Hello, lovely readers! No book review today, just a bit of truth telling and a quick update. As you know, in addition to Gilmore Guide to Books I’m also a recurring co-host on the podcast Sarah’s Bookshelves Live. On both platforms I try to read and review not just entertaining books, but those on subjects that may not get the attention they deserve. Subjects where turning away would be easier, but goes against my desire to educate myself in other people’s realities.
Unfortunately, the blog and the podcast have overlapped with my reading for spring. On the podcast I recommended two books, the first about the current realities of life for poor, rural white women living in the Appalachian regions of America and the second about the systemic indifference towards missing and murdered Native American women. Both are well written, but I’ve stalled in my reading as they’re filled with statistics so shocking, they’re incomprehensible.
This reading and what’s happening to the rights of women in America right now has left me numb. Bottom line? I’ve not finished a novel in weeks and so have no reviews to post here. I’m embarrassed for what feels like a privileged attitude, but also feel like honesty is a better policy than silence.
I’m stepping away from nonfiction for a bit and trying to get back into my reading groove. To that end, here’s what’s ahead for my reading week.
*Title links go to Goodreads for a more detailed synopsis*
A baby is born in Oregon at the same time her family’s centuries old soap factory is bombed in the West Bank, leading the family’s matriarchs to believe she has special significance. There’s a bit of magical realism in the premise and at 15% into The Skin and Its Girl I’m in love with the author’s writing.
A book friend recommended Search as the kind of fiction that might be light enough to keep me reading, but with a little something extra. It’s about a cookbook author whose part of her church’s search committee to find a new minister. It’s a Unitarian church so the emphasis is on inclusivity, even within the committee, but how that plays out with real people and personalities. So far so good.
I’m still relatively new to the fantasy genre, but one area they excel in is their covers. They’re always so beautiful. Another recommendation from a friend, Strange the Dreamer is about a young librarian obsessed with a centuries old lost world. Given that a part of me wishes Atlantis was real and waiting to be found I can identify with this premise.
Do you ever find yourself overwhelmed by what you’re reading? What’s your solution?
Lory @ Entering the Enchanted Castle says
Yes, I know that feeling of being overwhelmed by painful truths in reading — I’m thankful that writers are bringing out these stories, but it is hard to take in all the human suffering, and the ongoing evil in the world. I hope you will share at some point those books, they sound important.
It’s also important to read books that can give us courage, and hope, and just some relief from the doom and despair. I’m glad you’ve found some to lighten up your reading load a bit.
You put this perfectly! We are all long overdue in hearing these stories. I will definitely be finishing both books and reviewing them.
Sally Mentzer says
Thanks for your honesty. I can relate to how you are feeling, as many non-fiction books are shocking and disturbing. Sometimes I read a non-fiction book and a fiction story at the same time to balance things out. Right now, I’m reading The Lager Queen of Minnesota on my Kindle and The Palace Papers (not disturbing, just interesting!). Your upcoming books look great!
I try and mix fiction and nonfiction as well, but am having to go solely with fiction right now. I loved Lager Queen. Are you going to read his newest? I thought it was really well done.
Lisa of Lisa's Yarns says
I don’t think you need to apologize for not having anything to post! Sometimes books overwhelm us and we need to take a step away. I try to be careful about not reading too many books about hard topics too close together. I recognize it’s a privilege to be able to curate my exposure to tough topics, though. Sometimes I need a pallet cleanser after a hard read, like a romance or young adult type of novel!
Thanks for understanding! It seems odd that I’m still learning my reading taste after so many years, but I am realizing that I have to space out my reading on certain topics- namely anything to do with violence against women. Trying to read 2 books on the subject was too much.
If overwhelmed by my reading, I tend to DNF! 🙂 And I find that mysteries (my favorite genre) usually clear the palate well. I’ve realized that my reading taste is getting lighter as I age because the news is getting more grim.
I’m DNFing so much more this year! Which still makes me feel guilty. Someone worked hard on these books, but I don’t want to read them. It feels rude on my part.
I’m with you about current events and what it does to my reading. I’m now happily ensconced in a book I’m pretty sure I would have called cozy a year ago and I don’t care! Our brains need a break and I don’t see it happening anytime soon.
Did you see that Missouri is trying to defund their public libraries?! To “protect their children”. I cannot even fathom that logic. It’s not logic- it’s a self-serving lie.
Susan O'Halloran says
Hi, I empathize with your struggles and I respect you for writing about it. For readers, books are a good way to gain awareness about the many, many tough issues facing the world today, at both micro and macro levels I guess. But it’s gutting sometimes–truly overwhelming. I have struggled with reading anything substantial during the past few years, and even now, I ‘stagger’ my choices, mixing substantial books with something lighter. I try not to beat myself up about my struggles, as that just compounds the issue. I think we’re all dealing with chronic anxiety post-pandemic, at varying levels, which is why sometimes I can’t focus on some books. Bird by bird……
You’ve put this so beautifully. Thank you! Somehow, between the blog and the podcast I’ve gotten into a mindset that I need to read the hard stuff because I read so much and have access most people don’t. But, yes, it doesn’t work anymore. I’ve got to find a better balance.
Sally Mentzer says
Yes, I plan to read Stradal’s latest – I’ll add it to my huge TBR list! I believe I heard your recommendation on Sarah’s Bookshelves podcast.