“I have hated words and I have loved them, and I hope I have made them right.”

11.09.2012

As the weather turns colder and my layers of clothing increase, my brain seems to desire more coffee and words than usual. Long night flights when the passengers are fast asleep leave me in a quiet and very cold galley. It's perfect quality book time. 


The Book Thief, by Markus Zusak
On one wintry night a couple years ago, I watched The Boy in the Striped Pajamas with my family. For a good twenty minutes after the completed viewing, Camille walked into my room to me sitting at the edge of my bed, sobbing uncontrollably. Maybe I had PMS or something, but whatever the case that movie destroyed my heart. And to think - I've never seen Schindler's List. I'd heard a lot about The Book Thief, but every time I'd picked it up I'd get distracted by other books vying for my attention. I persevered recently, and I'm just so glad I did. It's (technically) young adult fiction, but I'd recommend it to anyone. I finished reading it on a long flight. I tried to stop tears from streaming down my face. I tried to find someone nearby that could share in the experience with me. I needed to hug someone that loved Rudy Steiner, the boy with lemon-colored hair. I needed someone to understand how much I cheered for Leisel Meninger. Read it, you guys. 

For fans of: Night by Elie Wiesel, The Boy in the Striped Pajamas by John Boyne

Favorite Quote(s):
“I like that every page in every book can have a gem on it. It's probably what I love most about writing--that words can be used in a way that's like a child playing in a sandpit, rearranging things, swapping them around. They're the best moments in a day of writing -- when an image appears that you didn't know would be there when you started work in the morning.” 

“I wanted to tell the book thief many things, about beauty and brutality. But what could I tell her about those things that she didn't already know? I wanted to explain that I am constantly overestimating and underestimating the human race-that rarely do I ever simply estimate it. I wanted to ask her how the same thing could be so ugly and so glorious, and its words and stories so damning and brilliant.” 

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The History of Love, by Nicole Krauss
I just wasn't ready to finish this one. I always keep a pen nearby to underline my favorite sentences and passages. This one took every bit of restraint for me to not just underline every page. It's a story of so many layers. Layers of nostalgia, regret, mystery, and longing. I wanted to sit on a park bench with Leo Gursky and tell him that I noticed him. I need to stop reading these books on the plane because I feel so emotionally spent and no one understands me afterward. And yet. Maybe I don't mind having those moments alone to just enjoy that books can change us in beautiful ways.

For fans of: Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer


Favorite Quote(s):
“Even now, all possible feelings do not yet exist, there are still those that lie beyond our capacity and our imagination. From time to time, when a piece of music no one has ever written or a painting no one has ever painted, or something else impossible to predict, fathom or yet describe takes place, a new feeling enters the world. And then, for the millionth time in the history of feeling, the heart surges and absorbs the impact.”

“She [my mother] was the force around which our world turned. My mother was propelled through the universe by the brute force of reason. She was the judge in all our arguments. One disapproving word from her was enough to send us off to hide in a corner, where we would cry and fantasize our own martyrdom. And yet. One kiss could restore us to princedom. Without her, our lives would dissolve into chaos.”

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Let The Great World Spin, by Colum McCann
Do you ever think about how many stories there are behind how we find new books? I love when I friend pulls it from their shelves and can't wait to share it. I like buying it brand new, right out of a box. I like to think of how pleasing that would be if the author knew that someone desired to read their words and even buy them. I found this book in a used bookstore in Richmond. It has coffee stains or mud on the binding (I'm hoping it's one of those and not poop) - and it just made me excited that the book had a life before me. I love this book so far. For anyone that loves New York, and loves history, and loves beginnings, I'd recommend it. McCann does such a great job of writing beauty in brokenness. I will let you know if I love it just as much once I finish it.


Favorite Quote(s):
"Even the worst of what men did to one another didn't dampen Corrigan's beliefs. He might have been naive, but he said he'd rather die with his heart on his sleeve than end up another cynic."

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The Elegance of the Hedgehog, by Muriel Barbery
One of the hardest things about finishing a great book is understanding how much time can pass before starting another. Once I finished The History of Love, I didn't want to lose any momentum and was ready for something equally poignant. That being said - I haven't finished this one yet. I'm trying. I really am. For every few passages that make me want to jump ship, there are several sentences that make me want to take this book out for coffee and tell it that I am still invested in the relationship, but where is this going? People that have read this book - tell me I am going to love it and I need to finish it! Because right now I like Renee but Paloma makes me want to toss it out the window. 

Favorite Quote(s): 

"Deprived of the steady guiding hand that any good education provides, the autodidact possesses nonetheless the gift of freedom and conciseness of thought, where official discourse would put up barriers and prohibit adventure." 



What books have you read recently? I'd love to hear your suggestions!



