5 BOOKS I’VE READ. PLUS 5 BOOKS I’M GONNA READ. Part 5.

When I was a wee, little thing, wee(er) and little(er) than I am now, I was a member of my small town’s summertime Library Reading Club.  Every week during my summer vacation my mother would take me to the library’s children’s section so I could pick out my next few books.

At least I assume she did. I don’t really remember her taking me at all but I’m pretty sure I didn’t ride my Big Wheel there, although I could have hitchhiked.

I do remember the book club, and the hushed tone of the library with the only sound being the flipping of paper pages and the sliding of books in and out of the shelves.  All the disturbing sounds, the clangs and bangs of file cabinets and such, absorbed by the low pile carpet.

I’d make my way downstairs, to the children’s section to have my paper stamped, confirming that I had read my previous weeks books. Having officially established I was a reading fool, I wandered into the stacks, looking at book after book, their protective plastic covers crinkling along the spine as I opened them hoping to discover my next read.

I’m not sure what you could call the feeling I had wandering around in that library or the feeling I got knowing I was going to be able to go home and read the stories I’d chosen but it was probably a cross between utter joy, love, and batshit crazy.

I have always loved reading to the point of insanity.  I get anxious if I don’t have at least 5 books waiting to read. I need to read before I go to bed no matter how tired I am.  I’ll do everything short of propping my eyelids open with toothpicks Tom & Jerry style to get at least a few more pages in.

I read “literature”, I read humour and I read crap.  I read it all, depending on my mood.  And the  5 Books I’ve Read plus 5 Books I’m Gonna Read posts pretty much reflect that.

 

books-i've-read

The Illegal – The Illegal is Lawrence Hill’s most engaging book since The Book of Negroes (sometimes titled Someone Knows My Name).  Hill lives about 10 minutes from me.  That means nothing, I just thought I’d throw it in there in case it makes you think I’m a bit more special because of it.   The story revolves around a marathon runner from a small, corrupt African country.  This is how Amazon describes it:

All Keita has ever wanted to do is to run. Running means respect and wealth at home. His native Zantoroland, a fictionalized country whose tyrants are eerily familiar, turns out the fastest marathoners on earth. But after his journalist father is killed for his outspoken political views, Keita must flee to the wealthy nation of Freedom State―a country engaged in a crackdown on all undocumented people.

There, Keita becomes a part of the new underground. He learns what it means to live as an illegal: surfacing to earn cash prizes by running local races and assessing whether the people he meets will be kind or turn him in. As the authorities seek to arrest Keita, he strives to elude capture and ransom his sister, who has been kidnapped.

Set in an imagined country bearing a striking resemblance to our own, this tension-filled novel casts its eye on race, human potential, and what it means to belong.

I loved this book and couldn’t wait to go to bed to read it.  That’s the sign of a good book.

Tuesday Nights in 1980 – This novel by first time author Molly Prentiss  takes place in New York City’s art scene of the 1980s.  It focuses mainly on 3 characters, Raul an artist who has escaped escalating violence in Argentina, small town Idaho Lucy and an art critic with the condition Synesthesia.  I quite liked it.  But I’m not sure I’ll remember it. Does that make sense?

 

We Were Liars – THIS one I will remember.  I really loved We Were Liars by E. Lockhart. It’s the story of The Sinclairs; filthy rich, old money democrats who summer at their private island off of Martha’s Vineyard. The back of the book jacket says it best:

We are Sinclairs.

No one is needy.

No one is wrong.

We live, at least in the summertime, on a private island off the coast of Massachusetts.

Perhaps that is all you need to know.

Except that some of us are liars.

 

Plainsong – Plainsong by Kent Haruf was recommended to me by my neighbour Jane as she drove past in her car. I believe she had read my latest post on books and screamed out of the car “READ PLAINSONG BY KENT HARUFFFFFFffffffff. ”  And then she was gone.  Plainsong is a quiet, beautiful little book. “Tom Guthrie is a high school teacher whose wife can’t–or won’t–get out of bed; the McPherons are two bachelor brothers who know little about the world beyond their farm gate; Victoria Roubideaux is a pregnant 17-year-old with no place to turn. Their lives parallel each other in much the same way any small-town lives would–until Maggie Jones, another teacher, makes them intersect.” (from Amazon)  Kent Haruf has a follow up novel to Plainsong, called Eventide which will be getting added to the dwindling stack of books beside my bed soon.

 

Fifteen Dogs – I thought this book was stupid. There I said it.  I know it probably means I just didn’t get it, or didn’t read into it far enough, or understand the metaphors or allegory or whatever else, but even if I did, I still wouldn’t have liked it.  The book’s a great idea. It’s a novel that humanizes 15 dogs and takes you on their journey through life as they break out of a dog shelter.  Or was it a vet’s office?  Anyhow, for me it was sad and depressing and generally awful.  It made me feel hateful and pessimistic towards both dogs and humans.  Mind you I only managed to get halfway through it before flinging it across the room and curling up with my cat.

