Friday, March 22, 2013

Books, lately

I love to read. But I also love to sleep. AND, I love to read right before I go to bed. See the problem? It is not the most successful way to get through a book. 

There is a little window every day, though, where I find myself sitting outside the dental school after work, waiting for Michael and our friend Brian to be done with school. That's where my most alert reading happens. Here are the books we've read over the last six months in our book club:
The Book Thief by Markus Zusak. This is my favorite book that we've read as a group so far. It's written with Death as the narrator, and the perspective is so interesting. The writer also has the best imagery I think I've ever read. I don't know why I was so late in the game reading this - everyone loves it. But better late than never because it is amazing. I loved reading about WWII from the perspective of Germans who weren't down with what was happening. I think that group gets overlooked in a lot of WWII literature, but I like to think that group is bigger than we seem to assume.

Next we read Heaven Is Here by Stephanie Nielson. It's an inspiring story of a young mother's recovery after surviving a plane crash with her husband. I was surprised at how dark parts of her story are, and how brutally honest she was about it. I also didn't know that her blog was becoming increasingly famous even before her crash - it must have been so strange for her readers to "experience" that tragedy through her blog and to know Stephanie Nielson before and after that awful day. I loved the book a lot more than her blog, and I was so excited to get it for Christmas from my mother-in-law. It's a good book to have in my home, and good for my future daughters to read. Since reading it, I've started following Stephanie's sister's blog, C. Jane Kendrick. She's an incredible writer.
Oh, The Secret. This book walks you through the way that your thoughts determine everything. It frequently refers to The Universe and Energy and...sometimes it was just a little too cosmic for my taste. But in the end, it definitely has some solid true principles that are good to remember. For example, if you're only dwelling on negative thoughts of what you don't want to happen, those things probably end up happening. And if you just focus on what you want, thinking that those things are reality, life seems to steer that way. It was a fun discussion and an interesting concept...but, I kind of twitch when I hear The Universe now.
We read How Do You Kill 11 Million People in December because it was a 20-minute read for a busy month. Not exactly holiday material, but we just wanted quick. It got mixed reviews in our group... The title refers to questioning how the Holocaust even happened, but the book is not about WWII. It's basically intended to be a "wake up call" trying to show that when society accepts lies from leaders, large scale tragedies can happen. He refuses to use the words Republican or Democrat in the book, but I don't know if that alone automatically gives Andy Andrews the Most Objective picture in the yearbook. Some girls in our group said this book has made them listen to leaders with more critical thinking and less upfront acceptance, so maybe it'll do that for you. Or it might just really bug you, which is how other girls felt. It'll only take about 20 minutes of your day if you want to read it and find out for yourself.

After the holidays we read Bringing Up Bebe by Pamela Druckerman. This is an American mother's story of raising her children in France. I loved it. The author started researching the difference between French and American parenting after she noticed that when her French friends visited, she had a great time and great conversations, but when American friends visited, they spent the time refereeing their children. I thought the author was hilarious, and I loved that she was always quick to acknowledge the other side of whatever opinion she was forming because she's a journalist by trade. I read this story as a comparison of cultures though, not as a parenting manual...because, well, I'm not a parent. Some girls in our group who have children didn't like the book as much. One of the author's overall sentiments was that American mothers need to relax more, and fit their children into the framework of their life and family rather than completely restructure that framework around a new baby. I thought her comparisons of cultural differences were so interesting.

The Alchemist was a little like The Secret but in novel form. I still kind of twitched when it referred to the Universe...I bet if I read it at a different time, I would have liked it a lot more. But at this point I was just craving a story with characters and a plot and just coaching. I need to read it again in a few years. Maybe.

This last month we read Matched, by Ally Condie. This was just...not enjoyable at all. My friend Becca described it as Twilight meets Hunger Games meets The Giver. Exactly right. It might sound like a recipe for a good book (except the Twilight part), but it just wasn't. There were too many similarities to the Hunger Games to take it as its own novel, but Condie's world and characters were in no way as thought out as what Suzanne Collins created in Catniss and District 12. I haven't rolled my eyes so much at a book in a long time. It is meant for teenagers though, so maybe that was an age appropriate response. I always have to finish a book I start, and usually even a series that I start (I read all four Twilight books as fast as possible to get the pain over with, because I HAD to know how they ended), but in this case, I have absolutely no desire to read book 2 or 3. So, feel free to tell me how they end if you managed that.


Our book club is meeting soon to get our next list together. Any good reading suggestions?


  1. you have awesome taste in books...but i already knew that. Although I cannot believe that you just barely read the Book Thief! Markus Zusack is an imagery GENIUS i think. Have you read his other book? I am the Messenger? Read it. It's really good. Also, have you ever read The Night Circus? One of my recent favorites. Could not put it down. And I bet you would like The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. I loved that one too. Have you read it? I think that French/American parenting book sounds really interesting. I'll have to read that one soon.

  2. Also: I HATED matched. Worst rip off Dystopian book in the universe, and terribly written. You're awesome.

  3. The Yacoubian (sometimes spelled Jacoubian) Building by Ala al-Aswany. It's a bit rough but I feel that it's a good critique of Egyptian society. You might want to read it first though if your bookclub is from church though....

    Also, Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood is my favorite book of all time. It's a dystopian novel and is awesome. :D

  4. You should read The Meaning of Night. Elyse recommended that one to me a few years ago and I loved it. It wasn't a page turner for me per say but once I got into it I really enjoyed it. And now thanks to your list and Elyse's other suggestion I have more books to read. Hurray!

  5. You should read The Meaning of Night. Elyse recommended it to me a few years ago and I really liked it. It's not a page turner per say but it gets really good once you get into it. And now, thanks to your list and Elyse's suggestions I have new books to read. Hurray!


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