The Sunday Salon: Feeling Grateful for Great Books

by Kim on March 25, 2012 · 22 comments

The Sunday Salon.com I’ve been on an amazing reading streak this month. Of the eight books I’ve finished so far, I’ve given five of them an initial rating of five stars on the big Google Docs spreadsheet I track my books on. Sometimes that number changes when I sit down to write my review, but I doubt these will change by much. They’re all pretty awesome.

What’s been more amazing about the books is that I’ve felt this deep sense of gratitude after finishing each one. This sense of being thankful that each author took the time to write these books and that these books, somehow, improbably, found their way to me so I could invest my time reading them. There’s just so much to be thankful for in that.

I suppose I should tell you what the books are. So far, I’ve only written about how awesome Best American Essays 2011 is as a collection. I haven’t written reviews of the others yet because I can’t quite find what to say, but here they are:

  • Methland by Nick RedingMethland, a story of the rise of methamphetamine and the battle against it in small towns, reminded me of what really well-executed and important narrative nonfiction can do. It’s a perfect example of why I love that form of writing and what it can do when done well.
  • House of Stone by Anthony ShadidHouse of Stone is a beautiful, melancholy memoir. Although knowing that Shadid recently passed away while reporting in Syria makes it more wistful than it would otherwise feel, it’s still a moving look at home, family, and identity.
  • Devil in the Grove by Gilbert King — The terrible, awful things that happened in the United States before the Civil Rights movement are written about so clearly in this book that I finished with a sense of outrage I haven’t felt after reading a book in a long time.
  • Wild by Cheryl Strayed — I just finished Wild this morning, and I’m still sort of buzzing about it. Strayed writes so deeply and honestly and beautifully about an experience that seems impossibly hard that I can’t quite fathom it yet.

It’s been awhile since I felt like I finished so many truly excellent books so close together. Usually there’s a clunker in the middle, a book that just felt off in some way but that I felt compelled to finish anyway. But not this time. Even the other book I finished in the middle of this streak, The Reconstructionist by Nick Arvin, was a great book. Not quite as amazing, but still very good.

Ok, I probably need to stop gushing now. I need to harness all of this, “OMG! I LOVE BOOKS!” energy into something useful like review writing or responding to comments or, dare I say it, reading some more.

I know I promised to write some general thoughts about the Indie Lit Awards today, but I think that’s going to have to wait until another day. Oh, and about The Hunger Games movie, which the Boyfriend and I went to see last night. It was pretty awesome; I was impressed. I don’t even want to count how many times I’ve written “awesome” in this post — I need some new adjectives.

Happy Sunday! What are you reading today?

{ 22 comments… read them below or add one }

bermudaonion (Kathy) March 25, 2012 at 10:16 am

It does sounds like your in the middle of an amazing reading period!! That doesn’t happen all that often.

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Kim March 25, 2012 at 1:16 pm

No, it doesn’t. Which is surprising, I guess, since there are so many good books :)

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Aths March 25, 2012 at 10:31 am

Methland is high up on my list to read! And I loved the HG movie too! It was so much better than I expected it to be!

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Kim March 25, 2012 at 1:16 pm

Methland was great. It reminded me of all the good things I love about narrative nonfiction. Plus, the topic is a big deal for people in the rural area where I live.

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A Bookshelf Monstrosity March 25, 2012 at 10:42 am

I’ve also been on an incredible reading streak lately. I think it stemmed from having a terrible reading experience about a month ago. When I finished said terrible book, I had this irrational thought that I’d never read a great book again, that it was all over for me. Very strange. I’ve since read about 5 or 6 excellent books in a row. I’m more appreciative of good works after reading something that truly blows :)

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Kim March 25, 2012 at 1:19 pm

Lol, I’ve been there. It’s hard to come back from a bad book sometimes (especially if you get a couple in a row). I’m glad you’re in a good streak too!

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Megan March 25, 2012 at 12:13 pm

How exciting to be having a great reading streak like that. Sounds like one of those times when it’s just great to be a reader. I *love* that feeling when you turn the final page of a book and just wish that the author was standing there so you could sincerely thank them for writing such an incredible book that feels like its actually changed your life for the better. My reads this month aren’t quite up to that extraordinary caliber, but I am having the best streak of decent reading I’ve had in a while. Hope the great reading continues for you! :)

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Kim March 25, 2012 at 1:21 pm

Yes, that’s such a great way of putting it! Particularly with Wild, I just wanted to tell the author how much I loved it and was glad to have had the experience of reading it.

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Jeanne March 25, 2012 at 2:28 pm

That is a great feeling! I love it as much as I love the feeling that I have a whole bunch of really great books waiting for me that I haven’t read yet. Even if one of the books does turn out to be disappointing, there’s the same buoyancy to that feeling of being right before or after something good.

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Kim April 3, 2012 at 7:12 pm

Yes, I love that feeling too. I have so many great books sitting on my shelves now,it’s hard to not feel grateful they’re all there :)

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Susan March 25, 2012 at 3:19 pm

You have been on a really good reading stretch. It’s always awesome to find you like so many books in a row, and so highly, isn’t it? I have to read Methland at some point. And the memoir.

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Kim April 3, 2012 at 7:13 pm

Methland was so, so good. As I read, I just kept thinking, “Wow! This is why I read narrative nonfiction!” And Wild… was just great. Beautiful and emotional without being melodramatic. Super good.

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Amused March 25, 2012 at 6:58 pm

I am so jealous you’ve been on such an awesome reading streak! I am off to go check this books out now :)

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Kim April 3, 2012 at 7:14 pm

It’s been fantastic! The only downside is that all I want to do is read. I haven’t written a review for weeks!

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Florinda March 25, 2012 at 10:21 pm

It’s great to have a reading streak that reminds you of why you love reading, isn’t it? I’m a little envious :-).

My sister and I are going to see The Hunger Games next weekend for my birthday. I wasn’t sure about seeing it all until the reviews started coming in, but most have been good enough to sway me.

Hope you got some more good reading done today!

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Kim April 3, 2012 at 7:14 pm

I really liked The Hunger Games movie. It was a really good adaptation of the book, which, as someone who liked the book a lot, is what I wanted. Seeing the characters come to life (especially Peeta, the actor who played him was just adorably charming) was so cool.

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Lisa March 25, 2012 at 10:28 pm

That’s quite a streak of great books! I feel lucky to five to ten 5 star books by the end of the year. Kind of jealous, I must admit!

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Kim April 3, 2012 at 7:15 pm

I don’t normally have a ton of 5-star books. I always try to save those for books that knocked my socks off. But really, all of these books have done that in their own ways.

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Vasilly March 26, 2012 at 12:30 pm

I love the feeling you get when you read a stack of great books. I can’t wait to read your review of Methland. Was this your first nonfiction read about a book that dealt almost solely about an illegal drug?

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Kim April 3, 2012 at 7:16 pm

Yes, I think it was. I’m not thinking of any other books on drugs off the top of my head, anyway.

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Liz April 2, 2012 at 1:25 pm

Don’t you just love it when a reading streak happens?? I have just bought Methland so am very looking forward to reading that. Might have to move it up the TBR pile now you have given it such a glowing review…!

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Kim April 3, 2012 at 7:16 pm

I hope you like it! I was fascinated and repulsed by parts of it (often at the same time!).

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