 

gonna-read

 

Maeve’s Times – Maeve Binchy is one of the great storytellers of our time.  Her characters and settings are funny, warm, ordinary, and extraordinary.  If I could use only one word to describe Maeve Binchy stories it would be “comfortable”.  Maeve Binchy died in 2012.  This is a collection of her short stories as they appeared in The Irish Times from the 1960’s to the time of her death.  Before and during her time as a novelist,  Binchy was a reporter, correspondent and columnist for the paper.

 

Flight Behavior –  I’m a very love it or hate it kind of reader with Barbara Kingsolver.  I loved The Poisonwood Bible.  I did not love The Lacuna.  I loved Animal, Vegetable, Miracle.  I did not love The Bean Trees.  I have a hunch Flight Behavior is going to be a love it for me. Here’s the excerpt from Amazon:

Set in the present day in the rural community of Feathertown, Tennessee, Flight Behavior tells the story of Dellarobia Turnbow, a petite, razor-sharp 29-year-old who nurtured worldly ambitions before becoming pregnant and marrying at seventeen. Now, after more than a decade of tending to small children on a failing farm, oppressed by poverty, isolation and her husband’s antagonistic family, she has mitigated her boredom by surrendering to an obsessive flirtation with a handsome younger man.

In the opening scene, Dellarobia is headed for a secluded mountain cabin to meet this man and initiate what she expects will be a self-destructive affair. But the tryst never happens. Instead, she walks into something on the mountainside she cannot explain or understand: a forested valley filled with silent red fire that appears to her a miracle.

After years lived entirely in the confines of one small house, Dellarobia finds her path suddenly opening out, chapter by chapter, into blunt and confrontational engagement with her family, her church, her town, her continent, and finally the world at large.

I’m guessing that field of fire is butterflies, but I guess I’ll have to read it to find out.  Which I will. Probably some time this summer.

 

The High Mountains of Portugal – I bought this latest book by Life of Pi author Yann Martel before I knew anything about it.  I loved Life of Pi and so did over 6,000 Amazon reviewers.  60% of them gave it the highest rating, 5 stars.   Now that I own The High Mountains of Portugal, I looked up a few reviews on Amazon where the word “slog” is used a disturbing amount of times to describe what it’s like to get through.

The Rosie Effect –   The Rosie Effect is the follow up novel to the wildly, out-of-the-blue popular novel The Rosie Project; a hilarious and charming novel about a man with Aspergers figuring out how to work love into his regimented life.  I’m really looking forward to reading the light and entertaining Rosie Effect after reading the book I’m reading right now …

 

Barkskins – I’ve included Barkskins in my “gonna read” books because even though I’ve started it, I haven’t finished it.  I’m on page 41 of the over 700 page novel from Pulitzer Prize winning author Annie Proulx who wrote The Shipping News and Brokeback Mountain.   This is not what you would call an easy read but it’s what you’d call a great read.  It’s already reminding me of Lonesome Dove.  Not the story, but the way, even only 40 pages in, I feel for these characters. I know them. I know where they live and how they work.  I’m a part of their world, I’m not just reading about it.  I’m immersed.

Barkskins tells the stories of 2 very different men and generations of their descendants from the day they land in “New France” (Canada) in the late 1600’s. Both are taken on as wood cutters (Barkskins) to clear the wild forests of a landowner.

So that’s 5 more books down and 5 more to go in my lifelong journey of reading. Gold stars for me. And since you’re still here reading this, I imagine gold stars for you too.

Happy reading.

 

103 Comments

  1. Shirley says:

    I too slogged through the High Mountains of Portugal, at least I think I did, I could have fallen asleep. (Which, in retrospect was better than falling on my sword!)

  2. Jennie Lee says:

    Thanks for the book recommendations, Karen. My Mom used to take me to the library every Saturday in the summer. She wouldn’t let me check out more than 10 books at a time. She was afraid I’d lose some, if there were more than 10 to keep track of. My child self found that a real insult. I never lost one, and I usually read them all. Sometimes it was absolute torture trying to whittle the stack down to 10 books. The most recent book I read which was worthy of being recommended was “Breakfast With Buddha; A Novel”, by Roland Merullo.

  3. Kathleen says:

    Yay for your well timed post! (Well timed for me anyway) I was watching a young man read a book whilst waiting for his Chinese take away order last night, and thought to myself… I don’t have a new book to read after the one I’m reading now…
    I’m off to shop online.
    Thanks once again, Karen. 🙂

    • Karen says:

      Barkskins is a pre-order for June. If you don’t think you’ll be done the book you’re reading now until then get that. REALLY good book. A REAL book, ya know, lol? ~ karen!

