I mentioned last month that I had spent much of the past few weeks waiting, and the same can certainly be said for December. As I type this on the morning of December 30th, I am still pregnant (and really quite upset about it), so I’ve had some time to spend reading, even in the midst of the holiday chaos. Here are a few thoughts on this month’s books:
Goodbye, Vitamin by Rachel Khong
I first heard about this book from one of my favorite blogs for book recommendations. It seemed relevant due to its focus on Alzheimer’s disease (my maternal grandmother has had Alzheimer’s for 15 years) and the age of the protagonist (Ruth is 30 going on 31). I enjoyed this book, as much as one can “enjoy” a story about the progression of dementia. It gave me new perspective in understanding how difficult it must be for my mother to watch a parent fade away due to the disease. Granted, my mother was much older when Nana was diagnosed, but I’m sure the emotional struggle is similar. All that being said, I think the author did a good job of balancing the depressing spiral of dementia with some humor and heartwarming moments between father and daughter. The only thing that might have improved this book for me is if the readers got insight into how the other members of the family handled the infiltration of dementia. I realize that the book is supposed to be about Ruth, but I was intrigued enough by the other characters that I found myself wondering what they were thinking.
That Kind of Mother by Rumaan Alam
I’ll just say it upfront–this might be the best book I’ve read all year. The plot focuses on a young mother who finds a wonderful nanny for her new baby, and this nanny really becomes like a member of the family. Without giving too much away, it comes to be that this young mother adopts the nanny’s (African American) baby boy a few years later. What hooked me was the accuracy of the descriptions of the first few months of motherhood–how your life revolves around breastfeeding and anxiety about doing everything you’re “supposed to do” for a newborn. What’s particularly remarkable about this is that the author is male! It goes to show how good of a writer he must be to capture the emotional struggles of this character. Obviously, I haven’t ever adopted a child, much less a child of a different race, so the story deviated from my life experience at that point, but the book explores a lot of the same complex familial and cultural issues discussed in Far From the Tree, a book that I read and loved last month.
Heating and Cooling by Beth Ann Fennelly
I picked up this book because I thought it would be good for entertainment in the hospital. It’s described as a collection of “micro-memoirs,” which might be ideal for short snippets of time when I needed either distraction or entertainment. However, I ended up reading it in an afternoon, a few days before Christmas instead. This book was indeed entertaining, and I found the depictions of married love particularly funny (and usually spot-on in accuracy). The memoirs varied quite a bit in terms of how “deep” they were, which added interest. Overall, this would be a good book to take on a plane or on a long doctor’s visit, but it’s not likely to be a book I remember for years to come.
What did you read in December?