37 comments:

  1. Oh The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas - I read the book long before I knew there was a movie and that one certainly has stuck with me. Also enjoyed The Book Thief. On the topic of WWII, I recently read "In the Garden of Beasts" which is sort of historical fiction and a behind the scenes look at the war - super inspiring and made my trip to Berlin this month so much more intriguing. Unbroken by Laura Hildebrand was a good book as well about WWII but focused on the Japanese instead of the Nazis.
    But, aside from the war stuff, I really liked The Language of Flowers and if you feel you need another good cry, The Fault in our Stars was great.
    The Elegance of the Hedgehog is also on my list but haven't quite gotten there yet!

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    1. Oh I can't even imagine reading The Boy in the Striped Pajamas after seeing the movie. The books are always so much more heart-wrenching.

      Funny, both of the books you mentioned were some that I keep seeing or hearing about. Did you read The Devil in the White City? That's the same author as In the Garden of Beasts - I have it but haven't read it yet.

      Everyone loves Unbroken, I will have to get that from the library!

      You have given me some great ideas - I am excited and a glutton for punishment when it comes to books that make me cry. Thanks, girl!

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  2. I hope for your sake that it's something other than poop as well.

    The History of Love is my favorite book ever. So so SO beautiful. I don't even know what else to say about it.

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    1. Hahaha you always notice my gross comments and I appreciate it very much.

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    1. The Fault in Our Star has been recommended by everyone so far! I just requested it from the library. I'm excited!

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  4. The Elegance of the Hedgehog is the most unbearably bipolar book I've read to date. It took me over 6 months to finish because I kept giving up. But just like you said, there were these moments, these fleeting passages, and that made me feel like the novel was written on my heart.

    It was very strange. Despite persevering and finishing it after 6 months of breaking up and getting back together, I resolved that I dislike that book and want nothing else to do with ever again.

    It is however, my best friend's favorite. So maybe I missed something? Maybe I drew it out too much?

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    1. Oh and I forgot to mention: The History of Love, now that's a favorite. I fell in love with that book five years ago and we've been going steady since. It's a frequent re-read.

      How much freaking talent is in that family?! Foer/Krauss babies are going to take the literary world by storm. It's just not fair.

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    2. HOLD UP - HOW DID I NOT KNOW THAT FOER AND KRAUSS WERE MARRIED? I had no idea. Excuse me while I go think about this for a long time.

      I'm going to persevere and try to finish The Elegance of the Hedgehog. Apparently we all need to read The Fault in Our Stars next. Have you read that one?

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    3. HOW DID YOU NOT? They're like the Heidi and Seal of the literary world... you know, minus the divorce and all that nonsense.

      I have not! But it's on my reading list, third from the top. I'll let you know what I think when I get to it!

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  5. let the great world spin has been on my to-read list forever . i need to get on that!

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    1. If it continues to be as great as the first few chapters, it will definitely not disappoint!

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  6. I loved The Book Thief and I LOVED The History of Love. I read Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close after THOL and I kept thinking about how similar they were. Then I realized the authors were married, as you just did, and I'm so confused as to why one of them wasn't like YOU'RE COPYING MY BOOK.

    This book didn't change my life or anything, like the Book Thief did, BUT it's one of my recent favorites and I found myself highlighting quotes on nearly every page. It's sooo beautifully written and a quick read: The Rules of Civility by Amor Towles.

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    1. Yeah, I had absolutely no idea and you pretty much took the words from my mouth -- was it ever communicated within their household? I am really intrigued by this now. I am assuming EL&IC was written first? Look at how we are abbreviating them. Such delightful book nerds.

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  7. I already see that you've had The Fault in Our Stars recommended, so definitely read that. You might ugly cry but it's totally okay. I read it on an airplane and attempted to conceal my tears by looking out the window. It's just a beautiful story.
    I am definitely going to read some of these! I've had this desire to devour books lately. It's probably the cold weather. Books make everything so much cozier.

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    1. It's true, girl. I requested that book from the library. We are cleaning the apartment today and I got distracted and read Night by Elie Wiesel again. I am not sure why I keep reading books about the holocaust but it needs to stop.

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  8. First of all, as I texted desperately, don't give up on Elegance!!!!! It is French, thus tedious and depressing, but so beautiful. If plot driven fun is what you want, wrong book. But sometimes it is good for us to struggle through a book that attempts to understand mundane humans and succeeds so beautifully and with such perfect eloquence. However, don't bother with her other big book... it was pretty lame.

    And, read ALL OVER BUT THE SHOUTIN'!!!! It will shred your soul and then reconstruct a better world view from the wreckage that was your old one. For real.

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    1. If it weren't for you and my beloved Nana singing it's praises, I would have thrown it back on the bookshelf. But your texts and comments have convinced me to persevere. I am going to retrieve All Over but the Shoutin' today!

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  9. I'm excited to read The History of Love :-) thanks for the tip! One of my all time favourite books is The Bronze Horseman, sigh. Have you read it? X

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    1. I haven't heard of that one! Everyone's comments sent me into a frenzy at the library yesterday. I am having a hard time pacing myself. I'm going to put that one on my list, though!

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  10. Fran you make me want to be smarter. I need to start reading more and watching Abby leedance competition less. I'm reading the heavenly man now, a thousand gifts next and then I'm going to request some of these that everyone is raving about!

