The Small Backs of Children by Lidia Yuknavitch - A photographer is in Eastern Europe, capturing a war-town country. She snaps an instantly iconic image: a young girl, flying toward the camera as behind her, her home bursts into flames and explosions. What happens afterwards to the girl, to the photographer? I wanted to like this book so much, and at times, I did. At other times, the darkness, the violence, and the sex really made me want to stop reading. That said, sometimes we need to be confronted with things that make us uncomfortable.
Wild by Cheryl Strayed - I wish this hadn't taken me so long to read. I absolutely loved it. The writing was incredible. The story is beautiful and tragic and haunting and empowering. I've spent most summers hiking in the White Mountains of New Hampshire on an annual three-day trek, which is nothing compared to Strayed's taking on the Pacific Crest Trail, but maybe because of that, I could feel the trail under her feet, feel the heat pushing down on her, hear the bumps in the night that scared her. I've also lost a parent, and while my spiral afterwards wasn't as destructive and self-harming, I do understand those sentiments. Cannot say enough about this book. If you haven't read it, please do.
Girl in a Band by Kim Gordon - Sonic Youth has not been part of my music canon, but it is to so many people that I know. Reading Kim Gordon's memoir, she captures a sense of time and of place that a band like Sonic Youth could, and did, thrive in. From her childhood in Southern California to her move to New York City, and her "settling down" in Northhampton, Gordon is a beautiful writer and a compelling story-teller. That said, I got almost no sense of who she is as a person. Girl in a Band is a great read, but I wish that I had gotten to know it's author better through its pages. (Side note: After reading this, I watched the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame ceremony when Nirvana was inducted and Kim's performance of "Aneurysm" is badass punk rock.)
The Moonlit Garden by Corina Bomann - Lilly, a recent widow, owns an antiques shop in Berlin. One day, a strange man brings in a violin, tells her that it is for her, and leaves before she can get any more information. This starts the unraveling of a mystery that takes Lilly to London, to Italy, and eventually all the way to Sumatra in search of the violin's origin story. This book was light and pretty, but the dialogue was very stilted and unnatural (possibly a translation issue). I'd call this a beach read.