Friday, June 24, 2011

Summer Reading

Abbey and I have big expectations this summer.  Hers is the higher stack!  I started out with a little disappointment, but I'm on a roll now.

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I read this entire book (Same Kind of Different As Me), but only because I felt I had to finish it.  I didn't like it at all...it didn't seem genuine to me.  Way too much drama I think?  I can't pinpoint the WHY but the love just wasn't there:

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I read about 3 or 4 chapters of this book (Cutting for Stone), maybe a little more.  Too raw (crude?) for me.  You can tell me to stick with it and I will give it another chance:

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Gave up probably too quickly:

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Now things started getting better.  I loved The Space Between Us :

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And The Hand That First Held Mine.  Beautifully written, SO good.  The book has a surprising little twist to it, and Maggie O'Farrell has a way of expressing emotion so thouroughly.  One of the characters just gave birth to her first, and the way she describes all the feelings, experiences, emotions and struggles is spot on.
 Here is an excerpt I adored from the book and read over and over again:
We change shape, she continued, we buy low-heeled shoes, we cut off our long hair.  We begin to carry in our bags half-eaten rusks, a small tractor, a shred of beloved fabric, a plastic doll.  We lose muscle tone, sleep, reason, perspective.  Our hearts begin to live outside our bodies.  They breath, they eat, they crawl and-look!-they walk, they begin to speak to us.  We learn that we sometimes walk an inch at a time, to stop and examine every stick, every stone, every squashed tin along the way.  We get used to not going where we were going.  We learn to darn, perhaps to cook, to patch the knees of dungarees.  We get used to living with a love that suffuses us, suffocates us, blinds us, controls us.  We live. We contemplate our bodies, our stretched skin, those threads of silver around our brows, our strangely enlarged feet.  We learn to look less in the mirror.  We put our dry-clean only clothes in the back of the wardrobe.  Eventually, we throw them away.  We school ourselves to stop saying 'shit' and 'damn' and learn to say 'my goodness' and 'heavens above'. We give up smoking, we colour our hair, we search the vistas of parks, swimming pools, libraries, cafes for others of our kind.  We know each other by our pushchairs, our sleepless gazes, the beakers we carry.  We learn how to cool a fever, ease a cough, the four indicators of meningitis, that one must sometimes push a swing for two hours.  We buy biscuit cutters, washable pains, aprons, plastic bowls.  We no longer tolerate delayed buses, fighting in the street, smoking in restaurants, sex after midnight, inconsistency, laziness, being cold.  We contemplate younger women as they pass us in the street, with their cigarettes, their makeup, their tight-seemed dresses, their tiny handbags, their smooth, washed hair, and we turn away, we put down our heads, we keep on pushing the pram up the hill.
Maggie O'Farrell, The Hand That First Held Mine


41 comments :

  1. Cutting for Stone is one of the best books I've read in years. I highly recommend you keep going. It's not so crude as the story develops. Lots and lots of layers and a remarkable ending.

    Great list. You gave me some ideas!

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  2. I am reading The Help and it is really a great book, I highly recommend it - you'll love it! You should read it before the movie comes out (end of summer?). I can't wait to see it when it comes out with all my friends who have read it too.

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  3. Oh no! Really, you didn't like Cutting for Stone? It's on my list for this summer. I'm finding I'm more prudish than I thought. But that's okay. Glad to get your take.

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  4. The hand that first held mine is in my reading pile, but at the moment I am reading 'Room' by Emma Donaghue and I have just read 'one day' by David nicholls which was a good book all the way through until the disappointing ending. Also Jodie picoult house rules is waiting in the wings. Not as many as you but still a fair few!

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  5. I highly recommend the following two books:

    "Someone Knows my Name" by Lawrence Hill
    "The Birth House" by Ami Mckay

    They are excellent, but be prepared for your house to get messy as once you start you won't be able to put them down. They are both written by Canadian authors but you shouldn't have any problem finding them.

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  6. I didn't like "same kind of different as me" either...blech. I enjoyed "The Dirty Life" this summer and am now reading "A Cup of Friendship" for my Book Club. I always read "Gift from the Sea" by Anne Morrow Lindbergh every summer and am getting ready to read "Choosing to See" by Mary Beth Chapman. I also really enjoyed "Hotel on the the Corner of Bitter and Sweet"...

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  7. What a cool blog! I just found you today!
    Okay, I LOVE reading! Please please please pick up Cutting for Stone again. I put it down briefly for a while but was sooooo happy that I picked it back up. It's amazing!

