Favorite: Big Little Lies, by Liane Moriarty
True confession: I’m tired of reading literary works. That’s almost all I read in high school and all I read in college, because I was a pretentious snob (okay, and scared of reading anything with overt sex and swear words). And I loved it — the highlighting, the “profound” margin scribbles, the essays dissecting this or that theme, the trawling through JSTOR looking for feminist interpretations of Pride & Prejudice. Most beloved, the group discussions. I’m convinced that good, literary works are best digested in groups.
But alas, I am a lone reading island surrounded by busy adults, shrouded in a fog of toddler interruptions.
So I find myself reading thoughtful, serious literary works and thinking, That is objectively a really good book — but I don’t love them, I don’t get excited about them, I don’t think I want to read them. I need a cheap, common, digestible hook to keep me going — quirky characters (maybe a bit stereotypical or unbelievable), a sense of humor, an almost-too-ridiculous situation, a mystery.
But I am still at my heart the same pretentious snob that requires something meaningful and well-written in even the lightest of books — which is why I adored Big Little Lies.
It’s got all those hooks I talked about, it addresses serious, relatable issues, and while it isn’t literary, it’s objectively a good book. I insisted my non-reading sisters read it, and they devoured it almost overnight.
As one Goodreads contributor quipped, “Probably the funniest book about murder and domestic abuse I’ll ever read.”
Bonus: Madeline and Ed are a great example of a normal, flawed egalitarian marriage.
Enough fangirling. The other books I finished up this month:
Reading the Bible Again for the First Time: Taking the Bible Seriously but Not Literally, by Marcus Borg \\ 5 stars \\ My full thoughts here.
Meeting Jesus Again for the First Time: The Historical Jesus and the Heart of Contemporary Faith, by Marcus J. Borg \\ 4 stars \\ Biggest takeaway: Jesus challenged the conventional wisdom of his time with alternate, subversive wisdom based on loving God and others. This reframed some tricky contemporary subjects for me. Instead of just looking at “what Jesus said” as a measure for how to approach today’s issues, I feel encouraged to approach today’s sacred cows with the love, courage, and clarity that Jesus did in his own time.
Smoke Gets in Your Eyes: And Other Lessons from the Crematory, by Caitlin Doughty \\ 4 stars \\ Being a highly sensitive person, I had to put it down for days every time she mentioned a child’s death. When it became clear that her goal was to help me come to terms with death, I almost refused point-blank to finish it. But I worked up enough courage to finish it. After all, Lent is the perfect time to contemplate that we are dust, and to dust we shall return.
The Girl on the Train, by Paula Hawkins \\ 3 stars \\ In light of Gone Girl and Big Little Lies, this just didn’t measure up.
Crazy Rich Asians, by Kevin Kwan \\ 3 stars \\ Sub-par writing, fascinating culture. Watch the movie first.
Attached: The New Science of Adult Attachment and How It Can Help You Find—and Keep—Love \\ 3 stars \\ I need to write an entirely separate post on this. Its concepts saved my marriage, but it’s bizarrely incomplete and poorly constructed.
Liturgy of the Ordinary: Sacred Practices in Everyday Life, by Tish Harrison Warren \\ 3 stars \\ This sums up my spirituality, I think. (More thoughts here.)