Friends – it’s been an incredible week for reading. I’m here to share the books I’ve finished since last Wednesday, which includes a beautiful variety of authors and topics. I’m not sure how much longer I’ll be able to keep up this reading pace but I’m enjoying every moment of it while it lasts!
The Death of Vivek Oji by Akwaeke Emezi
“I’m not what anyone thinks I am. I never was. I didn’t have the mouth to put it into words, to say what was wrong, to change the things I felt I needed to change. And every day it was difficult, walking around and knowing that people saw me one way, knowing that they were wrong, so completely wrong, that the real me was invisible to them. It didn’t even exist to them. So: If nobody sees you, are you still there?”
Thank you to Sarah for introducing this one! This was a gorgeous book set in Nigeria. It opens with a mother finding her 20-something son, Vivek Oji, dead at her front door. We slowly find out what happened to Vivek as the book unfolds and we meet a group of young people quietly and desperately searching for their own identities while living under oppressive circumstances.
I decided to give this book 3 stars on Goodreads. I wanted to give it 4, but felt like there was too much gratuitous sex. There were several scenes that felt integral to the story and just as many that felt unnecessary and over the top. Perhaps I’m a prude – I can live with that!
A Poetry Handbook by Mary Oliver
“The poet must not only write the poem but must scrutinize the world intensely, or anyway that part of the world he or she has taken for subject. If the poem is thin, it is likely so not because the poet does not know enough words, but because he or she has not stood long enough among the flowers–has not seen them in any fresh, exciting, and valid way.”
I read this book slowly, just a few pages at night before falling asleep. I am a complete poetry newbie so I appreciated how the author broke it down and explained even the basics – like iambic pentameter. Oliver infused beautiful poetry throughout in order to show examples of the principles she was discussing, which made the whole process even more enjoyable.
And even still – I don’t think I really understand poetry. Especially not free verse! So I suppose I’ll just keep reading, little by little, and see what makes a mark.
New Seeds of Contemplation by Thomas Merton
“You will never find interior solitude unless you make some conscious effort to deliver yourself from the desire and cares and the attachments of an existence in time and in the world.”
I read this during my early morning quiet time over the last month or so. Each chapter was relatively short, so it wasn’t an overwhelming task to read one or two each morning. For me, this was one of those take what you need books – I don’t identify as a Christian and still found a lot of nuggets to tuck away and chew on.
In his preface, Merton writes, “On the other hand, there are perhaps people without formal religious affiliations who will find in these pages something that appeals to them. If they do, I am glad, as I feel myself a debtor to them more than to the others.” I was thankful for that invitation and felt at home in the midst of his pages, despite not subscribing to all of his underlying principles.
The Murmur of Bees by Sofia Segovia
“Tell them to walk in the shade. To listen with their eyes, to see with their skin, and to feel with their ears, because life speaks to us all and we just need to know and wait to listen to it, see it, feel it.”
“she understood that, while life offers no guarantees, sometimes it does offer gifts;”
I know I’m a little late to this one, but I’m so happy to have finally read it! And friends, I didn’t want it to end. This was a beautiful novel set in Mexico. It moves throughout a longer period of time but the most significant moments for me were during the Spanish Flu, which felt familiar given what the world has gone through over the last year.
I loved the Morales family – they had me laughing, crying, and everything in between. Simonopio, the infant found in the woods and covered by bees, captivated me. He was born with a cleft palette and never learned to communicate with words, but found his own way to connect with others and became a loved and integral part of his adopted family.
Writers & Lovers by Lily King
“It’s a particular kind of pleasure, of intimacy, loving a book with someone.”
“But I can’t go out with a guy who’s written eleven and half pages in three years. That kind of thing is contagious.”
I was addicted to this book! Casey is 31, living in a potting shed in Boston, drowning in debt and sorrow, and working as a waitress while trying to finish her novel. I found her immediately likable and interesting and was cheering her on throughout. And it was nice to read a book with a happy ending for once (don’t worry, I don’t think this is much of a spoiler)! This was set in 1997 and I loved being reminded what life was like before cell phones and the internet – when you called someone and just hoped they were home or you called around to find them. In some ways, it felt like historical fiction!
Fun little fact: this was the second book I read this month that was set in Boston and I loved exploring the city with Casey. Also, I went to grad school at BU and Casey rode her bike over the BU bridge constantly in order to get to work, so that was a lot of fun for me.
And now I’m working my way through another stack of books. One of the books is The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating and I feel like that snail: nibbling through the pages and finding sustenance within them. It’s a beautiful book by the way – and another that I don’t want to end!
I hope your reading life is treating you well and you’re finding nourishment within your own pages – whether it’s a hearty supper or a sweet dessert! I plan to be back on Friday with a few bits of joy from this week. Take good care!