There has been a lot of hype surrounding the newly released The Underground Railroad. Twitter, Litsy, and Goodread users are going wild for it. There’s interview after interview being given by the author. It’s an Oprah pick. And it even caused a big buzz with an early release. I’ll admit all of the (very positive) attention caused me to not only read the book, but read it as soon as I could.
It mostly lived up to the hype for me. (And I gave it 4 stars on Goodreads.) On more than one night I stayed up late to keep reading the book, even though I require a decent amount of sleep to not feel like a cranky (and sometimes ill) zombie. Also, I kept thinking about the book while not reading it. It does an excellent job, in multiple ways, of showing the brutality of slavery and the racism that existed during that time (and with a little thought the reader can see how it still exists in similar forms today).
I like the way the story was told. The book regularly shifts the focus between chapters of the main story and then a special focus on one of the non-main characters. For me that layout made the book readable, especially with a book with such a heavy and brutal main story. The story also had a matter of fact tone that made it easier to read about such horrible things happening to people. I didn’t feel like I was being emotionally manipulated for tears. Basically there was lots of trauma, but it didn’t feel like trauma porn. There weren’t 3 page rape scenes or whippings that lasted for 2 pages, for example.
I highly recommend this book: buy it, borrow it, or check it out from the library. (Speaking of libraries. If you try to put a hold on this book, good luck. There is probably a ridiculously long wait list. But I got mine as a Lucky Day book. Many libraries have Lucky Day programs where you have to walk into the library to check it out–no holds– but you can’t renew it, so that others can get lucky too.)
My most recent book read is The Turner House. I was expecting big things from this book. The literary world seems in love with it. Maybe I expected too much. I thought the book was good, but not great. I can kind of see why people may love it because it was frustratingly on the verge of greatness (though for me only on the verge and not achieving the greatness others see in it). The story is about family and Detroit. Family dramas often appeal to me and Detroit is a city of interest to me, so it seems just like my kind of book. The beginning was interesting and the last 3rd I thought was particularly good, but the middle dragged. Maybe I would have thought it was as great as everyone else if it hadn’t dragged to the point where I stopped reading it and read two other books instead.
However, I don’t mean to act as if the book is terrible. It’s not. It’s a solidly good book. And I think others should read it, both because it is a good book and because there must be a reason so many other people love it.
Latest book read is Maternity Leave by Julie Halpern. I read this book faster than any other I’ve read this year (two days). It’s a book about new motherhood, and as the title says, during the maternity leave of the narrator and main character. The book is written in a diary style and I liked that. It helped make the book easy to read and a fast read. If you like the website Scary Mommy or are a fan of the creator of that site, Jill Smokler, then I think you’ll like this book. If you are a parent of a child that was not a “unicorn” baby as an infant, I think you’ll like this book. (A unicorn baby is a dream baby: one that sleeps through the night early on, isn’t a big crier, and is just generally easy.) If you like sarcasm and a “tell it like it is” in regards to parenting, I think you’ll like this book. It’s also a good book if you are in the midst of parenting a non-unicorn infant and want to not feel alone.
My latest read is Slade House by David Mitchell. I don’t read a lot of spooky stories. But Twitter has been going wild over the Netflix show Stranger Things and that led to me watching the entire first season. I loved that show and it made non-spooky books just seem bland. So, I picked up Slade House from the library and read it in under a week. As someone with a young child and has always been a slow reader, that’s fast. It was just what I needed. It’s not super scary or I couldn’t have read it. I don’t tend to enjoy super scary things and I usually read right before going to sleep at night. This book was spooky in a fun way that kept me entertained, sucked into the story, but did not give me any nightmares. This book seems made/written for a mini-series or big screen movie. (Here’s a Goodreads link if you want a synopsis.)
I didn’t realize until after I had finished the book that apparently David Mitchell likes to link all of his books and has traces of his previous book in his next one. Slade House is the only David Mitchell book I’ve read and it holds up well on its own, but it does follow Bone Clocks and you may or may not want to read that first. Slade House is not part of a series, but there are elements/traces of Bone Clocks. But, following David Mitchell’s apparent style, there are traces of the previous book in Bone Clocks. I have no intention of reading Bone Clocks, but I thought some people might want a heads-up. Though I will be looking for the next book David Mitchell writes, even if it has no connection whatsoever to Slade House. I just think his writing is quite good.