3 words: smart, introspective, revealing
I’m in serious audiobook withdrawal these days. I just finished listening to Sonia Sotomayor’s marvelous memoir, and I completely fell into it.
Way back in my pre-blogging days, I read Lazy B: Growing up on a Cattle Ranch in the American Southwest by Sandra Day O’Connor and H. Alan Day, and it had a similar effect. Though, as I recall that book, it focused primarily on Sandra Day O’Connor’s youth.
Sotomayor’s book covers her childhood, but it also brings her story into her middle adult years, concluding shortly after she became a judge. And, as in Jill Ker Conway’s first two books (The Road from Coorain and True North), I loved reading about the arc of her life and education. I’m a total sucker for that kind of story.
But the thing I loved most about Sotomayor’s memoir was her honesty. And also her humanity.
Here she is, having risen from a childhood in the projects to a seat on the high court, and she’s comfortable enough with herself to reveal the self-doubt she feels whenever she tackles something new. It makes her so relatable, even though her extraordinary work ethic makes her seem super-human.
And she describes how those two things go hand in hand: her insecurity about her ability to perform well drives her to work even harder to make sure she’s prepared.
It’s a heck of an effective formula.
When I read reviews of this book earlier, I focused on the hard parts: her alcoholic father’s death when she was young, her childhood diagnosis of diabetes, and her family’s financial hardship. And I thought: sad.
And she’s candid about all of these things, but people, she turns them into a triumph.
And she’s so darn likeable while she’s doing so. Oh my gosh.
Thank you — very much! — to JoAnn of Lakeside Musing for recommending this book in her Nonfiction November Supreme Court reading list. Your suggestion spurred me to read this book, and I am seriously hugely grateful.
So my friends… What’s the most inspiring true story you’ve read this year?
Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell
3 words: poignant, romantic, painfully humorous
You know how we all want to forget those painfully awkward teenage years? (At least I sure do.)
Well, this book puts you right back into that frame of mind, but in the best way possible.
Rainbow Rowell is seriously skilled at making a reader care about her characters, and she’s also really good at remembering and evoking the feelings of being a teenager. And she’s smart and funny, and so are her characters.
The only thing that almost made me want to stop reading this book is that Eleanor’s home life is so freakin’ horrible, I almost couldn’t stand it. But I wanted so much to stay with her through her story that I stuck it out, and later I couldn’t believe I almost had to quit reading.
(But truly: her home life is horrible.
And I was reading this book at the same time as Hillbilly Elegy. And there were times when I had to remind myself which person’s horrible home life–with a mom making terrible life choices that had severe consequences for her children–was which.)
Eleanor and Park is a love story, but a quirky one. Both Eleanor and Park feel like misfits, and when they’re thrown together as seatmates on the school bus, they don’t like each other at first. But then they bond over graphic novels and music, and they gradually become friends and then they realize they love each other.
So yes, this is a book a about teen romance, but it’s smarter and sharper and savvier than you’d expect.
I found myself recommending this book to lots of friends — to anyone who even might consider reading a YA book, and to some who aren’t usually so inclined.
What’s the best YA book you’ve read lately?
Suggested to me by Sarah of Sarah’s Book Shelves
What exciting books are new additions to your TBR?
The Magnolia Story by Chip Gaines and Joanna Gaines
3 words: warm, revealing, personal
I’ve never met them, but man, I love hanging out with Joanna and Chip Gaines.
Yes, this is an HGTV thing.
And it’s probably psychologically unhealthy to say, “Hey, I think I’ll go hang out with the Fixer Upper people!” and then get all excited cuz I just made my Pilates session more palatable.
Or maybe it’s brilliant.
I’m really too close to it to say.
One of the things I love about hanging out with those two is that they’re such a great team.
This book describes how the team came into existence. There’s a whole backstory there that I had no idea about… Joanna meeting Chip while working at her dad’s Firestone, her early efforts at design, the financial struggles as they were getting their real estate business going… it’s all the real life stuff.
And the way they were really awkward when filming a demo, until they got into a huge fight because Chip had bought a horrible houseboat.
And then the TV people saw some potential.
It’s pretty good stuff.
Reading this book was a bit of a risk, because when you like somebody the way they appear on TV, sometimes learning more about their true story can be a real disappointment.
This book made me like them more.
And I’m totally serious, Joanna and Chip, about that invitation to stop by and re-make my house.