As I mentioned in last week’s post, I have read a lot over the last few weeks, so I thought I would share what I’ve read and what I thought about it. I was planning to put it all in one post, but it got a little wieldy. (Yes, I’ve read that much.) So I’ve split it up in to two parts. (Part 2 will be coming soon!)
First off, I listened to the entire Harry Potter series on audiobook within the course of 10 days. Whoops. Obviously, no review is necessary for Harry Potter, but I did want to mention a couple of things that really stood out to me this time around. 1) I totally underrated Half-Blood Prince in my memory. I typically listed it as my third or fourth favorite of the series, but listening to it this time around, I feel like it deserves to be much higher. 2) It really is a master class in weaving a complex and intricate plot. Totally mind-blowing. And 3) I definitely prefer the later books in the series, but am stunned by how everything connects together. It’s not for nothing that these are among my favorite books of all time. Harry Potter will always and forever be close to my heart, and it will always feel like coming home.
Next up is a poetry collection. Phillis Wheatley’s Poems on Various Subjects, Religious and Moral. I’ll be quite candid: Phillis, as much as I admire her, is not my favorite poet, BUT that doesn’t mean that I didn’t get quite a bit out of reading this. It went a long way in helping me understand her, although I still feel like I have a ways to go. One of the things that really stood out to me was how intelligent she clearly was. She referenced mythology and the Bible like nobody’s business, and in a way that shows a deep understanding – not just a cursory awareness of it. And some ideas expressed were truly remarkable and thought-provoking. It was definitely a worthwhile read for me. Even if I wasn’t, you know, writing a novel about her.
Then I finished reading Presence by Amy Cuddy. Remember I mentioned that waaaaay back last year? Yeah, well I finally finished reading the book. I kind of put it to the side when I was distracted by other things, but finally came back to it a couple weeks ago and quickly finished it. Amy Cuddy’s TED talk remains one of the most impactful things I have ever watched or listened to, as it is a subject that hits really close to home for me. I have seen Presence criticized as nothing more than an expansion of her TED talk. I don’t entirely agree with that view of it, but even if it was true, I would still find it valuable. To me, this book offered very real, tangible actions that I can take to increase my confidence and also offered some extremely helpful ways of thinking about confidence. I have no real reservation in recommending this book to anyone who feels they sometimes lack the confidence that they would like to have.
I’d been hearing a lot about Arianna Huffington’s Sleep Revolution and I was pretty curious, so I listened to the audiobook. This was definitely my least favorite recent read. It felt like nothing so much as a regurgitation and compilation of sleep research, with no real additional value. It didn’t add much of anything. I didn’t even feel like I learned that much, even though I’ve only read a handful of articles of sleep. When you read a full-length book, I think you would generally expect to learn more than you had a from a few articles, so…yeah. I wanted to enjoy it, but I was not impressed.
I wrote about Lionheart at the beginning of the year, which I absolutely adored, so it was only a matter of time before I picked up its companion novel, A King’s Ransom by Sharon Kay Penman, from the library. It took me much longer to work my way through this book than I expected, but that was due to external factors, not the book itself. I do prefer Lionheart, but I still really enjoyed A King’s Ransom. It follows Richard once he leaves the Holy Land, making his way back to England to take care of some problems (which in this case take the form of his brother and the French King) before returning to the Holy Land again to finish his business there. However, things don’t go according to plan. I knew nothing about the historical events that Penman depicts in this novel, so it was quite a gripping read. One of the things I mentioned in my Lionheart post was how wonderful her characters were, and that was the case here, as well. Perhaps not quite as much, but far superior still to what I see in a lot of other historical fiction. Overall, it was a wonderful read. (Although, again as with Lionheart, not one that I would generally recommend to most except hard core historical fiction fans.)
What have you read recently?