Some of My Favorite Books

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Two-Part Invention: The Story of a Marriage by Madeleine L'Engle

I wrote an article Top 10 Memoirs recently and someone mentioned this book, Two-Part Invention:  The Story of a Marriage by Madeleine L'Engle as one of their favorites. So, I thought I'd read it and see. Well, since I've never read any of L'Engle's books, I wasn't invested in her as a person, and I imagine that made a difference in how I viewed this memoir. (L'Engle wrote A Wrinkle in Time and many other books for adults and children.)

I liked this book, especially when she described her life with her husband in the 1940s when they were courting and their early marriage but she glossed over years, if not decades in a sentence or two. Instead, she delved deep in her husband's (Hugh Franklin) illness and death, which was touching and well done.

Have you read any of L'Engle's books? Have you read Two-Part Invention? What did you think?

Book Read: Two-Part Invention:  The Story of a Marriage
Author:  Madeleine L'Engle

Friday, January 25, 2013

The Cottagers by Marshall N. Klimasewiski

I broke my nonfiction streak this week by reading The Cottagers by Marshall N. Klimasewiski. I really enjoyed this novel, but it's hard to put it in any one category. It was sort of a mystery, sort of literary fiction.

I enjoyed the stories of the locals, mostly Cyrus, and the cottagers, people who come to Sooke, Vancouver Island, BC, Canada. That area of the world is beautiful so reading about the landscape and water was a bonus.

Book Read: The Cottagers
Author:  Marshall N. Klimasewiski
ISBN:  978-0-393-06077-5

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Below Stairs by Margaret Powell

I'd read about Below Stairs
somewhere and when I saw it at the library, I checked it out. The cover reads "Below Stairs, The Classic Kitchen Maid's Memoir That Inspired Upstairs, Downstairs and Downton Abbey."

This book was written in 1968 by an honest-to-goodness maid who worked during the time when Downton Abbey is now set--1920--and beyond. She was just 13 when she started working since she'd learned all she could in school without going on to upper level classes that her family didn't have money for. 

This book details her jobs in the many houses where she worked, first as a kitchen maid (the lowest ranking servant) then as a cook. Her goal was to get married and not have to work. Men were the breadwinners back then and women stayed home to keep house and take care of the children.

I liked a passage where she sums up how hard it was to meet eligible men to pursue as husbands. She had visited a small village where a friend was from, where everyone knew each other and had no trouble meeting men.

"I live in a town, and I couldn't even tell you the names of the people that live two or three doors up the road. Nobody speaks to anybody and it's considered the greatest compliment if you're known as a person who keeps herself to herself. But this kind of attitude doesn't help herself to get herself a himself, does it?"

The details of the very hard life and hard work that these servants lived come to life in this straightforward memoir. I have a new appreciation for poor Daisy now! 

Book Read: Below Stairs
Author:  Margaret Powell
ISBN:  978-1-250-00544-1

Monday, January 14, 2013

The Longest Way Home: One Man's Quest for the Courage to Settle Down by Andrew McCarthy

I finished reading The Longest Way Home:  One Man's Quest for the Courage to Settle Down by Andrew McCarthy last night, and I have mixed feelings about this book. On one hand, this actor, writer, director, whatever seems very self involved and frankly, selfish. On the other hand, I could totally relate to his wanting to be alone, feeling most like himself when he's by himself.

So, like most all of us, Andrew McCarthy is an enigma wrapped in a mystery.

This book mainly deals with his issues of getting married (for a second time). The first time, he dated his wife for 20 years then they married and divorced within a few years. 

Leading up to his second marriage, he traveled to far flung places as a travel writer and was gone for, what sounded like, long stretches at a time leaving his fiance to care for their daughter and his son. McCarthy doesn't come across as a very sympathetic guy but an honest one.

Book Read: The Longest Way Home:  One Man's Quest for the Courage to Settle Down
Author:  Andrew McCarthy
ISBN:  978-1-4516-6748-6

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Dark Places by Gillian Flynn

Okay, I read Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn last month, and loved it so much I decided I had to read her other two books. I think
Dark Places was better! This book is fiction but has the mundane details of real lives of characters that read like real people. 

Ben Day is a 15-year-old in 1985, and life is messed up. His younger sister, Libby, is 7 and the story alternates between "Now" and 1985 and among three characters, for the most part:  Ben, Libby, and their mother.

I'm not going to give away even a little of this story because that would be a disservice. If you love thrillers, mysteries, or just plain good books, read Dark Places.

A few words I'd use to describe Dark Places:  scary, gross, realistic, hilarious

Book Read: Dark Places
Author: Gillian Flynn
ISBN:  978-0-307-34156-3

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail by Cheryl Strayed

Okay, I finally read Wild by Cheryl Strayed, and it was as great as everything I'd heard about it.

If you haven't yet read this memoir, just do it. Today, tomorrow, any time is good. But this book reads like a good friend telling you about her deepest secrets and thoughts. It's funny. It's sad. It's painful. (All those missing toenails. Ugh.) 

Even if you're totally not athletic and have never hiked in your life, you can relate to this story of one woman's tale of hiking the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) for 100 days alone from Mohave, California to the Washington border.

One line near the end of the book is telling of her conversational style:

"The tumbler made its way slowly back to me; I took a sip and handed it back to Rick, and so on, like we were smoking a gigantic liquid joint."

Read more about this wrenching tale.

Book Read: Wild:  From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail
Author: Cheryl Strayed
ISBN:  978-0-307-59273-6

Friday, January 4, 2013

Born Under an Assumed Name: The Memoir of a Cold War Spy's Daughter by Sara Mansfield Taber

I'm on a memoir kick. After reading Sissy's Spacek's memoir, My Extraordinary Ordinary Life, I started reading Born Under an Assumed Name:  The Memoir of a Cold War Spy's Daughter by Sara Mansfield Taber. This was just as interesting but in totally different ways.

This book is as much a history book of the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s as it is anything else. Sara Taber's father was indeed a spook, a covert spy for the CIA and was assigned to Japan, Taiwan, Washington, DC, Holland, and Borneo during his children's young life. He and his wife didn't tell their children until they were in high school that he was a spy. 

If you grew up in any part of this era, like I did (she's a bit older than me but I could relate to much of what she experienced),
I think you'll find this book fascinating.

Book Read: Born Under an Assumed Name:  The Memoir of a Cold War Spy's Daughter

Author: Sara Mansfield Taber

ISBN:  978-1-59797-698-5


Related Posts with Thumbnails