It’s finally happened: I’ve discovered a really good book.
A few weeks ago, summing up my September reading, I described the month as “a string of mostly average reads,” and fervently hoped for better things in October. Edith Wharton’s Summer was a bright spot (read my review), but I hadn’t yet encountered a truly unputdownable book. Until now. My current read, Vera Brittain’s Testament of Youth, is shaping up to be one of those knock-your-socks off books. Amazon describes this World War I memoir:
In 1914, just as war was declared, 20 year-old Vera Brittain was preparing to study at Oxford. Four years later, her life—and that of her whole generation—had been irrevocably changed in a way that no one could have imagined in the tranquil pre-war era. Testament of Youth is Brittain’s account of how she lost the man she loved, nursed the wounded, survived those agonizing years, and emerged into an altered world. A passionate record of a lost generation, it made Brittain one of the best-loved writers of her time. It still retains the power to shock, move, and enthrall readers today.
I first heard about this book from a LibraryThing member’s rave review. A couple months later, Booksnob published a fabulous in-depth review. I added the book to my Paperbackswap wishlist and was delighted when my wish was granted (although by that time I’d already decided to borrow it from the library if need be). Now I’ve read just over 200 of this book’s 660 pages, and am completely immersed in Vera Brittain’s life. She was a tremendously strong character, advocating for women’s rights and challenging societal convention by pursuing university education. And I can sense that the real substance of this memoir will make World War I “real” in a way I haven’t experienced before. I’ll have more to say about that when I finish the book.
This week also brought two exciting new arrivals to my tbr pile. Thanks to winning a Belletrista giveaway, I was the lucky recipient of a lovely Belle tote bag and two books:
- Before you Suffocate your own Fool Self is a collection of short stories by a young African-American author named Danielle Evans. It offers a contemporary view of racial issues, and I think I’ll enjoy discovering a new voice. Belletrista’s review was written by a friend of mine, and I really trust her judgment. Update: this book is also reviewed in today’s New York Times Book Review.
- To Mervas is translated from the Swedish, and the review in Belletrista has me intrigued both about the plot and the story’s beautiful language.
Having just this week decided to read more spontaneously, I’m certain I’ll read one of these books in the next few weeks. And while I’m leaning towards one of them now, when the time comes I’ll choose the one that best suits my mood. That’s what my “un-project” is all about!
Did you make any pleasant discoveries this week?
Read more from The Sunday Salon here.