April was a delightfully busy month (although, the older I get, the more I realize they ALL seem like busy months), but it was also surprisingly full of wonderful books. Even though this month held big changes like moving, a job offer (more on that later), a few birthdays, and quite a bit of travel, there was somehow time to read four books: The Cuckoo’s Calling, Me Before You, Eleven Minutes, and The Marriage Plot.
I started off the month trudging through a book leftover from March, The Cuckoo’s Calling. Though I normally love a good underdog story of unexpected heroism, and I absolutely love J.K. Rowling, this book was not one of my favorites. I blamed my pace on how hectic life was. I was interviewing for a career change, trying to pack up my house in Phoenix, traveling to San Diego, and also trying to squeeze in a few necessary things like doctor’s appointments and a haircut. The truth of the matter, even though I often identified with Cormoran Strike’s attempts to get back on his feet and his assistant Robin’s pursuit of adventure and meaning in her life, this book was still a bit of a chore for me. However, a large part of this reading challenge is to guide me into reading different genres, and murder mysteries are certainly not something I typically pick up, so at least this book was outside of my literary comfort zone.
I had been looking forward to reading Me Before You for a while, and I was happy that my excitement was merited; I tore through this book in less than 24 hours. As I mentioned, a lot of my life is in (very exciting) flux, and as I near in on my 25th birthday, I’ve been teetering on the brink of a quarter life crisis. This book was a lovely antidote to such a crisis. Louisa is not my typical, favorite heroine. I tend towards smart, brave ones like Hermione Granger, Katniss Everdeen, and Scarlett O’Hara. Lou, on the other hand, is not particularly brainy (although she does prove herself to be a lot smarter than she thinks she is), and she’s very silly. She has minimal direction in her life, but a strong sense of duty to both her family and Will Traynor. She is an inspiring and lovable companion en route to discovering what you want out of life, and what you want your impact on others to be.
I read Eleven Minutes by Paolo Coelho on flights from Phoenix to Oklahoma City (This is both a testament to what a quick read this book was, and how inconvenient and lengthy it is to travel to Oklahoma City). In the midst of all the turmoil that is one’s mid-twenties, my boyfriend and I have often found ourselves enmeshed in disagreements about our lives, our futures, and where we go from here. We are at a junction where we must make deliberate and big decisions about what we want from life, and this frequently means considering how one another factors into these choices. Eleven Minutes was a refreshing reminder of what love is, how we show our love, and the effect it can have on your life. It was also a peaceful and reflective respite from airports.
Lastly, I wrapped up this month’s books and this challenge’s 10th book with The Marriage Plot, written by one of my absolute favorite writers, Jeffrey Eugenides. He specializes in the heartwarmingly bizarre coming-of-age story, and this book certainly fell within the scope of that specialty. When my boyfriend saw the title of this book, he jokingly rolled his eyes and said, “Now you’re reading books on it too?!” And even though this novel isn’t exactly a promotion of marriage, he has a point. In our post-grad, fumbling years of young adulthood, marriage is something that frequently crosses many of our minds. The Marriage Plot is a restorative reminder that this curiosity towards love and commitment is normal–as is the resultant uncertainty–and that there’s also more to life than rushing head-first into domesticity, so we don’t need to panic about finding The One right off the bat. It’s a message we know, but one that is still good to hear from time to time.
I’ve got some big things in the works–turning 25 in May, heading to Europe with my boyfriend and best friends in June, starting a new career in July (again, details once it’s closer)–and I panic about all these milestones, like any (semi) normal person. It’s wonderful to have the stories of unlikely and insightful heroes and their beautifully uncommon plights to join me on the journey. And yes, I’ve realized my monthly reflections have often expressed gratitude for the hapless and surprising adventures of the quirky heroes–but hey, I guess the right books find you when you need them!