the awfulness that was the character of White Ivy.
The Dutch House by Ann Patchett, narrated by Tom Hanks ****
The basics: Brother and sister duo, Danny and Maeve can’t stop visiting the Dutch house. No matter how many years it’s been since it was home, no matter how many bad memories it evokes, and no matter how it turned their life upside down. But it’s also part of what has tied them together all these years. Told back and forth between present and past, Danny tells his coming of age sister, with his sister as the supporting role.
My thoughts: I loved that Tom Hanks narrated- it was the icing on the cake. As for the actual story itself, in some ways in resonated with me and my past so much, I had to take a break from listening or my heart would break. But in the end, I think those moments were what made this book come alive for me and is why I loved it so much.
The Paris Library by Janet S. Charles ****
The basics: Told in two timelines: Odile of Paris at the beginning of World War 2 and Lily of Montana in the 1980’s, have their own stories to tell that converge when it’s needed most. Odile longs to be a librarian in her hometown of Paris, even if her father doesn’t agree with woman having jobs. When war erupts, everything in her life is turned upside down, yet she is able to find solace and meaning with her library. Fast forward to 1980’s Montana and Lily, who tragically loses her mother is trying to cope with life as a teenager and no real friends to depend on. In enters Odile, allowing both of them to learn the true meaning of forgiveness and friendship.
My thoughts: Wonderfully written book on two of my favorite subjects to read about: history and libraries.
The Path Made Clear by Oprah Winfrey *** 1/2
The basics: A collection of interviews, stories, and quotes from Oprah and other famous people creates this short book of inspiration.
My thoughts: I loved the premise of this book as well as the wide variety of voices telling it- from all walks of life and beliefs. It was definitely inspirational.