The Books I'm Reading Now
I'm reading Honor, Thrity Umrigar's story of love, loyalty, oppressive tradition, and hope for change in India; I'm listening to Nobody Will Tell You This But Me, Bess Kalb's love letter to her late grandmother, based on voicemails from and exchanges with with the formidable, fiercely loving woman; and I'm reading All the Frequent Troubles of Our Days, Rebecca Donner's narrative nonfiction about her great-great-aunt, an American who led a powerful underground resistance to the Nazis in World War II Germany.
What are you reading and enjoying these days, bookworms?
01 Honor by Thrity Umrigar
In Thrity Umrigar's Honor, Indian-American journalist Smita has reluctantly returned to India. She's reporting on the case of Meena, a Hindu woman who was brutally punished by her village and her family for marrying a Muslim man.
Delving into Meena's story makes clear to Smita that tradition continues to overpower personal choice in many small villages of her home country--and threatens to unearth the secrets of Smita's own family and their history.
Meanwhile, Smita is drawn to an Indian man she meets on assignment. She considers the ease with which she could enter a casual romantic entanglement--while she desperately fights for Meena's right to make basic choices about her love and her life path.
02 Nobody Will Tell You This But Me by Bess Kalb
I'm listening to Bess Kalb's irresistible love letter to her late grandmother, Nobody Will Tell You This But Me.
Emmy-nominated writer Kalb saved every one of her grandmother's voicemails, and here she uses them to construct a picture of a formidable, tough-love, fiercely protective matriarch in Bobby Bell.
Through Bell's voice we also learn what has shaped the other women of the family: we hear rich stories of Bell's own mother--who fled Belarus in her youth--and her hardships and determination; and we glimpse the difficult relationship between Bobby and her daughter (Kalb's mother) and how it affected each woman's life trajectory.
Nobody Will Tell You This But Me is based upon Bobby's stories and exchanges with Kalb, but I knew I was hooked on this one and on Bobby's voice when Kalb began the book with her grandmother's imagined critique of her own funeral.
03 All the Frequent Troubles of Our Days by Rebecca Donner
The subtitle of Rebecca Donner's nonfiction work All the Frequent Troubles of Our Days is The True Story of the American Woman at the Heart of the German Resistance to Hitler.
In All the Frequent Troubles, Donner traces the account of her great-great-aunt Mildred Harnack, American leader of one of the largest underground resistance groups of World War II Germany.
An American PhD candidate in Germany as World War II unfolded, Mildred witnessed the emergence of Nazi ideas and power. She began to hold meetings in her apartment of political activists and others in opposition to the disturbing movement.
Donner follows Mildred's path of recruiting Germans to the resistance, writing and distributing dangerous pamphlets opposing Nazi dogma, sabotaging Nazi efforts, and helping Jews escape danger.
This powerful work of narrative nonfiction tracks Mildred through her courageous efforts, through immeasurable difficulty and challenge, and to her life cut short because of her repeated moral stands.