Fret not, we haven’t died or fell into a deep ocean trench. Let’s just call it what it was, a hibernation. If you’re still here and reading this, thank you. If you’re not, well then it doesn’t matter because you’re probably doing something else. We hope it’s eating a cheese-centric snack.
The past few months have been hectic for the Saltern team. Having multiple jobs and being humans that need to sleep has left us a little, shall we say, burnt the fuck out. But, Saltern isn’t dead. We haven’t taken it out to the backfield. We’re just easing back into things.
So let’s slip into something more comfortable—what Aleesha’s been reading.
The worst part of moving (besides figuring out how the hell you’re going to get the red wine stains out of the carpet before inspection) is moving books. They’re heavy. And, if you’re anything like me, you’re attached to your books. Maybe you smell their spines in your free time. So, they have to come along to wherever you’re going.
In the last six years, I’ve moved about ten times. And I’ve never learned better. I’ve never purged my personal library. I schlepp books across the city, the province, and, once, the country. But my next move is a jump across the ol’ pond. All this to say, I’ve been reading the books I’ve had for at least a million years, so I don’t have to move them yet again.
In the past few months, I’ve read some books. I bet you have too. There have been some good and there have been some that I wished someone stole from my shelf before I had the chance to waste my time on them. (Sorry, Lauren Weisberger.) Here’s five of them.
The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah
I listened to this book on Audible and couldn’t stop. The audiobook is fifteen hours long and I consumed it in a day. I also knit a pair of socks. Not shabby for a Sunday.
The Great Alone follows Leni Albright and her parents as they move to Alaska after her father returns from Vietnam as a man that no one recognizes. His penchant for violence and doomsday-esque paranoia are only exacerbated by the intense isolation of their new Alaskan home. The Albrights have to take up homesteading and learn both the danger and beauty that lies within their family and the state.
Honestly, if you can put this book down, I applaud you. This story throws punches. Think of the unputdownable quality of early Jodi Picoult but with a tinge of icy tundra. Even if you don’t sing this book’s praises, it’s a quick read. Perfect for the beach or to help you avoid various responsibilities.
Revenge Wears Prada by Lauren Weisberger
This book was bad. I only finished it because I started and felt bad about getting rid of it before I finished. I read The Devil Wears Prada when I was in middle school, so I can’t say if this book was actually any better than the first because it’s been a good 10 years. Instead, I will perhaps unfairly judge this book against the seminal classic starring Meryl Streep, Anne Hathaway, and Emily Blunt.
The characters felt completely contrived and hardly realistic. They didn't stand on their own. If I hadn’t seen the movie, I mean, read the book first, I would have had no idea about these characters. The dialogue was atrocious and incredibly on the nose.
What I hated the most was the ways in which characters talked about fashion. It felt as though Weisberger wrote the book and then remembered it was supposed to be based in a fashion-centric world. Chanel, Manolo Blahnik, Oscar de la Renta and the likes were carelessly strewn across sentences. There was no compassion for the design or details of the pieces. This would’ve been fine if Andy had left the world of fashion, but she didn’t.
Don’t read this book. Hope for the movie and Meryl, Emily, and Anne’s ability to redeem even the worst storylines. In the meantime, have a few glasses of wine and try to figure out the title because I sure couldn’t.
I’ll Be Gone in the Dark: One Woman’s Obsessive Search for the Golden State Killer by Michelle McNamara
OKAY. READ. THIS. BOOK. IF. YOU. LIKE. TRUE. CRIME.
Did you get that? I’ll say it again if I have to. Read this effing book. I picked up I’ll Be Gone in the Dark a few weeks after the Golden State Killer had been caught. To be honest, I’m heartbroken that the McNamara spent so much of her life searching and obsessing over this horrible man who was caught a mere two years after her untimely death. She hunted this man until it killed her. And that is devastating.
The Golden State Killer was a serial killer and rapist that ravaged suburban California in the 1970s and 80s committing at least thirteen murders, over fifty rapes, and more than a hundred burglaries. He was originally known as both the East Area Rapist and the Original Night Stalker. It wasn’t until the early 2000’s when DNA testing came into fashion that the counties in which his crimes were committed realized that their monsters were the same man. McNamara is credited with coining the moniker the Golden State Killer.
McNamara is an incredible writer. She writes about such horrific things, the most atrocious acts, but she constructs each sentence in such a way that while what you’re reading is horrible it’s also incredibly beautiful. I like to think that was important to her. This book is hard to read and you can tell at sometimes it was hard to write. But, you can feel McNamara’s need to catch this man vibrating throughout the chapters, and it’s contagious.
This book is also heartwarming in the way that it was pieced together. McNamara died before she finished the book she spent years writing. The final book was put together by her editor, friends, and Golden State Killer experts.
In closing, read this damn book!
Educated by Tara Westover
When I picked up this book, I was expecting something more similar to Stolen Innocence or other things that I had read about the FLDS. But it wasn’t. It was better. Honestly, I ignorantly assumed this was about the FLDS when in truth the family wasn’t even a part of the fundamentalist movement.
Educated is a truly satisfying and triumphant read. The memoir delves into the idea of formal educated juxtaposed against lessons learned from a family preparing for the “end of days” on the side of an Idaho mountain.
If you’re at all interested in education or religion, this is a book for you! I don’t want to give too much away, but Obama recommended it on Twitter. And we all know how important it is to take things on Twitter for face value. But in all seriousness, trust Obama.
Circe by Madeline Miller
Truthfully, my knowledge of Greek mythology doesn’t extend much past Disney’s Hercules or this book about Helen of Troy that my friends and I would pass around in middle school because it had a sex scene. But this book was beautiful.
In Miller’s book, Circe is a nymph banished to the island of Aeaea where she harnesses her powers as a sorcerer. While she cannot leave the island, she is visited by familiar names such as Odysseus. The prose poetically swept me into a world I didn’t know a lot about. And. I. Loved. It. The characters I knew (Zeus, Hermes, Athena, etc.) played secondary or tertiary roles.
If you love Greek mythology, read this book. If you don’t, read this book. At 400 pages, Circe can feel dense at times, but it’s a gorgeous read told from the perspective of a kick-ass woman. I don’t know what more you could ask for.
So, that’s what I’ve been reading for the last bit. Tweet or message us your must reads and must avoids from this summer—we’d love to hear them.