Well. At this rate, it looks like my goal of reading 50 Books in 2013 is in trouble! The bad news is that over the past two months, I only got around to reading two books (I blame marathon training). The good news is that they were two really good books. :)
Tiny, Beautiful Things by Cheryl Strayed - Last August, my favorite singer and fellow San Diegan, Tristan Prettyman recommended this book in an interview with Glamour. Since her stamp of approval pretty much seals the deal for me, I ordered "Tiny, Beautiful Things" within minutes of reading the article, without even knowing what the book was about. When it finally arrived, I was slightly disappointed that it appeared to be a self-helpy type of book. Not in the mood, I shelved it. 6 months worth of dust later, I heard that Cheryl Strayed was going to be one of 2013's speakers at my alma mater, Hunter College. I remembered seeing the name somewhere, and lo and behold there she was, already sitting on my bookshelf. Since Hunter's Distinguished Writers Series is another bona fide stamp of approval, I picked it up and began to read. I think I finished TBT faster than I've finished any book of comparable size. TBT is a collection of the "Dear Sugar" columns from the The Rumpus, which Strayed used to write anonymously. Every letter she writers to her readers is more similar to an essay than an advice column and within each essay, Strayed tries to drive home core truths: Sometimes life sucks and isn't fair. You can't change people. But you can always choose happiness. More than anything else, TBT truly succeeds as a humbling reality check.
Tomorrow There Will Be Apricots by Jessica Soffer - I still haven't read a piece of writing that accomplishes as much in as little space as "Beginning, End," a short, short story that Jess wrote during her last year at Hunter and which was subsequently published in Granta. Like "Beginning, End," her debut novel "Tomorrow There Will Be Apricots" (which came out this past month), dives deep into the secret tragedies of relationships and is the perfect book to cuddle up with on these cozy, rainy spring days. It explores two private and isolated relationships: that of a mother and adolescent daughter and that of an older woman and her recently deceased husband. Jessica is masterful at exploring the insecure halves of each of these relationships through the eyes of the daughter and the widow and exposing the regrets and unexpressed needs that these women harbor. Lovely and haunting, TTWBA really makes you take a second look at the relationships in your life and evaluate whether or not your actions as a partner, daughter, sibling or friend are ones that you can be proud of, ones that will leave you with no regrets.
'50 Books' Progress: 5/50