The Books I Read in October

But first, here is a photo of H in her adorable Halloween costume! She is holding her incredibly well-crafted candy bag. What can I say? I’m a crafting genius.

I think I am in a reading rut! I know how to fix it, though. I have got to stop reading Kindle Unlimited books. There is a time and a place to be cheap, and books are not one of them *sigh*.

Okay, here are the books I read in October.

Eileen: I read this book because David Sedaris (my favorite person/author in the world) told me to read it. Eileen was also shortlisted for the 2016 Man Booker Prize. For these reasons alone I was expecting to read the next great novel of our time. I was expecting Eileen to make All The Light We Cannot See look like cheap drivel. Instead, I got a really well-written book that was super weird, kind of boring, and really repetitive.

Let me start with the good. The author perfectly builds Eileen’s world. Eileen is also the most unique protagonist I’ve ever encountered. Eileen is an unlikable, repulsive, and an insanely weird narrator. She is a disgusting-hoarder-stalker with an alcoholic father who is awful to her, a dead mother, and an estranged sister. She works her life away in a failing small town at a miserable prison for boys where she is ignored and ridiculed by her coworkers. Her life is pretty much the worst. Eileen dreams endlessly about getting out of her town and moving to NYC, and she finally gets her chance when she meets the mysterious and beautiful Rebecca.

But let’s move on to the bad: I know the author was trying to illustrate the horrible monotony of Eileen’s life by repeating the endless loop of Eileen going to work, picking up booze for her dad, come home, stalking her crush (literally), going to work, picking up booze for her dad, coming home, stalking her crush (literally) — but dear lord. That loop went on for more than half the book! By the time Rebecca was introduced and the super strange, borderline preposterous climax happened I was like, ‘David Sedaris, why did you do this to me? I thought we had something! I read Holidays on Ice six times!

I can’t say I particularly enjoyed this book, but it is very original and well-written.

The Things We Wish Were True: This was a Kindle Unlimited book. What can I say? You get what you pay for (I paid nothing in this case). This was a lazily written book with a gender problem. You know how authors do research before they sit down to write so that their characters are authentic? Well, this author skipped that part and went straight to the writing.

This book is written from the point of view of various people (mostly women) who live in a cushy neighborhood in the South. The women go to the community pool every day with their kids and gossip about things they did in high school. The women are entirely defined by their relationship to others (and you know how I feel about that, people!). None of the women appear to have clear goals or aspirations. There is one woman who works, but she is voiceless and portrayed as neglectful to her two kids by many characters in the book.

But this book doesn’t just ridicule working mothers, women who stay at home are equally undermined. Take this passage from one of the women’s husbands: “she […] was back to eat the muffins Bryte made […] or whatever women did with one another when he was at work.”

Wtf?! No, boo boo, no.

Even though the author tackled pretty serious issues, most of the characters in this book feel flat and underdeveloped. This book could have been a great character study about the secret lives women who seem to have it all — but instead, the book disintegrates into a shallow exploration of a boring cul-de-sac.

This book isn’t all bad, though. There are exciting parts that come from the two most interesting characters: an elderly woman and a young girl. But the rest of the book is #firstworldproblems for dayssssss. It would make a good vacation read.

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