What I’m Reading for the 2018 Modern Mrs Darcy Reading Challenge

2018 Modern Mrs Darcy Reading Challenge

Three years ago, I was determined to get out of my reading rut. Enter: The Modern Mrs Darcy Reading Challenge.

What I love most about the challenge is how simple it is–just read twelve books from twelve different categories in twelve months.

I credit the MMD challenge with helping me to rediscover my love of reading. I am a huge fan of memoirs and for years, that’s all I read. But this challenge expanded my reading horizons and inspired me to give books I wouldn’t normally read a chance. Side note: I will forever be grateful to Anne for introducing me to the wonderful world of translated books! Who knew I would end up loving them as much as I do?

In 2016, my goal was to read 100 books. I sat down with a notebook and jotted down a list of 100 books I wanted to read by the end of the year. I went a step further and shared the list on the blog to keep myself organized and accountable. It worked like a charm! I found the simple act of checking titles off my list deeply satisfying and by December 31st, I had read 82 books!

This year, life is wayyyyy busier than its been in a long time. I am juggling school and work and its been tricky finding time to rest much less read. So for 2018, I am focusing on quality over quantity. I want to devote the precious few hours I have to reading books that are worth my time.

If you’re looking to read more books this year alongside an incredibly supportive community of book lovers, I recommend jumping on board. After all, good books are meant to be shared!

You can sign up for the reading challenge here. You can also connect with fellow challenge participants and share (and get) book recommendations via the 2018 Modern Mrs Darcy Reading Challenge Pinterest board.

After much deliberation, here are the books I’ll be reading for this year’s challenge…

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings

A classic you’ve been meaning to read 

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou

This one has been on my reading list for the past two years and I am soooo excited to finally cross it off my list.

Synopsis from Penguin Random House Canada: Here is a book as joyous and painful, as mysterious and memorable, as childhood itself. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings captures the longing of lonely children, the brute insult of bigotry, and the wonder of words that can make the world right. Maya Angelou’s debut memoir is a modern American classic beloved worldwide.

Sent by their mother to live with their devout, self-sufficient grandmother in a small Southern town, Maya and her brother, Bailey, endure the ache of abandonment and the prejudice of the local “powhitetrash.” At eight years old and back at her mother’s side in St. Louis, Maya is attacked by a man many times her age—and has to live with the consequences for a lifetime. Years later, in San Francisco, Maya learns that love for herself, the kindness of others, her own strong spirit, and the ideas of great authors (“I met and fell in love with William Shakespeare”) will allow her to be free instead of imprisoned.

168 Hours_You Have More Time Than You Think

A book recommended by someone with great taste

168 Hours: You Have More Time Than You Think by Laura Vanderkam

Recommended by Anne Bogel. Thanks Anne!

Synopsis from Penguin Random House Canada: It’s an unquestioned truth of modern life: we are starved for time. We tell ourselves we’d like to read more, get to the gym regularly, try new hobbies, and accomplish all kinds of goals. But then we give up because there just aren’t enough hours to do it all. Or if we don’t make excuses, we make sacrifices- taking time out from other things in order to fit it all in. There has to be a better way…and Laura Vanderkam has found one.

After interviewing dozens of successful, happy people, she realized that they allocate their time differently than most of us. Instead of letting the daily grind crowd out the important stuff, they start by making sure there’s time for the important stuff. When plans go wrong and they run out of time, only their lesser priorities suffer. Vanderkam shows that with a little examination and prioritizing, you’ll find it is possible to sleep eight hours a night, exercise five days a week, take piano lessons, and write a novel without giving up quality time for work, family, and other things that really matter.

In Every Moment We Are Still Alive

A book in translation

In Every Moment We Are Still Alive by Tom Malmquist, translated from the Swedish by Henning Koch

My love for translated books runs deep and I try and read at least one every year.

