I was walking on the trail behind my house in mid-October listening to the last few chapters of my favorite book of the month on audio book, and I was crying. With my headphones in my ears and sunglasses masking my face, I felt like I was in my own little world. But I knew that I was sobbing OUT LOUD.
If anyone walked past, they were going to wonder why this crazy woman was walking down the trail with tears streaming down her face and practically convulsing with the sounds of her audible cry.
I decided that if anyone asked if I was OK, I would say, “I’m fine. I’m completely fine.”
I would laugh at my own reference to Eleanor Oliphant, who — despite the title of her book — was NOT completely fine.
Eleanor Oliphant will rank at the top of my list of favorite fiction books for the year. It was definitely my favorite for the month of October.
I absorbed a lot of stories this past month, which I will review in order of my favorites. I listened to two on audio book. Two came in the form of new podcasts. And I sat down and read two of the stories in good old-fashioned hard cover books. That is something I haven’t done for a long time.
ELEANOR OLIPHANT IS COMPLETELY FINE
Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine is a beautiful story of pain and love. It was both funny and sad. The characters were complicated and simple.
It’s about child abuse, depression, loneliness and hopelessness. It’s about the power of kindness, compassion and stepping out of your world to care about the people around you. It had twists and turns and felt at times like a psychological thriller. It challenged the way I thought about depression, and it inspired me to think about what might really be happening in people’s lives to make them act the way they do.
LITTLE FIRES EVERYWHERE
I just finished Little Fires Everywhere last night, desperate to wrap this one up so I could mark it off in the month of October. This book was a page turner, and that’s a term I can use literally, since I read the ink and paper version of the book.
It’s probably been a few years since I actually READ a book with my eyes, opting to do almost all of my reading via audiobook. I am growing to love this new hobby that allows me to cuddle up under a blanket and fully focus on reading. I still love audio books because I can entertain my mind while doing other tasks, like driving, walking, filling the dishwasher or folding clothes. But it’s been nice to be fully absorbed in my own little world of book reading. I also don’t have to wait six months to get a book I want in audio format from the library.
The character development in Little Fires Everywhere was amazing. The author intertwined the stories of so many people in a beautiful way. It’s one of those books in which you are still wondering what it’s really about up until the very last chapter. I certainly won’t ruin in for you. But if you are a mom, this book will bring up many emotions centered around the love you can only have for a child.
Heavyweight is my favorite new podcast of the month. I had heard about this podcast many times, and wasn’t attracted to it because I assumed it was about boxing.
The podcast is formatted much like a true crime podcast with interviews from all aspects of each story. However, the stories are of everyday people who have one thing in common. They are all carrying some type of heavy weight (at least I THINK that’s the meaning of the show title.)
Each episode tries to resolve some mystery from the past. What would happen if you would have made a different choice? Can you go back and change the past? In each show, the host helps people do that.
In one episode, two sisters want to find out what happened to their childhood babysitter. In another, a son wants to find his father’s heirloom that he sold to buy drugs as a teen. In one episode, four friends remember the time they rode their bikes 240 miles across the country as kids.
The stories often aren’t dramatic. But the host takes the everyday events from a person’s life and tells them in a way that make them feel like a mystery.
One of the things I love most about the show is the host’s hilarious dry sense of humor. He injects funny phrases and sarcastic self-deprecating humor in such an entertaining way that I don’t even care about the actual story sometimes. I could listen to the podcast just to hear his wit.
DOLLY PARTON’S AMERICA
Next up on my list is a podcast called Dolly Parton’s America. I’ve learned so much about this American icon from listening to the first three episodes of the nine-part series. The host explores how Dolly has influenced culture and explains how this “dumb blonde” country singer is actually a skilled businesswoman who was way ahead of her time.
My last two books get knocked to the end of the list not because they weren’t good. But only because everything else I consumed this month was so great!
The River is a mystery about two young men who are on a summer adventure to boat through a wilderness area, when they realize they are being chased by a wildfire. They encounter a couple fighting and end up putting their own lives in danger when they find the husband paddling down the river alone without his wife they had seen earlier.
Through podcasts, Facebook posts and conversations, I’ve repeatedly seen and heard people recommend the “Chief Inspector Gamache” series by Louise Penny. I know people love it, but I couldn’t get through the first book, Still Life. I decided to give it another shot after several attempts.
It took me a while to wrap my brain around all that was happening in this book and piece it all together. But once I made it about halfway, it all started to make sense. I’ve been told that all of the other books in the series (and there are a LOT) are fun and suspenseful reads, if you love a good mystery.
I’m excited that I’ve finally finished the first book in the series so I can keep going with the umpteen others!
October was a big month at our house for many other reasons, as well:
- I started my new job as director of advancement at OneWay Ministries.
- I go to go visit Andrew at college and see him perform a rap song at chapel in front of the entire student body!
- Matt got a promotion at his work, and it’s been so fun to see him happily take on the added responsibility.
- Alayna is wrapping up her cheer season for high school football, and she made the competitive cheer team.
- Little Jayda got a concussion during gymnastics and only made it to school a few hours a day for the past few weeks.
What did you love in October? Tell me about it! I would love to hear.