End of Summer Reading 2022

Happy Fall!

Question: Do you read front-to-back, cover-to-cover, or … (small gasp) … do you peek at the back page before you’ve finished?

Up until the pandemic when I became an avid Kindle reader, I regularly flipped to the back page before its time. I’d get a few chapters in, so I had a sense of what was happening and who the main characters were, and then I’d check the last page. It wasn’t so much that I wanted to know how it ended – I couldn’t accurately tell what was what from the little I’d read so far. I just wanted to see who was still there at the end. Somehow it added to the mystery: I’d caught a glimpse, and now I got to see how it played out.

Interestingly, while binging a Shonda Rhimes’ series this year (How to Get Away with Murder), I noticed she was doing, in each episode and each season, the same thing visually I’d been doing with my reading. Viewers saw short scenes teasing what was coming. We didn’t know what it meant, or even who was involved, and sometimes it led to incorrect assumptions – ones that, for my part, had me gasping: Wait, what? I – we – kept watching to discover how it all played out.

So I felt a big connection when Nora Stephens, a book agent in Emily Henry’s Book Lovers, turned to the last page first. Eventually she reveals: “That is what I’m looking for every time I flip to the back of a book, compulsively checking for proof that in a life where so many things have gone wrong, there can be beauty too. That there is always hope, no matter what.”

Where so many things have gone wrong, there can be beauty. Hope, no matter what. YES yes yes! She put new words and new purpose to what I’d already been doing. Except Kindle makes it harder to get to the last page before its time…

Book titles link to Amazon for more info + easy purchasing. Please note: As an Amazon Associate, I may earn from qualifying purchases.

FICTION

Cloud Cuckoo Land by Anthony Doerr
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This book requires some work as each chapter revolves around a different character in place and time. However, when it all comes together, it is beautifully jarring, complicated, and more than a little heart-rending.

The Dictionary of Lost Words by Pip Williams
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

From the author’s note: “Do words mean different things to men and women? And if they do, is it possible that we have lost something in the process of defining them?” (361)

From the novel: “Words define us, they explain us, and, on occasion, they serve to control or isolate us. But what happens when words that are spoken are not recorded? What effect does that have on the speaker of those words?” (358)

An impressive feat: a story that carries us away on words and the quest to define and record them, paralleled with the early suffrage movement in the UK and WW1. Who was it that said (surely many have said it) that if you want to teach someone a lesson, tell them a story? This is one such story.

I’m not sure it gives me hope, however, as it points to progress while the struggles remain 100+ years later. Yet perhaps even that speaks to the truth that the value in a life is doing meaningful work and loving others well.

Something Wilder by Christina Lauren
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

“…we wrote this book to be a fun, swoon-filled escape from the real world…” Christina Lauren, from the Author’s Note

They succeeded! This is 100% a fun, swoon-filled escape into a steamy-sexy desert amidst a treasure hunt, complete with pirates, in which fool’s gold becomes apparent for the fake that it is and real treasure makes dreams come true.

Love & Saffron by Kim Fay
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Imagine developing a correspondence with one of your favorite authors, a relationship that becomes a friendship that takes you both in directions you could never have imagined in the first place…

The Wife Upstairs by Rachel Hawkins
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Once I realized that this book is a rewrite of Jane Eyre, I was all in. I couldn’t put it down! I appreciate someone playing well with a classic, like seeing a Shakespeare play reset in contemporary times, so long as it’s still well done and honors the original. In this case, Hawkins rewrote the ending in a way she found more satisfying for the main character … and I’m here for it. If you haven’t read Jane Eyre, I’d recommend starting there, then reading Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys, and then this one. You don’t have to, but it will help you see how the authors of the latter two play differently with the original novel.

Book Lovers by Emily Henry
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I love a book that takes itself lightly with a heaping dose of a sense of humor. Book Lovers plays with all the literary tropes. It’s fun and engaging and even when I thought I’d figured it out, it surprised me.

One note: the author misrepresented plant-based eating and, as a committed vegetarian, it bugged me. I wished she’d done a little more research on that front.

Counterfeit by Kirstin Chen
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I read this in advance of attending a reading with the author. Hearing about her life and writing process made the book even more interesting. This was a quick and engaging read, though I wanted more oomph from the ending.

NON-FICTION

Change Your Questions, Change Your Life: 10 Powerful Tools for Life and Work by Marilee G. Adams
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The title intrigued me immediately. Now in its 4th printing and having sold over 400,000 copies, I understand why… When we ask better questions we get better results in both our work and in our personal life. The book is written as a parable, and we learn about Question Thinking alongside main character Ben. At first I was as skeptical about the book’s style as Ben was about Question Thinking (QT); however, as I kept reading, I could see the value of making discoveries about the value of QT together.

If you received my monthly newsletter, you know I’m still pondering this one. If you didn’t, shoot me your email and I’ll send it to you.

View all my reviews

3 Stars: I’ll Be You by Janelle Brown

2 Stars: The Spanish Love Deception by Elena Armas

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