Sunday, August 18, 2013

A (Mostly) Fictional Summer

On May 1st, my first official day out of school, the only thing I wanted to do was read a story. Not a textbook or a drug guide. I wanted a good, take-me-to-another-place novel. I have a self-imposed rule that I don't read any books except school books during the semester, and I mostly followed it. Once I was out of school, I did have to study for my board exams, of course, and I did. (Passed! I'm officially an RN!) But I also had a wonderful time with books this summer. Here are the ones I liked best, meaning I gave them 4 or 5 stars. 

A mesmerizing story of a man and his wife who live isolated in a lighthouse off the coast of Australia. The wife has been unable to carry a child and has suffered several miscarriages. One day a small boat washes up on the shore of their rocky island and there is a baby inside with a dead man. The woman decides to keep the baby, against her husband's better judgment, and raise it as their own. There are tragic consequences as a result of this choice.

I love Anna Quindlen. I saw this book in the BYU Bookstore when I was there for Women's Conference around my birthday. It's a memoir about aging, and though it's more applicable to women turning 50 or 60 even, I love Quindlen's writing and her examination of a woman's life.

Dancing on Broken Glass profoundly affected me. It's about a marriage, a highly unconventional marriage. The husband has bi-polar disorder and the wife a family history of breast cancer. They already have so much stacked against them, but the powerful love between them helps them navigate unimaginable circumstances. It's a tear jerker, for sure, and it will leave you changed.

I LOVED this book. I have several books about books, and this one goes a bit further, teaching not only what books to read to children, but how to teach them to deconstruct stories and begin literature analysis. I took all of my summer reading choices for Conor from this book.

Gerald Lund is one of my favorite LDS authors, of both fiction and nonfiction. He is a masterful teacher, and this is the most complete book of understanding personal revelation I've ever read. It is richly illustrated with personal experiences and examples of the ways that the Lord reveals himself in our lives and answers our prayers.

This is a great one. A mother's memoir, and she's in a similar stage as I am (well, except that I have a few younger kids too), but it's about her process of parenting her son through high school and into college and how her life as a mother changes. All things I can relate to. I bought another book by this same author that I haven't read yet, but I like her voice.

My mother was the one who introduced me to this book of historical fiction about a woman named Hildegard von Bingen (1098-1179)who was tithed to the church at age 8 and expected to live the rest of her life as a handmaiden to a disturbed young nun named Jutta. But Hildegard had unique spiritual gifts of her own, and after the death of Jutta, Hildegard felt called to break free from her prison where she'd lived for over 30 years, and write of her visions of the divine. Very interesting.

I really, really enjoyed The Orchardist. This story takes place at the turn of the century in the Pacific Northwest. A man inherits an orchard after his mother dies, and once his sister disappears, he lives there by himself for years until one day two pregnant feral teenage girls sneak onto his property. Letting them into his life changes everything. Beautifully written.

The Aviator's Wife has been on my to-read list for a long time and after a friend read it and couldn't praise it highly enough, she loaned it to me and I scarfed it down. This is a great story. Historical fiction again, about Anne Morrow Lindbergh. I love stories about strong women, and Anne is definitely that.

The two books I was most excited about this summer were the new releases from Jeannette Walls and Khaled Hosseini. I pre-ordered them back in February. They did not disappoint. In fact, The Silver Star may be one of the top 3 books of this year for me.

And the Mountains Echoed was not as emotionally gripping a story as A Thousand Splendid Suns, one of my all-time favorite books, but I love Hosseini's writing so much and I love the settings and the characters in his stories and how he weaves lives together over time and distance.

And then, The Book Thief. I've had this book in my collection for several years. I bought it for Lyndsay, I think. I've wanted to read it, but just haven't gotten around to it. Then it seemed like everyone around me was reading it and gushing over it, so I pulled it off the shelf. Yeah. An incredible story. It will make my Top 10 this year for sure. This is another one that will stay with you a long time.

It's been so enjoyable to read for pleasure again! I'm reading a few really good books now, and have lots more in The Pile. And I'm always taking suggestions. Here's to books!

3 comments: said...

I read 2 of the book on your list this summer. I think that I will look at reading the others.

Luisa Perkins said...

What a great list! I'm so sorry we haven't been able to discuss all of these in great detail. I'd love to borrow Deconstructing Penguins from you. I'm delighted that you liked Dancing on Broken Glass. I adore Hildegard von Bingen. xoxoox

lesa said...

Thank you for sharing this list!