    Other good summer reads:
    -State of Wonder by Ann Patchett
    -Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand

    Happy reading, decorating, & liviing-
    Megan
    http://cottagebluedesigns.blogspot.com/

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  8. Give Cutting for Stone another chance. It's wonderful!

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  9. I just read "Life from Scratch" about a food blogger trying to find herself and it was soooo good. As a blogger I just loved it. It's just a quick, fun, summer read.

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  10. I agree on "Life from Scratch" just finished this one. I may tackle "Infinite Jest," but not sure.
    Also, "Cutting for Stone" need another chance.

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  11. Don't bother with Cutting for Stone. It was terrible. Boring, crude, gross, and the end events were extremely coincidental. Way too forced. The book killed my book club. We hated it, some couldn't finish it and we didn't have another one. Jennifer Weiner's books are fun reads.

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  12. I always love these kinds of posts as I end up with many good books to add to my ever-growing list! I just finished "French by Heart", about a family that moved to France for five years, and "A Deeper Kind of Calm" ~ steadfast faith in the midst of adversity. Now I'm reading an old missionary biography, "Green Leaf in Drought-Time" and a couple others. So many good books, so little time! Happy reading!

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  13. I love making summer reading lists! Mine begins with a walk through the bookstores, and then I search blogs and talk to friends... some of yours are on my list... my favorite summer read of 2009 was The Guernsey and Literary Potato Peel Pie Society. This year I want to read Mister Pip, Major Pettigrew's Last Stand, Secret Daughter, The Best Laid Plans, Snow Flower &the Secret Fan, The Final Note, Nikloski... and many more! Thanks for posting your reviews... I can't wait for summer to begin! (our kids have 3 more full days) I don't comment often, but I really enjoy your blog.

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  14. Thanks for the recommendation for the Eyre's new book. I just added it to my cart on Amazon. I hate how entitled kids are these days. I desparately don't want mine to end up like that.

    I just finished "My Name is Mary Sutter". Very well written and so interesting. It's about a midwife who desperately wants to become a surgeon during the Civil War. I got it at Costco.

    Another recommendation for "The Dirty Life". I am an armchair farmer and this book was such an eye-opener. Very good.

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  15. Cutting for Stone is one of my top ten best books ever. Please give it another try. It is a fabulous story.

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  16. I love all the Nicholas Sparks' books that Abbey has in her stack! He is my favorite author and I have all his books! I just loaned "The Rescue" to one of my friends who has never read any of his. It's my favorite. I have "Heaven is For Real" waiting on my table right now. I hear it's one of those you read in a day, so I'm waiting for a day that's not quite so busy. :) Happy Reading!

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  17. i almost gave up on your post since i don't read.....but i scanned and at the very end you got me!
    i will be finding that book.
    entitlement is going to kill me....five times over.

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  18. Someone Knows My Name
    Unbroken - takes a little to get into it, but after 100 pages you'll be hooked!
    Secret Daughter
    Snow Flower and the Secret Fan
    The Kitchen House

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  19. Cutting for Stone is totally worth it but you need to commit to it. If you take too long to read it - it is harder to read. Go for it - it is wonderful!

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  20. I just finished Room, and now I'm reading The Help - I highly recommend both! Next on my list is Heaven is for Real. Then I'm going to add a few of your suggestions, thanks!

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  21. I am reading In My Father's House by Corrie ten Boom and I love it ! It is an autobiography of her life growing up in Holland. Makes me feel so cozy and happy.

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  22. I just finished Ann Voskamp's One Thousand Gifts...It is an amazing book that has truly blessed my life. I highly recommend it! When I was working, I was on the road all of the time and had to read a lot for work, so I quit reading for fun and started just listening to audio books. Your post made me excited to start reading again! When I was a young girl, I looked forward to reading on those hot summer afternoons (of course, I especially enjoyed all of the Anne of Green Gables books!:) ).

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  23. Thanks for sharing your list! Have you read Kate Morton? Start with The Forgotten Garden, her first. She is an amazing writer and storyteller (sometimes hard to find that combination in one author!?) Did you ever check out the Refiner's Fire series by Lynn Austin?

    loved that excerpt from The Hand that First Held Mine-I will look for that for sure.

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  24. Oh, and don't miss:

    Room
    The Help
    Half a Life

    These are all pretty popular right now....but fantastic reads.

