What I’ve Read This Summer – So Far

Bridget Jones: Mad About the Boy, Helen Fielding

A friend of mine passed along her copy of this book to me and she endorsed it as a vacation read, which is when she’d picked it up. I was skeptical because, as much as loved the first two books, I’d read them at a different time in my life. There are some things that resonated with me when I was younger but didn’t quite hold up for me 20 years later (I’m looking at you Sex and the City!)

When this story begins, Bridget is the widowed Mrs Darcy, who had been focused on raising her two young children but finds herself ready to start moving forward with dating and a new career. Her journey is fraught with hilarity.

My friend was absolutely right in her assessment. It was a good book to just be mildly entertained.

Nomadland: Surviving America in the Twenty-First Century, Jessica Bruder

My husband and I occasionally romanticize about a retirement where we would live in an RV, spending our summers living on the Bruce Peninsula and then moving south for the winter. That’s not the kind of lifestyle this book is about though. This is about the growing number of Americans who can no longer afford to live in conventional homes so they’ve hit the road full time. It’s written by a journalist who immersed herself in this subculture for a few years.

These nomads live in all sorts of vehicles – from mass-produced RVs to converted buses and vans all the way down to people just living out of their cars. Many of them travel around the country doing short-term seasonal work to survive. The jobs are often physically demanding and sometimes dangerous and while these travellers are of all ages, many are older. For them, Freedom 55 has been replaced with 10 hour plus days in an Amazon warehouse in Nevada or harvesting sugarbeets in the Midwest for minimum wage.

This was such a disheartening story and ever since I read it I’ve actually felt a bit dirty shopping with Amazon. With the increasing gap between the haves and have-nots and I can only assume that the next step for the United States will see the poor and aged driven into Amazon run Dickensian-esque workhouses when those people can no longer sustain their life on the road.

We Are Never Meeting In Real Life: Essays, Samatha Irby

I’d never heard of Samantha Irby but I was drawn to her book based on the cover. Sometimes you can judge a book that way. She’s a comedian and blogger and this book is a collection of essays about her life. It’s great stuff. I really admire writers who can take their complicated relationships, less than perfect childhoods and most embarrassing moments and turn them into quality entertainment.

The Great Alone, Kristin Hannah

This was one of those books that people just won’t shut up about so I had to see if it lived up to the hype. It was very good.

Told mainly through the eyes of a teenage girl whose father, a Vietnam veteran with PTSD moves their family to an isolated part of Alaska to live off the grid. In a remote community where even the most experienced homesteaders and survivalists could perish with the slightest misstep, they struggle to keep afloat while her father’s mental illness worsens.

Garbo Laughs, Elizabeth Hay

I read the first 100 or so pages before asking myself: what is the book even about? Then, I read 100 more and was still asking that question. Despite the thin plot, I kept reading, as the characters were engaging enough and the writing was excellent.

I still don’t really know how to describe it. It’s about a group of neighbours drawn together by their love of classic movies. I think?

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