My Month

As I reflect over the month’s “books read” list, I can’t help but recall a quote from Nick Hornby:

Being a reader is sort of like being president, except reading involves fewer state dinners, usually. You have this agenda you want to get through, but you get distracted by life events, e.g., books arriving in the mail/World War III, and you are temporarily deflected from your chosen path. (Ten Years in the Tub)

That’s exactly what this month felt like. At the end of April, I had visions of a month filled with Toni Morrison, Dostoevsky, and Margaret Atwood, but instead, what happened was life.

The past four weeks have held a visit from my grandfather, a trip to Searcy, job applications (1 dozen), writing deadlines (2), my brother moving home for the summer & the constant “crap, do you need the car?” conversation, a death in the family, a major life decision followed immediately by tears and cold feet, and my sister’s piano recital. Add to that a string of sleepless nights spent worrying about jobs and apartments and the price of a good car, and you have one helluva month for anxious, unemployed, emotionally-fragile me.

Due to all this craziness, my reading life feels like a wash. I read a lot of good books (and even a couple great ones), but overall, the month feels … blah. I managed my time poorly and my anxiety even worse, and to keep myself from backsliding into depression and despair, I turned to Netflix again. An old story, one I’d hoped was over, but that’s all right. This is life. Sometimes, you just have to concede defeat, lift your chin, and say, “I’ll do better next time.” And I will.

But for now, my month in books (because I swear, I really did read some good ones).

The book that made a lot more sense the second time around, thanks to my newly-acquired knowledge of SNL30 Rock

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Bossypants by Tina Fey
Nonfiction | 5.5 hours (audiobook) | ★★★★☆

The book that expanded my to-read list so much that I want to crawl into a hole and cry

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Ten Years in the Tub: A Decade Soaking in Great Books by Nick Hornby
Nonfiction | 485 pp | ★★★★★

(Full review here.)

The book I wish I’d read in college because it would have saved me a lot of time and tears

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The Courage to Write: How Writers Transcend Fear by Ralph Keyes
Nonfiction | 229 pp | ★★★☆☆

The first book of poetry I’ve read in a long, long time

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New & Selected Poems by Mary Oliver
Poetry | 255 pp | ★★★★☆

The book that reminded me that no matter how different we appear, deep down we’re all the same

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The Refugees by Viet Thanh Nguyen
Short fiction | 207 pp | ★★★★☆

The book that kicked my butt for feeling sorry for myself re: unemployment & lack of solid future plans

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Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor E. Frankl
Nonfiction | 184 pp | ★★★☆☆

The book that reminded me how good poetry can be

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On the Bus with Rosa Parks by Rita Dove
Poetry | 96 pp | ★★★★☆

The book that gave me a lot to think about

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Rest in Power: The Enduring Life of Trayvon Martin by Sybrina Fulton & Tracy Martin
Nonfiction | 331 pp |★★☆☆☆

(I should note that my 2-star rating has nothing to do with the message of the book & everything to do with its execution.)

The book I’ve read 3 times in 12 months

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This Is the Story of a Happy Marriage by Ann Patchett
Nonfiction | 308 pp | ★★★★★

(It actually deserves 7 stars, but I digress.)

The beautiful book I never would have read had a newfound friend not been kind enough to remember my birthday

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And the Mountains Echoed by Khaled Hosseini
Fiction | 404 pp | ★★★★☆

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