Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Learning to Have Great Expectations

I didn't know what to expect with the following books, but I ended up loving all of them - I highly recommend reading any of the three.  Always be open to book suggestions, even from new people or even strangers (that's how I discovered David Sedaris). I've never published a book, let alone written one, so I've learned over time to always expect the unexpected when it comes to a new book. 

- Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ's Childhood Pal, by Christopher Moore.
We read this in my book club to kick off a love stories theme. This book was so surprising. The bible documents the adult-hood of Jesus, but there is very little known about his childhood. With some irreverence and hilarity, Moore attempts to rectify that by telling a rather tall tale about "Joshua" and his best friend Biff on their journey to become the Messiah. While the book is certainly fantastical in nature, there are moments throughout which make one pause and think about the true teachings of Christ. I found myself asking questions about life, love, the meaning of it all, and so many other things I didn't expect when I began reading. For anyone hesitating, I highly suggest reading the author's note at the end of the novel to assuage any fears.

- The Summer Guest, by Justin Cronin. 
Anyone who read The Passage and its sequel The Twelve knows that Cronin is a brilliant writer. I knew this, but was still happily surprised by the beauty of S.G. Where Cronin's other books are post-apocalyptic, S.G. tells the story of a fishing camp in the mountains of Maine. The characters - Joe, Lucy, Kate, Jordan, and the wealthy yet slightly mysterious Harry Wainwright - are deeply written, such that every character becomes your favorite from page to page. The story spans many years, but is told through the framework of one dying man's wish. Despite narrating with multiple characters, Cronin was able to create great romantic stories without taking away from the central narrative. This was one of those unexpected novels, one that slowly puts down roots in your soul and when you've finally finished, you realize how wonderful it truly was. Perhaps part of its beauty, at least to me, was its distinction from Cronin's other novels. I am always impressed by an author who successfully writes different genres and styles, without so much of a hint of their previous work (well, other than the book jacket). 

- Beautiful Creatures, by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl.
- Yes, I love young adult fiction. Ever since Harry Potter the market has been inundated with new series. I hesitate to compare these books to Twilight because the narrative is far richer and the magical world of casters (witches, werewolves, etc) in which the story takes place is more imaginative and more interesting than anything that happened in Forks, WA. The underbelly of a small-town in Carolina serves as the backdrop for a story of adventure, destiny, romance, and friendship, all told through the eyes of one adorably earnest 17 year old. Ethan and Lena's romance reads more realistic, despite the supernatural nature of their meeting, than those in other young adult novels. The existence of a love triangle is so short, I hesitate to even reference its existence. Ethan's loyal friend Linc and Olivia don't just seem like plot fillers - both are well developed and I found myself equally invested in their futures. If you're looking for a reprieve from the every-day, read this series (there was also a film made recently of book one, which received poor reviews, that I have yet to see - has anyone else?)

Next on my reading dock:

The Night Circus - Erin Morgenstern (this has been on my list forever and we're reading it next for book club!)
Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore - Robin Sloan (per a former teacher's suggestion)
The Thirteenth Tale - Diane Setterfield (darn those Kindle Daily Deals!)
The Light Between Oceans - M.L. Stedman (this has also been on and off of my list many times. I just read a post on EW that a director has been attached to the film, so obviously I have to read the book so I can then see the movie and hate it)
Gone Girl - Gillian Flynn (everyone raves about this thriller, I swear)

All of this, while trying to plow my way through Anna Karenina. What, don't tell me I'm the only one who reads more than one book at a time?


  1. Gosh, I haven't read multiple books at a time since... maybe since elementary school? One in my desk, one at home, and the required check-out from the library. Man, I miss those days. Now I just carry home a boatload from the library and go through them one at a time. And I'm always disappointed when I can't get a paperback- hardbacks are so much heavier to carry around and hold for hours of reading time!

    1. Oh girl, you need a Kindle. I was definitely not a believer when they first hit the market, but boy is it convenient for traveling and in-between-appointment reading. Admittedly, I do still get some physical books from the library because I'm not in the buying mood.

    2. I do have a Kindle! I love it, and definitely use it when traveling. I never would have picked one out on my own, but I got it as a gift, and I really like reading from it! Usually I get e-books from the library (I'm cautious about one-click buying being a little *too* convenient). I find I go in batches- I'll read a bunch of physical books, then a bunch of e-books, and so on.