Here’s what I read at the end of July- lots of non-fiction, but quite excellent non-fiction.
Careless People Sarah Churchwell is about the state of America in 1926, the year that Fitzgerald wrote The Great Gatsby. It covers so many topics, and illustrates so clearly what was influencing and inspiring Fitzgerald. One of my favorite things that she points out was that in 1926, when cars were still fairly new, traffic lights were even newer, and they weren’t codified. So a red light might mean stop in one area, but it might mean go in another. When you take that idea and apply it to the green light at the end of Daisy’s dock, suddenly it takes on a different meaning. It’s really an excellent book, and I highly recommend it.
The Murder of the Century by Paul Collins centers around one of the most gruesome murders in US history (at the time), that occurred in 1897. Pieces of a body were found scattered around New York, and while the police investigated, two newpapers, run by Joseph Pulitzer and William Randolph Hearst battled it out to report on the mystery. The lengths they went to in order to outdo the other and to have headlines that would sell papers were crazy. They often had reporters at crime scenes before the police got there, they made wild leaps of logic, they turned the investigation into the story they wanted it to be. It’s fascinating, and proof that there wasn’t a “golden age” of journalism where every reporter strove for the truth.
Everyone Behaves Badly by Lesley MM Blume is about Ernest Hemingway’s trip to Spain in 1925 with a bunch of his friends and the things that happened that inspired his book, The Sun Also Rises. I find Hemingway fascinating, and this is a beautifully researched and written book, not only because it brings to life this period in history, but because it illustrates just how Hemingway created his own “character”, the way that readers would see him to this day.
Missional Motherhood Gloria Furman was ok; I think I had my expectations too high. It’s about how motherhood can be viewed from a missional/ministerial perspective. There’s good stuff, I just wanted more hands on, practical insights.
Dear Fang, With Love by Rufi Thorpe is incredibly good. It’s the story of Vera, a 17 year old who was recently diagnosed as bipolar, and her father Lucas who left her and her mother when she was young. When Lucas comes back into Vera’s life he offers to take her to Lithuania so that they can discover more about their family history. Their trip is narrated by Lucas and through emails that Vera writes to her boyfriend Fang. Over the course of the trip the truth comes out about the psychotic break that prompted Vera’s diagnosis , as well as her current mental state. I’m not really doing it justice at all, but I highly highly recommend this one.
The Poe Estate by Polly Shulman is an awesome middle grade book about a library of things that exist in books. There’s a mystery at the center of it (the book, not the library), and its a super fun read.
Call Me Zelda by Erika Robuck is a novel about Zelda Fitzgerald. Set in the later years of her life, it’s narrated by a nurse who works in the mental hospital where Zelda lives, and parts of it are made up of autobiographical information that Zelda writes for her. It’s very engaging and stays quite close to the facts. I really enjoyed it.