  4. Amanda says:

    I love your book posts! Have you read “The Snow Child”? If not, I have a feeling you would love reading it.

  5. Rene Walkin says:

    Thanks for the recommendations. I am still struggling through the Yan Martel book-a far cry from Life of Pi! Loved Flight Behaviour-like you I was totally struck by Poisonwood Bible-so much so that I read it again 10+ years later and enjoyed it all over again. Also loved Animal, Vegetable, Mineral but lukewarm on the others.
    We Were Liars was fabulous. I’m going to get Barkskins and Plainsong-they sound like my kind of books.

    • Karen says:

      I’m so glad someone else has read We Were Liars. You don’t hear very much about it and it was such an interesting book. ~ karen!

  6. Adrienne in Atlanta says:

    Flight Behavior was interesting. There was clearly an ecological message Kingsolver wanted to get across, but it didn’t get annoying (to me anyway). Good writing, and not overly taxing. Perfect non-vapid summer read.

    I haven’t found a book to love love love since The Goldfinch. :-/

    • Katie says:

      Adrienne,

      Have you read Fates and Furies by Lauren Groff? I loved The Goldfinch, and ADORED Fates and Furies.

      • Adrienne in Atlanta says:

        I am next on the list for it from the library. 🙂 Now just need to find time to read it! Thanks for the rec!

    • Jan in Waterdown says:

      I feel like I’m the ONLY person who hated the Goldfinch. Didn’t even bother to finish it. Found the main character totally unsympathetic so I didn’t care what happened to him. Maybe I missed something . . .

      • Adrienne in Atlanta says:

        Well I will say that I found the writing exquisite so even though “Potter” was a little bit of a putz, it was the final 50 pages or so (or like last 10%) that made me *adore* the story and how we got to it. I listened to the audiobook, which was done extremely well. I promise it pays off in the end if you decide to try again. It still makes my soul sing a little to think of what the book was all about. 🙂 This doesn’t happen to me often!

  7. Rose says:

    I loved the “The Illegal” too. I just reserved the rest at the library. Should keep me busy reading for a few weeks! Along with planting and cleaning up the garden. Can’t wait to sit in the hammock and read a book.

  8. Ann says:

    OK-you have talked me into The Rosie Project and Evensong. I loved Flight Behavior. Loved it. But my sister in law listened to it during her first round of chemo and she thought it was a tad depressing. But I think it was the chemo talking. I found the book to be uplifting overall. Barbara Kingsolver has some of the very best character development skills out there and her characters are so real life, which really helps me like a book. No, everything is not happy happy thru out the book. But life isn’t so why should this book be?

    Our family is filled with Aspergers so any book written about it is going to get read. Some have hit the nail on the head. Well, at least with my families version of Asperger’s. Some have not. So let’s hope this next one does.

    Plainsong and The Illegal also are grabbing my attention. Time to go pick up a new listen on Audible.

    • Amy in KC says:

      I haven’t read this yet, but my mom just finished The Eagle Tree by Ned Hayes. I was remembering that she’d said the character had Asperger’s, but according to Amazon it’s autism (it’s not clear to me how high-functioning). Anyway, she said it was really good.

      And another series about high-functioning autism is the Genevieve Lenard series by Estelle Ryan. They are mysteries involving art theft and murder, and the main character has autism and is an expert in human behavior (she studied it extensively so she could understand other people since that didn’t come naturally to her). It’s a pretty good series, and I always learn a lot about art history in the process, which is fun.

      *I know autism and Asperger’s are not the same thing, but since they’re on the same spectrum and closely related, I thought these would be interesting to you (and others) as well.

  9. Jenn says:

    I am extremely late to your party, but better late than never! And I love that you are a reader. Three book clubs command my time as well as the in between reading. What can I say? And I actually do have a life. Poisonwood Bible is one of my all time favorites, but I, too, am hot and cold on Kingsolver. Loved Flight Behavior. Off to read your past recs and to pick up on a few I may have missed. Read on!

  10. Beth says:

    The Sisters Brothers!!!! Funny, evocative of Lonesome Dove.
    A quick read. Still thinking about it 2 mos. later.

  11. jainegayer says:

    LOVE reading, always have. I’m in the middle of LITTLE BEE at the moment, but hope to pick up some of your “picks” at the library today. I feel restless when I don’t have a book lying on the coffee table. My husband is trying to get me to try a Kindle. Never, I told him. I just like to turn real pages.

    • Lauren from Winnipeg says:

      I really enjoyed Little Bee. Read it a few years ago. If you haven’t already read his other two – Incendiary and Gold – I also recommend.

  12. cheryl says:

    LOVED the snow child…LOVED LOVED and haunted by it…will make you want a snowman

    try “Lab Girl” by Hope Jahren…she may be as smart as you Karen….i do emphasize “may” 🙂

  13. monique says:

    Loved We Were Liars.
    I have a hard time giving a book 5 stars..

