Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Summer Reading: The Best Books I Read this Summer

Shelfari is an online book library, where you can save images of all the books you have read and will read, giving them star ratings, and finding other avid readers that share your tastes. If you haven't joined yet you need to get over there now! In my profile you can see all the books I've read recently and a couple from my childhood. If you're interested!

This summer I planned on reading a lot of books from the 1001 Books to Read Before You Die. My boyfriend, Michael, and I have a little contest to go to see who can finish first. I have so far read 78. I´m not sure where he stands right now, but I think I´m doing pretty well. After a while, you get sick of reading from the list, so a lot of times I deviate and read a couple of current bestsellers and it´s a welcome break.

The Bean Trees and Pigs in Heaven by Barbara Kingsolver

You really can´t go wrong with a book by Barbara Kingsolver. I first read The Poisonwood Bible, one of my all time favorite novels, when I was in high school. I´ve tackled four novels of by Kingsolver since then and none of them have been disappointing. The Bean Trees was particularly enjoyable. It follows Taylor, a girl from a small town in middle America who wants to escape the tendency for high school pregnancies and abusive, poor marriages. On her way west, she stops at a Cherokee reservation to eat dinner and finds a two-year old girl in her front seat. The young girl´s aunt tells Taylor she just can´t take care of her. After being conflicted over exactly what to do, she decides to keep the young girl, who Taylor nicknames Turtle. The two settle in Tucson, finding an unlikely family among the people they find there. When I finished this book, all I wanted was to read more. It was one of those rare occurances where you almost can´t start or get into a new book because the one you just finished is still lingering. I was looking through the stacks at my local library, and I found Pigs in Heaven, which continues the story of Taylor and Turtle. These characters are so wonderful and easy to love. I really hope you´ll check them out!

Divisadero by Michael Ondaatje

Reading this book is like dreaming. The story follows a mix-matched family. When the mother passes away in childbirth, the father takes home not only his daughter, but another girl who has no parents. The details on this ¨adoption¨ are a little sketchy, but it is explained a little better in the book. Also on their farm is a young boy whose entire family was murdered when he was four. He survived by hiding. Before their mother died, she took the young boy in. He´s older than the girls but not by much. After a tragic incident involving all of the family members, the family is broken up. The transitions between time periods in the different family members´ lives are sudden and jolting. The reader leaves each section of the book with little closure, but it made the book feel more realistic like that. The reader, like an outside observer, knows bits and pieces about each member of the family. I loved the style and some of the images are amazing, deserving several rereads. As one review in the front of the book says, it´s difficult to not head straight back to the beginning and start this book over once you´ve finished.


John said...

If you're interested, and to help your little competition there, there's a brand new version of Arukiyomi's 1001 books spreadsheet. Along with some cool new features, there are lists of both the revised 1001 books and those that were removed from the new 2008 list.

To get your free copy of the spreadsheet, head over to Arukiyomi's blog.

Happy reading!

Leslie said...

Thanks for the heads up John!