Sunday, January 27, 2013

Books I Think You Should Read

I've read three books recently that I think you should read.


First, there was Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn. I grabbed this on a whim, after receiving a nice iTunes gift card for Christmas. I bought a bit of music (Joni Mitchell's Hejira album, which I know by heart but only own as an record) and then looked for something to read over our Christmas holiday. I downloaded it to my iPad, began it right before we headed home from Ohio and could. not. stop. reading.

In fact, a few weeks later, when I suffered a torn retina, I felt so guilty; I was certain that six hours winding through the back roads of Pennsylvania and Virginia while staring at my iPad because I couldn't devour that book fast enough was the culprit. Full disclosure: the doctor said, "Absolutely not. It's just your nearsightedness and your age."

There we go with the age thing again...

Anyway, Gone Girl was a fascinating read. An interesting whodunit with a a huge twist and a tantalizing look at a marriage from the inside out, and back in again. I really, really enjoyed the read - can't say I'm a better person for spending a few hours with this book, but it was absolutely entertaining. Highly recommended for a beach or vacation read.

Next up: The Bread of Angels by Stephanie Saldana. This book was completely unfamiliar to me; my mother-in-law handed it to me when we arrived in Cleveland. She mentioned something about Syria and the current political situation and said, "I think you might like this."

The thought of delving into Middle Eastern politics was, to be honest, not appealing. But I trusted her instincts, took the book home and picked it up early in January.

Oh, my.  This memoir traces Saldana's journey to study Arabic in Damascus, to explore her own spirituality, to dig into the pain of her past and the uncertainty of her future, all with an unapologetic and unglamorous tint. A realistic look at an Eat, Pray, Love journey without the sex and the Cosmo-girl style vibe I pulled out of Elizabeth Gilbert's memoir - though I did admire Gilbert's journey and did enjoy her book. There's just something a bit earthier about Saldana's work; perhaps the spiritual exploration was more resonant for me. Perhaps the ending - which brought me to tears (actually, not the ending per se, but the acknowledgements - you must read the acknowledgements to get the full story) was so much more satisfying. Whatever. This book completely surprised me, which made me love it more. You will do well to read this book. Especially Lisa and Diane and Tammy and Donia and my mom; you will love this book.

Lastly, I dug into Barbara Kingsolver's Flight Behavior. Let me share here that much of my reading material is courtesy of my mom; she uses the Chesterfield County Public Library book reservation system like her own personal reading valet. Every week, another wildly popular new book gets her name strapped to it with a rubber band; she gets the notice and in she goes to claim her prizes. I always get to read our favorite authors' newest works thanks to my mom and her system. I love that we share this. Anyway, the Kingsolver book came in thanks to mom's system, and she kindly let me read it first.

I can't say that it was a compelling read; it was, actually, a bit of a chore to get through. But two-thirds of the way in, there was no way I was giving up on the characters. I loved the way Barbara Kingsolver wraps the language into rich, authentic dialogue; the way her characters burrow into the day and somehow become part of the landscape. While reading, I wouldn't have said that I loved the book; but now, a week later, I still can't stop thinking about the characters. They are still out there, somewhere; very much real. Incredibly well-crafted, beautifully honed technique. I really admire Barbara Kingsolver and I'm very glad I read this book.

Next up on the list: Finishing Anne Lamott's Help Thanks Wow - it's a small book, but I'm reading slowly and letting it sink in - and Daring Greatly by Brene Brown. Not on the list, but still in process are a few books for work: re-reading The Advantage by Patrick Lencioni and Deep and Wide by Andy Stanley. 

You? Anything on YOUR list worth reading?

5 comments:

Lori said...

I'm going to check out Bread for Angels... sounds like a good read.
Right now I am steeped in nonfiction...
I do have a habit of rereading books I like. Just reread Bird by Bird. I like Anne Lamott.
And am reading Women Who Run with Wolves... it's a stretch but well written and the author Clarissa Pinkola Estes is a well known storyteller and Jungian meld with a splash of wild thrown in. But there is much truth for women in her words. I tell women to read it. Her insight into the female psyche is nothing short of incredible, combining the art of storytelling with the psych aspect. It's a good read. At least for me.

Lindsay Durrenberger said...

currently reading the fault in our stars by john green. with all the wallowing in my own self-pity i've been doing lately this novel packs a healthy punch of perspective.

basically? kids with cancer falling in love with each other and doing all the things kids in love do. but while they have cancer.

ouch.

anyway, beautifully written yet tragic.

Angie said...

I'm reading Flight Behavior right now! It's taken me halfway through to get even kinda sorta hooked, but I also find the characters and contest very real, believable, and true.

I already have Gone Girl for next!

Susan Lloyd said...

just finished brian haigs new book....now onto j.d. robbs latest. next, the scarecrow by matthew somebody...a couple others sittin on the floor...oh, nd have o read some study guide thing for a wed nite committment:O)

Megan Reams said...

Gone Girl is delicious. Two thumbs up.