Synopsis from Penguin Random House CanadaIn Every Moment We Are Still Alive tells the story of a man whose world has come crashing down overnight: His long-time partner has developed an fatal illness, just as she is about to give birth to their first child … even as his father is diagnosed with cancer.

Reeling in grief, Tom finds himself wrestling with endless paperwork and indecipherable diagnoses, familial misunderstandings and utter exhaustion while trying simply to comfort his loved ones as they begin to recede from him.

But slowly, amidst the pain and fury, arises a story of resilience and hope, particularly when Tom finds himself having to take responsibility for the greatest gift of them all, his newborn daughter.

Written in an unforgettable style that dives deep into the chaos of grief and pain, yet also achieves a poetry that is inspiring, In Every Moment We Are Still Alive is slated to become one of the most stirring novels of the year.

A book nominated for an award in 2018

To be determined

Guidebook to Relative Strangers

A book of poetry, a play, or an essay collection

Guidebook to Relative Strangers by Camille T. Dungy

This category gave me the most trouble to fill. After asking for recommendations and engaging in some heavy-duty browsing, I finally decided on this essay collection I spotted on Book Riot. It sounds like a good one!

Synopsis from Penguin Random House Canada: As a working mother whose livelihood as a poet-lecturer depended on travel, Camille Dungy crisscrossed America with her infant, then toddler, intensely aware of how they are seen, not just as mother and child, but as black women. With a poet’s eye, she celebrates her daughter’s acquisition of language and discoveries of the natural and human world around her. At the same time history shadows her steps everywhere she goes: from the San Francisco of settlers’ and investors’ dreams to the slave-trading ports of Ghana; from snow-white Maine to a festive, yet threatening, bonfire in the Virginia pinewoods.

With exceptional candor and grace, Dungy explores our inner and outer worlds—the intimate and vulnerable experiences of raising a child, living with illness, conversing with strangers, and counting on others’ goodwill. Across the nation, she finds fear and trauma, and also mercy, kindness, and community. Penetrating and generous, Guidebook to Relative Strangers is an essential guide for a troubled land.

The Reason I Jump

A book you can read in a day

The Reason I Jump: The Inner Voice of a Thirteen-Year-Old Boy with Autism by Naoki Higashida, translated from the Japanese by KA Yoshida & David Mitchell

Synopsis from Penguin Random House Canada: Naoki Higashida was only a middle-schooler when he began to write The Reason I Jump. Autistic and with very low verbal fluency, Naoki used an alphabet grid to painstakingly spell out his answers to the questions he imagines others most often wonder about him: why do you talk so loud? Is it true you hate being touched? Would you like to be normal? The result is an inspiring, attitude-transforming book that will be embraced by anyone interested in understanding their fellow human beings, and by parents, caregivers, teachers, and friends of autistic children.

Naoki examines issues as diverse and complex as self-harm, perceptions of time and beauty, and the challenges of communication, and in doing so, discredits the popular belief that autistic people are anti-social loners who lack empathy.

This book is mesmerizing proof that inside an autistic body is a mind as subtle, curious, and caring as anyone else’s.

New York

A book that’s more than 500 pages

New York by Edward Rutherfurd

This sweeping historical novel from the British author was on my 2017 reading list, but I never got around to it. I recently bought a copy and I can’t wait to dive in this winter.

Synopsis from Penguin Random House Canada: A blockbuster masterpiece that combines breath-taking scope with narrative immediacy, this grand historical epic traces the history of New York through the lenses of several families: The Van Dycks, a wealthy Dutch trading family; the Masters, scions of an English merchant clan torn apart during the Revolution; the Hudsons, slaves who fight for their freedom over several generations; the Murphys, who escape the Famine in Ireland and land in the chaotic slum of Five Points; the Rewards, robber barons of the Gilded Age; the Florinos, an immigrant Italian clan who work building the great skyscrapers in the 1920s; and the Rabinowitzs, who flee anti-semitism in Europe and build a new life in Brooklyn.

