March 2021–Part One

Thank you for joining me here!   I hope you enjoy this series and I’d love to hear from you about what you are reading these days.

Book #1:

We Keep the Dead Close by Becky Cooper (Length: 513 pages).   I bought into the hype (which I am now not remembering where I first heard about this pick), and in hindsight I wish I hadn’t wasted my time on this book. This is a first person account of a layperson’s investigation of the unsolved murder of a Harvard doctoral student of archaeology in 1969. This book is exhaustive in scope . . . essentially summarizing ten years of her investigation into this murder which is comprised of dozens of interviews of everyone the victim, Jane Britton, ever knew or worked with, and thousands of hours of detailed research. There are multiple potential suspects so the book is quite lengthy. I will say this felt like quite a slog through the minutiae that ends up not even being relevant (ie, this book could have used a lot of editing), but the actual writing is very solid. The murderer is revealed at the end of the book, so there’s that. But if you’d like to save yourself the trouble of the journey to that end, just Google it. I wish I would have.

Book #2:

Summer at Little Beach Street Bakery by Jenny Colgan (Length: 359 pages). This book is just as delightful as the first in the series (which I reviewed last month). I will say, however, that I wish the protagonist (Polly) stood up for herself a bit more, but the plot is light and fun (the biggest source of drama is that Polly quits the bakery once it’s taken over by new owner’s asshole son, and has to find a new way to make a living). The puffin, Neil, still plays a bit part, and I love those scenes. This series is sure to put a smile on your face, with its skillful writing, well-rounded characters, and funny dialogue.

Book #3:

Lessons From the Light by George Anderson and Andrew Barone (Length: 332 pages).  After reading one of this author’s more recent books (reviewed in February 2021), I was excited to pick this one up, to learn more about what the departed souls have to say about the afterlife. If you have an open mind, you will get a lot out of this book as well! I was fascinated the entire time I read this book, as well as heartened to learn that all we need to do on this Earth to ensure a peaceful afterlife is to live our lives with kindness and love. (And rescue and love animals–the souls treasure animals because they are so pure and have only unconditional love). I tabbed several thoughts/ideas in the book (which I will keep as part of my personal library), some of which include: There is no “hell” or eternal life of punishment in the afterlife, according to these souls, but instead there are different “levels” of enlightenment, and those souls who caused pain in others on the earth begin to understand their actions from the point of view of the people whose pain they caused. . . . These lower levels . . . are farther from the Light. The souls who place themselves at these levels understand completely that they must go down a long road of understanding and forgiveness in order to progress closer to the Light, and they do so willingly.” Also, “A person who has been taught prejudices and narrow religious or political beliefs from childhood and could not recognize that they were not acting in the better interest of others will also experience the impact of their deeds from the perspective of the person they tormented or oppressed.” This book is really fascinating, and absolutely worth a read!

Book #4:

Deacon King Kong by James McBride (Length: 383 pages).  I’ve had this on my bookshelf for a while and I finally picked it up. I adore the cover, and have enjoyed looking at it. When I finally started it, I was not very impressed as it seemed to be disjointed in terms of various characters with minimal overlap, and the action was slow (after the initial shooting which is mentioned on the first page). However, I kept at it, and WOW was I glad that I did. All of the disparate characters and subplots finally begin to wind together around the half way mark, and it’s magical. I did enjoy the writing style (but it’s not for everyone) as it’s so lyrical that it’s almost poetic, and has a touch of stream of consciousness, with one sentence taking up half a page. This writer is obviously incredibly talented (and a National Book Award winner), and if the subject matter doesn’t scare you away too much (a bit of violence/drug use as it’s set in the projects in South Brooklyn in 1979, you will likely be SO happy you gave this book a chance. It’s amazing!

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