I’ll break up my usual every-other-Sunday routine for a special occasion. In this case, it’s because it is a national holiday, National Book Lover’s Day!
As a bibliophile myself, I thought there were be something inherently wrong if my blog didn’t feature a book for this incredibly important holiday.
I’m very happy to say I’ve had a lot of time this summer to get back into reading for fun (it cut into my Netflix time, but I’m okay with that). I’m very pleased to say I’ve managed to finish several books this summer! I thought I’d share a little about each one in celebration of today. They’re arranged in the order that I read them.
Some Girls, Some Hats, and Hitler (1984) by Trudi Kanter
Honestly, this quickly jumped to the “My Favorites” shelf. Kanter’s narrative style is as fabulous and chic as the hats in this story. In this remarkable memoir, Trudi recounts her life as an Austrian Jewish woman in 1938. Before Nazis occupied her hometown, Vienna, she spent her time designing top-of-the-line hats, visiting Paris for weekends, and going to cafes with her beloved husband Walter. When her whole world changes and the Nazis invade her life, she must find a way to get herself and her husband safely away from the only home they’ve ever known. Kanter is incredibly witty, and her love story is full of courage. I highly recommend it.
Same Kind of Different As Me (2006) by Ron Hall & Denver Moore
Another memoir, and like Kanter’s story, extremely touching. Ron Hall grew up in a lower-middle class family in North Texas. Through his privilege, he eventually became a wealthy international art dealer. Denver Moore’s life could not have been more different. Growing up in virtual slavery, he hopped a train and spent most of his life homeless on the streets of Fort Worth, Texas. One remarkable woman brings these two together and their lives are changed forever. Some have criticized that the book becomes a little preachy at times, as Christianity is a big part of both the narrator’s lives. I’ll admit, at times I felt like I’d stumbled into a church as well. If you’re a devout Christian, you’ll love this book. If you’re not, I recommend going into it and remember that this is a part of the narrator’s cultures. I grew up in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, which is a very Christian-centric area, so I was used to the narrative style and didn’t mind. I can see how it’s a little heavy-handed for some though. Still, an incredible story that alternates between two strong voices.
Milk and Honey (2014) by Rupi Kaur
Yet another memoir! I didn’t plan for that to happen, it just kinda did. Through free verse poetry, Kaur retells her survival of abuse, her love life, and her feminist believes. There were parts of this book that shook me to my core, and there were parts that didn’t necessarily resonate with me. The book has been criticized as being very “Tumblr-esque,” which I can definitely see. Many of the poems sound like a Tumblr text post. I think the book was also perhaps over-hyped. While the cover is very aesthetically pleasing, the illustrations and words can be quite pretty, and the feminist tones are easy to quote, I think it was over praised as being an phenomenon, when in reality it’s nothing overly groundbreaking. Kaur’s story has been idolized, when I think it’s much more meaningful if you read it for what it is: an introspective story of an ordinary person finding strength. A good, quick read though, and like I said there are parts of it that are very deeply moving.
A Monster Calls (2011) by Patrick Ness
Okay, this book is fantastic. Not a memoir! How bout that! It falls into the Children’s Fiction genre, but honestly there’s really no age limit on this book (kinda like how Harry Potter is in the Children’s Fiction genre). Young Conor has been visited by an ancient monster in the middle of the night. The monster will tell him three stories, and then Conor must tell the monster a story. The catch? Conor must tell the truth, the story of his greatest fear, or the monster will swallow him whole. If you’re going to read this book, you’ve got to get the one with the original illustrations by Jim Kay. I saw a version without illustrations in the book store the other day and I was actually offended, because the illustrations are stunning and very much a part of what makes this novel a work of art. It’s the first book where both the author and illustrator have won the Carnegie Medal and the Greenaway Medal in 2012, the year’s best children’s literary awards by British Librarians. If you haven’t read it, you gotta.
Purple Hibiscus (2005) by Chimimanda Ngozi Adichie
Okay, confession, I haven’t finished this one yet. I guarantee I will be finishing it though soon, I promise. Adichie is a wonderful writer. In the story, 15-year-old Kambili and her brother Jaja leave their wealthy, heavily-structured lifestyle in Enugu, Nigeria, to visit their aunt in Nsukka for a week. They’re exposed to a different world, a world without their father’s strict, controlling reign. That’s as far as I’ve gotten, but wow am I ready to finish this book. I love the style so much, I’ll likely try to get my hands on more of Adichie’s works in the future.
There you have it folks! Five excellent books, all for their own reasons. I’m a super slow reader, so believe me when I say that finishing five books in a couple of months is a huge deal. Yet, I’m a huge book nerd, so I’m glad there is a day devoted to us book lovers!
Happy National Book Lover’s Day!