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    1. Just know that for every book I read I've probably watched several episodes of Nashville, Revenge, or Modern Family... WHY AM I WATCHING SO MANY SHOWS RIGHT NOW? I don't know that that show you mentioned is, but clearly that is for the best since I am watching too many already. I LOVE a thousand gifts. She is coming out with a devotional soon! I have not heard of Heavenly Man, I will have to check it out :)

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  11. The History of Love is such a great book. I've had The Book Thief recommended to me before so I might have to finally pick it up.

    Thirding/fourthing/fifthing/infinity-ing The Fault in Our Stars. I just started The Age of Miracles, which I'm really enjoying so far. The one book (besides TFiOS of course) that I always recommend to people is a memoir called Oh the Glory of it All by Sean Wilsey. I could (and have) read that book over and over and over again.

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    1. I have not heard of either of those! I will have to start with the memoir. I am such a sucker for memoirs. Last night I think I picked up and read several pages from like five books. I was stressing Bryan out. I was stressing myself out. I'm bad at the pacing. I'm excited, though - thanks girl!

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  12. Elegance is a different kind of book for sure... I loved it, but it was one I read in little bits, with a chocolate truffle, savoring both. It is worth finishing for sure, but it was not the kind of book you sit down and read straight through.

    I just finished Alif the Unseen, which was VERY, VERY good, and very interesting, a blend of political currents, culture, religion, and magical realism. So good that I am having trouble getting into my next book. Might have to borrow something from your list :-)

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    1. I think you described it perfectly! I was thrown off by the pacing. The past several books I've read I haven't wanted to put down, but Elegance isn't meant to be sped through. I feel better about reading it slowly now.

      I haven't heard of Alif the Unseen, but it sounds fascinating. You had me at magical realism. Gabriel Garcia Marquez has a knack for making people love that ;)

      Start with Book Thief. It's a quick read!

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  13. The Book Thief will always have a place in my heart. I remember crying so hard during the last few chapters that I would have to gather myself between paragraphs because I just could not see the words. Oh man, that book is amazing.

    I am going to check out the other books for sure. I loved The Lace Reader by Brunonia Barry and Revolution by Jennifer Donnelly - they are on my "developed me as a person" list. Wonderful books indeed.

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    1. I love that you have a list like that. It's pretty much perfect.

      Even though you pretty much know what is going to happen in The Book Thief, I just felt so sad that it still had to happen in the end. But they weren't sad tears, you know? I don't even know if that makes sense.

      You guys have suggested so many books that I am pretty sure I'm set for a long time :) I'm so excited about your recommendations!

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  14. I'm so glad you finally got to read the Book Thief! I am definitely going to get a copy of the History of Love ASAP. I would love to hear your thoughts on Elegance after you finish it. It wasn't one of my absolute favourites (I read it right after reading The Book Thief, so it didn't stand much of a chance), but I'm happy I got through it.
    This isn't a book recommendation, but I read an article this morning about e-readers that I think will strike a chord with you:
    http://www.slate.com/articles/arts/culturebox/2012/11/reading_on_a_kindle_is_not_the_same_as_reading_a_book.html

    I loved this line: "With my e-book, I no longer pause over the slight caress of the almost turned page—a rapture of anticipation—I just whisk away. Our hands become brooms, sweeping away the alphabetic dust before us."

    Also, a very belated congratulations on your beautiful wedding!

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    1. Abi, I have missed your writing and your emails! What is your new blog now that you are home? Do you have one? I'd love to read it.
      I'm bookmarking that link and cannot wait to read it. That sentence alone makes me excited to read it because I just can't get on the e-book train.
      Thank you, thank you!

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    2. I hope you enjoy it!
      I'll admit I caved and started using a kindle when I was overseas, and it was great for traveling, but now that I'm home I am loving being able to read books again! The kindle also made it way too tempting for me to order books faster than I could read them....
      I am still blogging at the same address until I can come up with a new name (I might be the least decisive person ever, so this is taking a while)

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  15. Gone Girl was a fun read. I just finished The Casual Vacancy...I'm still forming my opinion... I have started The Book Thief and not finished--thanks for the motivation...must re-read (and finish) soon!
    Yes, yes & YES to The Fault in Our Stars.

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    1. I waited forever for my copy of Gone Girl from the library...I got it, FORGOT TO PICK IT UP, and forfeited my hold. I put myself on the list again and I am like 563432 on the list. AAHHHH! It's for the best, though - because after all of these suggestions I will be busy for a while :) I have not entertained the idea of The Casual Vacancy because I read too many reviews and I love HP too much and I just can't let that go! Just started The Fault In Our Stars today. Really excited.

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  16. Some of my must-reads:

    The Last Report on the Miracles at Little No Horse by Louise Erdrich
    The Book of Lost Things by John Connolly
    A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius by Dave Eggers
    The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver

    I have been flirting with Let the Great World Spin for a while now, picking it up off the shelf and putting it back almost every time I go to Half Price Books. I think I'm finally going to have to commit, now. Thanks for the recommendations!

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