But not a movie I have to read, I get enough of that from books.
All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr
A World War II tale about a blind French girl and a young German man. The novel switches back and forth between them as they grow up and as the war takes over their lives.
This book has been getting rave reviews for a while, and I really liked it. I liked the switching back and forth between the two main characters. I liked the girl's interactions with her father and great-uncle and the mystery that was part of their lives. I was so sad for the young man and how his skills were used by the Germans. Doerr did a great job of pulling together many different threads, of both narrative lives and historical facts, and weaving them together in a new and interesting way.
I highly recommend it.
Mr. Penumbra's 24 Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloane
During the downturn in the economy, Clay lost his job. He finds work as the night-clerk at Mr. Penumbra's 24-hour bookstore, and as he settles into the routine, he discovers a mystery.
This is a re-read. The book is just as charming the second time. It's nerdy, but for me, a good kind of nerdy. I like Clay as the narrator. He is clever and funny with a good running commentary throughout.
The audio-book was really well-done. There is one section where Clay listens to his favorite book on audio, and they did some special effects with that that made it clearer than when I read it on the page.
I highly recommend it.
Shakespeare Saved My Life by Laura Bates
Laura Bates writes a memoir of her time teaching Shakespeare courses in a maximum security prison. Most of this memoir focuses on one particular prisoner, Larry. She relates the work that she did with the prisoners, the way their life runs, and how learning Shakespeare impacted them. Larry was her star pupil, rising to be the group leader and he tells her that "Shakespeare saved my life."
I found this really interesting. Bates includes lengthy sections where she discusses the material they were working on and how the prisoners interpreted it. Their interpretations often focused on different aspects of the plays than critics usually focus on, and she explains why their interpretations are so interesting. In addition to the Shakespeare stuff, she talks a lot about the prisoners and how the prisons operate. She also describes what they did. She gets very close to Larry, and discusses his crime and treatment in the prison.
The book is a little slow and repetitive. It drags. Despite being an English professor, Bates is not extremely skilled at bringing things to life, so her writing feels a little dry. Despite that, it was interesting and got me thinking a lot about my students and the prison system that we have.
I would recommend this, but please realize that I am also an English professor, and I teach Shakespeare courses, so I'm well-versed in the content she's discussing. That made this more interesting to me than it was to my mom. So take the recommendation with a little warning.
When Things Fall Apart by Pema Chodron
Buddhist thoughts and lessons presented in Pema Chodron form -- very small bites, very simply.
I like Pema Chodron. This book is a similar style to "Comfortable with Uncertainty." It has very short chapters that present a simple thought or viewpoint. Chodron is gifted at making these views, that are sometimes unfamiliar to us, very accessible through stories and anecdotes, often from her own life. She also very clearly explains how to try and apply it to your own life.
I recommend it.
The Night Circus by Erin Morganstern
The novel opens with the Night Circus. You walk in and see the the black and white striped tents. There is a huge clock. The circus won't open until dark. You wait with the others, and when the gates finally open, you enter a world of magic. Then we learn about the Illusionist Cellia. Then we learn about the others who make the circus run, and others who love the circus, to the point of following it around.
I love this book. It's just so beautiful. I think this is the third time I have read it.
And it was charming to have it read to me by a man with a British accent, who pulled various British, Irish, and Scottish accents for the different characters. I really enjoyed his reading of the book. It was an interesting choice to have this narrator, because nothing in the novel specifies whether the narrative voice should be a man or woman, but I enjoyed the choice.