Dona and the Three Books

When last you heard from me I was lamenting my inability to finish a book. Good news! I finished 3 books since last Saturday. I finished 3 books in less than a week. I don’t remember the last time I did something like that — perhaps elementary school.

Please note, I did not begin and finish the three books in less than a week. I just finished them although I did start and finish one within 36 or so hours.

The book that pulled me out of my slump was The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot. I wasn’t excited about reading it — it was for my women-only book group. Someone suggested it a few months ago and the next month the host chose it for book group however it hadn’t been published in paperback at that time so we held off reading it until it was in paperback. I saw it at Costco and reluctantly picked it up.

The first couple of dozen pages did not leave me wanting more, but I persevered and after a while really began enjoying the book which goes back and forth between an in-depth discussion of cellular biology and a story about the family of the woman whose cells, taken and used for research without her informed consent, have led to many medical breakthroughs including the polio vaccine and the discovery that some strains of HPV is directly responsible for cervical cancer.

I preferred the science part of the book, which is unusual for me because I normally don’t like non-fiction. I had a difficult time relating to the family in the book. The author was brutally honest in her depiction of them — something she’d promised the daughter of Henrietta Lacks. I became weary of the daughter and her histrionics wore me out just reading about it.

I learned a lot about patient rights from this book — some things I’d never even thought about. I’m looking forward to our book group discussion of this one.

Directly after finishing Henrietta Lacks, I began reading Room by Emma Donoghue which arrived on my doorstep Saturday afternoon. Room was another book I was not looking forward to reading — I don’t like books written in a child’s voice. I didn’t want to read about a child and mother locked away in a room for years and years. I didn’t want to buy a hard cover book. I bit the bullet, however, and ordered it from Amazon (along with a cookbook I didn’t need). Truth be told — I did vote for Room when asked to choose my top three books out of a list of books I’d either read before and didn’t want to re-read or books I had no desire to read in the first place.

It took me from Saturday afternoon through Sunday night to finish Room and not because I loved it. It was compelling — I’ll say that about it. And I liked it more than I thought I would. I’ll not say any more about it in case you’re planning on reading it. I never got used to the child’s strange speech pattern and I felt it was unbelievable in parts.

After finishing Room I felt free to go back to Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand by Helen Simonson, which I did love. It is a sweet quirky romantic book with a couple of great characters. The fact that the author’s kids go to my son’s school is only a small reason I chose to read the book in the first place — I’d seen it on my “recommendations” page on Amazon and sitting in a friend’s living room. I suggested it for book group and no one was in the least interested. Ah well, I suppose it is a light read — not a lot of controversy really. It will make a pleasant movie — I’m hoping that the author gets her wish and Major Pettigrew is played by John Cleese.

So now I’m bookless — Fingersmith may be my next book, but I am listening to another Sarah Waters book at the moment and don’t want to confuse myself. I think I’ll read Susan Coll’s* Beach Week — to prepare myself for what to expect when my son leaves for his trip when school is out for Seniors.

*another (former) Whitman parent/author

I’m delighted that I am out of my reading slump. I feel back to myself again.

10 thoughts on “Dona and the Three Books

  1. Henrietta has been on my to-read list for a while. So I’m really glad you liked it.
    Already talked about Room with you.
    And I’m off to add the third book to my to-read list.

    But of all this, I liked your last two lines. I don’t feel like me either, if I’m not enjoying a book. Unfortunately these days I find it happening far too often.


  2. I’m happy you’re out of your slump too, because now I get to read your writing about your reading. And get some ideas about what (and not) to read next…


  3. Loved Henrietta! Saw an interview w/ her on Travis Smiley. She is a Memphis gal and she said she has never been so tired of writing HeLa! Ha! 😀

    I really need to read _Room_! I have checked it out twice and just don’t want to go down that road yet.

    Reading _Loving Frank_ now. Great! Give it a try if you haven’t already. 😀


    1. Thanks for visiting, Maggie! I didn’t know Rebecca Skloot was from Memphis.

      Looking forward to reading about Room on your blog.

      I adored Loving Frank.


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