    I think I gave The Art of Hearing Heartbeats 5 stars.
    I’ll Pin your books because I enjoy reading and love recommendations..

    I also loved Sarah’s Key and Child44
    Eleanor and Park was good too.
    Inside The O’Briens
    The Language of Flowers
    It Was me All Along
    The Great Santini
    Orphan Train
    The Goldfinch

    etc etc..
    Ok I’ll stop now:)

  14. Mary W says:

    Who Moved the Cheese! Still waiting your review. It will take you 1 hour to read. Skip the whole first half of the book as it is “explaining” the story. Just Read the Story! You did say you were going to finally pick it up – last year. The year before you said nothing. The year before you mentioned it had been very popular. Whatsamatteryou? I can’t send you my copy as my son took it home to give to one of his friends and I’ll never see it again. It’s NOT a Great Read – it is just a story everyone should read and absorb. It makes life and living easier.

    • Karen says:

      LOL. I just looked at it in my “list” last night. I keep not ordering it because … well it’s a self help book isn’t it? I’m just so not interested by self help books but you keep insisting a read it, lol! I swear if I buy this book and I don’t like it I’m going to find you and throw it right at your head. O.K. Here we go … ~ karen!

      • Adrienne in Atlanta says:

        Definitely get it at the library. You’ll never, ever read it again, though it is a well told little lesson/story which you’ll be able to recount to anyone who you think could benefit from its wisdom. 😉

  15. NinaMargoJune says:

    “Pax” by Sarah Pennypacker. A simultaneously simple and complex story about a boy and his pet fox, narrated alternately by each of them, who get separated. A quick beautiful novel on many levels.

  16. Karen says:

    At the end I’m going with We Were Liars. Hope it’s at Costco lol

  17. marilyn says:

    my childhood was spent at the library in a beanbag chair with a stack of books beside me..reading is like breathing. i must do it in order to survive

  18. Eika says:

    “Venus For A Day” by Robin Rice – got it free as an ebook. Didn’t want to put it down. Generally not my type of book, but I loved it and bought everything else by the same author.

  19. Su says:

    thanks for the recommendations! even tho I have become a convert to the e-reader ( which I love for traveling) I still love books – REAL books you hold and flip back and forth thru…. anyway I live out in the boonies and for whatever reason have not been to the library for years… recently I went back and almost never left… I had forgotten the feeling of browsing the stacks and finding a gem of a book…. I found authors I hadn’t read in years with new material. Something you can’t quite do on Amazon for some strange reason…..

  20. Lindy says:

    OOOh Rich Sinclairs. I like the sound of that one. Err, except for the Liars bit. I found that Flight Behaviour is great if you firmly keep the picture of that great actor Holly Hunter in your head as the main character. But boy does it get hectoring. Loved the beginning, and some of the middle and then had that Barbara Kingsolver moment (like in the Lacuna) when I realized that it just wasn’t as great as the Poisonwood Bible and slogged on to the end. Diligently.

  21. Meredith says:

    Two books I’ve loved recently and plan to re-read after a time are about Sarah and Gerald Murphy, a very wealthy married couple that were friends with and patrons of Hemingway, Fitzgerald, Picasso, Cole Porter and other members of the Lost Generation. So engaging for non-fiction….painting a detailed picture of a way of life that is gone now.

    Everybody Was So Young by Amanda Vaill
    Villa America: A Novel by Liza Klaussman

    Back in print (and I haven’t read yet but want to) Living Well is the Best Revenge by Calvin Tomkins….a portait of the Murphys published in the 1970s.

  22. Tris says:

    Maeve! I love her and miss her so much. Her books are my go to staple when life is crazy and I just need some quiet time. I even named a cat after her.

  23. LisaS says:

    Hey Karen! My mother is an new upcoming author! She started by writing (in exaggeration) about life and circumstances with the horses and interesting folks at the racetrack. She’s since started a series of children’s book based on my daughters and their first pony, George. Now she’s on her second murder mystery series and also has a series for tweens. You should check out her books. They’re super fun! And my mama certainly has a flair for drama. <3 Check out her websites!

    http://www.cindymcwriter.com/home.html and http://www.georgethepony.com/home.html

  24. Kelly Sidoryk says:

    Can’t believe no one has mentioned Kingsolver’s Prodigal Summer! One of my all time favourites. But also glad to hear the love it or hate it opinion. Great motivation to add to the reading list. Might be hard now that the growing season is here.

    • Safetydog says:

      I loved Prodigal Summer! Have read it several times. That book introduced me to Kingsolver.

    • Amy in KC says:

      I’m a big Kingsolver fan and I also liked Prodigal Summer a lot. Flight Behavior was only OK and I…*ducks*…hated the Poisonwood Bible. I know.

