what i’ve been reading {march & april 2016}

Tiny Beautiful Things: Advice on Love and Life from Dear Sugar by Cheryl Strayed

Tiny Beautiful Things is a collection from an advice column, Cheryl Strayed’s answers to letters when she wrote for Dear Sugar.  It is beautiful and heartbreaking and at times very tough to read.  And while it is a collection of advice, it also serves as a memoir of sorts.  With so many of the gut-wrenching letters Cheryl Strayed receives, she has stories from her own life that illustrate her advice.  Or perhaps it is better to say that her life stories show us how she has arrived at her advice.  This book is about love and loss and grief and it is so haunting and so healing. (Also–language warning and trigger warning galore.)

Everything Everything by Nicola Yoon

I don’t read a lot of young adult novels, but I’d like to occasionally read more.  This one was quite well done.  It is the story of a girl named Madeleine who is allergic to everything and has to stay in her house all the time.  But when a boy moves in next door and they start talking to one another, she starts to wonder if her health is worth it.  And while this could just be a very straightforward story about girl meeting boy next door, there is so much more to it.  It is about science, and about parent/child relationships, and about grief, and about adventure.  I really enjoyed this one.

Forty Rooms by Olga Grushin

I wish I had a group of people to discuss this book with.  First of all, it is beautiful.  The writing is poetic and lovely.  And I adore the premise: that a woman’s life unfolds in the 40 rooms she will occupy.  There are 40 chapters in this book: 40 rooms in which something occurs to the main character, each a kind of life turning point.  The main character (never named except by her married name later in the book) longs to be a great poet, and yet as she continues to live life, to get married and have children, she moves farther and farther away from that ambition.  I read somewhere that this book is a study on failure, which I think is fairly accurate.  But it isn’t necessarily a depressing one.  Rather it is beautiful and thoughtful and absolutely worth reading.

We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

This book is so important.  And it’s hardly a book.  It’s pocket sized and about 40 pages.  It took me 20 minutes to read.  In it, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie talks about the negative connotations associated with the word feminist, points out the inequality that still exists in today’s world, and ultimately calls us to do better by our sons and daughters.  (You can also listen to her Ted Talk, which is roughly the same as the book, here.)  Everyone should read this book.

Pastrix: The Cranky, Beautiful Faith of a Sinner & Saint by Nadia Bolz-Weber

I’ve loved Nadia Bolz-Weber’s blog for years, so I’m glad I finally got around to reading her first book.  It is a memoir of how she arrived where she is, her upbringing in a conservative church, her journey through drugs and recovery and then to seminary and starting her own congregation, her turning away from religion and then finding it again.  It is the story of grace in her life.  It is irreverent and funny and hopeful.  There is so much I appreciated in this book, I think because there are parts that spoke to certain aspects of my personal life lately.  But there is so much here, so many stories from vastly different parts of Nadia’s life, that I think anyone would find something that is applicable to where they are.  (And fair warning if you are unfamiliar with Nadia Bolz-Weber: there is a bit of language in this book.)

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