I’ve been back at school for a week (yes, I know, it’s soooo late, but just remember we do the same three and a half months of work; we just do it in 10 weeks) and I’m already drowning. Before I got too into conferences, homework, and work, I was able to sneak in a couple last-minute summer reads. I also have some spooky reads for October, and some new shows I’m obsessed with. Jump on in, and let’s explore small towns, horror, and horror in small towns.
Since I was only able to read two books this month, I’m also including a recommendation for an article, I think you should read. It’s outside the norm, but hopefully fun?
Idaho by Emily Ruskovich
1 Sentence Synopsis: Multiple women grapple with the effects of a violent act that tears a rural family apart.
Review: Idaho is, like its two main female characters, wonderfully complex. The novel is slow, quite boring and unremarkable in many ways; as well as awkward, as you’re forced to understand a love story that feels very akin to abuse. It’s healing, like kissing a child’s owie, and yet devastating, like getting one. Ruskovich is undoubtedly a skilled writer, both in prose and in composition, and yet, it’s as though the beauty of her approach softens the impact. I wrestled, a great many times, in how I should react to this novel, even as I was reading it: whether I should throw it out, unfinished and abandoned, or keep it on my shelf of favorites back home. I can’t quite conjure up a recommendation as to whether you should read this, but you should if you’re hungry for something that, good or bad, will linger in corners of you you’d rather forget.
Beartown by Fredrik Backman, translated by Neil Smith
1 Sentence Synopsis: A quiet town, obsessed with hockey, at the edge of a Swedish wood is shaken by the traumatizing of a young girl.
Review: It’s a strange month because I’m not sure whether to recommend this one to you either. I’m a huge Backman fan, but this one ranks towards the bottom. It’s a bit too on-the-nose for me and, though it’s packed with great insights and proverbs, their insertion feels a bit forced. It’s difficult to say whether this is a fault of Backman or of Smith, as Smith has never translated for Backman before. It’s not quite a slow burn (like in Little Fires Everywhere), as much as it is just slow. The novel (my copy was about 400 pages) doesn’t pick up until about page 200, which is far, far too long in my opinion. And, unlike, slow-burn novels, there’s not much of a reason for the slow. You get to know the characters and the town, but not in any way I couldn’t in much less pages. It’s almost as though Backman, in trying something deeper with this book, didn’t quite trust himself to do the it justice.
On Native Ground by Wade Davis
1 Sentence Synopsis: Davis accessibly explores in this article why Westerners should be concerned with cultural death around the globe.
Review: I had to read this as part of my Appearance and Culture class, and I think it does an excellent job of exploring social science in ways laypeople can understand. It’s full of hard truth and interesting anecdotes, and I believe it should be added to the Westernized World’s “must-read” list.
Looking Ahead: October
What to Read:
Ghouls, Gals, and Pals be warned: Hallow’s Eve is quickly approaching us. I have a few scary selections to get you in the mood, as well as some general recommendations for those of you who choose not to celebrate.
I’m Thinking of Ending Things by Iain Reid – There will come a day when I don’t recommend this at every opportunity but today is not that day. This remains the most eerie novel I’ve ever read (and check out his newest book, released just this month, Foe).
(BN – Ending Things) (Amazon – Ending Things) (IndieBound – Ending Things)
(BN – Foe) (Amazon – Foe) (IndieBound – Foe)
I’ll Be Gone in the Dark by Michelle McNamara – Is it just me or is it scarier when it’s real? I finished this just before they captured him, but McNamara’s absolutely terrifying documentation of The Golden State Killer (previously called Original Night Stalker/East Side Rapist).
(BN) (Amazon) (IndieBound)
Bridge of Clay by Markus Zusak – I haven’t read this yet but it’s 10 years in the making from my favorite author so I feel it’ll be a good time. Clay is making a bridge for his family and his past. It releases October 9th.
(BN) (Amazon) (IndieBound)
Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng – I figured since I mentioned this in my review, I should recommend it here. As two matriarchs move closer together, one, a transplant to the area, and the other a long-standing figure in the community, the residents of Shaker Heights will learn that not even a meticulously planned community can prevent tragedy.
(BN) (Amazon) (IndieBound)
What to Watch:
The Good Cop – Josh Groban and Tony Danza in a buddy cop show sounds odd, and it is, but it’s also a really fun noir-style cop show. I’m three episodes in and totally in love. (Season 1 streaming on Netflix now)
I Feel Bad – Amy Poehler’s executive producing a new show about an interracial couple and their multi-generational family learning to be okay with being imperfect. (New Episodes Thursdays on NBC)
New Amsterdam – The new medical drama on NBC chronicles the nation’s oldest public hospital as it undergoes exciting, and challenging, changes under a new director. (New Episodes Tuesdays on NBC)
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