Time for a December reading wrap-up!
Nine Perfect Strangers by Liane Moriarty
Nine strangers go to a 10-day retreat to find wellness within themselves. Unbeknownst to them, Masha, the retreat leader, has some unorthodox methods for healing them. The story goes off the rails a bit and has too many characters to truly feel invested in their lives. But parts of it are enjoyable and a couple of the characters do manage to steal my heart.
North American Lake Monsters by Nathan Ballingrud
North American Lake Monsters is a collection of short horror stories. They take us to vastly different scenarios, in which everyday people deal with differing supernatural phenomena. The remarkable thing Nathan Ballingrud does here is make the supernatural element seem so much less significant than what’s going on in the characters’ regular lives.
Small Fry by Lisa Brennan-Jobs
Small Fry is Lisa Brennan Jobs’ memoir of growing up as the daughter of legendary Apple cofounder, Steve Jobs. Father and daughter built a relationship that was in turns tender, confusing, and fraught. It’s no secret that, though he was a visionary genius, Steve Jobs was a deeply complicated man. He could be incredibly cruel to anyone in his orbit. Brennan-Jobs’ book is startling and well-written.
Insanely Simple by Ken Segall
This nonfiction business book is meant to be an ode to simplicity, following Apple’s example. To me, though, the undercurrent of the book that the author kept trying to explain away was that of a creative team at mercy of a micromanaging despot. Some of the ideas of Insanely Simple make sense. Others, though, are exclusionary to the point of not allowing subordinates the chance to grow.
How to Be Safe by Tom McAllister
At first, it seems that How to Be Safe will be a plot-driven look at a school shooting. But instead, interestingly, we follow Anna, a recently fired teacher. Though Anna is quickly cleared of wrongdoing, there is still plenty wrong in her life. Meanwhile, the town collectively loses their cool over the school shooting. Common sense loses out in the face of red tape, politics, and hysteria.
The Italian Teacher by Tom Rachman
The Italian Teacher follows a legendary artist and his perpetually reaching son, Pinch. When Pinch thinks he could be an artist and follow in his father’s footsteps, Bear responds with, “You’ll never be an artist, kid.” And that’s the theme for Pinch’s entire life. What I wonder is whether Pinch’s story is ultimately a tragedy or a triumph. It’s a wonderful masterpiece of a book.
Less by Andrew Sean Greer
Andrew Sean Greer won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction with this novel, and it’s not surprising. Less is an excellent book. It’s a meta Odyssey within an Odyssey, allowing the reader to make those literary connections to Homer’s original as they follow the wandering Arthur Less. But it’s also good as a standalone story. Go deep or skim the surface – either way, Less is a satisfying read.
Also check out my YouTube playlist for the 12 Days of LitMas booktube challenge.
Watch this December reading wrap-up and other booktube videos on my Read Remark YouTube channel.
Music credit: YouTube