Recent Reads Vol. 14


Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult
I have read just about everything by Jodi Picoult. That usually means a 24-36-hour reading binge in which I sleep little and cry a lot. I love her and her work; I remember reading her tweets and updates while she was researching for and writing this latest book and just knowing it was going to be important. I finally picked it up, and was proven wrong in my expectation that I'd fly through it like I flew through all her others. I was enthralled in the story and desperate to know what happened next, but needed to give myself breaks and read "palate cleansers" before going to sleep. I couldn't close the book for the night after one particular narrator (I love Picoult's trademark style of alternate narrators, and think she does it flawlessly) so I ended up either stopping short or continuing on so his voice wouldn't be the last in my mind. I think people reading know my thoughts on social justice issues and see where I stand on the subject matter this book discusses, but I don't want to go running my mouth right now. I'd just really rather you read this book with your mind wide open and take away the pieces that are right for you to walk with.

Recommend? — To every member of the human race, yes. (And not just because I recommend absolutely anything by this author.)

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou
I read this back in high school, but that basically doesn't mean anything because I can't remember books after like 45 minutes have passed since I finished. I've been wanting to re-read this for a long time, and my realization that I don't read enough long-form work by people of color plus the surprise of finding the ebook readily available to borrow from my library made this the perfect time to do so. I picked it up at the height of a slump and it took me forever to get through it because I kept hitting the end of the library lending term and having to renew, sometimes after others had queued up to check it out too and I had to wait. It served me well as an intimate look into a life I could never understand on my own, a time in American history that's discussed too little (especially for how recent it actually was). Angelou's writing is beautiful and emotional and the way she weaves details in makes for vivid (and sometimes absolutely gut-wrenching) mental images.

Recommend? — This is hard to say, because tons of people won't like it for the pace or the subject matter, but I think it endures as an important work for a reason. I'd like you to give it a try if you haven't.

Scrappy Little Nobody by Anna Kendrick
I don't know if Anna Kendrick has yet gone the way of Jennifer Lawrence to annoying people who say that someone who is actually cool must really be a try-hard with a schtick that's just tiresome or whatever nonsense people say to keep women from ever being able to be themselves in the public eye, but as far as I'm concerned, Anna Kendrick is cool as hell and I want to be her friend. (Exhibit A.) I did the audiobook and it felt like sitting down with someone and talking about our lives. Except she did all the talking, which was fine, because she's had more interesting experiences than I have. She manages to be relatable even after Hollywood happened and funny, humble, honest, and insightful all the while. One of my favorite lines was toward the end, where she says, "I keep feeling like I need to become perfect all at once and I get overwhelmed and put it off." Girl, YES.

Recommend? — I doubt you'd like this if you don't already like Anna Kendrick, but if you do, or if you've ever laughed at her Twitter feed, go ahead and read it! It's short and so sweet.

Year of Yes by Shonda Rhimes
I seriously loved this book. I had heard great things about it and I think it was Kristen's review specifically that made me check it out; she too (if I remember correctly) didn't watch any ShondaLand shows before picking up the book. I've been on a celebrity memoir audiobook kick lately (it's good subway listening) and this was available. I devoured it. I distinctly remember one afternoon just laying on my bed, listening for a good few hours and doing nothing else. I never do that with audiobooks. Shonda's thoughts on motherhood/parenting, womanhood, accomplishments as a woman, and being your own sun reached me deeply where I needed to be reached. And I actually cried listening to her talk about a series I've never watched (Grey's Anatomy). Before I finished I went ahead and added Grey's, Scandal, and How to Get Away with Murder to my Netflix queue because I just want to be in ShondaLand for a little longer. I highly, HIGHLY recommend this book. I liked the audiobook especially because a) I love when people tell their own stories and b) she gave us the recordings of speeches she gave (here and here) and I feel like reading the text would not be the same at all. I cried buckets during the HRC speech. So, yeah, read this book.

Recommend? — I already said yes! Read it! Or listen to it!

Talking As Fast As I Can by Lauren Graham
Listen, I love (like, love) Gilmore Girls, Parenthood, and Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life. Lorelai has always been my favorite and Sarah was my favorite Braverman as well. This obviously has much, or everything, to do with Lauren Graham as an actor and person. So the times in this book where she took us on a trip through those worlds was delicious and so fun. I recently read her novel and liked it a lot too, so hearing her (yeah, audiobook kick is getting the job done lately) talk about that experience was fun. Overall I liked it a bit less than the other two memoirs I listened to this month, because she added in some recorded phone calls that felt weirdly stiff and just sort of...not like an audiobook, I guess? But it was fun and funny and I LOVED her section on tracking stuff. I feel exactly the same way and have been sitting on this idea that all the tracking I used to do is absolutely pointless (for me; you do you) for a long time and it was nice to hear it echoed back. Also, I cried while she talked about filming AYITL without Ed Hermann and just about AYITL in general, because I cried a lot while watching and I just kind of cry a lot so it's not that surprising.

Recommend? — I do think some people who are really wild over TV might be a bit put off by how she discusses GG and the reboot, just based on some of the reactions I saw people have over the reboot series and scratched my head over. But for people who are just a fan of celeb memoirs and like Lauren Graham, I think it'll be a fun, fast read.

Currently reading: The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams.

Linking up with Steph & Jana!