Over time, the lives of these families become intertwined through the most momentous events in the fabric of America: The founding of the colonies; the Revolution; the growth of New York as a major port and trading centre; the Civil War; the Gilded Age; the explosion of immigration and the corruption of Tammany Hall; the rise of New York as a great world city in the early 20th-century; the trials of World War II, the tumult of the 1960s; the near-demise of the city in the 1970s; its roaring rebirth in the 1990s; culminating in the World Trade Center attacks at the beginning of the new century.

Plainsong

A book by a favourite author

Plainsong by Kent Haruf

Two years ago I read and loved Haruf’s novel Benediction and fell in love with his beautiful writing. Last January, I picked up Our Souls at Night and read it in an afternoon. I can’t wait to read his debut novel.

Synopsis from Penguin Random House Canada: In the small town of Holt, Colorado, a high school teacher is confronted with raising his two boys alone after their mother retreats first to the bedroom, then altogether. A teenage girl—her father long since disappeared, her mother unwilling to have her in the house—is pregnant, alone herself, with nowhere to go. And out in the country, two brothers, elderly bachelors, work the family homestead, the only world they’ve ever known.

From these unsettled lives emerges a vision of life, and of the town and landscape that bind them together—their fates somehow overcoming the powerful circumstances of place and station, their confusion, curiosity, dignity and humor intact and resonant. As the milieu widens to embrace fully four generations, Kent Haruf displays an emotional and aesthetic authority to rival the past masters of a classic American tradition.

The Boat People

A book recommended by a librarian or indie bookseller

The Boat People by Sharon Bala

This award-winning new release comes highly recommended by one of my favourite bookstore employees. I trust his taste and I’ve discovered books I would never have picked up on my own thanks to him. (I LOVED his past recommendations like The Door by Magda Szabo and The Belly of Paris by Emile Zola.)

Synopsis from Penguin Random House Canada: When the rusty cargo ship carrying Mahindan and five hundred fellow refugees reaches the shores of British Columbia, the young father is overcome with relief: he and his six-year-old son can finally put Sri Lanka’s bloody civil war behind them and begin new lives. Instead, the group is thrown into prison, with government officials and news headlines speculating that hidden among the “boat people” are members of a terrorist militia. As suspicion swirls and interrogation mounts, Mahindan fears the desperate actions he took to survive and escape Sri Lanka now jeopardize his and his son’s chances for asylum.

Told through the alternating perspectives of Mahindan; his lawyer Priya, who reluctantly represents the migrants; and Grace, a third-generation Japanese-Canadian adjudicator who must decide Mahindan’s fate, The Boat People is a high-stakes novel that offers a deeply compassionate lens through which to view the current refugee crisis. Inspired by real events, with vivid scenes that move between the eerie beauty of northern Sri Lanka and combative refugee hearings in Vancouver, where life and death decisions are made, Sharon Bala’s stunning debut is an unforgettable and necessary story for our times.

Monkey Beach

A banned book

Monkey Beach by Eden Robinson

I didn’t want to read any of the popular banned books for this category so I asked a bookstore employee for a recommendation. He didn’t hesitate and raved about the Native Canadian’s first novel. He explained that it was banned in certain communities. This a book I probably would never have discovered on my own.

Synopsis from Penguin Random House CanadaMonkey Beach combines both joy and tragedy in a harrowing yet restrained story of grief and survival, and of a family on the edge of heartbreak. In the first English-language novel to be published by a Haisla writer, Eden Robinson offers a rich celebration of life in the Native settlement of Kitamaat, on the coast of British Columbia.

