Book 498: Remember How I Told You I Loved You? – Gillian Linden

I’m not sure why I picked this up back in January 2014, but I did. It was either the sadness in the title or the open envelopes on the front. I had no recollection of it being short stories as I rarely read them. And yet even when I went to read this, because I wanted a quick read before vacation, I was surprised they were short stories and it says STORIES on the front!

Honestly, this book disappointed me. There were two beautiful quotes, but overall I found the stories to be lacking and somewhat stunted. Many of the stories loosely tied together and I felt it distracted from what could’ve been a wonderful collection of (somewhat depressing) coming of age stories.

“Homesick is how Karen feels, though she doesn’t miss home, more like an earlier version of herself, a person who, in her memory is hardworking, starightforward, pure.” (Common Rooms, 12)

“Lewis and I decided this last night and it was a relief. Not everything has to do with me. Even the things that have something to do with me, like this contract, don’t have much to do with me.” (Sam, 87)

I would rather have not wondered if everyone was connected (and I could be wrong).

All of this being said, I think what bothered me the most about the short stories was that really good short stories to me, leave you curious about everything before and after, but simultaneously leave you feeling fulfilled. These did not, partially because there were characters that were either the same character or one with the same name and it was like wait what, is this a continuation? And partially because they just didn’t feel complete with the exception of Common Rooms, it was by far the strongest and it was the lead of the book.

Recommendation: Pass unless you are really interested in college coming of age stories or really interested in short stories.

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Book 468: The Voice of Knowledge (Toltec Wisdom Collection #3)- Miguel Ruiz

ruiz-miguel-the-voice-of-knowledge YAY I’m done! I don’t have to read this dribble ever again. That is of course assuming I don’t go through a life changing experience like Ruiz. If you haven’t been following along, you might wonder about the sass in that previous sentence.

I have not become a fan of Ruiz or his philosophies having finished the first three books of his Toltec Wisdom Collection. I am glad I read them because it showed a different point of view, but I was struggling to figure out why I was so offended by them and this one finally made it click. I’ll talk more about that momentarily, but for let’s take a moment to breathe deep and appreciate I don’t need to re-read these again. Ever.

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Book 467: The Mastery of Love (Toltec Wisdom Collection #2)- Miguel Ruiz

ruiz-miguel-the-mastery-of-loveI’m not sure I will make it through the third book in the collection. I probably will because I already have it, but I can guarantee I won’t look into the fourth book, The Fifth Agreement or any of the other works by Ruiz.

As I mentioned when I responded to The Four Agreements, this isn’t really my cup of tea and I think The Mastery of Love made that even more apparent the further I got through the book. I found myself getting more agitated the more I read, thankfully it came it at just under 200 pages.

I’m not sure if it’s the deepening spirituality of the books or what, because Ruiz is very careful not to use only Judeo-Christian references, even if he chooses predominantly Western religious references including the Ancient Greeks.

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Book 464: You Will Not Have My Hate – Antoine Leiris (Trans. Sam Taylor)

leiris-antoine-you-will-not-have-my-hateI don’t want to generalize things, but we’ve all seen the headlines about someone’s world being shattered in an instant. We’ve all seen, heard about or experienced some after-effects of terrorism at this point. We hear about the people who commit these acts, we hear about those that die and those that survive, but what we rarely hear about are those that are left.

It’s those people whose world isn’t shattered in an instant, but over a grueling length of hours where they know nothing about their loved one’s fate, that this book’s story shares with the world.

I don’t go out of my way to read books associated with grief or with current political issues, but when the publisher reached out to me about a copy* of this book I thought I would give it a chance. The title is what drew me to it, the fact that Leiris, was not going to allow the attackers to have his hate, that he was going to raise his now-motherless little boy without that hate that spoke to me.

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Book 463: Drawn Together – Leah Pearlman

pearlman-leah-drawn-togetherI don’t want to generalize these books, but I know that’s what my response is going to sound like. Perhaps I’ve read too many similar to this recently, but  I’m going to start with a list of all the things this book reminded me of, but then also talk about why I felt it was different.

Prior to the publisher reaching out to me about this book* I actually hadn’t encountered Dharma Comics before, but this line drawing style isn’t anything new. It reminded me of a cross between xkcd and hyperbole and a half but with more of an intention and focus on getting through life and not just observations. And then add in that it reminded me also of books I’ve read recently such as Whose Mind is it Anyway? and How To Be Happy (Or At Least Less Sad), I’m a little surprised I enjoyed it as much as I did.

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Book 462: The Courtesan – Alexandra Curry

curry-alexandra-the-courtesanWhen Dutton reached out to me about a copy* of this book for its new paperback release I jumped at it because of my trip to China this summer! What I didn’t realize was that it was predominantly set in two of the cities I visited: Suzhou and Beijing! It was really neat to read through the fictionalized life of Sai Jinhua and actually feel like I know what and where she was talking about for the post part!

This is a debut novel that I probably would not have read just because I don’t read too many, but with my trip to China, the cover and having someone reach out to me about it, I figured I would give it a chance and I’m glad I did. Add in that the book also featured a subplot line about the one non-English classic from Asia I chose for my Classics Club list: Dream of the Red Chamber and it was well worth the read.

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Book 412: Are You My Mother? – Alison Bechdel

Bechdel, Alison - Are You My MotherAfter re-reading Fun Home for book group I dove right into the follow-up Are You My Mother? As much as I enjoyed it and ultimately identified with it, it didn’t live up to the magical experience of Fun Home. It’s hard to say whether this lack of magic was a result of the intense navel gazing or the less compelling surface emotional story. To be honest it could be the daughter identifying with mother as this is an experience/story that I will never experience in the same way.

This being said, the story was still eloquently and humorously told! The graphics were just as poignant and detailed as those in the original. I enjoyed the complete color shift from the green-gray to the red, especially when Bechdel revisited scenes from her earlier work and the emphasis changed slightly. The book list in Are You My Mother? wasn’t quite as long as Fun Home but it was still pretty impressive at 38 separate works listed.

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