Friday, June 9, 2017

May Reads

Two audiobooks and 3 reading books.  1 disappointment, a love for English accents, another Paris find, and one book that made my heart warm for books.  Life is pretty good when you are reading!
Here are the May Reads in no particular order.

The Zookeeper's Wife: A War Story
The Zookeeper's Wife: A War Story
by Diane Ackerman
This is one of those books that has sat on my "to read" shelf for quite awhile.  It was one of those books I was waiting to read, because I thought it would be so good. The wait was purposeful and planned.   I was savoring it without knowing what it would taste like.  Well, like some things we hold onto for too long, it was stale.  I didn't enjoy this read.  I had trouble getting into the story, because of the writing.  I love historical fiction and nonfiction about WWII and I was thinking this would read like many of the WWII stories I have  so loved.  It didn't.  The story seemed disjointed. Just as I was getting into a specific story line the chapter would end and the story would have moved onto another part of the Zabinski's story.  I can tell when I'm not really into a book.  I struggle to stay awake when reading in bed.  This was one of those bedtime snoozers.

The story sounded very intriguing to me- Jan and Antonina Zabinski were in charge of the Warsaw Zoo.  During WWII they were able to use their jobs as zookeepers to help many escape Warsaw- mainly Jews. 

Besides struggling with the way in which the book was  written I was also bothered by the way in which Jan  Zabinski  treated his wife Anotnina.  He seemed to be emotionally abusive.  His wife, Antonina was brave, smart and held the zoo together among other things during WWII.  Yet throughout the book I felt like her bravery and actions were diminished by him.  This could've been just the way the writer depicted their relationship, but it even bled through at times with her relationship with her son.  Meanwhile as I am bothered by how Antonina is being treated by her husband I'm missing the real story- they saved hundreds of Jews by hiding them in their home, in the zoo, and getting them out of Nazi occupied Warsaw.  It was an amazing story, I just got lost in the writing not being good and the stories lacking connection.  Sorry Diane Ackerman just wasn't the book for me. 

Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less
Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less
Greg McKeown
So it has only taken me like a hundred billion years to figure out how to easily listen to audiobooks via "Overdrive" APP.  This was my first audiobook I was able to download to my iPhone.  It was not disappointing.  The following couple of lines describing the book on Goodreads intrigued me.

Have you ever found yourself stretched too thin?

Do you simultaneously feel overworked and underutilized?

Are you often busy but not productive?

Do you feel like your time is constantly being hijacked by other people’s agendas?

If you answered yes to any of these, the way out is the Way of the Essentialist

So I answered yes to all of the above and started listening.  First off the author reads the book and his English accent I could listen to all day long.  The kind of voice that could describe tedious everyday jobs like cleaning toilets or washing dishes, but the voice is so beautiful that one could listen to it all day long.  This was a quick read/listen for me.  It was a great book and I highly recommend picking it up.  However, when I went to enter the book into my "read" list for Goodreads I did the stupid thing of checking the reviews and other readers had a differing opinion.  It is amazing how we all are so different and get such different reading experiences out of the same book.  Here is one of my favorite lines from the book.

If you don't prioritize your life someone else will.

Greg also quotes one of my favorite poets Mary Oliver in the book " Tell me what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?"
I thought this was a good listen and information gained through reading/listening could be applied to many facets of life. 

The Secret Keeper
The Secret Keeper
By Kate Morton
Sometimes reading/listening to two books at the same time can make stories become overlapping and I wonder if it affects a reader's ability to truly give each story the needed attention it deserves.  I feel like that happened with this story.  Two of the "Bookies" recommended this book to me and I didn't want to wait to read it so when I was done with one of my audiobooks I quickly put this on for the May audiobook to "read".  It was a good story, with interesting plot line and some fascinating characters.  It had another one of my favorites- flashbacks- book took place in present day and WWII- England.  However, the other book I was reading at the same time I was listening to this one I felt more "akin" too . So I think as with so many things in life sometimes multitasking isn't a good thing. I just was more into the other book I was reading, and not listening to.    I will plan on reading other Kate Morton books and give it the undivided attention it deserves.  If you like a good plot and some surprises I recommend reading this one.

To Capture What We Cannot Keep
To Capture What We Cannot Keep
by Beatrice Colin
This one quickly made it on the May read list because of the upcoming trip to Paris.  The book is historical fiction.  It is the story of one of the main engineers that worked on building and constructing the Eiffel Tower.  The protagonist in the book is Caitriona Wallace. Cait is a widow who due to financial hardship has to work as a companion, almost like a nanny to teenagers, for two wealthy siblings (boy and girl).   She meets Emile Nouguier the engineer on a hot balloon ride while chaperoning the young adults in Paris.  Their paths continue to intertwine throughout the story.  It is a story that is stocked full with multiple little story lines.  However, the author does a fantastic job connecting them all cleanly.  It is not only the building of the Eiffel Tower but a great picture of Paris 1887.  Reading this book definitely will impact how I view the tower when I see it in a few weeks and that is what I call a powerful book. 

The Little Bookstore of Big Stone Gap: A Memoir of Friendship, Community, and the Uncommon Pleasure of a Good Book
The Little Bookstore of Big Stone Gap
By Wendy Welch
Yes, this is the same Big Stone Gap that Adriana Trigiani wrote of in her novels based in Big Stone Gap, West Virginia.  This however, is not fiction, it is a memoir as the extended title explains: A Memoir of Friendship, Community, and the Uncommon Pleasure of a Good Book. I found this book so enjoyable and comforting like fresh baked chocolate chip cookies or homemade mac and cheese. It warmed my heart.  I love reading books about books and what could be better - reading a book about a bookstore.  Better yet reading about a bookstore that is surviving despite Amazon and electronic devices on which people can read books.  I hope to make it to this bookstore sometime in the near future. 

And so as to remind you again of Mary Oliver's wise words I add one word to her famous quote...
Reader,Tell me what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?
Happy Reading Friends!

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