**spoiler alert** My friend Molly recommended this book to me. I always love her recommendations, and this one has been no exception. I checked out a...more**spoiler alert** My friend Molly recommended this book to me. I always love her recommendations, and this one has been no exception. I checked out a copy from the public library but it is overdue and I am not finished. I didn't expect to need to digest so much in between chapters. It's taking me longer than usual to finish because it gets me thinking. So, Dan bought me a copy of my very own for Valentine's Day. It's funny but I have been seeing this book everywhere lately, and talking to so many random people who have also read or are reading it.
Eat, Pray, Love is an autobiographical account of the author's time in three places, Italy (eat), India (pray) and Indonesia (love). I found a chapter in the India section particularly interesting because it is something I would like to work on:
"There is so much about my fate that I cannot control, but other things do fall under my jurisdiction. I can decide how I spend my time, whom I interact with, whom I share my body and life and money and energy with. I can select what I eat and read and study. I can choose how I'm going to regard unfortunate circumstances in my life - whether I will see them as curses or opportunities (and on the occasions when I can't rise to the most optimistic viewpoint, because I'm feeling too damn sorry for myself, I can choose to keep trying to change my outlook.) I can choose my words and the tone of voice in which I speak to others. And most of all, I can choose my thoughts.
This last concept is a radically new idea for me. Richard from Texas brought it to my attention recently, when I was complaining about my inability to stop brooding. He said, "Groceries, you need to learn how to select your thoughts the same way you select what clothes you're gonna wear each day. This is a power you can cultivate. If you want to control things in your life so bad, work on the mind. That's the only thing you should be trying to control. Drop everything else but that. Because if you can't learn to master your thinking, you're in deep trouble forever."
On first glance, this seems a nearly impossible task. Control your thoughts? Instead of the other way around? But imagine if you could? This is not about repression or denial. Repression and denial set up elaborate games to pretend that negative thoughts and feelings are not occurring. What Richard is talking about is instead admitting to the existence of negative thoughts, understanding where they come from and why they arrived, and then - with great forgiveness and fortitude - dismissing them."
She goes on to discuss a vow she repeats, "I will not harbor unhealthy thoughts anymore" when a diminishing thought arises. I like this idea. I don't want to harbor unhealthy thoughts, either.
I thoroughly enjoyed this magical story based a bit on Chinese fairytales with an adventure reminiscent of the Wizard of Oz. I read this book out loud...moreI thoroughly enjoyed this magical story based a bit on Chinese fairytales with an adventure reminiscent of the Wizard of Oz. I read this book out loud to my 2nd grade class, my busy 2nd grade class, and even they sat spellbound as the tale of Minli unfolded. I would highly recommend this book! You may even discover the secret to happiness if you read it. This is one that is sticking with me and will be shared with many children that I will meet. I can't wait until my own are old enough to enjoy it and the lessons it shares! (less)
"Do you know the feeling when you start reading a new book before the membrane of the last one has had time to close behind you? You leave the previo...more "Do you know the feeling when you start reading a new book before the membrane of the last one has had time to close behind you? You leave the previous book with ideas and themes - characters even - caught in the fibers of your clothes, and when you open the new book, they are still with you."
Found this book on the popular list on Goodreads.com, and I thought the description sounded interesting so I ordered it on Paperbackswap.com. I was not disappointed!
Biographer Margaret Lea accepts an offer from a famous and reclusive author, Vida Winter. Gravely ill, Vida wants to recount her life story before it is too late, and she wants Margaret to be the one to capture her history. As Vida Winter unfolds her story, she shares with Margaret the dark family secrets that she has long kept hidden as she remembers her days at Angelfield, the now burnt-out estate that was her childhood home. Margaret carefully records Miss Winter’s account and finds herself more and more deeply immersed in the strange and troubling story. In the end, both women have to confront their pasts and the weight of family secrets. As well as the ghosts that haunt them still.
In the beginning it was a bit difficult to get into. I felt at times that I needed a dictionary beside me to look up some of the vocabulary. Before long, however, I found myself thinking about the story all through the day and longing to get back to it. Parts of the book created vivid images in my mind that I could not let go of. The mystery, suspense, and end of the story were all satisfying and there were twists I did not see coming. This book has been described as a "gothic" novel and I finally had to look that term up. It fits. It is the second book in a row that I have read with heavy allusions to "Wuthering Heights" and "Jane Eyre", and I find myself wanting to reread those novels to see what I will take from them now that I am older.