      But I LOVE the Bean Trees and Animal Dreams. Those are my top two favorites of hers (for now!).

  25. danni says:

    Small town girl here, allowed to walk to the library as a child and lived there, would just go read everything straight across the shelf and on to the next row… I still remember how magic it felt when all of a sudden it clicked and I could read….
    I now have the urge to walk out of work and go to the library!

  26. Ev Wilcox says:

    Even though I enjoy your posts about books, I didn’t know I was in touch with another true lover of reading! I too read a lot as a child (taught myself how to read before I started school), and even today I usually have two books going at the same time. What dishes? What laundry? On your recommend, I read “All The Light You Cannot See”. Grim, sweet, sad, very well written. Anyway, I too read before bed every night-one of my better habits. Thanks for sharing books with us Karen!

  27. Helen Whaley says:

    Thank you so much for adding links for each book. It’s a wonderful thing to be able to add them to my Amazon list without having to track them down. Much appreciated.

    Harking back to a much earlier thread, you and many readers recommended Carl Hiaason’s books. Which would be best to begin with? I’m currently reading Native Girl and enjoying it quite well. I was expecting more humour perhaps. It’s definitely worth finishing – just to discover the outcome.

  28. Deborah says:

    Friends in my first book group called me “the inhaler.” Thanks for these great leads. Do you know Jacqueline Winspeare’s Maise Dobbs series? Like Binchey, she’s created a great character and interesting stories, but also rooted in historical events. Eerie parallels to world politics today. All are good, but the 3rd book is where I got completely hooked. If you liked Plainsong, you might like Peace Like a River by Leif Enger. I would never have chosen it, but it was our town’s common read. Amazing writing, weird characters, bizzare story that somehow rang absolutely true. I’m so glad I read it.

  29. Teddee Grace says:

    When I was in first grade we were all sitting in our little wooden chairs in a semi-circle around our teacher who sat in a wooden armchair. Dick and Jane were off on a road trip. We had been learning to read phonetically and when we came to a very long word our teacher asked if anyone knew what it was. I set about pronouncing it to myself according to the rules we’d been taught and suddenly realized I was saying “automobile.” Talk about a light bulb moment. I was so excited I shouted it out. I have to say, when people ask, and for whatever it’s worth, that was the highlight of my entire life…and I’m 72. Nothing can compare to the realization that you’ve been given the key to knowledge. I read an average of three books a week. I’ve noted your recommendations and thanks for contributing to my continuing adventure.

  30. Ei Con says:

    Note that, in my library at least, We Are Liars is shelved in the YA section. Not that that’s a bad thing.

  31. Barb says:

    I really, REALLY loved We Were Liars. That was a book that stuck with me long after I was done with it. I loved that they had a map of the island and the houses to keep it all straight. I just finished The Rosie Project last week and loved that one too. Will have to read The Rosie Effect next. Both Liars and Rosie Project are being made into films and I fear that they will not translate into film very well. For very different reason but I don’t want to spoil anything for anyone that hasn’t read those two books. What do you think?

  32. Amy in KC says:

    I must be in the minority because I thought We Were Liars was pretty bad. It was well-written in the sense that there is this unknown thing that happened, so I flew threw it because of that suspense. But overall, I thought the story was weak and relied on a lot of gimmicks.

    Not to take away anything from anyone who enjoyed it, though. I say as long as people are reading books still, that’s a good thing. 🙂

    Plainsong sounds good; I’m adding it to my list!

  33. Lauren from Winnipeg says:

    I agree about 15 Dogs. I could barely get through the sample I downloaded.

    I didn’t like the Poisonwood Bible when I first read it but loved it the second time. Same goes for The Shipping News. That’s why I always reread books (unless I absolutely hated it). Sometimes you are just not in the mood or right frame of mind for a certain book and it will really influence your opinion.

    One of my favourites is The Accidental Tourist by Anne Tyler. No idea how often I’ve read that one. Also a rare occurrence where the movie version was good.

    Am I missing something about Maeve Binchy? I’ve only read one (no idea which one) and Danielle Steele came to me mind (read Ick!) Maybe I just got one of her less successful books?I didn’t reread that one because it was too close to the “hated it”.

    • Karen says:

      No!!!! LOL. Maeve Binchy is nothing, nothing like Danielle Steele. Not one iota. Maeve Binchy is very homey and village-like and endearing and funny. So. Basically the opposite of Danielle Steele. ~ karen!

  34. Anne says:

    The Goldfinch by Donna Tarrt, won the 2014 Pulitzer. It is one of my favourite reads EVER. I am an avid reader but have a bad habit of devouring fiction like jellybeans and forgetting what I’ve read fairly quickly especially when it comes to my secret mystery-genre junk-read fixes. For a laugh out loud read try Jonas Jonasson’s The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared. I couldn’t resist an unsolicited recommendation from a fellow Library Reading Club veteran. I was also a contributing member of my local newspaper’s Junior Press Club which published contests and contributions from kids in the Saturday paper right next to the weekly funnies. Anybody else remember these literacy encouraging vehicles?