The story grips the reader from the beginning. It is the morning after the narrator’s brother has gone missing at sea; the mood is tense in the family house, as speculations remain unspoken. Jimmy is a prospective Olympic swimmer, seventeen years old and on the edge of proposing to his beautiful girlfriend Karaoke. As his elder sister, Lisa, faces possible disaster, she chain-smokes and drifts into thoughts of their lives so far. She recalls the time when she and Jimmy saw the sasquatch, or b’gwus – and this sighting introduces the novel’s fascinating undercurrent of characters from the spirit world. These ghostly presences may strike the reader as mysterious or frightening, but they provide Lisa with guidance through a difficult coming of age.

In and out of the emergency room as a child, Lisa is a fighter. Her smart mouth and temper constantly threaten to land her in serious trouble. Those who have the most influence on her are her stubbornly traditional, machete-wielding grandmother, and her wild, passionate, political Uncle Mick, who teaches her to make moose calls. When they empty fishing nets together, she pretends she doesn’t feel the jellyfish stinging her young hands – she’s Uncle Mick’s “little warrior.”

We watch Lisa leave her teenage years behind as she waits for news of her younger brother. She reflects on the many rich episodes of their lives – so many of which take place around the water, reminding us of the news she fears, and revealing the menacing power of nature. But Lisa has a special recourse – a “gift” that enables her to see and hear spirits, and ask for their help.

A Mother's Reckoning

A memoir, biography, or book of creative nonfiction

A Mother’s Reckoning: Living in the Aftermath of Tragedy by Sue Klebold

Columbine was one of my favourite reads last year. It was a difficult read, but such an eye-opening and important one. My friend Sarah from Glowing Local said I need to add A Mother’s Reckoning to my list and I always, always enjoy the books she recommends.  I am really looking forward to this one!

Synopsis from Penguin Random House Canada: On April 20, 1999, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold walked into Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado. Over the course of minutes, they would kill twelve students and a teacher and wound twenty-four others before taking their own lives.

For the last sixteen years, Sue Klebold, Dylan’s mother, has lived with the indescribable grief and shame of that day. How could her child, the promising young man she had loved and raised, be responsible for such horror? And how, as his mother, had she not known something was wrong? Were there subtle signs she had missed? What, if anything, could she have done differently?

These are questions that Klebold has grappled with every day since the Columbine tragedy. In A Mother’s Reckoning, she chronicles with unflinching honesty her journey as a mother trying to come to terms with the incomprehensible. In the hope that the insights and understanding she has gained may help other families recognize when a child is in distress, she tells her story in full, drawing upon her personal journals, the videos and writings that Dylan left behind, and on countless interviews with mental health experts.

The Break

A book by an author of a different race, ethnicity, or religion than your own

The Break by Katherena Vermette

This award-winning first novel from Métis author, Katherena Vermette has been recommended to me more times than I can count. I am starting with this one tonight!

Synopsis from House of Anansi Press: When Stella, a young Métis mother, looks out her window one evening and spots someone in trouble on the Break — a barren field on an isolated strip of land outside her house — she calls the police to alert them to a possible crime.

In a series of shifting narratives, people who are connected, both directly and indirectly, with the victim — police, family, and friends — tell their personal stories leading up to that fateful night. Lou, a social worker, grapples with the departure of her live-in boyfriend. Cheryl, an artist, mourns the premature death of her sister Rain. Paulina, a single mother, struggles to trust her new partner. Phoenix, a homeless teenager, is released from a youth detention centre. Officer Scott, a Métis policeman, feels caught between two worlds as he patrols the city. Through their various perspectives a larger, more comprehensive story about lives of the residents in Winnipeg’s North End is exposed.

Have you ever done a reading challenge? What are your reading goals for 2018? I’d love to hear in the comments!

What I’m Reading for the 2017 MMD Reading Challenge

modern-mrs-darcy-2017-reading-challenge

Two years ago, I rediscovered my love of reading thanks in part to the Modern Mrs Darcy Reading Challenge. Two weeks ago, I signed up for the 2017 challenge and I couldn’t be more excited. This year, readers have the opportunity to choose their own reading adventure: Reading for Fun or Reading for Growth.

