47. Chances Are… by Richard Russo
Three college friends now in their mid-60s reconnect at the Martha’s Vineyard house where they spent the Memorial Day weekend after their college graduation 44 years ago. Their return and the thoughts of one of them selling this old family home have raised many ghosts from the past, but particularly what happened to their friend Jacy who went missing that weekend. They had all been at least partly in love with her, but at the time no one really seemed to dig much into her disappearance which was attributed to her running away from the fiance she didn’t want to marry a few weeks before their wedding. Now the spectre of the past has given them the desire to find out what really happened to her all those years before. The story moves in time from the three boy’s childhood’s, their time at school, and their lives since, to where they are now on this island.
Despite me disavowing reading any more books about aging white men and especially about aging white men looking back at their college lives, I had to read this book because Richard Russo has long been one of my favorite authors. I’m not sorry I did. The reason I love his writing so much is that his characters always feel so real to me, and that was the case with this book as well. I did perhaps find what happened to Jacy a little ridiculous, and she was definitely a manic pixie dreamgirl of a character, but overall I really enjoyed living in this novel for a few days. I give it an 8 out of 10.
46. Comedy Sex God by Pete Holmes
Comedy Sex God is part memoir, part spiritual quest written by stand-up comic Pete Holmes. He talks about his childhood growing up as a devoted evangelical Christian, which left him with a lot of emotional baggage and issues with sex. After a divorce from the woman he married when he was 22 essentially so they could have sex after she cheated on him, he lost his faith. Much of the rest of the book is about his examination of spirituality and his search to find the meaning in life he felt missing after he denounced Christianity. It’s definitely not your typical comedian/actor’s memoir. I appreciated his explorations and candidness about things that people, especially in his arena don’t particularly talk about. I give it an 8 out of 10.
45. Washington Black by Esi Edugyan
Washington Black is a slave child on a Barbados plantation until his master’s brother shows up one day and takes him away to help with creating what he calls a cloud cutter (i.e. hot air balloon). After a death on the plantation that makes it seem that Washington was possibly involved the two of them take off in the cloud cutter leading to adventures across the globe.
I read this book for one of my book clubs and we had a really great discussion about it. I can also see how it would make an excellent book to dissect in an English class, but I can’t say that I really enjoyed reading it. I found it to be a bit dull and thought some of the things were a little bit too fantastical. I give it a 6 out of 10.
44. I Like to Watch: Arguing My Way Through the TV Revolution by Emily Nussbaum
This is a collection of essays about television by New Yorker tv critic, Emily Nussbaum. Most of them are previously published though there a few new ones. The previously published essays all begin with a short reflection about how she views what she wrote. I would recommend to any fellow tv lovers. I give it a 7 out of 10.
43. The Porpoise by Mark Haddon
I really enjoyed The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime so I was very excited to get a copy of this book, but unfortunately I didn’t like it at all. I don’t particularly care for Greek mythology and had I realized that this book was a combined retelling of a couple of different Greek myths I probably would have skipped it. Unfortunately the description of the book didn’t indicate that and the book does not start off in a way that makes it that obvious. In addition to that it’s just a very bizarre book where characters just seemingly jump into entirely different times and stories with no explanation. I felt like I was in one book and then all of a sudden a character was living out some myth and I was like what happened. How did we get here? I give it a 2 out of 10.
42. The Travelers by Regina Porter
I read this book on the beach a couple of weeks ago and didn’t particularly care for it. I couldn’t even remember much more than that to write this review, and looking at the Goodreads synopsis is not really ringing many bells for me so I guess I found it entirely forgettable in addition to not liking it while I was actually reading it. I give it 3 out of 10.
41. The Right Swipe by Alisha Rai
Rhiannon Hunter makes her living off of helping people find love as the creator of a wildly popular dating app. She herself has been much less lucky in love and being ghosted by the first person in a long time she thought about giving more than one date to has just about turned her off men forever.
Samson Lima, a former football player who has been off the grid for years, has returned to the limelight as the new spokesperson for one of Rhiannon’s competitors. Even worse he’s the man who ghosted her and now seems to be pursuing her to try and make up for it. A business proposition pushes them together. Will this new partnership result in both a successful work merger and love?
I really enjoyed this romance novel. I thought there were a couple too many quirky side characters, but I really liked both of the main characters and thought they had a fun rapport with each other and mostly realistic obstacles in the path of them getting together. As an aside because it’s not particularly relevant to the story itself, but is probably of interest to people who are interested in reading diverse books, this is the first romance novel I think I’ve read (I don’t read many) where neither of the leads is white. I give it an 8 out of 10.