Thursday, August 9, 2018

Reading Life Lately

I've had a touch of writer's block lately when it comes to my ideas for more serious posts. Things may also slow down more here in the coming weeks because soon, for the first time since spring 2016, K and I will be taking off for a long vacation! In large part because of the scheduling needs and pay cut associated with the clerkship, I've only taken shorter, smaller trips for fun in the last two years. We'll be traveling to Japan, and we've basically done zero planning up to now because it took so long for us to confirm dates that we'd both be able to take off from work. We're looking forward to getting our travel plans in order in the next few weeks! 

Today's post is about a few books I recommend. Lately, I've been trying to read more for fun, something I go through on-again, off-again phases with. My taste in books can be oddly fickle, so there are times when I pick too many dud books in a row, and then I lose momentum and fall out of the habit for a while.

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Bad Blood, John Carreyrou's book about the rise and fall of Theranos, is excellent. It had been years since I read a popular nonfiction book I enjoyed quite so much. (I've stalled on and dropped quite a few other bestselling ones in the meantime.) I found this to be a quick read because Carreyrou is such an good storyteller, and the facts themselves are just so wild. David Boies, super-prominent litigator and a big player in Ronan Farrow's account of Harvey Weinstein's Army of Spies, is also a part of the Theranos story, in another arguable example of what may be questionable judgment when it comes to trying to get people to keep quiet about one of his clients. 

I'm also enjoying Sarah Waters's The Little Stranger. It's rather slow-moving, but her writing style is engaging and immersive. One unfortunate thing that keeps me from enjoying this book as much as I think I otherwise would is that I was only inspired to pick it up after seeing the trailer for the upcoming movie adaptation starring Domhnall Gleeson and Ruth Wilson, and it turns out that the trailer gave away the entire plot (which is fairly simple, admittedly). Although I'm still enjoying the experience of reading this, it's a fairly long book and a very slow burn. Part of my brain is definitely wondering if it's still worth keeping at it if I already know exactly where it's going. So be forewarned, avoid the movie trailer if one has any interest in the book. 

This is a book I read years ago that I don't think I've ever mentioned here, but Andrew Solomon's wonderful Far From the Tree has been made into a documentary, which I hope to see at some point. It's a difficult book to describe, with sometimes heavy subject matter and it takes some work to fully get into (it's a giant volume), but it's well worth it. To try and put it simply, the book is about how parents grapple with having children who are different from themselves, but it's really about much more than that. It touches on themes of love, identity, and the incredible resilience of the human spirit, among many other things. Andrew Solomon writes with such extraordinary empathy and compassion. I can't recommend Far From the Tree enough. 

Have you read any of these books? If so, what did you think? Have you read anything else that was particularly excellent recently? I've also tried and failed to get into some other popular books in recent memory. Particularly disappointing were Ruth Ware's The Woman in Cabin 10 and Shari Lapena's The Couple Next Door, both of which I thought were boring, tedious, and had annoying, poorly-drawn lead characters. I keep trying to recapture the magic of reading Gillian Flynn's novels, all of which I loved and devoured in about a day and a half total, one right after the other, but I've never found any other bestselling thrillers quite like those. Oh, and if anyone has any must-see, must-do, or must-eat travel recommendations for Japan, particularly Tokyo and Kyoto (we're maybe thinking about a third location, but I really haven't done my research yet), those would also be much appreciated! 

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