I love books! They are my vice. I hear you scoff. Surely, books can not be a bad thing. Well let me tell you, they are. It is not all that uncommon for laundry to pile up and dishes to crowd the sink because I choose to spend the day with a book. Really, it’s a problem.
I really do not know why I like reading so much. The anticipation of what is to come with I flip back the cover? Escaping, experiencing or vicarious living? It’s a mystery.
When a friend recently asked for book recommendations for her trip to the beach, I cemented my plan to write a beach reads edition of the weekend update posts. I feel I must warn you, she asked for something light, and after thinking about what I have read lately, I had little to suggest. I guess since I prefer comedies at the movies, I save the drama for my books.
Some of these books I have read recently, while for others it has been a couple of years. It is by no means an exhaustive list of my favorites, just what I have thought to share today. Here goes…
“I suspect the truth is that we are waiting, all of us, against insurmountable odds, for something extraordinary to happen to us.”
I know I am! And the Mountains Echoed by Khaled Hosseini is the most recent book I have read, and I surprised myself by liking it as much as I did. It was a bit hard to follow the style that jumped from the 1950s to the present day to random years in between in no particular order. Couple that with the story told from the viewpoint of multiple characters, and it is certainly not for everyone. I liked the book for the way it captured the subtle human experiences that define us all.
“You’ve been crying,” she said, slightly astounded.
“Because of her?” The final word was weighted. I could picture it round and heavy, making a deep thump in a pillow.
How can you not appreciate words that make you see a word drop like a paperweight into a pillow. More importantly, why can’t I write like that (see above quote about waiting for the extraordinary). Sigh. Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn. I loved Flynn’s first book. Sadly real and full of surprises all the way through, Flynn weaved a new tale from the old story of living a lie. I also recommend the immensely popular Gone Girl in which the descriptor “sugar-cloud kisser” still sticks in my mind. You will not want to put it down. (P.S. – I tried to read Flynn’s Dark Places, but it was just too dark.)
“Biology gives you a brain. Life turns it into a mind.”
Middlesex was the first Jeffery Eugenides’ book I read, and it remains in my top five favorites. I only heard of the book because one of my major goals in life is to read every book that has one a Pulitzer Prize for fiction. Middlesex won in 2003. More recently, it is the audio book the characters played by Seth Rogen and Barbara Streisand listen to in The Guilt Trip. It is the story of Calliope Stephanides and her journey of going from Greece to Detroit and from a woman to man. Sounds crazy. It’s captivating.
“I don’t know what you’re feeling, I won’t even pretend.”
It was by picking up Middlesex that I learned Eugenides also wrote The Virgin Suicides. I loved the movie; I thought it was bold. The book was very much the same as the film, so you probably will not get too much more from reading it if you have already watched the movie. Still, it is a worthwhile – albeit twisted – read.
“She may have looked normal on the outside, but once you’d seen her handwriting you knew she was deliciously complicated inside.”
The Marriage Plot is Eugenides most recent book. It was much lighter than the first two. Madeleine, Leonard and Mitchell are the college-age players in a story that explores love, life, God and the early 80s.
“But what are our stories if not the mirrors we hold up to our fears?”
Read something by Wally Lamb. My friend Melina recommended his books to me when I was in a bit of a book slump, and I am so glad she did. Her description beats anything I could say: “Complex characters. Beautiful metaphors. But all oh so tragic.”
His characters get under your skin. They agitate and aggravate and keep you reading. Oprah agrees. She picked both I Know This Much Is True and She’s Come Undone for her book club.
As you have likely deduced, when I like one book by an author, I tend to seek out all he or she has written. The first Wally Lamb book I read, I Know This Much Is True, remains my favorite. The story chronicled the lives of two twin brothers – one with a mental illness and one without.
“Well, get used to it, the whole world is nuts.”
“I wasn’t a cynic; I was a banged-up realist.”
I went on to read She’s Come Undone about annoying Dolores Price and her struggles from adolescence to adulthood, followed by The Hour I First Believed about Caelum Quirk’s journey as he nursed his wife through the aftershocks of PTSD. Nothing like a light beach read, huh?
For something much less tragic, Wishin’ and Hopin’: A Christmas Story is perfect for Christmas in July. It is a quick, funny read that actually takes place throughout the year and leads up to Christmas.
So, that’s that. I can’t invite you to dinner, but I can invite you to my virtual book club. If you would like to see my full bookshelf, feel free to link up with me on Goodreads or Slice. And tell me, what are you reading?