  35. Lynne says:

    Way back during the lazy days of summer the highlight of my week was going to the library, I spent hours choosing the stack to bring home and then immersed myself in other worlds. I averaged a book a day, the most pressing thing on my agenda was brushing brocolli out of my braces, and it wasn’t uncommon for me to have a flashlight under the covers in order to read into the wee hours.
    I swore then that I would become a librarian because I couldn’t imagine anything better to do with my life (I worked with special needs kids instead but still dream of what might have been) the scents and sounds of the library were and still are the best part of my week.
    Happy reading Karen, I will be sure to check out your list to add to my growing pile beside the bed 🙂

  36. Elaine says:

    Thank you, Karen, for the most perfect timing!! I’m having another knee replaced very soon and like you, I panic when I have nothing to read! I had already read many of your recommended books (before finding your blog) and thoroughly enjoyed them so I know I’ll like your new list. I’m also jotting down the many suggestions of your readers. My problem is I can’t put a (good) book down so I go through a book in two evenings. I also use toothpicks and read ’til 2:00 a.m. or so. There’s nothing like a good book (and a warm purring cat)!

  37. Jody says:

    I read Flight Behavior. I wanted to suggest that you would enjoy it because of the monarch aspect of the story but I am not good at remembering titles of books. It’s kind of like when you meet a lot of people, I will see a book and remember if I liked it or not but not remember details. It wasn’t my favorite Kingsolver but I enjoyed it. Prodigal Summer was a favorite. Enjoy!

  38. I too loved going to the library as a child. I’ve been an avid reader my whole life. A few I would highly recommend are The Women’s Room (it’s pretty old but good) The Dogs of Babel, and Invisible Monsters by Chuck Palahniuk who wrote Fight Club It is different and amazing(Don’t read if you are offended by foul language and homosexual sex though)
    Gonna have to check out We Were Liars

  39. Leslie says:

    I am trusting you Karen 🙂 I just ordered We Were Liars and Plainsong. I don’t have time to read like I used to so I am counting on these to be wonderful.

    Your description of going to the library as a child, walking through the books and working on a reading list matches my childhood memories.

    When I was a child, more years ago than I like to admit, my mother would leave me in the bookstore to look at books while she shopped. I knew to stay put because when she returned she would buy me a book or two (sometimes three). She would be arrested today :-0

    As an elementary student, two or three times a year, we could order books through the school. The prices were .75 to $2.00. My order was usually about $20.00. Looking back I have no idea how my parents afforded it. I suspect we ate hard boiled eggs in cream sauce on toast a lot that month.

    I had not thought about those times in a long time, great memories. Thanks.

  40. Kelly says:

    I am a reader too, but just cannot deal with fiction. Any great non-fiction recommendations?

  41. Denise says:

    I haven’t read any of your recent reads…will add them to my list. I really liked Flight Behavior, but I generally like all of Barbara Kingsolver’s work. Rosie Effect was funny, but not as funny as the first – probably because it was more of the same and not a surprise.

    Just finished Descent. O.M.G.!!!

  42. After reading The Rosie Project, I realized I must have dated at least one man with Asperger’s!

  43. A guy says:

    Congrats on the link from AT.

  44. Heather (mtl) says:

    I notice the summer pastel sherbet colours of the books you have upcoming. Nice touch!
    I still cherish my “Now We Are Six” by A.A.Milne – Given as a Christmas gift in 1964. I remember reading it over and over way back then. At 9 I was sent to clean my room but I came across “Misty of Chincoteague”and sat on the floor reading the entire book that afternoon.
    I guess I loved books early on. It really is time for a trip to the library now- yay!
    One book I loved is “The White Bone” written by Canadian Barbara Gowdy. The story of elephants from an elephant’s point of view. Sounds odd, but is soo endearing, sweet, trying and triumphant. Hmm, I wonder if I haven’t mentioned that before?!
    PS: the laptop is working fine – ad problem solved. Thanks!

    • Karen says:

      Oh good! I was going to email you about that. I emailed the provider and they wanted more information from you because they couldn’t reproduce the problem. ~ karen!

  45. Avery says:

    I’ve found some great reads in your book recs over the years, thank you!
    In this case I have to say I read We Were Liars and HATED it. It seems to be a book that inspires passion one way or the other!

  46. Patricia says:

    So downloaded We Were Liars last night; it appears I’m going to be getting less sleep for the next few nights. I should plan to go to bed earlier so I can read sooner but that never seems to happen. Eh, sleeps over rated.

