The Sunday Salon: Feeling Grateful for Great Books

by Kim on March 25, 2012 · 22 comments

The Sunday 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?

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