Spring has arrived! Here’s what we’re reading.
Carol (Willow St. Site Director): A tutor and I read Dracula by Bram Stoker together. What great fun! Dracula is written in journal style which gives “credibility” to the story. The imagery in this book is palpable and I experienced chills and shudders along with the characters as we discovered the remarkable Count Dracula. I fought tooth and nail (if you will) to not read before bedtime and during the witching hours, but alas! I was sucked into it, entranced and obsessed. I highly recommend this classic to all those brave enough to drink in a good horror story!
Fiona (Assistant Director): I just finished The Places in Between by Rory Stewart. It is an account of how he walked across Afghanistan in the winter early in 2002. It was interesting because my knowledge of Afghanistan is limited and it gave a small window into some of the challenges being experienced there but was by no means a comprehensive look at anything. My biggest challenge with this book was the fact that he had no explicit purpose in doing this and I was troubled by the fact that he was imposing on the hospitality of very poor people who (because of cultural norms) had to house and feed him throughout his trip.
Geoff (Development Assistant): I just finished the first book in The Expanse series, Leviathan Wakes, by James S. A. Corey. Corey is the pen name of writers Daniel Abraham and Ty Franck. The novel, which is a mixture of sci-fi space opera and hardboiled detective story, focuses on the working class peoples of the future and how they’re affected by the constant threat of interplanetary war between Earth, Mars, and a terrorist cell based in the asteroid belt. Of course, there is also an evil corporation willing to sacrifice millions of innocent lives to test a gruesome alien technology called the “protomolecule.” I’ll admit I was turned onto the book after watching the first season of the Sy-Fy channel’s adaptation. Now I’m hooked.
Jocelyn (VISTA): I’m reading a book called Clean by Amy Reed and it basically deals with five teenagers who are in rehab because of different addictions. There’s two alcoholics, one meth addict, one girl who’s anorexic, and one who was smoking weed and taking pills. One of the guys says “we’re some drug-addict version of the movie ‘The Breakfast Club,’” and it’s hilarious because that’s literally what they are – the different personalities are all there. The book shifts perspective between characters going day to day in the rehab facility, so you get to know their background and road to recovery. Normally when you talk about addictions it’s pretty heavy, but this book is really funny.
Kirsten (Executive Director): One book that I’ve read most recently is a terrific mystery that takes place in Australia, The Dry by Jane Harper. The story takes place in a small, parched town with many secrets to hide, including details about a gruesome murder. I’ve also listened to several books on tape, something I like to do when I walk my dogs or go for a run. I have three fabulous audio books to recommend. The first is Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi, a family saga that takes place over three generations in both Ghana and the United States. It’s a great story. The second is News of the World by Paulette Jiles. It’s a post-Civil War story that describes the unlikely friendship between an itinerant captain who travels from town to town sharing stories from newspapers from various cities and the young orphan who he has been asked to transport hundreds of miles back to her aunt and uncle after living with Native Americans for four years. This novel was a National Book Award finalist. Finally, I recommend Commonwealth by one of my favorite authors, Ann Patchett. This story spans five decades with a somewhat reluctantly blended family. The interwoven stories of four parents and six children are told with humor, affection, and poignancy.
Editor’s note: you can listen to the audio books recommended by Kirsten for free through the New Haven Free Public Library’s Overdrive service, available here: https://nhfpl.overdrive.com/.
Victoria (Book Bank & Operations Director): I’m currently reading Women Who Run With the Wolves: Myths and Stories of the Wild Woman Archetype, by Clarissa Pinkola Estes. The book’s premise is that many women have been cut off from their instinctual inner natures because of societal expectations, but that, if women reclaim their “wild” side, they will be more truly themselves – happier, stronger, and more powerful. Estes brings a unique background to her work: she is a certified Jungian analyst and has a PhD in psychology, but she’s also a cantadora, or a storyteller, in the oral tradition of her immigrant family heritage. What you get out of that combination is a series of stories that she’s collected over the years, followed by her psychological analysis of the stories. Some of the stories resonate more than others for me, but so far it’s an excellent book.