Bookworm Update

I finished Wicked. It’s a strange book. No stranger, really, than The Wonderful Wizard of Oz and Return to Oz (Jack Pumpkinhead, seriously?). Well, maybe a little stranger. About 3/4 through it I was sure I didn’t like it. However, as it ended and now as I look back, I did like it. I didn’t feel compelled to read the few that followed it. But I did feel compelled to watch several Oz movies (including The Wiz!) and read a few of the old books (did you know there are 14 books about Oz by L. Frank Baum? And another 15 or so written by other folks? I did not know there were so many.)

Since then, I have read several other books worth mentioning (and a few that aren’t)….

You should read “Where the River End” by Charles Martin. Blindly borrowed from a friend because she said “I like this guy; he is my favorite writer.” Wonderful. And written by a male in a male voice (usually not my preference). Includes a little Charleston (which means of course I will read it). And a river. I love rivers. Perhaps the end is typical. But it’s a new write at an old story: happy couple, wife dying of cancer. Rewritten. Refreshed. You will cry, even if you think I’m wrong, you will cry- just…be prepared to cry.

“Beach House Memories” a sequel of but really a prequel to “The Beach House” which IS one of my favorite books. Mary Alice Monroe. Isle of Palms, Charleston, Loggerhead Turtles, family tensions, love affairs. Read both of them. If you’ve ever discussed books with me, you know you can judge a book by whether Rachel would read it again. It may or may not be a well-written book, it may or may not be the most intellegent book, it may or may not be a popular book, it is likely to be Jane Eyre (my all-time favorite since I was a teen) or Jane Austin or a Bronte or Shakespeare. But if would read it again (and again and again and again) then I will have a lot to say about it. Only books that get 5’s from me are ones I’ll re-read. (Some people never reread. I’d like to understand that. If you won’t reread you must not have like it. If you want to reenter the world once more then you must have loved it. Isn’t that logical?) Anyway, read “The Beach House,” if you like it, read “Beach House Memories.” It’s the story of Lovie and Dr. Bennett in the 70’s. If you know The Beach House, you know what I’m talking about.

Anita Shreve. I just am not a fan. I read “The Last Time They Met” and honestly, it’s a good book. I even recommend you read it. I just don’t like her voice. I try her time and time again. And I never like her voice. If you don’t mind it or you don’t know if you do, you should read this book. Interesting and unexpected. If you start to get a little slowed down 1/4 of the way in, just keep going. It gets better.

The next I won’t name. But there are a million like it I could name. You know, a group of sisters or friends and there is a conflict of some kind that divides the group; the ranch is going belly up, the marriage ends, there is a betrayal of some kind (gasp!) and then every one works out their problems and the main chic has great sex (and a short, shallow relationship we are supposed to think is deep and wonderful) with a cowboy/boatman/some-kind-of-very-manly-man (sex details weren’t included in this particular book but there are both types) and they eat some pie and voila! the end. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t hate these books. They are kind of the intellegent way of watching a soap for a day or two. If they are your kind of books, good for you. I would not say they are ‘my type’ of book at all. But some times you sort of need a book like this. For me, about every three or four months…a mindless, emotional read. I have a few mindless reads on my top favs list so don’t get in a huff.

For book club, I read “Once Upon A Secret: My Affair with President John F. Kennedy.” I won’t say too much about it. I enjoy non-fiction and so in that way I found it interesting. Of course, JFK himself (and his family in general) and the stories that surround them are always interesting. There is a ton of contraversy surrounding this book which is why I’ll avoid blogging about it. I thought the book was interesting, I did believe her (seems to be the biggest argument) and I don’t care if she wrote it to make money (um, everyone writes (sings, acts, creates)) for money on some level and I can see that some of it could be called into question. It was a good book for a book club because it does lend to great discussion and varying view points- a great purpose of a book club.

Next, I read Divergent by Veronica Roth. Then I read Insurgent. (I finished them and restarted immediately. What does that tell you?)
First I’ll tell you you really should read it. If you aren’t sucked in, don’t read Insurgent (#2) and don’t hold your breathe for Allegiant (#3- releasing in the fall of this year). But give it a shot. Even if you it’s not your type of read.
Perhaps it’s the student in me. Perhaps its whatever apitude for teaching is in me. Perhaps it’s the humanity. But I feel there are some books people in general should read. You should know some books to be A Person. And one of those books is “The Giver” (Lois Lowry). It is the first dystopian novel I ever read. It’s short and it’s simple. I read it in the same year as “Lord of the Flies” (William Golding). I was young and these books both impacted me deeply, particularly The Giver. Then a few years later when we read the short story, “The Lottery” (Shirley Jackson), I was blown-away. (I don’t know how someone could have not read that. If you haven’t read it, stop what you’re doing and go read it. It won’t take you long. http://sites.middlebury.edu/individualandthesociety/files/2010/09/jackson_lottery.pdf).
Needless to say, I was impacted by these three stories. Dystopian. What would that be like and what would we do? Why? How? These ideas have reimerged for me in the watching of The Walking Dead (read my older post about that if you will, titled Revolutionary) and the reading of The Hunger Games trilogy (which I also recommend).  Now comes Divergent, closely related to the ideas of The Giver (my incredible 7th grade English teacher agreed with me on this via facebook so I feel confident in continuing that school of thought). Set in what we know as the city of Chicago, people are divided into five factions that value different attributes of humanity. They co-exist and even depend on one another for aspects of their lives (some farm apple trees, some are technologically advanced, and so on and so forth) but they are very seperate. They are tested to determine which faction they are wired for and something happens when Beatrice finds out she is wired for three seperate factions (known as Divergent) and that this is very dangerous news. And from there I will tell you nothing.
But that you should read it. Yes, it’s written for a younger audience and many of the characters are teenagers. But if nothing else, perhaps, you’ll see how these stories could positively impact our society now. Perhaps if nothing else it will create a great conversation with someone. Just read it.

Okay. That’s all for now with the bookworm-y side of things. Stick around for the (belated) reveal of Baby Ballerina’s big show! (I can’t believe I still haven’t blogged about that- I’m the worst.)

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