I might not have read a ton of books this month, but all three that I did manage to read were wonderful in their own way. One narrative nonfiction, one classic, one literary fiction. A perfect reading month for me!
The Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown – The subtitle is Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics, and what a story. I listened to this amazing narration by Edward Hermann, and for the first half I didn’t get any extended listening time so it was harder to get into. But then I got a good few chunks of time to listen and I was utterly absorbed. I’m not sure there is anything I enjoy more than a story of victory over adversity. Of course I cried. And I can’t tell you how happy it made me that these boys all remained friends the rest of their lives and rowed together every ten years. (5 stars, audiobook)
Les Miserables [Abridged] by Victor Hugo – This classic doesn’t need much endorsement from me, but I’ll still give it. Prior to reading this, I had only seen the musical. I’m glad I settled on the abridged version (which still wasn’t short, mind you) because I think that overall it told a stronger story. Jean Valjean now joins my list of all-time favorite characters. (5 stars)
Bel Canto by Ann Patchett -Here is a character-driven, beautifully tragic story that was practically written for me. Since it had been recommended many times over I expected to like it, but I didn’t expect to find an entire world within a mansion where terrorists and hostages became friends, and that I’d want to keep living in that world. It was full of the bittersweet juxtapositions that make up life and humanity. Giving it all the heart eyes. (5 stars)