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  25. *The Help
    *With God in Russia
    *In The Shadow of His Wings
    (The previous two would be an inspiration - true, manly heroism - for your oldest son as well)
    *Kristin Lavransdatter (A trilogy by Sigrid Undset that won the Nobel Prize for Literature in the late 1920s. You must commit as the first 80 can be challenging...historical fiction...but it will rank in one of your top 3 for that category guaranteed.)
    *Gunnarsdatter (Again by S.U. and also historical fiction. Quick read, absolute tragedy...as in you will be consumed for a full day after finishing. Very accurate account of what lust, pride and anger can do to destroy lives.)
    *The Glass Castle - Dysfunctional, homeless family and a daughter who rises above to accomplish what she wants in life and yet can see her parents for who they were/accept them/love them, but chose a different way and see their sinfulness/selfishness and sicknesses for what it was. Somewhat crude and blunt, but I think fairly realistic.

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  26. I just finished up with the Sarah Prine Series (These Is My Words, Sarah's Quilt & The Star Garden) by Nancy E. Turner...all excellent with These Is My Words being the best of all three (and likely my favorite book ever).

    Now Reading The Help...very good....hard to put down at night, but I just can't keep my eyes open and I start forgetting what I've read : )

    To read this summer:
    The Secret Life of Bees
    Guernsey Literary & Potato Peel Society
    One Thousand White Women

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  27. Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand was FANTASTIC - the true story of WWII POW Louie Zamperini. I enjoyed Cutting for Stone: the writing was beautiful, but some of the subject matter bothered me.

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  28. I kind of felt the same way about Cutting For Stone, but it is such a beautiful story. I was glad I stuck with it.

    I see Sing Them Home in your pile. I really enjoyed that. As well as The Hand That First Held Mine. I'm so happy you liked it.

    I second the Kristin Lavransdottir rec. It is epic and so so good.

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  29. Here's my summer reading list:

    The Cookbook Collector by Allegra Goodman
    American Gods by Neil Gaiman
    The Omnivore's Dilemma by Michael Pollan
    Every Day in Tuscany by Frances Mayes
    The Lost Summer of Louis May Alcott by Kelly O'Connor McNees

    I really want to add Unbroken to the list, hopefully there will be time.

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  30. I loved 'The Same Kind of different as Me'!

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  31. Just finished "The Help", and it is definitely in my top 3 all time favorites! I am now reading "The Kitchen House" and I'm enjoying it. Love the post!

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  32. I have pretty much the same picture ready to post on my blog (well the books aren't quite so high). We must be on the same wavelengths. Cutting for Stone is my summer book club book. I havent' read for book club in months so I was excited for this one, esp. since Dave and I have been to Ethiopia. I have heard really, really good things but I'm only on page three. And I read those three pages two weeks ago. Wow, I need to get my reading groove on!

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  33. I have the same post in my queue as well!

    I just finished 'The Last Sin Eater' by Francine Rivers - great book. I also read 'The Thorn' by Beverly Lewis. I love Amish fiction so much and hers are the best.

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  34. i read "cutting for stone" for my book club. i forced myself to finish, and i wouldn't say it's a favorite. i do recommend "the help." it's such a good, easy read. i loved "sarah's key." it's about an american woman living in paris who discovers the history behind her husband's family apartment. on the recommendation of a friend, i read diana gabaldon's "outlander." i took it to the beach with me and couldn't put it down. good news is that it's part of a series so i know what i'm reading next.

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  35. Bummer you did not like 'Same Kind of Different As Me'. I loved it. It looks like a lot of people are reading The Help. My mom just finished, so looks like I will grabbing that one this week. Your pile is very impressive! Abbey's is amazing! I wish I could read that fast!

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  36. Hello, I am a long time fan but a first time commentor! :) Don't feel bad about not finishing "Cutting for Stone". I read it, and I wouldn't recommend the book. I did not enjoy the story nor did it make me feel good after reading it. Right now, I am reading pure fluff...Sophie Kinsella's "Mini Shopaholic"!

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  37. Agree with recommendation of "Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet". Loved it. Also "The Book Thief" by Marcus Zusak was fantastic.

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  38. ohmygoodness:) I would pee my pants if my older girls wanted to read that many books:) They just don't love it as I do:( My 9 year old is reading a bunch so far though:)

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  39. I LOVED Same Kind of Different as Me. Maybe because it took place in my own "backyard". I think it has moved so many to help feed the hungry, or just give a new perspective on the problems in our world. We have become so indifferent as a society. I have not liked some books that others have, so I totally understand where you are coming from. I do hope that anyone that reads this will at least give that book a chance. It truly changed my life, forever, and I know many others that it had the same effect on.

    I'm about to start, Unbroken. Can't wait to read it. It came highly recommended.

    :)

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  40. Cutting for Stone may be one of the best books I have read in my life. Epic. I was lost in this book for days, a beautifully written story about love, family, and forgiveness. I'm amazed to read some of the comments your received about it. I hope you stuck with it. It is destined to be a classic and will be required reading in literature classes one day, it's that good.

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