Comments

  1. I have Year of Yes, Lauren Graham's book, AND Anna Kendrick's book all lined up on audio for me in the coming months when I finish my current audiobook. I'm a huge fan of Anna Kendrick and Lauren Graham too and although I'm not a die-hard Shonda Rhimes fan, I have still heard such amazing things about that book. These books all sound so fun :) I haven't read any Picoult yet but maybe I will start with that one!!

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  2. I loved Small Great Things but needed breaks like you said. I am on the wait list for Lauren Graham's book and I just added Year of Yes to my TBR today so glad to hear another great review on it!

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  3. We're reading Small Great Things for book club this month. I am both excited and nervous because the subject matter is a difficult one for me. I expect to need little breaks between reading to process. I loved Year of Yes too. I had a lot of respect for Shonda Rhimes going into the book, even though I didn't watch any of her shows, and afterwards I wanted to become one of her ride-and-die friends.

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    1. I hope you enjoy! And maybe have a light reading list handy in case you need a palate cleanser too, hah.

      YES, I wanted to be Shonda's ride-or-die by the end too! And kinda felt like she was now one of mine ;)

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  4. I've been sitting on Small Great Things since I got it at a book signing with JP herself in October. First I didn't want to lug it to Ireland then I was trying to deal with the election results and now it's like is there ever going to be a good time to read this? No. I need to read it.

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  5. oh my gosh, yes. if we are thinking about the same narrator in small great things, i had to keep going to get him out of my head. actually, i ended up reading it in one night - very abnormal for me and picoult, too heavy - because every time i wanted to stop it would be at a part that i didn't want sitting in my brain while sleeping. in the end, the whole book weighed heavy on my heart when i finished it at 2am and was like well now i'm screwed. haha.

    lol i'm with you on not remembering things after 45 minutes of finishing. seriously though. i have not read that book by Maya Angelou, I added it to my list. Anna Kendrick's book is next on my audible list.

    so, so glad you liked year of yes. i was a huge grey's fan for years, but never knew much about her, and after i read that book i wanted to rewatch greys and watch all her other shows. i was so surprised at how much i liked it, i expected it to be about her tv shows or whatever, and it was such a pleasant surprise, you know? i still think about that book and that was like a year or more ago. i did read it though, so i might check out the audio in a few months for a refresh. i love listening to those kinds of books.

    oh yes. the recorded phone calls in LG's book. SO weird. I did think parts felt stiff as well, and eventually it settled in and felt comfortable, but there were parts that made me feel uncomfortable haha.

    hope you like the hitchhiker's guide!

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  6. I love how you described Small Great Things! I also needed little breaks while reading it.

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  7. SGT was a difficult, emotional read. An important one and one that needs to be read by everyone. I read it as an ARC from NetGalley last fall and it's still hard to even think about especially in light of what's going on in this country. It hurts.

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  8. We read two of the same books :). I LOVED Year of Yes, too. I can't believe how much I enjoyed it. I didn't know anything about Shonda Rhimes or her shows but now I want to watch them all, too. I also loved Lauren Graham's book. I haven't read any Jodi Picoult books but you may have convinced me. Any suggestions on which one to start with?

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  9. I am currently reading Scrappy Little Nobody and I love it! I would like to listen to the audio as well cause that would be pretty cool. I have Lauren Grahams book on waitlist at the library as well as Year of Yes. Right now I am committed to 6 books to read before the next book sale, which is in May. After that I am going to add more book to read.

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  10. I love Anna Kendrick. My favorite line in that book is 'I really excel in a Taco Bell parking lot with a water bottle full of vodka.' Hello, my life.

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  11. That is still the only Picoult book I've read, but I could not agree more about needing to take breaks while reading it because it was so heavy. I've gone back and forth on Scrappy Little Nobody, this is kind of ridiculous because I always love her fashion, but I don't think I've ever seen any of the movies she's in?

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  12. I really want to read Lauren Graham's memoir. I own Scrappy Little Nobody and hope to read it soon - I've been a fan of Anna's for almost ten years now. Love her! I need to read Picoult's latest. I haven't read any of her books in awhile. I loved Year of Yes too!!

    -Lauren
    www.shootingstarsmag.blogspot.com

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  13. I really liked Kendrick's book too, especially how she talks about not actually having money even though she was walking red carpets (like asking for a cheaper hotel so she could get more money). I want to read Graham's- really wish my library had the audiobook!

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  14. I've read Small Great Things. I've read thoughts from others about it as well. As usual, you are perfectly articulate in your thoughts about it. Thank you for sharing.
    I liked that you followed it up with a few fun books. We all need balance.

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  15. I haven't read any Jodi Picoult books since reading My Sister's Keeper and bawling my eyes out. This sounds like a great book, I'll have to add to my reading list! Year of Yes sounds awesome, but I'm also a big Grey's Anatomy fan so I'm sure that book would be very interesting to read.

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    1. Yes, if you like any of JP's other books, this won't disappoint! As a Grey's fan I'm sure you'll get even more out of Year of Yes than I did. Check it out!

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  16. Oh! I need to add Shonda's book & Lauren Graham's books to my to-read list. I've already got Jodi Picoult on my hold list at the library.

    Anna Kendrick's book had me chuckling one too many times out loud at the gym, haha. I love her!

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  17. I listened to I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings and loved hearing Maya's voice. I was lucky to hear her speak at a PTA Conference a few years back. Small Great Things and Year of Yes are both on my ever growing TBR list! Pam :)

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