It always happens like this . . .
I read and read and read with nary a bingo. And then - suddenly - there they go. One bingo after another after another!
Want to see what I read?
Let's take a look at the first row, moving across:
Biography - The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks (Rebecca Skloot) - So, technically this book isn't a "biography." But it's a book about a very REAL person, so I'm counting it as a biography. (My bingo; my rules.) I found this book fascinating and Important -- with a capital I. (And some of those researchers? Despicable.)
Set in more than one time period - Covered in my last bingo-update post.
Borrowed - The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane (Lisa See) - I borrowed this book from the library, and read it quickly over a weekend up north. It was much more compelling than I expected it to be, and I enjoyed learning about tea along the way.
An author with a disability - Last Night in Twisted River (John Irving) - John Irving has dyslexia. I am a fan of John Irving, and I have read most of his books. If you're not already a fan, but want to try one of his books, I wouldn't suggest this one for starters (go with Owen Meany or Garp or Cider House Rules instead). It's definitely not his strongest novel -- but I still found it worth the slog.
Backlist from an author on your current year favorites list - The Gifts of Imperfection (Brené Brown) - I'm working my way through Brené Brown's books as part of my look at all-things-balance this year. If you're looking for a bit of self-care and personal reflection, her books are not a bad place to start.
Next up, let's check out the last column, on the right, going down:
Backlist from an author on your current year favorites list - See above.
That you want to read because of the cover - Covered in my last bingo-update post.
Banned in a country outside the US - Reading Lolita in Tehran (Azar Nafisi) - This book is banned in Iran. Hmmmm. Although I really wanted to like this book (after all, I am a lover of the classics, and particularly interested in the overall concept of the book), I just . . . didn't. I found it a far more tedious read than expected. Great concept; strong and interesting women; just . . . not quite captivating.
Alternate history - The Yiddish Policeman's Union (Michael Chabon) - Tom read this book when it first came out, many years ago. It was just sitting there . . . on our bookshelf . . . waiting for me. As usual, Michael Chabon doesn't disappoint.
Bird or animal on the cover - The Essex Serpent (Sarah Perry) - Okay. So a "serpent" isn't really an animal. And there isn't really even a serpent on the cover (although there is the strong suggestion of one). But . . . my bingo; my rules. I had wanted to read this book since I first heard about it (when it made the long list for the Women's Prize for Fiction this year), and so . . . by gum . . . it was going to fit into one of my squares! Lovely book.
And there's one more -- the fourth row across:
About a person with a disability - Shtum (Jem Lester) - Just as we were all sorting through our Bingo cards for the summer, I happened to be driving and caught an interview with Jem Lester on NPR. I was hooked! If you're interested in a rather gut-wrenching story about what it's like to live with a severely autistic child, this is your book: Love. Commitment. Struggle. Redemption.
Wanted to read for more than a year - Covered in my last bingo-update post.
Passes the Bechdel-Wallace test - Chemistry (Weike Wang) - Ah . . . the Bechdel-Wallace test. For those of you unfamiliar with this category, let me explain a bit. The Bechdel-Wallace test (or sometimes just called the Bechdel test) was originally applied to films, but has been expanded to include fiction. The qualifications for passing the test? The work must include two women who talk about something other than a man. (Sometimes it further requires that the women be named.) And this test, my friends, is oh-so-much harder to pass than you might think!
I decided to just . . . read . . . this summer -- fiction I would choose just as I always choose -- with the Bechdel-Wallace test in mind. I continued to be disappointed. Because in each book I read, women talk about men! It really is rather infuriating when you think about it. Finally, as I read Chemistry, I found two women who talked about something OTHER than men. They talked about grad school and work in the lab and their careers. Eureka! I found it. But . . . no. Eventually, our characters ended up . . . talking about men. But. This one is the closest I came to reading a book that - at least for a portion of the novel - passes the Bechdel-Wallace test. (Of course, the characters aren't named. But that is the style of this particular book. The characters are the narrator herself and the other woman, known simply as The Best Friend.) (Further irony? The only named character in the book is a man.) No other book of fiction I read this summer came even close to meeting the Bechdel-Wallace test.
As for the book itself, I think I liked it because of the chemistry. Having gone through Tom's chemistry graduate school experience along with him - and seeing what life was like for the (few) women grad students in his lab - I could really relate to the story and situations.
Thriller - Covered in my last bingo-update post.
Alternate history - See above.
Like I said . . . falling like dominoes.