  47. m'liss says:

    Some of my favorites:
    Manual for Cleaning Women: Selected Stories by Lucia Berlin;
    Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell
    Just Kids by Patti Smith;
    Euphoria by Lily King;
    Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon;
    Sleepwalkers Guide to Dancing A Novel by Mira Jacob;
    Anything by Geraldine Brooks, Anne Patchett, Michael Chabon

    • Cred says:

      Whoops! I’ve just recommended two books that you have already. I started reading comments above and saw Eleanor & Park, so I seconded that. But I’d stopped reading comments and thought I’d come back for a look and take notes of books I might like. After I submitted my comment, I see yours just above also recommending Just Kids and Eleanor & Park. Perhaps we both have just a little punk rock in our souls.
      Will have to have a closer look at the books you’ve recommended.

      • m'liss says:

        …and I’ll check out your list.
        Funny how personal favorite reading lists are. Our book club rarely agrees when we rate our choices. Some like light & some prefer heavy subject matter, but great writing will always win.
        I’ve come to realize that my absolute favorites are often books I struggle with at the start.

  48. Cred says:

    Perfect timing! Was just perusing goodreads in search of a few to read as I approach the end of the current one I’m reading.
    Loved Shipping News (and how embarassing that I didn’t know Annie Proulx wrote Brokeback Mountain)
    I really enjoyed The Rosie Project but one I’d read around the same time, and enjoyed much more, was The Full Ridiculous.
    Also, one that comes to mind that I read long ago but really enjoyed, Gargoyle by Andrew Davidson, a dark story but completely satisfying.
    Someone also recommended Eleanor and Park- I second that wholeheartedly- YA material but I was borrowing some from my daughter and this was one an enjoyable read.
    And have to mention Just Kids by Patti Smith- loved it.
    So, thanks for the suggestions- just what I need.

  49. Bobbi says:

    Loved We Were Liars. I will be 60 this year. So many books, so little time. I used to read every book all the way through, but life is now too short to read more than 3 chapters if I don’t like it. As I child, I had double baskets on my rear bicycle wheel. Every week in the summer I would ride to the library and fill them to the brim. I can’t imagine not having a library card.

  50. TucsonPatty says:

    I get too busy putting all these books on my library reserve list to comment! I love these posts and they give me so many new books for the next what ever time I have. I just read (I’m behind because of the long wait at the library, but don’t care as there are so many others to read) “Tricky Twenty-Two” by Janet Evanovich. This series is too funny and is such a non-thinking fun read. I also just finished “The Flood Girls” by Richard Fifield. I loved it and loaned my library book to two others before I turned back in! Another recent one that I loved was “The Ice Cream Queen of Orchard Street” by Susan Jane Gilman. I’ve said that if it were a movie, Joan Rivers would be perfect for the part. Irreverent, funny, acerbic. I didn’t see any Isabel Allende on this list, and I highly recommend “The Japanese Lover” set around Japanese internment camps during WWII. “My name is Resolute” by Nancy E.Turner was amazing, also. I loved her trilogy – “These is My Words”, “Sarah’s Quilt” and “Star Garden”, all historical fiction set here in Arizona. Too many books that I love, to keep listing. I have a Pinterest board with books I’ve read, leaving out the ones I didn’t enjoy. I have another board to list the books I want to read and it gets really full after these posts from Karen. Thank you, everyone, for all the great new recommendations!

    • Chandy says:

      Anything called “The Ice Cream Queen of Orchard Street” has to be good. I’ve put it on my list.

      • TucsonPatty says:

        I am a sucker for great titles! Try “Angry Housewives Eating Bonbons” by Lorna Landvik. I’ve loved everything she has written, including another favorite – “Patty Jean’s House of Curl”.

  51. Dana says:

    I also gave up on Fifteen Dogs about halfway in. I really didn’t like the way it me feel. I loved Flight Behavior ( and didn’t like Lacuna). I have The High Mountains and The Illegal on my list, and am looking forward to reading them.

    I’ve met Lawrence Hill ? He was at the Festival of the Written Arts in my small town, and my literary friends were hanging out with all the cool authors.

  52. Chandy says:

    I always sample a book before buying it. I think Fifteen Dogs was the first book I ever didn’t buy after reading the first few chapters. And I read anything that has a dog in it. I love dogs.

  53. Linda says:

    Love the book lists!

    Finally started on Lonesome Dove after owning for many years:)

    Loved this year:

    Tell the Wolves I’m Home by Carol Brunt
    Stitches a Memoir (graphic novel) by David Small
    A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara

  54. Pam'a says:

    Karen, I’ll always appreciate your recommendations for Lonesome Dove (I’ve read it twice now), The Book of Negroes, and because you’re the only person besides me that had read Geek Love when I read your first book post, clear back when you first started this crazy blog.