In 2015, I was determined to make the time to read more. In 2016, my reading goal was to read 100 books; I read 82 (the most I’ve ever read in a year). This year, I want to stretch myself and read those books I usually avoid (like a book that’s over 600 pages or an essay collection), so I’m taking the Reading for Growth route.

After two weeks of careful planning (browsing book lists on the Internet and asking the librarian at my local branch for recommendations), I’ve finally settled on the books I’m reading for each challenge category. Today I’m sharing my list with you.

a-single-shard

A Newbery Award winner  A Single Shard by Linda Sue Park

The teen librarian at my local branch recommended this historical fiction which won the Newbery Medal in 2002.

Synopsis from Amazon.ca: In this Newbery Medal-winning book set in 12th century Korea, Tree-ear, a 13-year-old orphan, lives under a bridge in Ch’ulp’o, a potters’ village famed for delicate celadon ware. He has become fascinated with the potter’s craft; he wants nothing more than to watch master potter Min at work, and he dreams of making a pot of his own someday. When Min takes Tree-ear on as his helper, Tree-ear is elated – until he finds obstacles in his path: the backbreaking labor of digging and hauling clay, Min’s irascible temper, and his own ignorance. But Tree-ear is determined to prove himself – even if it means taking a long, solitary journey on foot to present Min’s work in the hope of a royal commission . . . even if it means arriving at the royal court with nothing to show but a single celadon shard.

the-door

A book in translation The Door by Magda Szabó, translated from the Hungarian by Len Rix

When I asked one of my favourite booksellers for an incredible translated book, he didn’t even pause to think. I’ve enjoyed every single book he’s recommended to me in the past and I can’t wait to dive into this one from the late Hungarian author.

Synopsis from Amazon.ca: The Door is an unsettling exploration of the relationship between two very different women. Magda is a writer, educated, married to an academic, public-spirited, with an on-again-off-again relationship to Hungary’s Communist authorities. Emerence is a peasant, illiterate, impassive, abrupt, seemingly ageless. She lives alone in a house that no one else may enter, not even her closest relatives. She is Magda’s housekeeper and she has taken control over Magda’s household, becoming indispensable to her. And Emerence, in her way, has come to depend on Magda. They share a kind of love—at least until Magda’s long-sought success as a writer leads to a devastating revelation.

new-york

A book that’s more than 600 pages  New York by Edward Rutherfurd

This category gave me the most trouble to fill, but I finally decided on British author Edward Rutherfurd’s historical novel, New York.

Synopsis from Penguin Random House Canada: A blockbuster masterpiece that combines breath-taking scope with narrative immediacy, this grand historical epic traces the history of New York through the lenses of several families: The Van Dycks, a wealthy Dutch trading family; the Masters, scions of an English merchant clan torn apart during the Revolution; the Hudsons, slaves who fight for their freedom over several generations; the Murphys, who escape the Famine in Ireland and land in the chaotic slum of Five Points; the Rewards, robber barons of the Gilded Age; the Florinos, an immigrant Italian clan who work building the great skyscrapers in the 1920s; and the Rabinowitzs, who flee anti-semitism in Europe and build a new life in Brooklyn.

Over time, the lives of these families become intertwined through the most momentous events in the fabric of America: The founding of the colonies; the Revolution; the growth of New York as a major port and trading centre; the Civil War; the Gilded Age; the explosion of immigration and the corruption of Tammany Hall; the rise of New York as a great world city in the early 20th-century; the trials of World War II, the tumult of the 1960s; the near-demise of the city in the 1970s; its roaring rebirth in the 1990s; culminating in the World Trade Center attacks at the beginning of the new century.

changing-my-mind

A book of poetry, a play, or an essay collection  Changing My Mind: Occasional Essays by Zadie Smith

I plan on reading all of Zadie Smith’s books this year, so I’m kicking things off with her essay collection.

