What I love about Murakami’s running book is that he does not pretend that all life’s problems can be solved by running a faster marathon. Murakami is frank not only about the human limitations of running but about his very own, openly acknowledging that he cannot run a faster marathon anymore. To him, running is not a means to a qualifying race time--and no, it’s not a “way of life,” either: it’s an exercise for the mind and the body. You should only run if it makes you happy, and I was happy to learn that I’m not alone in this sentiment.
The trial at the heart of Bringing Down the Colonel offers a glimpse into life during the Gilded Age and, more importantly, how women can bring about important social change. Madeleine Pollard, the woman at the center of the trial, truly puts the whole system on trial when she sues Colonel Breckinridge for “breach of promise,” demanding that he be held to the same standards as she is. Many women—before, alongside, and after Madeleine Pollard—also helped bring down this system, making this book about more than one woman’s quest for justice: it is inspiration for when the fight seems futile.
Because I am adopted, I dread most narratives about adoption, which usually involve lots of weeping. Alice Stephens’ Famous Adopted People bucks all these traditional narratives, in both goofy and profound ways. Famous Adopted People is the first adoption novel that I’ve read that centers around the adoptee, Lisa, more than the relationship between the adoptee and her parents. However, Famous Adopted People isn’t just wonderful because it has a unique point of view: the dialogue is witty, the descriptions are sharp, and the plot is thrilling. This book is not just Bookseller Approved, but Adoptee Approved.