Friday, April 24, 2015

Recent Reads | April

With the lower amount of homework required for my classes in Germany, I have loads of free time during the week. Those who know me well know I adore reading but it's hard to make time for it during the school year. I discovered at the beginning of my trip that I can still check out books from my home county's e-library on my Kindle while out of the country and I've been renting books like crazy. These are a few of my recent favourites from the past month or two. Additionally, if anyone has any book recommendations, fiction or nonfiction, I am always looking for new things to read!

Yes Please by Amy Poehler
I finished reading this one a few months ago but I loved it so much that I'm including it now. Poehler released her book shortly before the 7th and final season of Parks & Recreation, one of my favourite shows, and I used this book to placate my sadness over the show's conclusion. Yes Please is a standard celebrity book release - short stories, anecdotes, advice, comedy - with Poehler's brutal honesty about herself and others written into every line. I particularly love her "no crap taken" attitude toward life, also reflected in the reasoning behind the title: "Saying 'yes' doesn't mean I don't know how to say no, and saying 'please' doesn't mean I am waiting for permission." It's not the most direction-conscious book, but it's a fun, charming read that made me love Poehler even more.
Still Alice by Lisa Genova
Genova's debut novel came to my attention late last year when I heard they were basing a movie off of it, and I finally got off the queue for it. Still Alice is an equally heartwarming and heartbreaking tale of a Harvard professor, Alice Howland, who is diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer's disease. The story takes place from her point of view, from when she first realises she has Alzheimer's to years later when she struggles to remember her own children. I was entirely swept into this book and could so easily feel all the emotions and frustration the characters were going through; the writing feels very personal. Genova clearly did her research before writing this novel, and I constantly forgot I was reading a fictional tale and not an autobiography.
Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel
Having constantly seen Station Eleven on all of the "Best of 2014" lists, I was impatient to read it. Mandel's book is set in a world where a flu virus has wiped out 99% of the earth's population and it captures how humanity has picked itself up again. It's far from being a typical post-apocalyptic novel however, as it focuses on a small cast of characters and jumps back and forth between timelines, sometimes before the flu and sometimes after, focused on the thought that survival is insufficient. It brings out what's most important to those left on earth and how far they're willing to go to protect it. Once I started Station Eleven I had a difficult time putting it down and I think it's spot on the "Best of 2014" lists is well deserved.
All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr
If I could only recommend one book from this post, it would be this one. Doerr's most recent piece has had loads of hype surrounding it - another "Best of 2014" contender and recent winner of the 2015 Pulitzer Prize for fiction - all of which is deserved. Before I read it I thought it would be yet another sad novel set in World War II but it's so much better than the average read. All The Light We Cannot See goes back and forth between two characters - a blind French girl and a brilliant German boy - and two timelines - their years growing up and their paths' convergence and aftermath in 1944. It has a tragic ending but the story is filled with so much hope, and it is without a doubt one of the best books I have read in a long time.

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