I was excited to read Sheryl Sandberg and Adam Grant's new book, Option B. It's the memoir of Sandberg's first couple of years after her husband passed on unexpectedly. More than memoir, though, it's about how to deal with grief (your own or others') and how to foster resiliency. It's a short, quick read, told in straightforward, honest prose. I was interested in the book even though I'm not dealing with grief, and my recent experiences with grief have been much different from Sandberg's. I did gain some tips on what to say and what not to say to someone in the throes of grief, what's helpful and what's not. I didn't feel that the adversity, resilience, and joy parts of the book were nearly as interesting or helpful as Sandberg's narration of her experience, but then I'm a memoir junkie. In all, I liked the book, and I'd recommend it to someone who is dealing with grief, but it may not appeal a lot to folks who aren't presently dealing with great loss. I didn't feel that the resiliency information was all that transferrable to non-grief situations. My rating: 3 stars.
I also finished Beezus and Ramona last week. I'm sure I read at least a couple of the Ramona Quimby books when I was little, as I sort of remember the Ramona-like antics. Although the book is dated, the overall themes of sibling rivalry and irritating younger sisters still resonate. Cleary has a good grasp on the spunky child, her imagination, and the irritation she causes others. I liked the reunion with the girls, found Ramona's antics amusing, and I'd probably read another book in the series for kicks. And by the way, as a child I was so completely a rule-following, tightly-wound, don't-draw-attention-to-oneself Beezus, it's not even funny! My rating: 3 stars.
Since I abandoned My Italian Bulldozer on my lunch break at work, I had to find another book from my TBR that my library owned to read on afternoon break (oh the perks of working at a library!), so I chose Michael Perry's Roughneck Grace, and I loved it. It's a collection of short essays originally written for a newspaper, and they're fabulous. Hilarious as always. My favorites were about ground moles and how folks of a certain age can use selfie sticks to put enough distance between their eyes and smartphones to actually read their darn text messages. Brilliant! Perry does an amazing job of balancing self-deprecating humor, oddball antics, and truly touching moments of fatherhood. I highly recommend all of his nonfiction work (my favorite being Coop), and this one is no exception. My rating: 4 stars.
I spent a lot of time on the couch reading this weekend. I needed that. In addition to finishing Roughneck Grace, I finished Poems That Make Grown Women Cry. I felt like I'd spent too much time with it, and I'm glad to have it done. I didn't necessarily dislike it, but it really didn't have the same punch that Poems That Make Grown Men Cry did. Oddly enough, I found the Men poems were much more emotional than the Women poems. The Women tended to cry over social injustice, whereas the Men tended to cry over children growing up, parents dying, and things of an interpersonal nature. I have a short list of poems that have ever made me cry (maybe I'll share that someday), but my list tends to match up well with the Men's list of poems. I'm not big on books about social justice as I don't enjoy the preachy-ness of them, and this book often bored me. It felt lackluster and somewhat robotic. Although a highlight was Sharon Olds' introduction of Robert Hayden's "Those Winter Sundays," a poem that is on my short list of poems that actually have made me cry. My rating: 3 stars.
Last week I abandoned:
I'd been looking forward to Alexander McCall Smith's My Italian Bulldozer for months, but when I finally sat down with it, I was bored and disappointed. As you know, I have trouble with contemporary fiction, and this one felt like all the others. I could have pushed myself to continue, but I decided to jump ship and move on. Oh well, I still have his No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency series.
This week I hope to finish:
I'm making good progress with all of my nighttime reads, and I hope to finish all or most this week. I'm loving my re-read of Encyclopedia of an Ordinary Life, and now I'm thinking like Amy Krouse Rosenthal again, coming up with odd tidbits that I "should" compile in a book.
I am absolutely adoring Floret Farm's Cut Flower Garden. I'm learning so much about growing flowers. I think I'll buy a copy for my mother. It would have been a great Mother's Day gift.
My last books to begin this month include At Home in the World (which I subbed in for Worst. President. Ever., which I abandoned earlier this month) and Dear Ijeawele, of a Feminist Manifesto in Fifteen Suggestions (subbed in for a second audiobook I won't be able to finish).
I'll be finishing Jan Karon's Out to Canaan this week. I find such comfort in these Mitford books.