Book Report: The Girls Guide to Hunting and Fishing

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I read this book in one sitting while getting my hair cut.

Is that really strange and anti-social? I like to think it’s a relief for the hairdresser when I bring a book – she doesn’t have to ask me what I do for work or what I’m doing this weekend or what celebrity I wish I could trade hair with. I’m just reading. She’s trimming and blow drying. We’re coexisting. Either way, a book sure beats flipping through US magazine and small-talking for an hour or two.

The fact that I read this book in one sitting means two things:

  1. This book was really good
  2. I am now awash with emotions

I love reading a really good book in one sitting because the rapid overload of experience fills me with BIG BIG FEELINGS. I am currently steeped in deep personal thoughts (and, as an important aside, my hair looks really good).

The Girls Guide to Hunting and Fishing is a fiction novel that reads in sections, following different phases of the protagonist Jane’s life. Starting adolescence and traveling through adulthood, we follow Jane through different jobs and romances, in a series of vignettes. Ultimately, though the book is more tuned into her inner life than relationships and careers — a refreshingly funny, touching and meandering, yet not plotless, exploration of growing up.

I often feel that good books come to me at the perfect time. This novel brought questions already hovering in the back of my mind to the forefront. I can tell that I’ll be thinking about The Girls Guide to Hunting and Fishing for a while (or at least until my next haircut).

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The Best I’ve Read This Year: Fiction

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Freedom by Jonathan Franzen

This novel is nothing short of a masterpiece. I read this book with a friend (what we’re calling a “two-person book club”) and I am so glad I did — this is the kind of book you’ll want to discuss with everyone you meet. Featuring an intriguing cast of characters in a contemporary setting, incredibly and uniquely well-written,  and interwoven with current events and issues, Freedom is worthy of all the literary acclaim it has received. Read it, then call me to discuss… I will honestly never get tired of talking about this book!

Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter

Another best-seller worth the hype, Beautiful Ruins is set along the Italian coast, not far from the Cinque Terre. Written back and forth across time zones and through multiple character’s perspecives, the book never loses momentum and kept me interested throughout. The writing style is light enough for a quick vacation read, but the zany characters and unpredictable plot line keep it interesting. Plus, it’s funny — an added perk that made me laugh out loud a few times.

The Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown

I suppose this book is technically non-fiction, but I already included it in this post soooooo it’s going to stay here. After all, this book was so well written, the characters so well imagined, that I felt wrapped up in a rich novel rather than a true story. This dramatic novel tells the story of the USA 1936 Olympic Rowing team — from the team member’s humble Depression era beginnings through the team’s incredible quest for a gold medal. An fascinating, historical page-turner.

A Storm of Swords (Game of Thrones Series) by George R. R. Martin

A commitment to reading the Song of Ice and Fire series is not for the weak of heart.  The six long and detailed novels (with a seventh forthcoming) take place in a fictional world with a history of thousands of years. Throughout the novels, a dynastic war throughout several prominent families rages.

I’m only through the third book (taking breaks between installations), but the series keeps getting more interesting. I highly recommend diving in — especially during these winter months that create the perfect setting for a nice long read.

The Best I’ve Read This Year: Non-Fiction

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I like to read a healthy mix of fiction and non-fiction. I tend to read a couple books at one time, generally keeping one non-fiction around on my bedside table for regular installments of reality in between more gripping novels.

These four non-fiction books, however, held my entire literary attention from beginning to end. No need to take a break for a more exciting plotline — these authors know how to write a deeply personal, interesting, and thought-provoking narrative. All four will definitely be taking their place on the reread list sometime soon.

Thinking Out Loud by Anna Quindlen

This collection of articles and essays by Anna Quindlen was the first book I read this year. I love her voice, a combination of sentimental and poetic with down-to-earth, very real and sometimes sarcastic comments. Her strong voice and sense of self is clear throughout.

One of my favorite quotes from the book: “I don’t want to be perfect or fabulous or amazing. I just want to be good enough with a little relaxing time left over.”

Daring Greatly by Brene Brown

I know, I know — I just posted about Brene Brown! When will the obsession end? Answer: never. I jumped on the Brene Brown train at the beginning of this year and my love for her writing just keeps picking up steam. This book is the perfect summation of everything she talks about surrounding vulnerability, empathy and living a full life  — Recommended to anyone who wants to improve their understanding of their families, friends and selves.

Carry On Warrior by Glennon Doyle

I started this collection of short personal stories and essays on a cross-country plane ride and couldn’t stop reading! I finished just as the plane touched down back in Portland. An emotional, touching and often hilarious read. With plenty of humor and an incredible lack of self-pity, Glennon frankly writes about her struggles with drugs, alcohol, motherhood, marriage, and more. An inspiring and honest look at life that really made me reflect on my own personal journey.

Bossypants by Tina Fey

Another book by an amazing woman author (I am actually just realizing how woman-author dominated this list is — maybe I should give male authored non-fiction a chance?). It was fascinating to read a bit more about Tina’s rise to fame in the comedy world, written with her signature self-deprecating and witty sense of humor. If you have a free afternoon or two, it’s a quick, satisfying, and hilarious read.