Synopsis from Penguin Random House: Split into five sections–Reading, Being, Seeing, Feeling, and Remembering–Changing My Mind finds Zadie Smith casting an acute eye over material both personal and cultural. This engaging collection of essays, some published here for the first time, reveals Smith as a passionate and precise essayist, equally at home in the world of great books and bad movies, family and philosophy, British comedians and Italian divas. Whether writing on Katherine Hepburn, Kafka, Anna Magnani, or Zora Neale Hurston, she brings deft care to the art of criticism with a style both sympathetic and insightful. Changing My Mind is journalism at its most expansive, intelligent, and funny–a gift to readers and writers both.

the-new-jim-crow

A book of any genre that addresses current eventsThe New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander

Civil Rights Litigator Michelle Alexander’s book has been on my To Be Read list for three years.

Synopsis from Amazon.ca: Once in a great while a book comes along that changes the way we see the world and helps to fuel a nationwide social movement. The New Jim Crow is such a book. Praised by Harvard Law professor Lani Guinier as “brave and bold,” this book directly challenges the notion that the election of Barack Obama signals a new era of colorblindness. With dazzling candor, legal scholar Michelle Alexander argues that “we have not ended racial caste in America; we have merely redesigned it.” By targeting black men through the War on Drugs and decimating communities of color, the U.S. criminal justice system functions as a contemporary system of racial control—relegating millions to a permanent second-class status—even as it formally adheres to the principle of colorblindness. In the words of Benjamin Todd Jealous, president and CEO of the NAACP, this book is a “call to action.”

small-island

An immigrant storySmall Island by Andrea Levy

One of my favourite booksellers raved about the British author’s 2004 Prize-winning novel calling it “the perfect immigrant novel”.

Synopsis from Amazon.ca: Hortense Joseph arrives in London from Jamaica in 1948 with her life in her suitcase, her heart broken, her resolve intact. Her husband, Gilbert Joseph, returns from the war expecting to be received as a hero, but finds his status as a black man in Britain to be second class. His white landlady, Queenie, raised as a farmer’s daughter, befriends Gilbert, and later Hortense, with innocence and courage, until the unexpected arrival of her husband, Bernard, who returns from combat with issues of his own to resolve.

Told in these four voices, “Small Island “is a courageous novel of tender emotion and sparkling wit, of crossings taken and passages lost, of shattering compassion and of reckless optimism in the face of insurmountable barriers—in short, an encapsulation of that most American of experiences: the immigrant’s life.

the-belly-of-paris

A book published before you were born  The Belly of Paris by Émile Zola, translated from the French by Mark Kurlansky (Originally published in 1873)

I can’t believe I’ve never heard of this book. When I asked my trustworthy bookseller to recommend a book for this category, he picked this one. He assured me I would LOVE it.

Synopsis from Amazon.ca: Part of Emile Zola’s multigenerational Rougon-Macquart saga, The Belly of Paris is the story of Florent Quenu, a wrongly accused man who escapes imprisonment on Devil’s Island. Returning to his native Paris, Florent finds a city he barely recognizes, with its working classes displaced to make way for broad boulevards and bourgeois flats. Living with his brother’s family in the newly rebuilt Les Halles market, Florent is soon caught up in a dangerous maelstrom of food and politics. Amid intrigue among the market’s sellers–the fishmonger, the charcutière, the fruit girl, and the cheese vendor–and the glorious culinary bounty of their labors, we see the dramatic difference between “fat and thin” (the rich and the poor) and how the widening gulf between them strains a city to the breaking point.

Translated and with an Introduction by the celebrated historian and food writer Mark Kurlansky, The Belly of Paris offers fascinating perspectives on the French capital during the Second Empire–and, of course, tantalizing descriptions of its sumptuous repasts.

fractured

Three books by the same author  – Catherine McKenzie: Fractured, Smoke, Hidden.