In fact, I'm not sure what to read next because I am still so taken by this novel!(less)
This is a story that I will carry with me forever. The characters in this book walk right out of the pages and into real life, the story is compelling...moreThis is a story that I will carry with me forever. The characters in this book walk right out of the pages and into real life, the story is compelling, the tone somber yet somehow hopeful. Markus Zusak's writing drew me in completely, his use of figurative language is nothing short of stunning, yet the real gem was in the story itself.
I was first drawn to this book due to the setting. The Hawaiian Islands captured my senses 5 years ago on my honeymoon and I believe my family and I w...moreI was first drawn to this book due to the setting. The Hawaiian Islands captured my senses 5 years ago on my honeymoon and I believe my family and I will forever be pulled towards them, longing to return. I have yet to venture to the small island of Moloka'i, but now having read this book I will know so much more about its history when I am someday lucky enough to visit.
The novel opens during a turbulent time in Hawaii's history, the late 1800s when Hawaiians were succumbing to a tragic and mysterious disease, leprosy. At this time the disease was not understood, and out of fear anyone with symptoms was immediately quarantined, and eventually sent away to a leper colony on Moloka'i. After my initial shock at the idea of families being torn apart and people being removed from their lives, I began to consider the ramifications of such a disease. Alternatively, had the infected remained where they were, would Hawaii have seen more loss of life? Were there other options that would have helped, rather than ostracizing those infected?
Sadly, many people were sent to finish out their lives on Moloka'i. In this work of historical fiction, Alan Brennert intoduces us to seven year old Rachel Kalama, a girl who develops the telltale sores and, despite all efforts to keep them hidden, is ripped away from her family. What enfolds is her story of hope in the face of disaster, as she navigates a new path with a collection of friends and acquaintances who will become her new family. Rachel's character is an inspiration of strength in the face of adversity, and an example of what can happen when you take what you're given and make the best of life's circumstances. I very much enjoyed getting to know her in this novel. Moloka'i captivated me from page one all the way through to the satisfying conclusion.(less)
Ever heard that word before? I learned it in my adolescent literature class a few summers ago. Here's the definition: A Bildungsroman is...morebildungsroman
Ever heard that word before? I learned it in my adolescent literature class a few summers ago. Here's the definition: A Bildungsroman is a novel which concerns itself with the development of a youthful protagonist as he or she matures. It is analogous in many ways to the "Apprenticeship Novel" (the so-called Erziehungsroman) or "Education novel," which explores the youth and young adulthood of a sensitive protagonist who is in search of the meaning of life and the nature of the world.
I thought it was an interesting word - it stuck with me. I just finished reading Twilight by Stephenie Meyer and would say it fits this category. Twilight is about seventeen-year-old Bella, who leaves Phoenix to live with her father in Forks, Washington, and meets an exquisitely handsome boy at school for whom she feels an overwhelming attraction and who she comes to realize is not wholly human. In fact, he is a vampire. This is a vampire book.
It was a fun read. I finished it in no time - and it is a big book! (Being sick in bed had something to do with that I suppose.) The plot was simple, this was an easy read and one that took my mind off of feeling like I was run over by a truck. I wouldn't categorize it as a favorite read - but I would recommend it. It was written for the young adult crowd and is the first in a trilogy. The trilogy seems to be very popular at the moment. The movie is in production and will be out soon. (less)
"To live, to struggle, to be in love with life - in love with all life holds, joyful or sorrowful, is fulfillment. The fulfillment of life is open to...more"To live, to struggle, to be in love with life - in love with all life holds, joyful or sorrowful, is fulfillment. The fulfillment of life is open to all of us." -Betty Smith
For many years I had been planning on reading A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. Now I have finished it and I have a satisfied, happy feeling that it was time well spent. Written entirely in third person, the story is that of a young girl named Francie who comes of age in Brooklyn at the turn of the century. This is a story of hope and resiliency. It is a story of true life and an American classic. This book is an honest look at a family's struggles, defeats, and triumphs. I couldn't help but feel a part of that family, too, and I leave it feeling a deeper connection to the human experience.(less)
