What We’re Reading (Sep-Oct)

What We’re Reading is back! We missed the July/August posting due to some staff transitions, but now that everyone has settled into their new roles, we are excited to reestablish this bi-monthly blog post, which includes contributions from two of our newest staff members (Heather and Victoria Smith)!

 Carol (Willow St Site Director): I’m reading The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton. It takes place in 1686, and the main character, Nella, is 18 years old. She goes to Amsterdam to meet her wealthy husband, Johann, who gives her a wedding gift of a cabinet that is an exact miniature of their house. To furnish it, he gives her the name of miniaturist in town who is very elusive, but who keeps dropping off furniture that’s an exact replica of what’s in the house, as well as dolls that represent everyone in the house and some other important characters (I don’t want to give anything away). Nella finds out that her husband is gay, and finds him with a really handsome guy who delivers the furniture from the miniaturist. She realizes that everyone else in the household knew, and that’s where I am now. She doesn’t know if she’s going to keep his secret or not, because at that time they would murder people for being gay.

It is also a part of the Masterpiece Theater miniseries on PBS. I haven’t seen the show yet, but I love the book – it’s very interesting.

Heather (Dixwell Assistant Site Director): I am reading The Secret Scripture by Sebastian Barry. It is Irish, beautifully written, and denser than your average novel. It was short listed for the Man Booker Prize, and is so good! I have not read much of this book, but the story is very compelling. The main character has been in a mental health facility for most of her life. At almost 100 years old this woman has the chance to be released, but is it worth it? I cannot wait to read more!

Jess (Willow St Assistant Site Director): I feel like it’s really cliché, but I’m reading Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov. I’m not very far into it at all, but I’m really enjoying it. I started reading it because I was going through my To Be Read list on Goodreads, and I read a really good review from someone who said “You can’t help but to like him” [the main character]. So I had it on my shelf and I picked it up, and it’s so true – you can’t help but to fall in love with his character despite yourself. There’s something about him that’s very intriguing.

Keri (Outreach Director): The Girl with All the Gifts (M.R. Carey) is not your typical zombie novel. This story is told from the perspective of one of the infected – a young girl named Melanie who is very bright but doesn’t know why most of the adults in her life are scared of her. I enjoyed following Melanie as she discovers who she is, and how the adults in her life all cope differently in the dangerous world they live in. The ending felt a little rushed, but I found all of the characters and their motivations compelling.

Victoria Sanchez (Operations Director): I just finished two books — Awkwardby Svetlana Chmakova, and The Trouble with Womenby Jacky Fleming.

Awkward is a YA graphic novel about a 6th grade student, Pepe, who is navigating a new school and all of the heartache that comes with being an awkward pre-teen. Although I wouldn’t normally pick this book out on my own, I read Awkward because it is my middle school cousin’s favorite book, and I really enjoyed the story. It’s completely adorable and heartwarming, regardless of the reader’s age.

Additionally, I just read The Trouble with Women on the recommendation of one of our volunteers, whose friend wrote it. The Trouble with Women is a hysterical read that combines cartoons with some colorful commentary on the absence of women in history: “In the Olden Days there were no women which is why you don’t come across them in history lessons at school. There were men and quite a few of them were Geniuses. Then there were a few women but their heads were very small so they were rubbish at everything apart from needlework and croquet.” It took me less than an hour to read, and I spent most of that hour smiling or laughing at Fleming’s feminist humor.

Victoria Smith (Book Bank Director): I just finished reading Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon. I saw that it was turned into a movie, so I had to read the book before I saw the movie. This story really tugs at the heartstrings. The novel is beautifully written and so immersive. Yoon writes in a way that puts you in the room with Maddy and Olly. I shed a tear or two at the end of the book. It’s definitely worth reading!