What I Read in April

April was a wonderful book month for me.  I got through a pretty diverse little pile of books (and audiobooks) and I truly enjoyed each and every single one of them.  Lately, I've been a little more difficult to please when it comes to what I'm reading and so it was refreshing to feel like all of the books on shelf, in my e-reader, and on my phone were worth my while.  

In order of most- to least- favorite, here's what kept be busy in the last month.

"David Copperfield" by Charles Dickens
Honestly, I only started in on this book because I think it's good for me to read a classic once in a while.  What I didn't realize what how great an observer of human character Charles Dickens was and just how funny this book would be.  I listened to an audiobook version narrated by Ralph Cosham and it was fantastic.  Yes, it is a little long and it took me over a month to finish it (also, I had to return it to the library a couple of times) but I always looked forward to coming back to it and all of it's unique characters (and a few caricatures).  If you're looking to brush up on your classic novels, I'd really recommend this one.

"Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear" by Elizabeth Gilbert
I felt like she changed my life once with "Eat, Pray, Love" (don't judge, I was going through a hard time) and now she's done it again.  "Big Magic" is a call to action for everyone to find that artist inside and let her out to play.  I put off reading this because, after hearing what it was about, I felt like it really wouldn't be for me.  Sure, I dabble in some (terrible) painting and about once a year I'll decide that I should write more, but I don't really think of myself as an incredibly creative person.  It's just kind of intimidating to describe oneself that way when there are so many people doing what you wish you could do, only they're doing it about 100x better.  But, for me, the real message of "Big Magic" is not to take yourself too seriously.  So what if your paintings never get good enough to sell in a gallery or if your blog only gets a few hits a week?  That's not the point.  The point is to commune with the magic that is inside you and all around you in order to lead a full and beautiful life.  This is something that anyone can do no matter their age, talents, or history.  Read this if you're feeling a little stuck and need a warm reminder that there is more to life than work, laundry, and internet-shopping (er, or was that just me?).

"True Love: A Practice for Awakening the Heart" by Thich Nhat Hanh
In any other month, this book would have probably made it to the top of my "favorites" list.  This month, it was up against a lot of competition but I still recommend it highly.  I first learned about Thich Nhat Hanh in college for a class I was taking about Buddhism.  His is one on the only books that has survived multiple moves and purges and still sits on my shelf today.  I don't know what took me so long to pick up something else he's written but I am glad I finally did.  It's a quick read (only 120 pages) but I feel that it's a book that I can return to time and again for advice about how to be more present in all of my relationships.  Thich Nhat Hanh's writing is deceptively simple - he makes the concepts seem so obvious but the challenge comes in actually applying them to daily life.  

"Someone" by Alice McDermott
This is just a beautifully told novel telling the story of a woman's life in fragments that are somehow woven together perfectly. I feel like it's a bit of a hard sell since the plot sounds so ordinary (girl grows up, gets her heart broken, gets a job, gets married, has kid, grows old), but don't let that stop you from reading this.  As it turns out, ordinary lives can be filled with immense joy and sorrow and Alice McDermott masterfully captures all this quiet beauty in less than 300 pages.

"Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter" by Tom Franklin
Sometimes, we all just need a good crime novel.  Or maybe that's just the Nancy Drew-loving child who still lives inside of me demanding to be fed.  I really enjoyed this book, especially the fact that part of it was written from the point of view of an isolated and misunderstood Boo Radley type of character.  There are surprises up until the very end, which helps keep those pages turning, but I also felt like there were some plot holes that lessened my overall enjoyment of the book.  I listened to it as an audiobook and it kept me good company for house chores but I probably wouldn't tell anyone that they need to go out and read it.

So there they are, the books that made my month.  I feel like this was a pretty diverse selection, each book with its own charms.  Have you read any of these?  What did you think?  What was your favorite book from the last month?