California by Edan Lepucki - Have you ever read a book and wanted to like it, but just didn't? That was my experience with California. Most frustratingly, I couldn't pinpoint what it was about the book that bothered me. Mostly, the issue was boredom. I didn't care about the characters and I wasn't compelled by their stories. Cal and Frida are a married couple who have left semi-post-apocalyptic Los Angeles and headed out into the wilderness to make their own way. They live a life of isolation in a shack in the woods... until they don't. There's backstory, mostly about Frida's family and about Cal's college years, but it all fell flat for me.
Acceptance by Susan Coll - Another book from my mom. This one made me glad that I'm not currently applying to college. The story follows three kids in a very competitive high school in Maryland, as well as an admissions officer at a small liberal arts college that finds itself, by error, on the US News and Reports Top 50 Colleges. People are psychotic. I genuinely hope this novel is satire, but I worry that it really wasn't. From the crazy, pushing parents, to the hyper competitive and socially awkward kids, everyone was a nightmare. I don't remember my college application days like this, thankfully. Overall, a smart and funny look at the process.
The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck - A classic, but one I'd never read. DT and I were sent this book by a great college friend (which reminds me that I need to text him now that I've finished reading) and I'm glad he did. Crossing one more classic off my list is awesome. The Grapes of Wrath follows the Joad family as they make their way west to California, chasing jobs and money, hope of a future. Steinbeck excels at description, at the plight of the common man, and at the destruction of the land itself. He looks at the corruption of large companies and the mistreatment of the poor. It feels very familiar. I loved it, but that ending. Even knowing that was coming, it still felt like such an odd place to end the novel
Shovel Ready by Adam Sternbergh - Recommended by mom, again. Super cool, super original. Dirty bombs wipe out New York City and the ultra-rich begin "plugging in", essentially living in a virtual reality world, paying people to keep their bodies alive while their minds exist elsewhere. Spademan is a garbageman, formerly literally and now figuratively. He is a killer for hire, until he is hired to kill one girl and everything changes. It's smart, it's noir, it's quirky, and it's completely unlike anything else I've read, which is always a pleasure.