Welcome back to Jackie Rambling On About Books She Read! This update may be comprised of the most random assortment of books so far, so please bear with me.
The Localist: Think Independent, Buy Local, and Reclaim the American Dream, by Carrie Rollwagen
One of the things I love most about the city of Birmingham is how many opportunities there are to support local businesses. The city is booming with small shops, fantastic restaurants, and local artists, and my friends and I are constantly discovering new gems. So when I discovered the Kickstarter for The Localist, touted as a part-memoir/part non-fiction account of Carrie’s year of only shopping small in Birmingham, I decided to back it so I could get a copy of the book for myself. And while I’m not upset that I did, the book was very much not what I expected.
First things first, grammatical errors. The Localist wasn’t riddled with them, but there were enough severely noticeable ones that I would groan in grammatical agony. Example: “Each credit card swipe effects me; it also effects my neighbors…” -insert .gif of me pulling my hair out- I completely understand that this is an issue with going the self-publishing route, but there was just too much for me to give it a pass on this point.
Secondly, I was expecting more of a A Year of Biblical Womanhood-style memoir, chronicling Carrie’s year of only shopping local. There was about one chapter of that, and the rest was just her research and writings about the importance of supporting local businesses. I’m not sure if I just misread the promotional blurbs about the book, but I felt misled as to the style.
The main thing, however, was that the book read like a hellfire and brimstone sermon about how big box stores and Amazon are ruining the local economy. Early in the book, Carrie tells about two friends she has, one of whom hates cars and rails against them at every occasion, and another who prefers to bike or walk but does’t shame her friends who use cars for transportation. The first friend, Carrie says, makes her want to get in her car all the more, while the second friend’s attitude is more encouraging and supportive, making her want to walk and bike more. Carrie’s book, unfortunately, came across to me like the first friend, especially in the chapters about Amazon.
Carrie raises a lot of good points about shopping local, and I agree with her basic premise, but the heavy-handed, overly-preachy tone of this book started making me bitter about the whole thing. Sorry, Carrie. You still opened one of my favorite Bham coffeeshops, so you get credit for that.
Anne of Green Gables, by L.M. Montgomery
I was going to make Emma the first “classic” I read in 2015, but Jane Austen’s writing style and I just do not work well together for long stretches. So I put it down and grabbed this old favorite instead.
Anne Shirley is one of the greatest protagonists in literature, in my opinion. There is an unabashed honesty in the way she is written. She is talkative, naive, optimistic, easily distracted, intelligent, stubborn, and above all, joyful. She loves her friends and her family with every ounce of her being, and she engages with others with ease. She makes mistakes and conscientiously learns from them. In short, she gets the kind of character development throughout the novel that every lover of stories wishes for their favorite characters.
If you didn’t read AOGG as a kid, it may not be a book you ever develop a full appreciation for. But I’d encourage you to read it anyway because it really is a wonderful bit of storytelling.
And if you love the book like I do, check out the marvelous web series Green Gables Fables. It’s not the most professionally done of all the literary web series adaptations out there (and there are a ton), but it makes the most sense and is a joy to watch.
Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me (And Other Concerns), by Mindy Kaling
Going to the hospital requires a book you’ve read before that makes you laugh, so obviously this is the one I grabbed before my three-day spend-the-night party at Trinity Medical.
I’ve talked about Mindy Kaling’s book before (mainly about how much I love it), so I won’t blabber on about it more. But if you love funny women talking about life, you need to read this book. This is the third time I’ve read it, and it’s still just as hysterical (if not more so). It also contains some really lovely bits about friendships and other relationships. Just go read it.
The Girl on the Train, by Paula Hawkins
The Internet told me to read this, and the Internet was so right.
TGotT is a great, POV-swapping mystery about a woman named Rachel rides the train back and forth to London every day. Every day, the train stops at a faulty light, and Rachel is able to see into a house that backs up to the tracks. She has developed a life in her head for the couple she sees that lives there, and they’ve become almost like imaginary friends. One day, Rachel sees something she isn’t supposed to (dun-dun-duhhhhhhhhhhh), and her world begins to unravel from there.
There is so much more to the plot, but that’s as much as I’m willing to give away right now. The book is a bit Gone Girl-ish in nature, especially with the POV-swapping aspect, though with less OMGWHATJUSTHAPPENED (though that’s more because Gone Girl had a mess-ton, not because TGotT had very little). I didn’t guess the ending too early, which is a major plus, and the characters were all distinct, if not fully fleshed-out. It was a great book for February-and-it’s-cold-outside, and I’d definitely recommend it.
In a very odd sequence of events, I’ve actually managed to find myself in the middle of three books: Emma (Jane Austen), So Brave, Young and Handsome (Leif Enger), and The Mime Order (Samantha Shannon). So you can look forward to those three (hopefully) in the next update.
As always, recommendations are more than welcome. Happy reading!