Beartown

Thinking this would be a great beach read, I borrowed Beartown from the public library to read on my kindle. (Yes! You can borrow e-books!) Around halfway through, I realized that this was not a light read. The good thing was that I only reached that point by the time I was already home, (yes, I know, I am a slow reader) so no shocking realizations for me while I was enjoying my time at the beach.

OK, so what about this book? It’s about a small town where hockey makes or breaks the town. In one way or another, the sport has affected each person in town, and not everyone necessarily likes hockey or the things that come about because everyone is so invested in hockey.

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What I liked about the book: the social commentary. It’s amazing. You see how a small town acts when it is desperately trying to survive. All they have is hockey, and if their team does well, people will actually want to come to Beartown. But also: you see the nasty parts. You see people who fail to acknowledge mistakes, who pretend there’s nothing wrong when there is clearly something going on. And  when you remember that the book is set in today’s time, you realize how backwards parts of the world can still be in a rapidly progressive world.

It was very late in the night (or shall I say very early in the morning) when I finished this book.  I couldn’t fall asleep because I had to know what happened next. Despite my lack of sleep, I went to work a little too giddy that day because it had been a while since I stayed up almost all night reading a book and I wanted to tell everyone about it.

Bookish plug: The last time I couldn’t sleep because I needed to finish the book was last year when I was reading the Shades of Magic trilogy by Victoria Schwab.

The Underground Railroad

An office book club read, The Underground Railroad was compelling and unfiltered—a refreshing change from somewhat controlled environments. To me, the main character was intelligent though uneducated. I found myself triggered as I came upon the main character’s harsh realization about life: equality is but an illusion.

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The Underground Railroad took me through an emotional roller coaster.  Here are some questions that I asked myself as I read the book and some snarky questions-as-answers from yours truly because fake closure:

How do you know whom you can trust?

You don’t. You don’t know if they’ll help you, and they do. You think they’re going to help you, but they won’t. It’s hit or miss, so how incredibly lucky can you get?

Why would you risk your life for another person?

Why does anyone do anything anyway? What makes another person’s life more valuable than yours? Can you even make a difference? Will anyone even care?

Will you take a leap of faith?

How do make that life worth living?

Read it. I hope it sparks a fire in you as well.

Bookish Plug: Another book that got me triggered as well was Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe.

Moonglow

Where to start for this one? I admit that it took me a while to read this book. Now that busy season is almost slightly maybe but only for the meantime over, I was finally able to finish this book. I only wish that I’d begun this book not-during-busy season, but we can’t all win, can we?

So… just in case I’d have free time or not be too pooped to read, I brought this book everywhere to the point that I almost ripped the dust jacket as I tried to stuff the book into my backpack. (I’m sorry, book.)

 

I love this book because it’s about family, and it’s pretty much an origin story. (Where did I come from? How did I get here?) As I read, intermittently, I remembered my own grandmother telling me tales of her youthpiece by piece and at different points of my childhood. In the same way I’ve always loved hearing about old family stories, e.g. my mom living in a boarding house; my grandmother hiding in the jungle during the war; my mom and my aunt preparing a chicken for dinner, I absolutely enjoyed reading about the most enigmatic grandfather ever.

Some themes in Moonglow that are very relevant today: PTSD and mental illness; family ties and unconditional love; pursuit of one’s passionya know, things like that. It’s a great bookI feared I would spoil it if I raved too much, so I just vaguely listed things out to get it out of the system.

PS I met Michael Chabon. I decided to stop by my fave bookstore, Books on the Park (see here for reference) one beautiful spring evening, and I noticed that there were more people than usual at the bookstore. I turned out that Michael Chabon was going to give a reading, so I stayed since I was already there anyway. I went home a happy camper; Michael Chabon signed my book, yay.

Even with its battle scars (lipstick stain included), what a beloved book this is.