WWW Wednesday

What did you just finish reading? What are you currently reading? What do you think you’ll read next?

short-and-tragic-life-of-robert-peace-9781476731902_lgLast night, I finished The Short and Tragic Life of Robert Peace by Jeff Hobbs. It was a miserable,rainy day in Chicago, and I was lucky enough to spend most of the day reading. Robert Peace, a 2002 graduate of Yale and a product of inner-city Newark, was murdered at age 30 in a drug-related shooting. Hobbs, who was Peace’s roommate in college and who remained a close friend after graduation, has written one of the most thought-provoking books I’ve read in a long time. Why did Peace, a brilliant young man with a promising career in scientific research, succumb to the drug trade? Hobbs thoroughly and thoughtfully examines Peace’s life in all its complexity and contradictions, with the help of Peace’s family, friends, colleagues, and teachers. I can’t imagine a better book for book club discussions. To learn more, read the excellent review in the New York Times.

I’m reading two other books right now — An Unnecessary Woman by Rabih Alameddine (a finalist for the 2014 National Book Award) and Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson. I always like to have at least two books in progress, one paper book and one e-book. I much prefer reading “real” books, but I love reading in bed, and in the interest of marital harmony, I stick to e-books late at night.

9780802122940An Unnecessary Woman is about Aaliyah, a 72-year-old retired bookseller living alone in Beirut, translating her favorite books into Arabic:

I long ago abandoned myself to a blind lust for the written word. Literature is my sandbox. In it I play, build my forts and castles, spend glorious time. It is the world outside that gives me trouble. I have adapted tamely, though not conventionally, to this visible world so I can retreat without much inconvenience into my inner world of books.

In an NPR interview, the author says the book asks this question:, “How do we balance an inner life with an outer life and how important is each?” I’m really savoring this book — although I’m still rooting for All the Light We Cannot See to win the National Book Award.

Bryan Stevenson, author of Just Mercy, is the founder of the Equal Justice Initiative, a nonprofit organization that is dedicated to 9780385535373helping people who have been denied fair treatment in the justice system.  One early review refers to Stevenson as a modern-day “Atticus Finch” — which is ironic, because Stevenson reminds us that Atticus Finch actually lost his case in To Kill a Mockingbird. I’ve just read the first couple of chapters, but I’m finding the book fascinating and eye-opening.

What’s up next? My book club will be discussing Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng at our November meeting, and I can’t wait to start In the Kingdom of Ice by Hampton Sides. Jeff and I will both be reading that, because we have plans to get together with another couple and talk about it over dinner. What about you? What’s on your list?

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10 thoughts on “WWW Wednesday

  1. I just picked up the Robert Peace book from the library on Friday–I forget where I heard about it but I’ve had it on reserve for quite awhile. I’m anxious to read it but I know it’ll be a tough read.
    Have you read A Hope In the Unseen by (I think) Robert Suskind? It’s another take on this subject with a happier (yet still realistic) ending.

    • It is a tough read but really worthwhile. I did read A Hope in the Unseen, which I thought was excellent; another book on this topic that I really liked was The Other Wes Moore (by Wes Moore). I’m fascinated by the roles that luck and circumstance play in the ways people’s lives unfold.

  2. I just finished Wintergirls, a disturbing look into the psyche of a teenage anorexic. I’m still not sure what I thought of the book. I also finised In The Kingdom of Ice – you will not be disappointed! I still find myself thinking about the crew and their adventure. Currently I am reading You Should Have Known which has been a complete pleasure to read. I am really enjoying the author’s exploration of the female mind and the manner in which we as women seek to find what “we” did wrong to cause events to unfold. I think the Miniaturist will be up next for me!

  3. I just finished “Station Eleven” by Emily St. John Mandel. Wasn’t really excited about reading a post-apocalyptic novel, but had read such good reviews that I ended up reading and so glad I did. A haunting topic but a beautiful story. I just started “Florence Gordon” and its not grabbing me yet….again has gotten good reviews so might try to stick with it. I’m with you about “All the Light We Cannot See” – hope it wins! I also loved “A Man Called Ove” and “The Sleepwalker’s Guide to Dancing.”

    • I cannot imagine enjoying a post-apocalyptic novel but everyone tells me I will, so I’m going to have to give Station Eleven a try. I keep hearing great things about A Man Called Ove too. Thanks for your thoughts!

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