What I have been reading, part 2

I wrote about my reading for the first half of the year here: What I have been reading, and this will take us through the second half of the year.

An Echo in the Bone by Diana Gabaldon
Written in My Own Heart’s Blood by Diana Gabaldon
River Town by Peter Hessler
Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie
Catch Me if You Can by Frank Abagnale
Ross Poldark by Winston Graham
Demelza by Winston Graham
Blue Shoes and Happiness by Alexander McCall Smith
The Kingdom of Roses and Thorns by Debra Liebenow Daly
The Longest March by Fred Khumalo
Little Suns by Zakes Mda
My Maasai Life: From Suburbia to Savannah by Robin Wiszowaty
Walk Two Moons by Sharon Creech
We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson
Palace Walk by Naguib Mahfouz
Know My Name by Chanel Miller
The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck by Mark Manson

That’s 19 books through June and 17 for the second half of the year (total 36). I definitely watched more TV programming and beaded more this year, and the entire Outlander series was quite lengthy, which dropped me from the near 50 books I read each of the last two years.

Commentary

The best: Know My Name by Chanel Miller and The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck by Mark Manson


The worst: My Maasai Life: From Suburbia to Savannah by Robin Wiszowaty
The quickest read: We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson
The longest read: Palace Walk by Naguib Mahfouz

It was nice to finish the Gabaldon “big” books in the Outlander series, but I still have a handful of short stories to read to complete the series. And she says she may write more “big” books. I am satisfied with the current end.

River Town was an excellent telling of Peace Corps service, and I learned a lot about the author’s service in China.

Murder on the Orient Express was my first Christie book, and was a book club selection. I love mysteries but did not love this. I won’t be moving any of her other books closer to the top of my list.

Catch Me if You Can was a lot of fun to read and I am interested in rewatching the movie now. This was another book club read.

I started the Poldark series because a few of my friends liked watching the TV show. I haven’t been able to watch the show, but the books were decent and easy reads.

I read Blue Shoes and Happiness on the way to the airport in September. The stories can be a bit ridiculous but I enjoy reading about the detective Mma Ramotswe.

The Kingdom of Roses and Thorns was written by an American who spent time in eSwatini that was connected to the Fulbright program. I liked how realistic the stories were and how they intertwined.

I bought The Longest March and Little Suns at the Johannesburg airport bookstore, which has a great assortment of books written by South Africans. I enjoyed The Longest March more, but Little Suns was also excellent, and the author studied at and has taught at Ohio University. The Longest March was about a forced march out of Johannesburg, which is one of many events from South African history I haven’t learned about. Little Suns was about a man looking for the woman he loved and lost and had a wonderful way of intertwining the story of his people with his search.

My Maasai Life really, really annoyed me. I found this book in the Peace Corps library, and it was written by a white woman who spent a lot of money to spend a year living with a Maasai family, and she writes as if she is the only person to have ever done this and faced the challenges of having to fetch water and firewood and eat an unbalanced diet.

Walk Two Moons was another book club read, where the topic was children’s literature. I remembered this chapter book from my childhood, and I loved rereading it. It has a lot of great messages, and I know the major themes will continue to stick with me.

We Have Always Lived in the Castle was a short read and still packed a punch. The story is a bit strange, and it would make a good book club book.

I gave Mahfouz another chance when I read Palace Walk. This story was better, but extremely long. I also thought the book was focused on the whole family, but once the female children get married and move out, they are no longer characters of importance. The patriarchy he described also annoyed me.

Know My Name by Chanel Miller is the story of her, her sexual assault by the Standford swimmer, how it changed her, and her life after. I remember reading the statement she prepared for the sentencing in 2016 and sought this book out once it was published. I cried throughout this memoir. It is powerful and I am happy to know Chanel’s name now. Read it, so you can know her name, too.

The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck has been on my list for a long time, and it was a good book for my current situation, which has parts that I can and can’t do anything about. I hope I am able to use what this book has taught me.

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