by Jen Moyers (@jen.loves.books)
I took my Reading Challenges this year more seriously than usual (talking about them on an episode of your podcast will do that!), and so I wanted to reflect on the books I found (or finally got to) because of those challenges. We all reflect this Wednesday on our reading challenges in general—don't miss that episode!—but here are some of the amazing books I read to fulfill my challenges. I'm sharing a short excerpt from each of my IG posts and then links to the full reviews.
Muriel Barbery's The Elegance of the Hedgehog - There's something of A Man Called Ove here, something perhaps also of The Catcher in the Rye, and yet this is a wholly original novel. I absolutely loved watching the growth of Renée and of Paloma, seeing each strive to find others who could be friends. (full review)
Geraldine McCraughrean's Where the World Ends - This book is simply gorgeous. I became so attached to these characters, who veer between showing maturity and being the children they are, and I loved McCaughrean's depiction of their world. The book also features gorgeous illustrations of the birds that are the centers of their lives, both literally and—as they come to be symbols for both the characters and the reader—figuratively. I will say that I don't think this would catch the attention of readers craving action, but I think the writing and story would capture the affection of many. (full review)
Ali Smith's The Accidental - They're in a vacation home for the summer, each suffering quietly and alone, when Amber, a beautiful stranger, comes to the house. At first, each person assumes that she's there for someone else, but then each quickly develops a relationship with Amber that the person assumes is exclusive, unmatchable. As Amber slowly begins to change . . . well, everything, we're left to decide whether the changes are for the better, or the worse. (full review)
Edward Lee's Buttermilk Graffiti - One of my favorite chapters, of course, centered on his trip through the Appalachians, including my home state of West Virginia—where he tried pepperoni rolls—and my current home in Virginia—he was within an hour of my house. In every chapter, though, he looks with clear eyes at the ways his fellow chefs have defied expectations to create their own, unique dishes. I absolutely loved the way that Lee refused to allow his identity—or the collective identity of the United States—to be simplified. (full review)
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