March wasn’t an amazingly productive month for reading. I recently started listening to podcasts at the gym instead of reading, and that definitely has been hurting my progress. Another issue? I started reading a book that I just can’t seem to get into. It’s currently sort of on the backburner while I read my first Neil Gaiman novel.
That said, I read three excellent books this month. Each is completely different from the others, and I would immediately recommend any of them to a friend. Have you read any of them?
Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail by Cheryl Strayed
This book is tremendously popular, and has earned a number of accolades. I knew none of that when I began reading it for book club. I expected something along the lines of A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson. Boy, was I wrong. Strayed’s story is a narrative of her summer hiking the trail, but it’s also an introspective memoir that ties all of the pieces of her past into the physically demanding journey she undertakes. At points, it was difficult for me to relate to personally, not having experienced many of her personal struggles, but the sophisticated way that she explains one issue in particular — the loss of her mother* — was poignant, and struck at my heart.
Wild gets four out of five stars.
*Not actually a spoiler. This is shared in the first couple of pages of the book.
The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair that Changed America by Erik Larson
I began “reading” this as an audiobook, but ended up returning it to Audible. When I dove into this the second time and actually read it, I was hooked. The book is nonfiction, but it’s also creative, narrative, and eloquent. I was deeply invested in the World’s Fair as told by Larson, and I feel like I got a glimpse not only into the chaos that the Fair was, but also into the history of Chicago, the politics of grand events, and and understanding of one man’s sadistic psyche. This was an easy read at the gym, as well as curled up with a cup of tea.
The Devil in the White City gets five out of five stars.
The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel by Deborah Moggach
Honestly, I read this book because it was a movies starring Judie Dench. I love me some Judie Dench. But I wasn’t expecting to actually enjoy the book; I expected it to either be a deep examination of the injustices of post-Empirial India or a fluffy beach read. Moggach’s final product lies squarely in the middle, with the light candor of a beach read and the heft of an anthrocritical nonfiction work. All of the book’s characters are loveable in their own ways, and all of them find a way to orient themselves to life in Bangalore. The book comments on unbelievably poverty present in many Indian cities, but it also demonstrates genuine ways that that variety of strife can be decreased. This was a quick read, and it gave me a lot of fodder to think about in regard to how we (the Western World) treat aging and older adults.
Marigold gets four out of five stars.
As I spring into April, I’m having trouble staying motivated with my reading. I need help from you! What are some books that I should add to my reading list?