You can never get a cup of tea large enough or a book long enough to suit me.
Clear HERE for previous book review posts, or posts I've written about books.
I realized that 4 of the 5 books I wrote about in this post were recommended to me via comments from previous book review blogs I've written. I still have a list of 8 books that I am waiting to check out/borrow/buy that you, my blog readers, have recommended. So PLEASE, leave a comment and tell me a book- or five- to read. It's the dog days, people!
When I last left you, I mentioned that I was beginning this book. I don't think I could really summarize this book very well and encapsulate all that it holds, so here is the "blurb" about it from the goodreads website:
A sweeping, emotionally riveting first novel—an enthralling family saga of Africa and America, doctors and patients, exile and home.
Marion and Shiva Stone are twin brothers born of a secret union between a beautiful Indian nun and a brash British surgeon at a mission hospital in Addis Ababa. Orphaned by their mother’s death in childbirth and their father’s disappearance, bound together by a preternatural connection and a shared fascination with medicine, the twins come of age as Ethiopia hovers on the brink of revolution. Yet it will be love, not politics—their passion for the same woman—that will tear them apart and force Marion, fresh out of medical school, to flee his homeland. He makes his way to America, finding refuge in his work as an intern at an underfunded, overcrowded New York City hospital. When the past catches up to him—nearly destroying him—Marion must entrust his life to the two men he thought he trusted least in the world: the surgeon father who abandoned him and the brother who betrayed him.
An unforgettable journey into one man’s remarkable life, and an epic story about the power, intimacy, and curious beauty of the work of healing others.
I will admit that it took me a long while to read, which is usually a sure fire sign that I am not enjoying a book. However, that wasn't the case with this one. I had a hard time getting into it at first, but that was because I tried reading it while subbing, or while sitting outside with five of my nieces and nephews running round me etc. And the writing was too good for that; the writing demanded more of my attention. I'll admit this kind of annoyed me at first-- I like the be able to pick up a book on the fly and read a couple paragraphs while waiting for my gas to pump or for Brent to put Blythe to bed or while the onions saute or…you get my point. But Verghese's writing was a bit exhausting and didn't allow me to do these things…but I decided that was a good thing.
There is A LOT of medical jargon. A LOT. I actually may be able to perform bowel obstruction or repair a uterus if the need arises. And it did take me a little while to start enjoying the characters. But this book, though very, very lengthy, left me in a bit of a haze which is what I think all good books do to a person: You start to see things around you through the lens of the book and its characters, and when you have to step out of that world you are left a bit disoriented but better for having been there. That's how I felt with this book.
It was also neat for me because it was set in Addis Ababa, which is where Brent went back in 2009 when he was an intern at Southeast Christian. There were a couple of times I would stop and say, "Brent, did the locals call you a frenje while you were in Ethiopia?" And he'd have a story to go along with it. I also read him a description of the food from a passage and he said it took him right back and he could smell the smells.
This review is ridiculous and long, but so is the book so it's only fair. I just have to add a couple of lines that jumped at me and that can serve as examples of the writing:
"He laughed like a man who had never heard the word 'worry'."
"It this was what brave felt like-- numb, dumb, with eyes that could see no farther than my bloody fingers, and a heart that raced and pined for the girl who hugged me-- then I suppose I was brave."
"I knew girls who were neither ugly nor beautiful but who saw themselves one way or the other, and that conviction made it come true."
"…their fingers intertwined like dried roots."
I would recommend this book to someone who really likes to read.
I love when "teen/children's" books pack a little punch and are well written enough for adults to enjoy. This book was just that for me. It was a quick read because of the target audience, but very fun. It tells the story of 6th grade Miranda who is growing up in New York city. It starts out pretty typical, but then Miranda starts receiving mysterious notes like, "I am coming to save my friend's life and my own. I must ask you two favors. First, you must write me a letter." It takes some fun twists and turns, and even though I figured out the ending a little before I got there, it was still fun to see Miranda get there too. If you like to break up your "heavy reading" with a fun, easy book from time to time, I would recommend this one.
I sort of had a love/hate relationship with this book. I didn't really know what this book was about going into it, as it was simply a recommendation so I just picked it up and started reading. I was a few pages in before I realized it was nonfiction. A few years ago all I read was nonfiction: memoirs and travel stories etc. But this book was different because it sort of read like a novel. I say sort of because if you want to be reading a novel, then read a novel. But if you want to read good nonfiction, then read this.
This picture is a little blurry, but the subtitle is "magic and madness at the fair." The book sort of jumps back and forth, every other chapter, between the story of the architects and designers that built the 1893 World's Fair in Chicago, and the serial killer who used the fair to lure his victims in to their inevitable death at his hands.
Here is what I knew about the World Fair before I read this book: negative 15 amount. I knew negative things. I didn't even know it existed, let alone that it the feat of ingenuity and creativity that it was. I appreciated learning about the time that was put into building it, the things that it gave us [the Ferris Wheel may be the biggest thing, but there were so many little things too!], or the stream of visitors it elicited. However, this part of the book read slow to me. I understand when something is researched based and when you pour your heart and soul into it that it is often times difficult to cull it down because it feels like cutting off your own hand to do such a thing. But I think this part of it could have been cut down a bit. By the end though, I did enjoy this part of the story more.
The other half of the book, the sections that told the story of H. H. Holmes the serial killer, were fascinating to me. Maybe that says more about me than the book? This guy was straight up ca-razy.
To me it really read like two separate books, even though the fair was the backdrop for the murders. Due to the length and the amount of research, I think I would have enjoyed reading two separate books, rather than one. However, if you like historical stories this one is very well written. ["…but for that moment it stood their glittering in the sun like the track of a spent tear." WHAT?! That's some crazy good writing, folks].
Thanks for the recommendation on this one. I felt like this got me outside my normal genre of reading, which is something I always tried to encourage my students to do.
I picked up this book for 25 cents at a thrift store and was super excited. I had almost purchased it a few years ago at Barnes and Noble, in one of those I AM IN A BOOKSTORE AND I FEEL THE MAGIC kind of moments. I had never heard of the book, but Wally Lamb was one of the author's quoted and interviewed in "Scout, Atticus, and Boo" [which I reviewed HERE], and I LOVED the ways he used "To Kill a Mockingbird" to teach writing in his classroom. So I figured this book was worth a shot…
WRONG. I rarely, and I mean RARELY, put a book down and just won't finish it. I gave this one a hundred pages and then just stopped. I didn't like a single character. The writing seemed flat. I couldn't relate to the narrator, a coming-of-age girl. Just not good.
For those of you that don't know, I have an awesome sister who is also an awesome mother who is also one of my best friends. For mother's day she was so awesome and bought me this book for my kindle. I DEVOURED it in two sittings.
I think it deserves its own blog post, so stay tuned. And if you are a mom with kids who are still under the age of 10 or infants [i.e. still in the "trenches"], go buy this book right now. For realzies.
I'll help you out: here is a link to buy it: AMAZON. [Oh, but first don't forget to sign up for EBATES, and THEN go to Amazon. ;)].
I can't wait to get her next book:
And now if you don't mind, I just downloaded the book, "Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter" per a recommendation from a blog reader like you, and am going to go find a comfy spot. I'll let you know how it turns out.
As always: Have you read any of these titles? What were your thoughts?
What are some other books I can add to my list, or that you think other readers would enjoy?