In keeping with one of my myriad of New Year’s goals for 2019, I managed to read four books in the month of January. It saddens me to say that that number didn’t even come close the past TWO years, but hey, strides are strides.
While reading, I remembered how good it feels to fall deep into someone else’s story. Books have this inherently magical ability to temporarily relieve us from the growing pains of life, and the aching realities of our world.
Books also force us to look at these said problems from other angles that the media might not feed to us on a daily basis. They prompt us to provoke thoughtful discussions with one another, and even ourselves. They pave a path for stimulating our imaginations and perspectives in the most curious of ways.
It is because of this newly rediscovered love of reading that I have decided to launch a monthly blog series, “Sweet Book of Mine”. Here, I will be providing brief synopses of the books I read for the month (don’t worry, spoilers are NOT included), as well as the lessons I drew from the characters and the stories/anecdotes at hand.
Through this series, I want to bond with fellow bibliophiles in the hopes that we can start rousing conversations and learn from each other through literature. In the wake of technology taking a front row seat in our lives, it is vital that we continue to view books as a source of inspiration, education, and personal growth.
The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls – I finally got my hands on this critically acclaimed memoir as my first library card hold, and I instantly tumbled head first into Walls’s vivid recollection of her idiosyncratic childhood and journey into adulthood. Walls details her life on the road with her father – intelligent and inquisitive, but limited by his struggles with alcoholism; her mother- a struggling artist living in constant fear and denial; and her three siblings- all of whom had to grow up a little sooner than the average child, in light of their circumstances. However, instead of harboring resentment toward her parents for her peculiar and, at times, abusive upbringing, Walls chronicles her family’s homelessness as a series of adventures, all of which molded her into the woman she was destined to become.
– Love is a truly a fickle thing.
– You can either let your hardships define you, or you can defy them and and make something of yourself.
The Husband’s Secret by Liane Moriarty – On the surface, Cecilia Fitzpatrick leads a cookie-cutter life: three daughters and a devoted husband, a successful business selling Tupperware, and a fervent involvement in her daughters’ school. This life soon begins to crack, when she stumbles upon a letter from her husband, meant to be opened only after his death (he is still very much alive). The events that ensue thereafter not only ripple through Cecilia’s seemingly perfect world, but they impact the lives of two other key characters in the story – Tess and Rachel – as well.
– One of the hardest things we have to choose between, as humans, is doing the right thing vs. protecting someone we love.
– Harboring secrets and guilt long-term can lead to even more dastardly consequences.
American By Day by Derrick Miller – Norwegian police chief Sigrid Odegard finds herself heading to America to assist in the search for her missing brother, who is the prime suspect in the murder of his African-American girlfriend, a revered college professor. While the beginning starts off slow (in my opinion), the plot thickens, in particular, with the discourse surrounding issues plaguing the American landscape today – police brutality, race relations, and white privilege.
– Race is deeply embedded in the framework of this nation. Although this story takes place in 2005, all of the aforementioned problems Miller tackles holds especially true today, and boy, do we have a lot of work to do.
– With varying viewpoints in play, it is important to debate each other with respect and understanding, even if we agree to disagree.
All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr – This novel will definitely go down as one of my all-time favorites. This beautifully written piece of WWII historical fiction tells the story of Marie-Laure, a blind yet curious French girl who, along with her father, escapes Nazi-occupied Paris and flees to the port city of Saint-Malo; and Werner, a young German orphan and engineering prodigy, whose radio-building talents force him straight into the clutches of Hitler Youth. This tale of survival brings to light the significance of love, sacrifice, and clinging to the smallest glimpses of hope in trying times.
– Light isn’t just something we can see. It is just as palpable for our other senses.
– Education, curiosity, and unconditional love are key to survival.