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
“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.”
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
“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.”
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.
"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."
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.
"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!