Squeaking this one in under the wire! The challenge for April was to pick the book that had been on your unread shelf for the longest and read it before the end of the month or get rid of it! I finished my April selection yesterday and am here to talk about it before we head in to May!
For this challenge, some of the other participants read books they’ve had on their shelves for ELEVEN years! Given the fact that I moved across the country last year, I haven’t had any on my books for a crazy long time, but Circling the Sun by Paula McLain had been weighing on my mind for the longest. I considered getting it for my Book of the Month selection in May 2016, and have considered adding it to my box most months after that! I finally borrowed a copy from my mom, who borrowed it from her mom, so combining all of that, it felt right to read it during this month.
Overall, I’d give the book four out of five stars – the plot didn’t blow me away, but I will say that Beryl was one of the most compelling characters I’ve read about recently.
Circling the Sun follows Beryl through her life as she becomes and independent from her family and tries her hardest to forge a path to success – or at least happiness. Without giving too much away, Beryl didn’t live an easy life. There were physical struggles – such as a few unfortunate incidents with African wildlife, but there was also so much grief, turbulence, and necessity to make risky decisions, with very little support from friends or family. It would have been an immense struggle just to continue, and I enjoyed watching Beryl power onward from each individual setback.
The strongest theme I noticed in the book was the conflict between the idea of freedom and the reality of independence.
“I have fought for independence here, and freedom too. More and more I find they are not at all the same thing.” – Paula McLain, Circling the Sun
The first time I read that quote, I had to do a double take because I didn’t really understand it. But that quote remained a theme throughout the rest of the novel and made the book even more profound to me.
Being an Unread Shelf post, it’s only appropriate to address the question, “Why did this book become the oldest book on my shelf?” I think the answer goes hand in hand with why I chose to read it when giving it away became the only other option – Once a book has been on your shelf long enough, it looses the urgency and excitement of those new ones! The person you borrowed it from isn’t expecting it back anytime soon, you’ve talked yourself over it so many times that it’s become second nature to look past it on your shelf again, and you lost the guilt of not reading that book you bought a couple years ago, that you’re still harboring over the book you bought six months ago.
So I think this was a great exercise and I encourage you to try it too! This book never felt “old” or anything like that, and I’m really glad I read it!
On to May! — I’m going to wait to hear about the challenge from Whitney before I decide on a book, but we’re getting closer to finishing the hardcopies I have! My final three are What Happened by Hillary Clinton, Playing Through the Whistle by S.L. Price, and Modern Lovers by Emma Straub! But these posts will continue, as I make progress on my kindle and netgalley TBR! Stay tuned 🙂