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Everything I Read In April 2020

May 7, 2020 / Books

The Great Alone

Fiction / Historical Fiction

Everything I Read in April 2020. Book Review, The Great Alone.

This book was recommened to me by my boyfriend’s sister, and I think I am going to have to ask for her recommendations more often! This book is definitely in my Top 3 of 2020!

This book takes place in Alaska, during the 1970s. Written from the viewpoint of Leni, a 13-year-old, The Great Alone is equal parts family drama and survival story. The writting is impeccable, haunting, and heartbreaking. The book has some very dark themes – substance abuse, physical abuse, survival, love + loss – and really left me shaking at some points. The descriptions of the last great frontier, Alaska, really make you feel like you’ve been transported there.

This is a long read (over 400 pages) but it really flies by. There are twists and turns and will if you’re not careful, will keep you up well past your bedtime. I’ll be recommending this one as a must-read to everyone!

Final Score: 5/5 or A

Start With Why

Non-Fiction / Business / Leadership / Self-Help

Everything I Read in April 2020. Book Review, Start With Why.

This book has been on my to-do list for years (it was given to me by a former boss) but I kept putting it off for one reason or another. Now that I finally read it, I can see why it is so highly recommended. While it can feel very repetitive (as almost all non-fiction books go, this book could just be a blog post or TED Talk), it is full of insight about how to be a better leader, more inspirational and more productive.

“Any organization can explain what it does; some can explain how they do it; but very few can clearly articulate why.” This is the basis of this book. Using many concrete examples, (Martin Luther King Jr., Steve Jobs, the Wright Brothers) Sinek details why some organizations/leaders are more innovative, influential and profitable than others. Using his framework, The Golden Circle, Sinek walks us through how to lead and inspire.

A few key takeways:

  • “If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said a faster horse.” Henry Ford
  • “I can make a decision with 30% of the information. Anything more than 80% is too much.” Colin Powell
  • “We remind ourselves of our values by writing them on the wall, as nouns. But nouns are not actionable. You can’t build systems or develop incentives around those things. It’s nearly impossible to hold people accountable to nouns. And it you have to write “honesty” on your wall to remind you to do it, then you probably have a bigger problem.”

Final Score: 4/5 or B+

The Ocean At The End Of The Lake

Fiction / Fantasy / Magical Realism

Everything I Read in April 2020. Book Review, The Ocean At The End Of The Lane.

First off, this is not more normal genre, but COVID-19 has me reading books I normally wouldn’t. In all honesty, I thought this book was going to be horror but I personally wouldn’t put it in that category. It feels more like fantasy to me, with some magical realism elements.

The story begins with a middle-age man returning to his childhood home for a funeral, which leads him to a pond that brings back memories long forgotten, and somewhat frightening. Forty years earlier, the narrator met Lettie Hempstock, who lives at the house at the end of the lane with her mother and grandmother. Throughout the novel (more of a novella, in my opinion) the narrator and Lettie unleash a magical darkness, which Lettie must protect this young boy from.

While the story itself is very intriguing, the ending is what really pushes this book over the end. It left me with so many questions (in a good way) and had me wanting to re-read it immediately. Is this a haunting story of something magical and out-of-this world, or, is this a child’s interpretation of very adult events?

Final Score: 4/5 or B

The Round House

Fiction / Fantasy / Magical Realism

Everything I Read in April 2020. Book Review, The Round House.

Okay, can we just admire this cover for a second? So good, right!? This was my first novel from Louise Erdich, a Minnesota author, and I can understand why she is so revered. The writing in this novel is so beautiful and lyrical and honestly just so stunning in some parts.

The Round House is the story of a young son seeking justice after his mother is the victim of a brutal attack and rape. When his mother begins to withdraw from the family, the narrator begins looking for his mothers attacker, with the help of his best friend. While this is a beautiful work of literary fiction, it is also a murder mystery and coming-of-age novel.

This book reads and starts off very slow, but once I got to the middle, I was very captivated. This was a great introduction to this author and I will certainly be picking up one of her other novels now.

Final Score: 3/5 or B-