A gem of a book, an incredible tale of friendship and what it means to be a woman. This is the story of Lily, who at eighty years and known as "one wh...moreA gem of a book, an incredible tale of friendship and what it means to be a woman. This is the story of Lily, who at eighty years and known as "one who has not yet died", sets out to tell about her life, and most importantly, her connection with her friend Snow Flower. At the age of seven she and Snow Flower are paired in an emotional match that will last a lifetime, called a laotong, or "old same." They learn to communicate through a secret language created by Chinese women called nu shu, sharing the joys and sorrows of life in remote 19th century China. This book took me completely out of my own world and into Lily's, which is so different from anything I have known. I enjoyed reading about the many rituals and traditions practiced in China at that time - some of them beautiful and some barbaric. The author's attention to research and detail is evident in every page, I learned so much about China reading this work of fiction! I felt a strong connection to the characters in the book and thought of my own friendships; "old sames", and "sworn sisterhoods." I have just finished reading it but know I will be reflecting on it for awhile. This is a story that stays with you. It reminded me of a favorite quote of mine: "I am a part of all I have read." - John Kieran And with this book, I am grateful. (less)
I finished reading The Help last night, but it seems it hasn't finished with me just yet. I keep thinking about the story and the characters as if the...moreI finished reading The Help last night, but it seems it hasn't finished with me just yet. I keep thinking about the story and the characters as if they are dear friends of mine. Kathryn Stockett chose a topic close to her heart for her first novel, set in Jackson, Mississippi in the turbulent 1960s. This is the story of 3 very different but equally strong southern women. Skeeter, an awkward young white woman has just graduated from college and returned home, longing to make a break into the journalism world. Aibileen is a wise, black maid raising her seventeenth white child. And Minny is a sassy, short-tempered maid whose mouth gets her into a lot of trouble.
Through a series of events, these three women come together and embark on a dangerous project in an effort to stand up against injustice. I was fascinated by this story, even more so after learning that it is loosely based on some of the author's own experiences growing up with a black maid as a caregiver. (less)
Loved this little book. Written as a letter to her daughters, I found myself feeling like I could have been the one to write it many times throughout....moreLoved this little book. Written as a letter to her daughters, I found myself feeling like I could have been the one to write it many times throughout. Corrigan talks about memories and impermanence:
"I heard once that the average person barely knows ten stores from childhood and those are based more on photographs and retellings than memory. So even with all the videos we take, the two boxes of snapshots under my desk, and the 1,276 photos in folders on the computer, you'll be lucky to end up with a dozen stories. You won't remember how it started with us, the things that I know about you that you don't even know about yourselves. We won't come back here."
She goes on to talk about how the person she is as her children are young and she is writing is different than the person she will be when they are older. I understand that feeling all too well as I struggle to make memories with my small children every day and to fully grasp and appreciate each moment, be it amazing and wonderful or frustrating and difficult.
I also enjoyed her writing style to her daughters - she surprised me by writing to them as though they were mature adults when reading. Whenever I think of writing to my kids it is with their childish nature in mind. It's interesting to think about their adult take on things. She says, "I don't know when you'll read this. Maybe when you're a teenager? No, probably later, when you're on the verge of parenthood and it occurs to you for the first time that someone has been loving you for that long."
It took my breath away near the end when Corrigan talked about the tender moments she and her girls share when she tells them they were her dream. In Bree's room above her window is a plaque that reads, "I am a dream come true" and I tell her, and will tell her brother, that they are my dreams come true. (less)
Every year, since my very first year teaching, I begin by reading this book out loud to my class. I have fond memories of my second grade teacher read...moreEvery year, since my very first year teaching, I begin by reading this book out loud to my class. I have fond memories of my second grade teacher reading it to me many years ago. Still love it!(less)
I waited a long time to get a copy of this book,and it arrived at just the right time. A perfect summer read, a magical story, the kind of book that i...moreI waited a long time to get a copy of this book,and it arrived at just the right time. A perfect summer read, a magical story, the kind of book that is an exact "good fit" for me. The story transported me to a small town in North Carolina and led me to believe in quirky little mysterious bits of folklore. After the story was over the author included a bit of information on the meanings associated with each month's full moon. Great read! (less)
I think this novel was quite ambitious. It took a level of bravery to write a work of fiction about people who really did exist. I had to remind mysel...moreI think this novel was quite ambitious. It took a level of bravery to write a work of fiction about people who really did exist. I had to remind myself throughout the novel that I was reading a work of fiction, speculation about the lives of Hadley and Hemingway, but it is clear they were both well researched.
I can't say exactly why I loved this novel so much, except that I can't wait to get to Paris. McLain portrayed Hadley and Hemingway's relationship with such delicacy, tenderness, and strength that you wanted so much for it to work out between them, but in the next minute you knew why it couldn't. I loved this book!