While we were traveling, I read “Flight Behavior” by Barbara Kingsolver, and it was the perfect vacation book. I have never been much into fluffy beach reads. Have I mentioned the summer that I lived oceanside? I was trying to work my way through “Crime and Punishment.” I was 21 and the life of every party, obviously.
“Flight Behavior” is not Dostoyevsky, but it tackles some weighty subjects. It’s about a young mom in Appalachia who discovers a strange natural phenomenon in her backyard. Tourists show up, and scientists show up, and the meeting of the highly educated researchers and the locals causes culture clashes. Dellarobia, the main character, sits at the middle of this. She’s unhappily married to a farmer and knows that she should, or at least could, build a better life for herself. The book was timely in terms of what’s happening in our country, and I related to Dellarobia’s feelings of being stuck in her life. I loved that the book was both meaty and compulsively readable.
Last week, Eleanor read “Number the Stars” by Lois Lowry in an afternoon, so I picked it up the next day. I think everybody knows that this is a great children’s book. I will join the chorus. Set during World War II, it’s about a Danish girl whose best friend is Jewish. The book follows the fate of the two families as German soldiers attempt to round up all of the Jewish residents. This book, too, unfortunately feels timely.
Now for the fun stuff. When we were visiting our families up north, my sister-in-law suggested that with my whole back-to-school plan, I should take the Gallup strengths test. I hemmed and hawed for a few days because it costs $20, and I’ve taken every personality test invented because I enjoy that sort of thing. I kept thinking about it, so I finally had to give in. The Gallup test identifies your strongest personality traits and explains how those can best be used in the workplace. When you buy the test, you also get an e-book that explains the 34 different personality traits that are being assessed, and so I spent my weekend reading that.
When I got my test results, Greg said, “I don’t think this told us anything we didn’t know, but we confirmed that the test is accurate.”
My top five strengths were input, learner, intellection, achiever, and futurist. Greg and I laughed out loud at the descriptions for input and achiever because they were so precisely me. Input means I am obsessed with collecting information (via reading, travel, research, etc.) and saving it for later use. Achiever means I am always looking for a challenge and feel the need to accomplish something personally meaningful every single day. (The book noted that Achievers will even have goals on holidays and vacations. Yup.) Given my results, some of my recommended jobs are journalist, researcher, and teacher. Basically I need a job where I constantly get to learn new things.
Lastly, I just started “Middlemarch” by George Eliot because it keeps popping up when I read interviews with my favorite writers. Victorian novels aren’t my thing, so I didn’t expect to like it. But I do! I’m already 80 pages into it, so just 600-some-odd-pages to go.