More Pandemic Readings

Gosh, I read so many good books over the past year as I stayed “safer at home”. I’ll just throw out some titles of the best ones for you.

One of the most fun books I read is BETTER LUCK NEXT TIME by Julia Claiborne Johnson. The setting is the Flying Leap Ranch in Divorce Capital of the World- Reno, Nevada in the 1930s. The ranch is where wealthy women stayed while fulfilling their 6-week residency requirement to get the Reno divorce. The phrase “better luck next time” is what a divorce judge would say to the women when he granted their divorces. The narrator is Dr. Howard Stoval Bennett III, better known as Ward. He is a good looking- Cary Grant look alike who worked at the ranch while saving for med school. The good doctor reminisces about his time at the ranch, in particular about two of the women who stayed at the ranch part of a summer. Nina O’Malley is a dare devil heiress who was at the ranch a third time trying to get a third divorce, and Emily Bowers, a timid heiress with a cheating husband. The story is much more than just a recount of the trio’s hilarious antics. It’s a story of a love affair with long term consequences….

ALL ADULTS HERE by Emma Straub is a well-told story of aging parents, grown siblings and a dose of teenage wisdom. It’s very poignant because the mother, Astrid begins questioning her parental abilities as she sees her grown kids struggle with life’s challenges. And how to now talk about some difficult things which were swept under the rug over the years. How to apologize when no one wants to hear it? And how to announce a new life course as a 68 year old woman when you know it will be shocking and heartbreaking to some of those you love? And why is acceptance so hard even we love someone?

One of my favorite pandemic books is A HUNDRED SUNS by Karin Tanabe. Set in Paris and Indochina (Vietnam) in the 1930s. There are so many layers to this wonderful story I don’t really know how to peel the onion! I’ll just say this- there’s love and murder, poverty and wealth, champagne and opium, all the ingredients of a great story. Lots of good history about France colonizing Indochina. And great characters. Just read it!

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