Wild Park Antidote; Service Lies
Wild: Lost and Found on the Pacific Crest Trail, by Cheryl Strayed
A quarter of the way through this memoir, I was in love with it, but by the end I felt kinda meh. I mean, I still liked it, but I didn't feel like it lived up to its potential. The trail bits were great - very vivid, very immediate, and fun. And the parts about her mom were equally vivid, and heartbreaking in the way very good books are. But the memories of self-destructive behavior (and there are lots of those) were distant and disconnected. I wondered whether perhaps in the act of pulling herself together after all the traumas described herein, the author had also pulled herself quite a ways from the person she was when they were going on? Like, she wasn't that person anymore, she didn't feel the same way about the people she was describing in those sections anymore, and so those bits just ... didn't fit? didn't ring true? I can't quite put my finger on it. I'm going to read other things by her, because the best parts of this book were very good indeed.
Eleanor and Park, by Rainbow Rowell
Glorious all the way through. Heartbreaking and honest and not cleaned-up the way YA books (even good ones) sometimes are. The author is very very very good at describing certain momentary experiences in a way that casts one back to being young and finding out what it's like to fall in love - without bowdlerizing the experience. (Warning: one of the families in this novel is very fucked up. This made the book better for me, but also a lot more difficult.)
Anastasia at Your Service, by Lois Lowry (reread)
Charming and light and full of unexpected salience. Glad I'm rereading these.
The Antidote: Happiness for People Who Can't Stand Positive Thinking, by Oliver Burkeman
Hm. While I was reading this, I thought it was absolutely brilliant, and I kept wanting to share bits of it out loud with people, and I felt like it helped me remember Important Things about myself WITHOUT being a self-help book. Despite the self-helpy title, it's really more a work of microhistory mixed with opinion? Like a travel memoir, only about ways people have tried to be happy instead of about a place. It seemed like a Personally Significant Book and I made a mental note to reread it some time. However, a month and a half later, I ... don't remember almost any of what the book covered, specifically. It was a very intense week, that week I was reading this book, and I spent a lot of it out late with friends or out early walking alone by the creek. So my blank spots are probably nothing to do with it, and completely to do with me. But there you go. Oh, also, the narrative voice is wonderful - full of that British dry humor that I find delightful in all its forms, and skeptical, and self-aware. So if you like those sorts of voices, you should definitely find this book.
Love and Lies: Marisol's Story, by Ellen Wittlinger
This was quite good in many of the same ways that Hard Love was, but it suffered a bit from sequelitis. And trying too hard in general, which led to some of the non-main characters being a little too 2D. Which, you know, made it a fun book instead of an excellent book, so I'm not actually complaining. It's a fun book! But Hard Love was excellent.