I read a lot of books this month, but hardly anything seemed to be really recommendation worthy, so this month’s list is a bit leaner. What was the best thing you read in March? Share your recommendations!
Best Fiction of the Month: Mr. Fox
I’ve been meaning to read Helen Oyeyemi’s work for a while, and was really happy to have started with this novel. It’s a literary cat-and-mouse retelling of the Bluebeard fairytale, with Mr. Fox a well known writer of slasher books where the women are always killed on his pages. A woman named Mary Foxe begins writing him and the two create a long distance collaboration on writing stories together that don’t involve murdering women…. but is Mary real? What is ‘real’, anyway? The stories-within-the story are wonderful, and Oyeyemi’s clever handling of the language and the characters sucked me in right away. This isn’t a breezy beach read, but if you are looking to get sucked into a novel and be thinking about it even when you aren’t reading it, then I think you might like this one.
Best Nonfiction: The Measure of My Powers: A Memoir of Food, Misery, and Paris
I confess that I didn’t love this book, but I completely understand why it’s a bestseller and cropping up everywhere- it’s sort of like Eat Pray Love and A Homemade Life: Stories from My Kitchen Table combined into one. The structure, of a woman’s memoir of divorce, depression, and finding herself through baking and Paris, is interspersed with recipes, excellent quotes, and beautiful photographs; making it feel very immersive and covering up the haphazard structure. But my biggest problem wit this book is I couldn’t identify at all with the author’s perspective, even though it should have been pretty easy for me- I kept getting tripped up by her relentlessly lousy self-esteem that bordered on self-obsession, and it coloured everything. But hey, that’s a gorgeous cover and it sure looks pretty on Instagram.
Currently Re-reading: The English Patient
Michael Ondaatje is one of my favourite writers, and my first introduction to his work was this novel – this gorgeous, lush, heartbreakingly beautiful novel. The story focuses on the intersection of lives of four people after the end of WW II, and how they are grappling with loss and how to move forward — if moving forward is even possible. There is another Ondaatje novel that I love, In the Skin of a Lion, which also has the story of two of these characters from before this book, which is an excellent companion piece. But it’s The English Patient that I suspect will still be treasured and read a couple of hundred years from now, by people whose great grandparents have yet to be born.
The One I’m Recommending to Just About Everyone: M Train
I loved M Train even more than her far-more-famous Just Kids. M Train is a wonderfully crafted collection of Smith’s thoughts and reflections on so many subjects – cowboys, dreams, coffee, travel, secret societies, what makes a home, the nature of being alone – and yet deftly weaves them together into a stunning tapestry that never feels contrived or ridiculous, despite the fact that her life is pretty bloody extraordinary. A friend recommended the audiobook version, as Patti Smith reads it herself in her hallmark new Jersey accent, and I agree- it’s fantastic.
Looking for book reviews from the previous months? Check them out here.
Did you read anything amazing lately? what about a craft book you are currently loving? I’m always on the hunt for new books t take out of the library!