Thursday, August 22, 2013

Wild by Cheryl Strayed

 
I am probably about a year late on reviewing this book since the Oprah fueled phenomenon of Wild has come and gone, but it is a book worth reading and noting.

At the age of twenty-two, Cheryl loses her mother to cancer and shortly thereafter falls into a life of recreational drug use, affairs which eventually destroy her marriage, and has an abortion. In 1995, in an attempt to find herself and process her loss and grief, Cheryl decides to journey 1,100 miles of the Pacific Coast Trail on her own.

 I began this book not knowing what to expect. I absolutely love reading memoirs, second only to my love of the classics. It fascinates me to learn how experiences in life shape our perspectives of ourselves and the world around us. Cheryl is a beautiful storyteller. She bares her wounds on the page with strength and fierce independence. So much independence that for me, it felt at times that even though she shared many intimate details with us, it lacked vulnerability.  Being the LOST fan that I am (geek alert), her writing style had me envisioning a LOST "flashback" episode. A song, a flower, a smell would spark memories, some heartbreaking and some joyful that take us into particular times of her life that helped to form her present self. While I like watching this on a LOST episode, it felt contrived in the book. It was a little too neat and compartmentalized.

I enjoyed Wild, but I never connected. It has taken me some time to process the "why."  Something did not sit quite right with me when I finished, and I was not sure what it was. I realize now that I wanted a fairy tale. I expected Cheryl to be "healed" by the end of this journey, as the back of the book promised me. I was looking for a conversion, an epiphany but I felt my heart sinking when mere chapters away from the end, Cheryl has casual sex with a stranger just as had been the pattern in her life pre-PCT. I wanted her to stop holding on to this idea of being "independent" and make a true connection with someone. I wanted her to notice the blessings on the trail of people, safety, water etc. as God's presence. I wanted her to give Him some of the burden from the weight of her pain. I wanted this book to be a neat and tidy beginning and end of a journey, but that is not real life.

I do think that this book is a beautiful beginning of a journey toward healing and self-discovery, but like in life, that does not come quickly or easily. If I look at this novel from that perspective, I like it much more.



Saturday, August 3, 2013

Summer Reading


I have taken a bit of a break from blogging over the summer, but I have made up for my lack of blogging by the amount of reading I have been doing. Yes, the reading slump is over! I have read Wild by Cheryl Strayed and Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie this July.

I will be reviewing Wild very soon. I am still wrapping my head around this novel. There is a lot to unpack. Agatha Christie was just what I needed after the emotional intensity of Wild; a breath of fresh air (if you can say that about a murder mystery). :)

I have been loving all things British lately...Downton Abbey, Call the Midwife and of course watching the arrival of Prince George. My Irish husband has been giving me a hard time about this! A friend suggested I try Agatha Christie since I have found a love for the British culture. I attempted Agatha Christie in high school and felt bored stiff, but this time around I could not put her down. It is funny how taste changes over time, or certain novels speak to us differently at particular times in our lives. I am excited that I have stumbled upon a new author that I enjoy!

Enjoy these lazy summer reading days. Have a wonderful weekend.

Gracie

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Books on the Cheap

For Mother's Day, after a delicious breakfast made by my husband and three-year-old son we took off for a day at the park. On the way home, I noticed a book sale at the library and just had to make a "quick" stop. Well, it just happened to be the last day of the sale and it was $1 for a bag of books!! Best. Mother's. Day. Ever.

Although things were picked over, I still was able to find some goodies...


My favorite find is probably a 1941 illustrated edition of Vanity Fair. Some I have read before, so I traded them on paperbackswap.com. If you have not heard of this website, check it out. It is a cheap way to get some great books!

On another note, the Classics Club book spin picked #6, so I will be reading To the Lighthouse by Virginia Wolff. I started this read last night, and look forward to digging into this one.

Have a wonderful week!

Gracie

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Classics Club Book Spin



This spring I have been in somewhat of a reading slump. I have had this pattern where I will get extremely excited about a book (problem number one: my expectations are always so high), get about halfway through and feel so bored that I can't continue. I think that it might be me and not the novels themselves, because one of them is Jane Eyre! How could I be bored by a Bronte? I think  it might be the pattern of distractions from little ones and the sheer exhaustion that sets in every time I sit on the couch with a book. In an attempt to break out of said reading slump, I'm going to take part in the book spin that the Classics Club is hosting.

I make a list of 20 books...some that I would love to read and others that I am dreading/hesitant. Tomorrow (yes, I am coming in right under the wire), a number will be drawn and I will be spending May and June reading that particular novel (all the way through, I promise).

1. Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Wolff (yes!)
2. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte (neutral)
3. A Tree Grow in Brooklyn by Betty Smith (would love to read this one)
4. One Thousand Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez (yes, please)
5. East of Eden by John Steinbeck (neutral)
6. To the Lighthouse by Virginia Wolff (neutral)
7. As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner (hesitant )
8. A Wrinkle in Time by Madeline L'Engle (reread/love it)
9. Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck (hesitant)
10. The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgkins Burnett (neutral)
11. Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier (please roll this number)
12. True Grit by Charles Portis (hesitant)
13. Canterbury Tales by Geoffery Chaucer (hesitant)
14. Around the World in 80 Days by Jules Verne (hesitant)
15. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald (neutral)
16. The Hobbit by J.R. Tolkien (would love to read this one)
17. Emma by Jane Austen (I love Jane)
18. Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevsky (hesitant)
19. Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez (yes!)
20. The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoyevsky (too long!)

There it is...I look forward to finding out what I will be reading!

Gracie


Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Top Ten Tuesday: Top 10 Books You Thought You Would Like More/Less

Hello and happy Tuesday! I am linking up with Broke and Bookish for another great Top Ten Tuesday! Here we go...

Books I thought I would like more:

  • Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte
I even hesitate putting this one on the list because I know so many people love this novel, but I have to admit, my expectations were way too high. I wanted to love it, but just could not connect with or admire any of the characters. I laughed out loud the other day when Rachel from Book Snob wrote, "In my eyes, Wuthering Heights has always come across as nothing but teenage histrionics. The characters behave nonsensically, the plot is absurd, and I can’t bear the melodrama of beating breasts and rain lashed windows." This sums up my thoughts perfectly.









Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh
Yikes, another adored classic! Again, the combination of sky high expectations and an array of characters that I could not stand. Everyone was so self-absorbed. The only character that touched me in any way was Teddy and his battle with addiction. I know that the plot line is supposed to speak to redemption and perhaps conversion but it was too subtle to really have an impact.

My Antonia by Willa Cather
I actually love Willa Cather's writing style. She is so incredibly talented. It was more the tone of sadness that penetrated throughout most of the book....and I have to admit, even though this novel in an of itself is seen as something of a love letter from the narrator to Antonia, I wanted a little more of a love story in the plot.



  • Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
I was hoping for a guilty pleasure like Twilight or Harry Potter but even though I liked it, the wow factor was not there for me.










Books I thought I would like less:

  • The River Why by David James Duncan
A beautifully written book that I happened upon through the recommendation of a good friend. It became my favorite book and still is.



  • Twilight Saga by Stephanie Meyer
I opened this one up during a spring break road trip a few years ago. I had low expectations (because sometimes I am a book snob, I admit), but I liked it!

  • The Good Earth by Pearl S. buck
This one had the feel of something I would be assigned to read in high school English class so I began reading with no plan to finish this one, but I was wrong. This novel follows a family in pre WWII china. Very eye opening.







I know this is only seven books and not ten, but this is a hard one! I look forward to seeing what some of you put on your list.

Cheers,
Gracie



Sunday, April 14, 2013

Iced tea and a good book

I was feeling a little gloomy this week with all of the cold weather and grey skies, so I decided to cheer myself up with a little treat.

I bought myself some peach iced tea and a book that I have had my eye on for a few months. My thought was that maybe if I have all the ingredients for a perfect spring afternoon of sitting on my front porch with a glass of iced tea and a good book, the weather would take note and get with the program!

So here is what arrived on my doorstep on Friday:


Delicious!

 
 
Yes! I don't know very much about Rosemary Clooney, aside from my love of White Christmas and her cutie nephew George. A few months ago when I was perusing books on Amazon I came across this autobiography. As I scanned a few pages I was pleasantly surprised at how well written this book was. It read so smoothly, like poetry. I have been wanting to get my hands on it ever since, but I have been practicing constraint (trying) on my book budget and I promised myself that I would finish the few novels on my nightstand before I bought any more.
 
So on Friday afternoon, a miracle occurred; both of my little ones fell asleep at the same time, right as the UPS man pulled up to the house with  that beautiful Amazon box. I made myself a tall glass of peach iced tea, sat on my porch and opened up this delicious read. I am only forty pages in, but I will be done very soon because it is just so interesting. Right now Rosemary is discussing her childhood in 1930's and 40's Kentucky; before the Civil Rights Movement and on the cusp of WWII. She came from a difficult home life, with a mother who did not want her and an alcoholic father, but there no lack of joy or wonder in her childhood despite the pain and heartache. You can tell that wisdom has been gained through her years, and forgiveness has been given in the way she tells her story. She is a survivor.
 
Hopefully in my next post, I will have tales of cherry blossoms and warm weather! And have found the time to finish this great read!
 
Gracie

 
 

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Feature and Follow Friday!

Today I am trying a blog hop, hosted by Alison can read and Parajunkee. The question this week is:

Did you ever read a book that you thought you would hate? Did you end up hating it? Did you end up loving it? Or would you never do that?

Yes, I have definitely done this! I am usually a girl that likes the classics, so I was not too interested in all of the hype around the Twilight series. A friend ended up gifting the first book to me, and I decided to give it a quick browse. Ha ha! I could not put it down! Some of my fellow book lovers have given me a little bit of a hard time for this, but I am not ashamed! :)

Cheers,
Gracie