The Sound of Gravel by Ruth Wariner- I had this one on my shelves for years, and despite many people telling me it was a lot like Educated by Tara Westover (which I loved) and The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls (which I loved), I just couldn't get myself to crack it open. As soon as I heard that it was about a polygamist family, I was automatically turned off. But I've seen rave reviews again lately, and decided I needed to give it a try. I do love a good memoir, and this one was a five star read for me. Ruth's family is certainly dysfunctional even aside from the polygamy, but it is always amazing how some people can survive these horrible childhoods and become successful, happy adults. I will be pressing this book into the hands of anyone who enjoys a good memoir and can't stop thinking about it myself.
Hidden Valley Road: Inside the Mind of an American Family by Robert Kolker is another non-fiction title from my list. Kolker writes about the Galvin family -all twelve children and parents who seemed to be living the American dream in sunny Colorado Springs. However, six of the Galvin boys would be diagnosed with schizophrenia, and the other six siblings were left to wonder when they, too, would have a mental breakdown. Kolker alternates between telling the Galvin's story and providing some history of mental illness and schizophrenia. I was absolutely fascinated by this family's story and couldn't put this book down. I was worried that the history portion would be dry and boring, but Kolker breaks this up nicely and it certainly does provide some important information. This was another great book that I'm so glad I found time to read this summer.
The Office: The Untold Story of the Greatest Sitcom of the 2000s by Andy Greene- I wasn't a watcher of The Office until last summer when I finally decided to watch every single episode before Netflix no longer provided access to it. That was a lot of very quick TV watching for me, but I fell in love with the show and there are several episodes I still recall in great detail. Oral histories always feel a little different to me. I think they are harder to read quickly, or in big chunks. My oldest daughter read this book and despite loving The Office, didn't just love this book. I found it interesting, but could see her hesitation with it. I certainly enjoyed it, but I don't know the names of producers or writers, and sometimes I didn't even know the actors' names. That probably made it harder for me to love this book, but I did enjoy the trip down memory lane and wish I could go back and rewatch some key parts of the series.
11/22/63 by Stephen King- this book is one my husband read earlier this year and absolutely loved. I've owned it for years and finally this summer asked a student of mine (who is obsessed with Stephen King) if he would want to buddy read it. I bought him a copy and we met once to talk about it. King is a talented story teller but I will admit that the length (nearly 900 pages) was a detractor for me. All I could think of was the stacks of other books I wanted to read, but couldn't find time for. It took me over a week (not slow, really, but slower than I normally get through books) to read the entire thing, and as I was nearing the end I was interrupted so many times I had to actually verify things with my husband. Since I finished it, I have thought about it a little more and can truly see how masterful King is with writing. The ending is still giving me something to think about. The premise is certainly thought provoking as well. Would I recommend this to others? Of course. Would I read it again? Maybe. Did I love it as much as my husband? No.
Have you read any of these books? What are your thoughts?