Welcome to the Weekly Reading Fix! I’ve been crossing a lot of books off of my TBR list lately, books that I’ve been meaning to read for a while. I’ve also been getting in more non-fiction and short stories, which are two of my reading goals for the year. A long weekend helped me to get a lot of reading done this week. Here’s a look at what I’ve been reading:
I’m almost caught up with this mystery series that I have been posting about every week since this blog started. If you like mysteries and you haven’t read these yet, what are you waiting for? Start with the first one, A Share in Death.
This is the true story of women who worked in several watch factories, starting just before WWI, and continuing through the 1970’s, using radium paint to create watch dials that glowed in the dark. These women had no idea how poisonous radium is, and many suffered terrible illnesses that led to their deaths. Kate Moore tells the story of how these women fought back against the companies that refused to acknowledge or compensate them. But she goes beyond just that story, painting a picture of the whole lives of these women, and what they lost as a result of a company’s negligence. My emotions while reading this book ranged from disbelief, to sadness, to anger. I wish I could say there was a redemptive ending, but the only silver lining to this story is that better safety precautions are being used in the workplace today. I sometimes have a hard time staying interested in non-fiction, but this one really sucked me in to the story. If you’re interested in this topic, you may also want to watch this short video and read this article about the radium girls.
This is one of the titles from last week’s post, 15 Books I’ll be Reading this Summer. I received a free ebook from the publisher, in exchange for an honest review. The author uses dual storylines to tell the story of a stamp engraver in occupied Austria in 1938-39, and the daughter of a stamp collector, who finds an unusual stamp in her father’s collection, in 1989. Right off the bat, you know these storylines are connected, and hope that they will intersect, but the author did a nice job of keeping the relationships between the characters and storylines a surprise for most of the story. I really enjoyed this book, for several reasons:
- I love historical fiction
- WWII is a time period that I am particularly interested in
- I am really into dual storylines lately, and this one is done really well.
- There is a (small) element of mystery to this, as you try to determine who each of the characters from the present day storyline might be, in relation to the characters in the 1939 storyline.
- I’m a sucker for a good love story, and this one has them in abundance. Not just the love between romantic partners, but the love between a father and daughter and a grandmother and granddaughter.
This book comes out June 13th. You can pre-order by clicking the links below.
The Accusation by Bandi (Translated by Deborah Smith)
This is a set of seven short stories set in North Korea. Many defectors from North Korea have written memoirs, poems, and fiction about their homeland, but this book is unique because the author is still living in the country. He was able to get his stories smuggled out to South Korea, where they were first published. The risk he took in writing this book, as well as the risks taken by the person delivering his work to South Korea, makes the book worth reading in itself. However, that’s not the only reason to read The Accusation. The author tells seven completely separate stories, connected only by the country in which the characters live, and the government that controls every aspect of their lives. It was fascinating and also very sad to read about characters who although fictional, are, I’m sure representative of many North Koreans. If you wonder what life is like for ordinary citizens in North Korea, this is a must read.
This is the true story of Christopher Knight, a young man from Maine who led a pretty ordinary childhood. Then when he turned twenty, he quit his job and left society to live alone in the woods. To survive in the woods of Maine, particularly during the harsh winters, Knight stole supplies from cabins near his campsite (This is not a spoiler; you can read about it on the book jacket). Knight managed to live alone in the woods for 27 years before he was caught stealing supplies from a summer camp.
I remember hearing about this story back when Knight was arrested, so I was eager to read this book, which just came out a few months ago. It was a quick read at only 225 pages, and the author obviously did extensive research into Knight’s life before, during, and after his seclusion in the woods. After reading the book, I spent some time looking online at other articles about KNight’s experience, and watched a video showing his campsite. My feelings about what Knight did are complicated, as I think many others are too. While I can respect his desire to live in solitude, I’m not comfortable with 27 years of stealing supplies from other people. One of the hallmarks of a great book is that it makes you think and keeps you thinking about it for days afterwards. This is a book like that.
I’m pretty happy with what I read this week. What have you been reading lately?