You know that feeling when you finish a book series? Like there is a hole in your chest, and you’re a little afraid to re-enter the real world? That’s how I felt after I blitzed through War Storm in a couple of days (as much as I tried to go slow). I think I enjoyed War Storm more than any other book in the Red Queen series – in particular the evolution of Evangeline’s character and getting more of a perspective from both Cal and Maven. Mare was a lot less bratty, and yay for Cal who finally made some decisions!
Lucky for me, there was life after series. The Map of Salt and Stars by Jennifer Zeynab Joukhadar has to be one of the most beautifully written books I’ve read this year. With poetic prose, the author switches between two interwoven tales – the tale of Rawiya who runs away from home to become a mapmaker’s apprentice, and the tale of Nour and her family’s journey as refugees after their home in Homs is bombed.
Tiffany Haddish’s The Last Black Unicorn was a lay-it-all-out-there memoir, but a lot less funny than what I was led to believe (damn you Trevor Noah). She’s overcome some crazy odds to become the comedy success that she is, but most of the time listening to this audiobook had me going “what the…?” or grimacing more than laughing (some truths are definitely uncomfortable). I found it difficult to relate, and with lots of swearing and the more than occasional graphic comment, I definitely wouldn’t listen to it if there are kids in the vicinity.
My second audiobook for the month was Thich Nhat Hanh’s Peace is Every Step which was bite-sized pieces of very practical wisdom from the spiritual leader, and apart from the occasional quote, my first experience (but not last) of his teachings and writings.
Sarah Knight’s The Life Changing Magic of Not Giving a F**k was a fun-to-listen-to parody of The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo, but definitely with its own nuggets of wisdom (also, readers of Mark Manson will notice quite a lot of similarities with his book).
The Book by Alan Watts was, for me, one of those wrong time and place situations. Alan Watts was a philosopher who did a lot of research on comparative religion and was adept at interpreting Eastern philosophy for a Western audience. Snippets of his writing definitely resonated with me but I found the writing too dense and more along the lines of an academic text. It is a book I will be returning to however, at a much slower pace.
Tayari Jones’ An American Marriage was a much lighter read after The Book. Beautiful writing with an engaging and thought-provoking storyline kept me riveted and turning the pages long after bedtime, although I was less than enthused by the ending.
I’ve read some wonderful books this year, from A Little Life and Being Mortal, to The Hate U Give and Shoe Dog, and Walter Isaacson’s biography of Leonardo da Vinci definitely ranks up there with the best of them. While art, undoubtedly, plays a central role in the book, I found the most fascinating facet of Leonardo da Vinci to be his sense of wonder and insatiable curiosity about the world around him, and the author wove a spell-binding narrative that explored not only da Vinci’s many strengths, but also the quirks and foibles that make him feel more human and accessible to the rest of us mere mortals.
- War Storm (Victoria Aveyard): ★★★★
- The Last Black Unicorn (Tiffany Haddish): ★★
- The Map of Salt and Stars (Jennifer Zeynab Joukhadar): ★★★★★
- Peace is Every Step (Thich Nhat Hanh): ★★★★★
- The Life Changing Magic of Not Giving A F**k (Sarah Knight): ★★★
- The Book (Alan Watts): ★★
- An American Marriage (Tayari Jones): ★★★★
- Leonardo da Vinci (Walter Isaacson): ★★★★★