    That said, I’m in kind of a dry patch right now, slogging through One Hundred Years of Solitude (the oh-so-famous novel by Gabriel Garcia Marquez, the man whose paragraphs span pages). Why don’t I like it?? I picked it up second hand because it was supposed to be fabulous… What a disappointment. Has anyone read it? What am I missing? (And why do I think asking other people will magically make me like the book??)

    Finally, I’ll mention a book for you to consider that has haunted me since I read it months ago: Fall on Your Knees, by Anne-Marie MacDonald. I can’t exactly say I liked it the way I usually like a good book– It’s just incredibly… haunting. Powerful. Shocking.

    If that doesn’t pique your interest, nothing will… 🙂

    • Karen says:

      Yup. I’ve read it. 🙂 Sadly I can’t remember if I liked it but as far as I remember I liked it. (Fall on Your Knees, not One Hundred Years of Solitude, which I will probably now never try to read, lol!) ~ karen!

  55. ally says:

    The Rosie Effect is great. Thanks for the recommendations – most have been requested at library. 🙂

  56. Becky says:

    Our Souls at Night by Kent Haruf was fantastic. I won’t do the premise justice with my explanation–look it up.

  57. Carole says:

    When I was a child I wanted to live at the library. At age 43, my husband and I opened a book store. Two years later a second one. We had 23 years surrounded by books and readers. Now one store is closed, the other sold, my husband deceased. But reading is still a large portion of my life. Besides going to the public library, I have over 100 books in my at home “to be read” pile, plus my “to be read another time” pile. This collection makes me feel safe!

  58. Jen says:

    Thanks for the recommendations! I know I read Plainsong and liked it but have no memory of it, so I might read it again. Bought the Maeve Binchy because I agree exactly about what you wrote about her. She’s like a warm cuppa (and she reminds me of my late OCD-d mother who, whenever she read/heard/saw her name would keep thinking MaeveBinchyMaeveBinchyMaeveBinchy. But in a nice way. 😛 )

  59. leslie says:

    I am more than 1/2 way through “Ahab’s Wife or The Star Gazer”. About the wife of Moby Dick’s Captain Ahab. Beautifully written. Love it!!

  60. Jan in Waterdown says:

    Hey Karen! I just noticed you’re carrying an ad for “Casper” mattresses. If you are ever looking for a new mattress, and like me, hate hate hate shopping for one, I heartily recommend their product and sales process. We did a lot of research and couldn’t be happier. Sorry to hijack this post!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Jan! It’s funny you mention that because I was approached by Leesa, a similar mattress company to do a sponsored post for them. I looked up all about them and Casper and they sound great. I’m excited and actually really hope I get to do the post because for reasons that are too long to get into here they seem like the PERFECT mattress for me. From what I remember, the Casper is supposed to be slightly firmer than the Leesa. ~ karen!

      • Jan in Waterdown says:

        We were finding it a tad firm so contacted Casper and they said after we tried it for 30 days, if it was still too firm, they would send us a latex topper for $20 CAD. That’s king size, free shipping and NO customs duties etc!! So we did that and it’s pretty damn fine. Better than memory foam which is too squishy and sinky and hot, imho. After deciding to keep it, my resident woodworker remade our gorgeous pencil post cherry shaker bed to accommodate it, including 4 torsion boxes to provide a squeak-free platform. Love it. Love. If you want any further input, feel free to email me directly.

  61. Catherine Naulin says:

    Hi Karen,
    Thanks for this post! I love getting suggestions from avid readers. I have recently established a library time with my youngest grand daughter. At 3 years of age, she is hooked. Never too early to start.
    I’ll add the name of a new book to put on top of “to read next” pile: The Company of Crows, by Karen (lovely name) Molson. Great writing, great story.

  62. Nancy Eggert says:

    I have the best job in the world – I’m a librarian in Chicago, have been for almost 25 years (god, does that make me sound old). I have always loved reading and remember walking my little brother to the library every Wednesday during the summer when we were kids. I always wanted to be a librarian. You might like “A man called Ove” by Fredrik Backman and “Reader of Broken Wheel recommend” by Katarina Bivald. Both happen to be translated from Swedish but are very good reads.

  63. Kelly Evans says:

    I don’t really comment usually but I just took another look through your past books (a lot of your reads we seem to have done in our book club) and I haven’t seen you post House in the Sky by Amanda Lindhout. Canadian written. Read it in Mexico couple of winters ago. Didn’t leave the pool for 2 days. Quote from husband “Is this your thing now? Just read by the pool until you need another margarita?”

    There are 3 types of books. Ones I don’t finish, ones I like and ones I recommend.

    Also Nightingale by Kristin Hannah

    Thanks for recommending We were Liars, was kind of wondering about that one,,, lately been disappointed by a lot of highly rated book. Just finished A Man Called Ove. 4.3 on goodreads with 50,000 reviews and I could hardly finish it.

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