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Book Reviews Fall/Winter 2017

book reviews

I was not great about reading in the latter half of 2017. I got really caught up in work, school, and life in general and really fell behind on my reading goals. Nonetheless, I was able to squeeze in some good books that I want to share in a book reviews post before I forget and get too sucked into 2018 reading lists!

fates and furies

Fates & Furies: A Novel by Lauren Groff

Two sides of the same story give drastically different perspectives into a marriage full of secrets and drama.

I looooved this book. I heard mixed reviews but decided to give it a shot because the concept sounded really interesting and, honestly, I really loved the cover art. Fates & Furies tells the story of a marriage marred by lots of issues, but tells the story from the perspectives of the wife and husband separately. This book is really more like two books in one. The first half is the wife’s story and the second is the husband’s. It did take me a little bit of time to really get into it, but once I did I was hooked. I really enjoyed Groff’s writing and the story kept me thoroughly entertained on a few flights.

 

the martianThe Martian by Andy Weir

Man is stranded on Mars after his crew is forced to evacuate the planet without him. He does everything he can using the tools and knowledge at his disposal in an attempt to survive.

This is another one that I really enjoyed. I still haven’t seen the movie (I know, I know) so I thought giving the book a try might be interesting since I only knew a very broad outline of the plot before diving in. This book is definitely not for everyone. There are lots of detailed explanations of science-y things that I know many would be bored by. If you don’t want to read several pages of explanation of how the main character measured out exactly how much soil he needed to cover the floor of his spacecraft with to grow enough food to sustain himself while stuck in space, don’t read this. If you think that sounds oddly fascinating, pick up this book immediately. Weir’s new book, Artemis, is definitely on my to-read list for the near future.

 

hard choicesHard Choices: A Memoir by Hillary Clinton

Secretary Clinton’s tales of the hard choices she made from the Middle East to China to the more than 100 countries she visited during her tenure as Secretary of State under President Obama.

I am technically not quite done with this one yet, but I’ll throw it on this list anyway since I’m more than halfway through and it will take me a long time to totally finish. Hard Choices details Clinton’s experiences as Secretary of State through chapters focusing on specific regions or experiences (e.g. a chapter on Myanmar/Burma, a chapter on Benghazi, etc.). There is a great amount of detail in this book about Clinton’s thought processes through a wide range of foreign policy and national security situations and it is fascinating to read about situations from someone who was actually involved at high levels rather than from third-party accounts and analysis by journalists. This book is a hard one to sit down and read a lot of in one sitting, but it’s great to keep on my bedside table for when I need a break from whatever novel I’m reading at the moment.

 

wildWild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail by Cheryl Strayed

True story of a woman loses everything and makes an impulsive decision to hike the Pacific Crest Trail with zero experience.

Yet another book that I’m super late to the party on… I have owned this book for quite some time but just recently got around to reading it. It has a similar vibe to Eat, Pray, Love, which I read back in high school and really enjoyed. Strayed had a really rough couple of years and needed a break, so decided to drop everything (not that she had much left to drop) and hike the Pacific Crest Trail. Obviously her personal journey of self-discovery and reflection is interesting to follow, but I was most engaged by the descriptions of actually hiking the trail. This is the sort of thing I’ve always sort of wished I could do, so it’s fascinating to live vicariously through Strayed’s account. And did you know Strayed is just a last name she picked for herself after her divorce because it resonated with her? Neither did I.

 

originOrigin: A Novel by Dan Brown

Robert Langdon flees the scene of a murder in Spain, evading capture and investigating the untimely death of a scientist who was about to reveal a world-changing discovery.

Dan Brown novels are my favorite guilty pleasure books. While they certainly aren’t literary masterpieces and all follow approximately the exact same plot, I love reading his books. Origin is the fifth installment of Brown’s Robert Langdon series (best known for The Da Vinci Code) and I loved every single page of it. I’m always pleasantly surprised by plot twists I don’t see coming, and this book definitely had that. If you’re looking for a fast-paced novel that is relatively easy to read, I highly recommend this book or any of Brown’s other titles. My personal favorite of his is actually one I read in high school – Digital Fortress.

 

the dollhouseThe Dollhouse by Fiona Davis

Historic murder mystery from glamorous 1950’s New York City uncovered by present-day journalist.

I bought this book a few months ago without knowing much about it aside from the fact that the author and I went to the same college. This book switches back and forth between the story of a young woman in New York City in 2016 and a young woman in New York City in 1952, both presently living at the Barbizon Hotel. The story follows Rose, a journalist in 2016, as she investigates an alleged murder involving Darby McLaughlin that happened at the hotel in 1952. Details are revealed to the reader through both Rose’s present-day discoveries and flashbacks to Darby’s life around the time of the incident. This book was so enjoyable and I really couldn’t put it down.

Check out other books I read in 2017 in this roundup post from earlier in the year.

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