October: Reading whatever I feel like, GOSH! (30 before 30)

This post is concluding my 30 books for the year with the monthly theme.

And I kind of gave up on a theme this month. They didn’t really have much in common. Here’s what I can come up with as a theme: I bought these at a book fair. They’re all adult bestsellers, which you know is not what I normally get. They’re kind of historical fiction, but not necessarily the main genre. But otherwise, I’m reading them because I felt like it. Gosh.  My birthday’s in two weeks, so, yeah, I can read what I like, right.

Paula McLain’s The Paris Wife is the story of Ernest Hemingway’s first wife, Hadley Richardson. I got it because I liked the cover, the 1920’s, and thought it would be interesting. I kind of didn’t take into account that I have never read Hemingway. (ducks tomato). It was pretty interesting. Hemingway was in Paris with all sorts of fascinating people and did all sorts of interesting things. But I think I mentioned before, I really don’t like cheaters. And just about every time it flips to Ernest’s point of view (total, four times), he’s cheating or thinking about it. So, that turned me off. I think I would have appreciated it more had I been familiar with Hemingway’s works, other than To Have and Have Not (i.e. Humphrey Bogart’s film based on the book, and probably not true to the book since mad chemistry between Bogart and Bacall). It took forever to get through for me, but it was okay. I didn’t hate it, it just wasn’t my favorite. I think it may have been better if I knew more about Hemingway beforehand, but it wasn’t bad. I won’t read it again most likely.  I’ll give it a C.

The Night Circus by Erin Morganstern was really good, but it was definitely character-driven.  Two magicians with different teaching styles have spent decades picking students to pit against each other, and the competition ends when one survives and the other dies.  When Prospero’s daughter Celia shows natural talent, Prospero challenges the man in gray. The man in gray “Alexander” picks up Marco from an orphanage after Marco shows common sense.  Once they are old enough to display their talents, the arena for their competition is Le Cirque des Reves– the Circus of Dreams.  The two get caught up in trying to impress the other and they eventually fall in love, unaware of how the game ends. I really enjoyed the novel. I loved the setting and I loved the characters. I read it and borrowed the audiobook from the library, and the audiobook is read by Jim Dale. Jim Dale can read me the phone book, I bet he’d come up with crazy voices depending on the names.  This would totally appeal to teens and it’s just good. Lots of people don’t like the conclusion but I thought it was the best solution. I would give it a B+.

Sarah’s Key by Tatiana de Rosnay took me a while to get into, but it got better. The problem I had at the beginning was it was very disjointed. It began by alternating with two page chapters from two different types of points of view: Sarah, a young Jewish French girl, and Julia, an American-born journalist in France. Julia is researching the Vel’ d’Hiv Roundup. Sarah is one of the children who was rounded up. Before she left, her brother went into his hiding place and she locked the cabinet, thinking she would be back. The story is about how Julia uncovers Sarah’s story. The first quarter of the book is the back-and-forth, but once they get into Julia delving into the story it came together nicely. It was a hard subject, and let’s be honest, we know bad things happen in this book.  It was something that I had never heard of and it was clear that from the behavior of the characters in the book they’d rather it be buried. But it was well-written and good stuff. I gave it four stars on Goodreads simply because it took me three nights to get past the Sarah/Julia/Sarah/Julia section, but after I got through that ADD it was done in an hour.  A work.

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I will turn 30 Nov. 9.  This year, my thirty before 30 “project”  has been an interesting adventure. In all honesty, I had 90 things on my “to do” list: 30 books, 30 recipes, 30 random projects. (What was I thinking?!) I was most successful with my recipes and my books, but I think it was because I had a clear goal: 3 a month, whatever. I can’t say I  finished 30 projects successfully, but ya know, E for effort. I have started and done more for myself that wasn’t about getting stuff checked off.    I’ve been doing things more by instinct than relying on a list.  

When I wrote a list in January, I had no idea what I would accomplish before I turned 30. I actually wrote at the time, “I’m looking at this and it seems impossible.” I could have used my time more wisely, I guess. The household improvements aren’t going anywhere, for example.  But I think it’s been a good year. I’ve accomplished a lot in becoming who I want to be, whether it was on the list or not. (I know, it’s a lifelong process. But a few more steps in the right direction.)

I’m excited to close the book on my 30 themed books project. Thanks if you’ve followed along, I hope it was interesting for you and some of the books caught your eye.

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