Time for March books! Okay, it is technically April now. Can I use that as my April fool’s joke? Yeah… pretty terrible. But missing out on a month of reading would be even worse. (Too nerdy? That one was too nerdy.) Let’s just get to it. (As always, this post contains affiliate links. That doesn’t mean you pay more, just that it helps me out if you purchase through these links. All opinions are mine.)
This month I have a nonfiction behind the scenes of Miss America, a story of two sisters separated sadly and how that shapes them, a drama with a turn I did not see coming, and a space story that is more of a personal rebuilding.
Being Miss America: Behind the Rhinestone Curtain by Kate Shindle. This is written by Miss America 1998. It goes back and forth between the history of the pagent and her experiences with it. The history parts were pretty interesting. The pageant started as basically a publicity stunt to keep people vacationing in Atlantic City one more week at the end of summer. But it has grown into so much more. This book focuses mainly on the times that Miss America has changed over the years. It may have started as a stunt, but it is part of Americana now. Shindle discusses several Miss Americas who didn’t fit the mold and changed the way the pageant was run. I enjoyed learning more about it. The chapters about the author’s experiences were interesting too. It is easy to think of Miss America being a bit flighty, or perhaps too conservative, but there is a lot that goes into the job. Way more than just a nice body. It’s always interesting to get the behind the scenes story on what life is like for big name people. And Miss America has a lot going on after she wins the crown. I would recommend this book if you like learning about the history of American culture, and honestly about feminism. It gives a different perspective, and I always like that.
The Sisters by Nancy Jensen. We meet two sisters in the 1920s in the beginning of this one. They live with their stepfather, who, well, doesn’t behave well to the older daughter. She devises a plan with her little sister’s beau to get away and take the little sister. Messages get crossed and the little sister never follows or even learns of the plan. The rest of the book is about the next two generations of this split family. I did enjoy this book in that I like reading generational books. What I didn’t like was that it was basically a bummer. Yes, bad things happen to the women in this book. Most of them don’t seem to take a ton of responsibility for their own choices or action. That always frustrates me. Sometimes life throws you a lemon, you just have to make do. It did encourage me to remember that we don’t always have the full story in life. We don’t always know why someone said something or acted the way they did. If we can get past our own hurt we might be able to make amends and gain back a relationship we would have otherwise lost.
Luckiest Girl Alive by Jessica Knoll. I loved this one. It actually got me. I won’t give away the twist, but I was sitting there reading and really felt a bam! What just happened? I had to go back and reread it! That rarely happens, so I loved it. This book is about a woman named Ani. She was bullied in high school after falling into and then getting ostracized from the cool crowd. As an adult she still seems to be fighting to prove herself to these people from her past. She has an old money fiance, a fancy job, and seems to have it all, as we think we should want. Of course we all know we can’t erase our past, no matter how much we want to. It is a part of us, and those who love us need to be able to accept that. I loved this book. It would be a great one for a summer vacation- I didn’t want to put it down.
Beacon 23 by Hugh Howey. I picked up this one because the author wrote the book Wool. Pat got me that for our last anniversary (traditional gift was wool) based solely on the title. Fortunately it was really good, and this one was too. It takes place in the future, where people travel through space a lot. Because of this they have beacons set up at various locations to warn travelers of asteroid belts and the like. These beacons are run by single operators, kind of like lighthouses in the past. Our operator was a war hero from on ongoing war with an alien species. What I liked about the book is that in large parts you have to decide if what is happening is real, or is it just some sort of hallucination or fantasy from a lonely man. We get to go along with the operator as he tries to piece himself back together. The comparison to keeping his beacon running really illustrates how we work through traumas. It also touches on the questions of how does one specific life weigh against all of humanity? Howey is a wonderful author, and I love his works.
These were some good ones! I’d love to hear from other people who have read them! What did you think? And please don’t think you have to agree with me- some of the best discussions are when we don’t like the books! Any suggestions for what to read next? Comment and let me know!