The Lamplighters by Emma Stonex
I LOVED this book. It was inspired (though is no way based on) a story of three lighthouse keepers who went missing over a hundred years ago. The Lamplighters a locked door mystery with stopped clocks, a table laid for two instead of three, and a rope that has disappeared. The story shifts between 1972, when the fictional keepers went missing, and 1992, when an author interviews their wives and girlfriend in an attempt to discover what really happened.
I loved the language and structure and mystery and the idea that you might be one person in a particular setting and someone else in another. I loved how atmospheric the book was and the slow unfolding of secrets. What else can I say? Go read it!
Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen by Christopher McDougall
I’ve been meaning to read this book for ages, ever since I came across Christopher McDougall’s article about the Tarahumara / Raramuri people in a back issue of Runner’s World. You’ve probably heard about the Tarahumara, a Mexican tribe that runs incredibly long distances (up to two hundred miles at a time) through their mountainous homeland. The book touches on a number of things — chronic running injuries (I’ve been there), the sheer joy of running, the intense (and a little crazy) world of ultramarathoners, and modern running shoe design (how they’ve altered a natural running form and how those chronic injuries are connected to all that cushioning).
My running partner and I both listened to this a few months apart, and it became a big discussion on our runs. We’ve started adding a barefoot lap in a grassy field near our route to build up our foot muscles. I’ll be thinking about this one for years to come, I suspect.
Effortless: Make It Easier to Do What Matters Most by Greg McKeown
I read McKeown’s first book, Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less, when it first came out and liked it, but it wasn’t life changing for me as it was for many readers. This one, though, hit me at the right time — my husband and I are now empty nesters, I’m pretty established in my career, and most recently, I’d just finished a writing deadline. In other words, I was ready for a bit of insight for the short and long term.
McKeown defines the effortless state as “an experience many of us have had when we are physically rested, emotionally unburdened, and mentally energized.” He talks about making work fun and easy (instead of assuming the hardest path is required) and aiming to accomplish more by trying less (holding to a sustainable pace, for example, rather than pushing through and risking burnout). I loved the sentence he ended with: “Life doesn’t have to be as hard and complicated as we make it.”
The Tenant of Wildfell Hall by Anne Bronte
I think this is the first time in my year and a half with the Dead Authors Society book club that we all equally loved a book! I am fascinated with the Brontes (their writing, their upbringing, their creative lives and tragic experiences, their influence on countless other writers, including Emily Dickinson). This was my first Anne novel. Next year we’ll finish up the Brontes and read Anne’s Agnes Grey, too.
The Tenant of Wildfell Hall is a slow burn love story that starts with a mysterious widow named Helen who moves with her young son to the secluded Wildfell Hall. Soon neighbors have plenty of opinions about her, and she becomes a social outcast. Readers learn she’s not actually a widow but has left her abusive, alcoholic husband. Wildfell Hall has been described as one of the first feminist novels. It was considered the most scandalous of the Bronte books (now that’s saying something!), and to protect Anne’s reputation, Charlotte made sure it wasn’t reissued after her sister’s death. I’m happy to say it’s available now. Such a good read!
What have you been reading lately?
Jessica Lawson says
Great list!! Thanks for sharing these recommendations 🙂 I just finished Kate DiCamillo’s latest (The Beatryce Prophecy), and Anne Ursu’s latest came in the mail today, so that’ll be next for me. I also started THE SPLENDID AND THE VILE (Erik Larson’s Churchill nonfiction book), gifted to me by my dad.
I had no idea there were new DiCamillo and Ursu books. I’m going to look them up in a minute. The only Erik Larson book I’ve read was DEVIL IN THE WHITE CITY, which I read in a couple days, I was so involved. My husband read a Churchill book in the last year. Could it be the same or is this one new?
Jess Lawson says
This one came out in February of 2020 🙂
Steve Cromwell says
To bookend Jessica’s comment, I just finished Kate DiCamillo’s first book, Because of Winn-Dixie. And I’ve always regretted that the Brontes weren’t my neighbors, so that I could visit them with a walk across a moor.
Such a good book. And my only complaint about Wildfell Hall was there weren’t many wind-whipped moors! Maybe one? Maybe none? I don’t quite remember, but whatever was there, it wasn’t enough.