I’m not doing any formal reading challenges this year, but I have still been continuing to read. I thought I’d share a few highlights from my recent reading – it’s been mixed!
If I Were You by Lynn Austin is one I encountered while doing research for my WWII novel. It appeared to be about the aftermath of the war – Audrey, a British widow goes to her American in-laws for help, only to find her best friend already there, pretending to be her. Sounded fascinating! But as it turned out, most of the story was actually about the women’s lives before and during the war, with the identity-theft only a frame story. Interesting, but not what I was hoping for – and since it was set in England, not France, only limited value as research for my novel.
One of my favorite books is Jane Eyre, so of course I was curious about The Wife Upstairs by Rachel Hawkins, a purported modern retelling. It was well-written and had some clever takes on the story, which felt part Jane Eyre and also part Rebecca. There was a very good twist most of the way through that made the final portion especially gripping. I liked the read, except – virtually every character, Jane included, was made much darker and more morally ambiguous than the original. Which is…fine, but I like characters who are likable!
After a couple dark books, it was nice to pick up Nevermoor: The Trials of Morrigan Crow by Jessica Townsend, which felt like a delightful breath of fresh air – even in its earliest chapters, when Morrigan is a cursed child in an unloving family. She escapes to Nevermoor, magical and colorful and full of eccentric characters. It’s a very fun magical child story with a great landscape and some good mysteries.
I’ve done other reading on the nonfiction side, mostly research for my World War II novel. I enjoyed Einstein Never Used Flashcards by Kathy Hirsh-Pasek and Roberta Golinskoff. It’s twenty years old, but felt incredibly relevant about the social pressures on parents to make everything educational for their children, starting in the womb. Spoiler: it’s better for children to play than to use flashcards. I’ve also been rereading The World’s Religions by Huston Smith, which is brilliant and insightful and really feels like the collection wisdom of the world.
What have you been reading lately? Recommendations are welcome, especially ones that aren’t too far to the dark!