A Wayward Blog Post [Mostly] About Books

In an ideal world, I have blogged my entire year in Czech Republic. I’ve posted consistent, witty content. I’ve told funny stories, taken fabulous pictures, and made each reader feel like they’ve been with me on the journey.

Then there’s real life.

I’ve written a total of three posts: one before moving to Prague and two since I’ve been here. Two! In ten months! Don’t mistake my lack of writing for a lack of things to write about. My year has been incredible. It’s been life-changing, strange, difficult, exciting, and so many other adjectives. Plenty of “blog-worthy” moments have taken place. I’d go as far to say every day is blog worthy when you’re living abroad. But for some reason, motivation to record those moments just didn’t hit me. Many times I’ve opened my laptop to write and words have failed.

In someways, I don’t want to share my experiences with The Entire World Wide Web. It’s been a landmark year of my life and sharing the details online feels like reducing it to just another blog on the internet. Now that I’m closer to the end than the beginning, I’m feeling reflective. I’m thinking about friends I’ve made, places I’ve gone, and above all the things I’m going to miss. I’m just not ready to talk about it.

So.

Instead, I’m going to talk about BOOKS!

Since I’m avoiding my feelings about leaving Czech Republic soon, I thought I would share what books I’ve enjoyed reading while I’ve been here and what books I’ve been disappointed by. When I discovered Goodreads in 2011, I began *slightly* obsessively tracking my book habits. I save ‘Best Of’ book lists, follow at least fifteen authors on Twitter, and am physically compelled to go into any bookstore I pass by. So far this year (since January) I’ve read 43 books, which is a lot for me. Thanks to my use of Prague’s excellent public transportation and new love of audiobooks, I’ve been able to read more this year than perhaps any other.

Until some words come to me that summarize what it’s like to spend a year in a foreign country, here are some bookish thoughts and opinions. And if you’d like to connect with me on Goodreads, go here!

4 Fiction Books I Loved and Read in Prague
Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
This has been on my ‘To-Read’ list for years. It was long but worth it. Great writing and held my interest for 589 pages. That is saying something.

The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho
This one was also on my ‘To-Read’ list for ages. I’m not sure why I didn’t pick it up sooner because it’s a quick read. Very insightful and creative. It reads like a proverb from scripture.

The One In A Million Boy by Monica Wood
I heard about this one on the What Should I Read Next podcast. Excellent voice. It left me with feelings reminiscent of finishing Me Before You which is high praise since that is one of my favorite books of all time.

You Know When The Men Are Gone by Siobhan Fallon
I subscribe to no less than four daily e-book deal newsletters and this came up on two of them in the same day, so I bought it for like $1.99. I was so surprised at how much I liked it. It’s a collection of interconnected short stories and quite a page-turner.

2 Audiobooks I Listened To and Loved
News of the World by Paulette Jiles {fiction}
This had a great plot, a great narrator and a really interesting premise. The central relationship in the story is between an aging old man and young girl. Really heartwarming and really well told.

The Boys In The Boat by Daniel James Brown {narrative nonfiction}
Narrated by the one and only Edward Herrmann AKA Richard Gilmore. It’s super interesting and perfect for an audiobook. It felt like I was listening to the boat races on the radio! And I’ve never been interested in rowing in my entire life!

Five-Star Nonfiction Books
Never Split the Difference: Negotiating As If Your Life Depended On It by Chris Voss
This was another e-book deal and recommendation from What Should I Read Next. I couldn’t put it down and highlighted (on my Kindle) a ton of sentences. Practical and thought-provoking.

Four Seasons in Rome by Anthony Doerr {potential favorite book of the year}
I just finished this one today. Wow. I wrote a short review on Goodreads you can read here. I’ve loved everything Anthony Doerr has ever written. If you haven’t read All The Light We Cannot See, move it to the top of your list!

Rising Strong by Brené Brown
First let me say that I read this on a train in Switzerland (#humblebrag). Second, Brené really is worth all the hype that she gets. Her words are backed by tons of research. She is the real deal and her books should be required reading for high school and college.

Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl
Yet another e-book deal! Side note, if you want to know more about these daily deals, I’ll link to them at the bottom of this post 🙂 Frankl was imprisoned in multiple concentration camps during World War II. Professionally he was a psychologist and writes expertly about the human condition, the way suffering gives our lives meaning, and how hope can be found in the most unimaginable circumstances.

2 Books I Did NOT Like
Bel Canto by Ann Patchett
This book is based on an actual event that took place, which is strange because the premise is SO improbable and I found the plot really hard to go along with. In my opinion the characters were underdeveloped. I did not care about any of them or what happened to them. Although the writing was good, I thought it was poorly executed. That sounds pretentious, but saying ‘it was really dumb’ sounds silly. (But I thought it was really dumb.)

Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis by JD Vance
This book is only 264 pages, but I felt it should have been much longer and should have included much more research than it did. Goodreads says it’s “part memoir, part historical and social analysis” but I just did not get much of the social and historical analysis part. It should have been either or, a memoir or cultural analysis, because it did a poor job of being both. I thought it was whiny at times. Maybe because I also grew up in “rural” Kentucky, I was hypercritical. I understand what he was trying to do: bring awareness to the struggles of the working, middle class and paint a picture of life that we rarely see or hear about, and I can appreciate that. But if he was trying to elicit sympathy, he didn’t get that from me.

That’s it for now! I’d love to hear if you’ve read any of the books above and what you thought. And last but not least, the four subscriptions that I get in my inbox are from Modern Mrs Darcy, BookBub, Bookperk, and the one and only Goodreads Deals.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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