It’s no secret that I read more when we’re on vacation. And as much as I love paper books, a kindle is just much more practical for traveling. There were so many nights when I was reading, hiding under the blankets, waiting for Noah to go to sleep. And of course, it’s so much more practical to carry one kindle than 3 or 4 books. I’m able to still use the Overdrive e-book app using my California library card, so I checked out three books before our trip. Here’s what I read in July.
The Readers of Broken Arrow Recommend by Katrina Bivald. This book was translated from Swedish, and the main character is Sara, who traveled to Iowa from Sweden to visit a friend. It is so interesting sometimes to get an foreigner’s perspective on life in America! Sara had worked in a bookshop in Stockholm and become pen pals/book friends with Amy Harris, who lived in Broken Arrow, Iowa. Amy’s letters were full of stories about the quirky people of the town, and she urged Sara to come visit. But when Sara arrived, she found out that Amy had died and the town was in the process of dying, as well. She realized nobody in the town read books, so she used Amy’s books to open a bookshop. Nobody could have foreseen how that bookshop would change the lives of so many people! Though this book was a little slow and awkward in places, which I chalked that up to it being translated, I enjoyed reading it.
Someday, Someday, Maybe: A Novel by Lauren Graham. You know how much I love both Gilmore Girls and Parenthood, right? So I couldn’t resist a novel a written by Lauren Graham. It was fast-paced and quirky, and it almost felt autobiographical. (Maybe it was? I haven’t read her memoir yet.) Franny Banks was a young, aspiring actress living in New York in 1995. She was taking acting classes, working a dead-end waitressing job, and had her be-successful-or-quit deadline looming. An embarrassing fall during an acting class show landed her an agent, but will that help her become successful? I liked this book, but I can’t say I loved it. Also, part of the charm was reading the pages in her planner at the beginning of the chapters, but they were too small (and wouldn’t zoom) on the kindle. A hard copy of this book would probably be better for that reason.
My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante. This book has been on my to-read list for years, mostly because I found it on some list of excellent books. Then it popped up in the available books list on the library overdrive app, and when I realized it took place in Naples, I had to read it. It is the first of a series of four books which describe the growing up of two girls, Elena and Lila, in a rough Neapolitan neighborhood. The story is told from the perspective of Elena, who is challenged by her friend Lila to succeed in school, even though Lila doesn’t continue after elementary school. It’s a story of friendship and competition, and she really describes well how teenage girls relate to each other. I found this book fascinating and sad and enlightening. It began in 1950, when Naples was still quite poor and ravaged by the war, and I find it interesting that this is how the older generation here grew up. It’s kind of a depressing book, so I plan to take a break before reading the second book. In googling to find the other books in the series, I discovered that they are making a tv adaptation that will be airing on HBO (and RAI tv here). How cool is that?
And a kid’s book: Toot by Leslie Patricelli. My brother sent Noah this book for his birthday (of course). It’s about a baby who farts in different places (I toot on my trike, I toot in my suit). The baby also observes other family members who toot, and the last page says “All toots are funny.” Noah adores this book and laughs the whole way through it. Sometimes he runs around holding the book and yelling “TOOT!”
I’m currently reading My Love Affair with England: A Traveler’s Memoir by Susan Roth Allen. I found it in a thrift store, and I am loving this book. More on this next month.
What are you reading?