I thought I would talk about books before I leave it for too long and I have 30 to recap. Well alright, maybe 6, but still, that’s a long post. So here’s four I have read lately.
City of Thieves by David Benioff
During the Nazis’ brutal siege of Leningrad, Lev Beniov is arrested for looting and thrown into the same cell as a handsome deserter named Kolya. Instead of being executed, Lev and Kolya are given a shot at saving their own lives by complying with an outrageous directive: secure a dozen eggs for a powerful Soviet colonel to use in his daughter’s wedding cake. In a city cut off from all supplies and suffering unbelievable deprivation, Lev and Kolya embark on a hunt through the dire lawlessness of Leningrad and behind enemy lines to find the impossible.
By turns insightful and funny, thrilling and terrifying, City of Thieves is a gripping, cinematic World War II adventure and an intimate coming-of-age story with an utterly contemporary feel for how boys become men.
I read this by my pal Cely‘s recommendation, and oh my God. I wished it never ended. I can’t tell you how much I loved this book. I love most historical fiction from the WWII era, but this book will always hold a place in my heart. It is special. And I, like Cely, will never be able to put into words how amazing this book is, so I completely agree with her, just go and read the first review at this link, because that man says beautifully what I would never be able to. But if you don’t feel like clicking over, please just trust me that the book is amazing. Go read it.
Until We Meet Again by Michael Korenblit and Kathleen Janger
“Until We Meet Again” reads like a novel, yet tells the compelling true story of two families decimated by the Holocaust. In 1942 in a small town in Poland, 17-year-old Manya goes in hiding with her sweetheart, Meyer, also 17, and his family. For three long years, Manya and Meyer endure the loss of parents and siblings, separation from each other, and the horrors of concentration camps, including Auschwitz – but are helped at key points by courageous Polish Catholics and are constantly sustained by their faith and their love for each other. Co-authored by their son Michael, “Until We Meet Again” has been praised by historians for its vivid portrayal of the times, by teachers for its educational usefulness, and by all readers for its absorbing and inspiring narrative.
Another WWII era book (I’m on a bit of a kick), but this one is a true story. An absolutely incredible true story. I am fascinated by Holocaust literature and this book was no exception. If you’ve read other Holocaust non-fiction, you will probably not be shocked by Manya and Meyer’s experiences (crazy how reading about it will desensitize you from the horrors), but their story is unbelievable and I just cannot imagine living through it. I rated it 5 stars on Goodreads, which is rare for me and I probably wouldn’t have if it had been fiction, but well-deserved. The synopsis is right, it reads like a novel and it is insane that it’s true.
Me Before You by Jojo Meyes
Lou Clark knows lots of things. She knows how many footsteps there are between the bus stop and home. She knows she likes working in The Buttered Bun tea shop and she knows she might not love her boyfriend Patrick.
What Lou doesn’t know is she’s about to lose her job or that knowing what’s coming is what keeps her sane.
Will Traynor knows his motorcycle accident took away his desire to live. He knows everything feels very small and rather joyless now and he knows exactly how he’s going to put a stop to that.
What Will doesn’t know is that Lou is about to burst into his world in a riot of colour. And neither of them knows they’re going to change the other for all time.
I have been putting off reading any of Jojo Meyes’ books for a long time for some reason, but I finally picked this up on a recommendation from a coworker. I tend to judge books by their cover (I can’t help it!), and the cover of this looked a little romance novel-esque and fluffy to me. But the book really surprised me. I liked it a lot more than I thought I would. It also gave me quite a different perspective on what it would be like to live as a quadriplegic. I really felt for Will, and I am not sure what I would want to do if I were in the same situation and I had the same…options. However, I am not sure I liked any of the characters until at least midway through the book, if ever. Louisa’s attitude bothered me a lot in the beginning, and her parents and sister relying on her to support them all bothered me as well. And Patrick, Louisa’s boyfriend was…how do they say in Kiwi-land? An arse. He was an arse. I didn’t love everything about the book, but the writing was good and the moral of the story was in the right place, so I’d recommend. I also think it’s just a matter of time before people start writing their own fan fiction on it. Somehow it seems to have attracted a few salivating fan girls.
Yes Please by Amy Poehler
In Amy Poehler’s highly anticipated first book, Yes Please, she offers up a big juicy stew of personal stories, funny bits on sex and love and friendship and parenthood and real life advice (some useful, some not so much), like when to be funny and when to be serious. Powered by Amy’s charming and hilarious, biting yet wise voice, Yes Please is a book is full of words to live by.
Right away I will tell you this:
I love Amy Poehler and I think she is hilarious, and this book made me love her even more and want to track her down and force her to be my friend. That said, the book was not what I was expecting. So in order for me to enjoy the book, I learned quickly that I needed to change my expectations of it. I don’t know exactly what I was expecting, one big SNL skit? I definitely expected LOLz, and they just weren’t happening. I also had a tricky time getting into the book because she tended to jump around a lot.
But I liked it. There were many passages that made me seriously relate to her. Like the story about her getting trapped in the handcuffs with her friend and purposely losing the key because it would be funny to see what happened. That is absolutely something that kid-me would have done. My life was also fairly drama-free (as in, not exciting) so I would create drama. Like kid drama. Like sticking a pin in my waterbed when I was 8 (what was I doing with a waterbed? My parents didn’t want theirs anymore so I inherited it) to see “what would happen” (I’ll tell you what happens for free: your luxurious waterbed will leak and you will not be able to patch it, so you will be forced to get rid of it and that will make you sad). I did many stupid things to get a reaction out of people (I still do). I understood that doing silly things would get people to laugh at me, and I liked that. I really related to Amy when she was writing about this. And don’t even get me started on babysitter snooping (right Melissa?!).
I would also like you to know that Amy Poehler stole my joke. When she writes in the book about the first time she smelled pot and she says she thought it smelled like her dad’s car? Yeah, that’s my joke. The first time I smelled pot I thought “hey, this smells like my dad’s shed!” I have been telling my friends this for years. That line was going to be in my book one day! What am I supposed to say now? Everyone will think I stole that joke.
So anyway, while not the hilarious novel I was anticipating, it was interesting to get a glimpse into Amy’s mind and kind of see where she came from. She also gave some great advice/words to live by, like the wise old owl of the forest she is. It actually really inspired me to just hurry up and finish already my own book that I have been working on for 10+ years (I’m thinking the thing but not doing the thing).
I will love you forever, Amy. And I forgive you for stealing my joke.
That gif is mesmerizing.
I am currently reading Meaty by Samantha Irby who writes the blog Bitches Gotta Eat, and it is absolutely slaying me so far. She is hilarious. Her book might even be funnier than her blog.
And next on my to-read list is All The Light You Cannot See, because I hear it’s the best book I’ll ever read, and you know what happens when you read the best book you’re ever going to read? You can’t go back and read it again for the first time. So I am savouring it. I am putting it off until I am ready to have that impact me. The holidays are coming, THERE WILL BE READING!