What I Read in March and April

I didn’t read enough in March to devote an entire post to that month like I did for February (you can read that HERE).

In March and April I made some great progress toward my goal of reading 20 books in 2014, finishing 5 books.

“Insurgent”, by Veronica Roth

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This is what I read in March; the second book in the Divergent Trilogy. I found it to be a much slower read than the first book. I did like this quote:

“Do remember, though, that sometimes the people you oppress become mightier than you would like.”

“I Am Not Myself These Days: A Memoir”, by Josh Kilmer-Purcell

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I loved this book. My only previous knowledge of Kilmer-Purcell is what I saw while watching him and his partner win The Amazing Race, in one of my favorite underdog finishes.

I related to him on The Amazing Race because while his partner could be a bit short tempered at times, Kilmer-Purcell reminded him they wanted to treat everyone with kindness. He seemed like a gentle guy. This book shows a completely different side of him–the somewhat functioning alcoholic drag queen side of him in the nineties. He describes many situations that made my jaw drop with horror but also many situations that are relatable to anyone going through a hard time. And his transitions from anecdote to anecdote were flawless, using humor to make everything flow smoothly.

“I don’t care what Butterball.com says, the hardest part about cooking the perfect Thanksgiving dinner is avoiding the splinters of broken crack pipes that collect in the crevices of the kitchen floor.”

But he also made more profound statements.

“Maybe, just maybe, whatever happens next will be bigger, and I will forget that which seems so huge to me right now.”

“Allegiant”, by Veronica Roth

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It took me a few tries to get through this book, although it did become a faster read toward the end, which I ended up hating. I won’t give it away but it just wasn’t for me.

“One Last Strike: Fifty Years in Baseball, Ten and a Half Games Back, and One Final Championship Season”, by Tony La Russa

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I’ve been struggling to get through this audiobook since last year and I finally did it on our way back from Mississippi. You’d think, being the rabid Cardinals fan that I am, that I’d love this book. Not the case. Somehow La Russa made the most exciting postseason I’ve ever watched boring. This wasn’t a book just about the Cardinals, or the 2011 season, he kept going back and telling stories about other times and players I don’t care about. I loved the way La Russa managed the team in the 2011 playoffs, but he has always come across as a bit cocky to me, with a disdain for new statistics that I love and a dismissal of opinions of people who didn’t play the game themselves. I felt that tone throughout the book and I didn’t care for it. It also didn’t help his credibility when he mentioned talking to the manager of Nickelback so he could get tickets for he and his wife to see them. If that’s supposed to be name dropping, he’s doing it wrong.

I was standing outside Busch Stadium with friends when the Cardinals won game 7 of the 2011 World Series. We were watching the game on a giant tv on top of Kilroy’s and got doused with beer by strangers when the last out was recorded. We decided to rush the stadium and did get in before claustrophobia set in and we had to get outside again.

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Outside was better anyway, as residents of St. Louis were driving down Broadway as if it were a parade route.

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Tracy and I walked in the street and high fived all of them. This is normal behavior when your team wins the World Series.

Also, this.

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I’m confident all of that was more exciting than Tony La Russa’s book. Sorry Tony, I just don’t like to hear you express yourself with words.

“Me Before You”, Jojo Moyes

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On a more serious note, a book about a young woman who takes care of a young man who has become a quadriplegic as a result of an accident. The young man, Will, previously had a very active life and his new circumstances leave him depressed and suicidal. After chipping through some of his rough exterior, the young woman, Louisa, is determined to get the young man to see that he can be happy even though his life is no longer what he imagined it would be.

I liked this book because as Will and Louisa got closer, it challenged the ideas I have about what intimacy is.

“I reached across for Will’s hand, and took it in my own. I thought, briefly, that I would never feel as intensely connected to the world, to another human being, as I did in that moment.”

I also liked that it confronted end of life issues head on. At what point do we acknowledge that everything we’re trying to make our lives work simply isn’t and it would be better to fade away? In situations where illness has reduced a person’s quality of life greatly, I think euthanasia is worth considering. But that’s after many other attempts at happiness have been made, which is what most of this book is about. I loved it.

These five books mean I’m up to nine for the year, ahead of schedule to reach my goal of twenty!

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