I’ve been a huge fan of Canadian author Catherine McKenzie since I devoured her addictive debut novel, Spin one afternoon in 2009. I also re-read it back in November for the ‘a book you’ve already read’ category of the 2016 Reading Challenge.

the-reason-i-jump

A book by an #ownvoices or #diversebooks author  The Reason I Jump by Naoki Higashida, translated from the Japanese by KA Yoshida & David Mitchell

This little book has been on my radar for years. I bought a copy yesterday and I can’t wait to get started.

Synopsis from Penguin Random House: You’ve never read a book like The Reason I Jump. Written by Naoki Higashida, a very smart, very self-aware, and very charming thirteen-year-old boy with autism, it is a one-of-a-kind memoir that demonstrates how an autistic mind thinks, feels, perceives, and responds in ways few of us can imagine. Parents and family members who never thought they could get inside the head of their autistic loved one at last have a way to break through to the curious, subtle, and complex life within.

Using an alphabet grid to painstakingly construct words, sentences, and thoughts that he is unable to speak out loud, Naoki answers even the most delicate questions that people want to know. Questions such as: “Why do people with autism talk so loudly and weirdly?” “Why do you line up your toy cars and blocks?” “Why don’t you make eye contact when you’re talking?” and “What’s the reason you jump?” (Naoki’s answer: “When I’m jumping, it’s as if my feelings are going upward to the sky.”) With disarming honesty and a generous heart, Naoki shares his unique point of view on not only autism but life itself. His insights—into the mystery of words, the wonders of laughter, and the elusiveness of memory—are so startling, so strange, and so powerful that you will never look at the world the same way again.

fig
A book with an unreliable narratorFig by Sarah Elizabeth Schantz

Initially, I planned on reading an adult novel for this category. But when I turned to one of the librarians at my local branch for help, she said she could think of several YA novels that would work. She promptly jotted down her favourites, gave a little synopsis of each, and shared why she loved them. I don’t read much YA, but she sold me on Schantz’s debut novel. I also plan on adding all her other recommendations to my 2017 reading list.

Synopsis from Simon & Schuster Canada: Love and sacrifice intertwine in this brilliant debut of rare beauty about a girl dealing with her mother’s schizophrenia and her own mental illness.

Fig’s world lies somewhere between reality and fantasy.

But as she watches Mama slowly come undone, it becomes hard to tell what is real and what is not, what is fun and what is frightening. To save Mama, Fig begins a fierce battle to bring her back. She knows that her daily sacrifices, like not touching metal one day or avoiding water the next, are the only way to cure Mama.

The problem is that in the process of a daily sacrifice, Fig begins to lose herself as well, increasingly isolating herself from her classmates and engaging in self-destructive behavior that only further sets her apart.

Spanning the course of Fig’s childhood from age six to nineteen, this deeply provocative novel is more than a portrait of a mother, a daughter, and the struggle that comes with all-consuming love. It is an acutely honest and often painful portrayal of life with mental illness and the lengths to which a young woman must go to handle the ordeals—real or imaginary—thrown her way.

A book nominated for an award in 2017  – TBD

interpreter-of-maladies

A Pulitzer Prize winner  Interpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri

I’ve never read any of Lahiri’s books and that’s about to change. Her short story collection won the Pulitzer Prize in 2000 and it’s been recommended to me more times than I can count, but I never got around to reading it until now.

Synopsis from Amazon.ca: Navigating between the Indian traditions they’ve inherited and the baffling new world, the characters in Jhumpa Lahiri’s elegant, touching stories seek love beyond the barriers of culture and generations. In A Temporary Matter,” published in The New Yorker, a young Indian-American couple faces the heartbreak of a stillborn birth while their Boston neighborhood copes with a nightly blackout. In the title story, an interpreter guides an American family through the India of their ancestors and hears an astonishing confession.

Have you ever done a reading challenge? What are your reading goals for 2017?