The one good thing about the pandemic is it has given me much time to read books. No more excuses as I have all the time in the world right now! This year I have read 39 books so far and plan to make it to an even 40 if I can get myself through Bloodlands: Europe Between Hitler and Stalin by the end of the month. I don’t know what compelled me to read such a disturbing history of how Stalin and Hitler and their supporters degraded, deported, imprisoned, tortured and murdered hundreds of thousands of people. I haven’t finished the book yet but I have to say that after listening to the first four chapters on Audible that I really feel sorry for Ukrainians, Belarussians and Poles in addition to all the Jewish people who lived in these places during this time period. How can people treat each other this way and get away with it? That’s one of many questions I have had while listening to this book.
Anyway, I don’t want to be a downer because I know lots of us are already in a dark place because of the pandemic. The main purpose of this post is to call attention to a few of the books I have read so far this year as worthy of your time and attention. I am going to start with two nonfiction picks.
Dark Towers: Deutsche Bank, Donald Trump and an Epic Trail of Destruction by David Enrich. This book was super interesting from start to finish. It was well-written and well-researched. I learned a lot about the many unethical and criminal activities Deutsche Bank has engaged in over the years. It was also the main bank to support Donald Trump financially when no other bank would. One branch of the bank said no more loans to Trump after lending him money for Trump Tower in Chicago and not getting paid back. But another part of the bank kept lending him millions of dollars despite his awful credit history. The men who ran this organization cared more about making money than anything else and many people and organizations got hurt as a result. A few high-level bank employees even killed themselves, including Bill Broeksmit, among others.
Jesus, Interrupted: Revealing the Hidden Contradictions in the Bible (And Why We Don’t Know About Them) by Bart D. Ehrman. This was an interesting book about Jesus and Christianity written by an agnostic Biblical scholar. I learned a lot about the many contradictions in the four gospels and also learned about the evolution in the beliefs of early Christians. For example, the idea of the holy trinity (father, son and holy ghost) is not mentioned at all in the Bible and was a concept developed several centuries after the Bible was written. I am also in a Bible Study group right now and this book helped provide me with important historical context to what we are reading and discussing.
Here are three good fiction novels I read this year:
American Dirt by Jeanine Cummins. Compelling and well-written tale about a Mexican mother and son’s harrowing journey from Acapulco to the United States after their entire family is killed by a Mexican gang leader. Once you start reading or listening to it, you will find it is hard to put down.
The Heart’s Invisible Furies by John Boyne. Such a great novel in every way. The plot is intriguing and the writing is very good. It follows the life of a gay man in Ireland for over 7 decades, from 1945 when the narrator is born of a single woman to his life in Ireland in 2015. It was written by John Boyne, a gay Irish man who also wrote the very powerful novel, The Boy in the Striped Pajamas.
When All is Said by Anne Griffin. I listened to this book on Audible and was profoundly moved by it. I cried a lot while listening to the first and the last chapters. It was extremely well written and included many Irish expressions and turns-of-phrase. Hearing it delivered with great emotion by a man with an Irish accent made it even more compelling. It took me back to when I lived in Limerick and made me miss Ireland and its lovely people. They are so kind, genuine and funny. I highly recommend this book to everyone. I must have a thing for Irish authors because I also really loved Angela’s Ashes by Frank McCourt.
So if you are looking for some good books to read, here are five that you might like. What are some of the books you have read during this pandemic that you enjoyed? I’d love to hear from you, too, dear reader.
For a complete list of the 39 books I have read this year, see my Goodreads Challenge list. https://www.goodreads.com/user_challenges/20914197. I am in two book discussion clubs in Spain so those books account for at least 20 of those I have I read this year.