Recently Read Vol 1

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I’m most content when cuddled up somewhere quiet with a good book.

As a previous English Major I still find myself overly enthusiastic over beautiful prose and character development. But, it’s not all about literary accolades. Believe me, I can get equally lost in a Tolstoy novel as a melodramatic beach read. I pass no judgements with books. They are my way of not only escaping but also learning about myself and the world we live in by posing questions and making me adjust my perspective.

Books are such a major part of my life, it may seem odd that I have yet to include book discussions or reviews in my blog.

But I know exactly why. And it’s incredibly selfish. Some things I like to keep private. Reading a book can be such an intimate event. I selfishly want to believe that my experience, or you may say relationship, with my cherished characters and author is one only I endure. In a way it is true, no one else will feel the same exact way as you do about say Jane Eyre or Holden Caulfield. 

Yet, another side of me loves hearing what your experiences with shared books are like. I also like getting book recommendations. (On the other hand, there is nothing worse than recommending a book that you love to a friend that ends up hating it.)

But in the end, ideas are meant to be shared. And I want to share my ideas and books and my beloved characters with you. 

After asking last week if you agreed, and many of you did, I’ve decided to start a “Recently Read” post every few books or so. Please share your thoughts and any books that you’ve recently read as well! You can also follow me on Goodreads.

Here the books I’ve read the second half of this summer:

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The Secret History by Donna Tartt

My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

“It’s a very Greek idea, and a very profound one. Beauty is terror. Whatever we call beautiful, we quiver before it. And what could be more terrifying and beautiful, to souls like the Greeks or our own, than to lose control completely? To throw off the chains of being for an instant, to shatter the accident of our mortal selves?”

Held at the enchanting Hampden College in Vermont in the 1980’s, reminiscent Brett Easton Ellis’s work (he and Tartt were classmates at Bennington College), The Secret History unravels a “why done it” (rather than “who done it”) murder mystery with a cast of 6 rich, privileged, and eccentric  youths obsessed with the classics and their equally eccentric teacher.

Tartt’s storytelling transforms this implausible story of murder and evil into a tale that you could imagine being told in hushed whisper among freshman classmates at any liberal arts college. I stayed up far too late many nights, enchanted by the characters, the scenery, and the gothic romanticism of Tartt’s debut novel.

I’ve heard mixed reviews about Goldfinch? Would I like it?

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Me Before You by Jo Jo Moyes

My rating: 4 out of 5 stars

“I thought, briefly, that I would never feel as intensely connected to the world, to another human being, as I did at that moment.” 

A heartbreaking and uplifting story about finding love in the most unexpected places. Lou is a small town girl who has lived a small life, one filled with routines and no risks. All of that changes when a quadriplegic enters her life and she begins to question everything about herself.

A spirit lifting page turner that will make you laugh and cry. I was warned before reading this book that I would be bawling my eyes out. I’m generally a big crier, but this book entertained and made me feel that “good sadness” I did not bawl my eyes out though.

A book to make you feel warm and cozy but to also question, “Am I living the life I am meant to live? Am I pushing myself to be the best me?”

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East of the Sun by Julia Gregson

My rating: 2 out of 5 stars

“If you were lucky, very lucky indeed, there were one or two people in your life who you could tell the unvarnished truth too, shell and egg. And that these people held the essence of you inside them. The rest would be conversations that ended when night fell, or the dinner part ended.” 

I purchased this book on the clearance rack at Barnes and Noble. It looked like a book I’d enjoy – a historical fiction with different female character narrators taken place during a setting that I knew little about: colonial India in the 1920’s.

It’s about 3 females who depart England in route to India in hopes of getting married or figuring out who they are (or something…_) Parts were good…I learned a lot…but parts were also hokey,melodramatic, and boring. The ending was tied up all pretty with a bow – if you like that! It was still an interesting read, I don’t know if I would have bought it if it wasn’t $4.99.  

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TransAtlantic by Colum McCann

My rating: 4 out of 5 stars

“The tunnels of our lives connect, coming to daylight at the oddest moments, and then plunge us into the dark again. We return to the lives of those who have gone before us, a perplexing möbius strip until we come home, eventually, to ourselves.” 

Colum McCann’s one of my favorite authors (This Side of Brightness, Let The Great World Spin, Fishing the Sloe-Black River are other favorites) so I knew I was in for a treat.

TransAtlantic is a multi generational story telling various tales of people’s, you guessed it, trans atlantic voyages and new world experiences, closing the gap between Ireland and America. At first I couldn’t see how everyone was mended together but then it shown to me in all it’s beauty. I read this book, ironically, on flight.

It held me entranced with its beauty and grace. 

 

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Summer Sisters by Judy Blume

My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

“What’s the point of thinking about how it’s going to end when it’s just the beginning?”

The perfect beach read. Judy Blume’s relatable (adult) characters lifted right of the pages. I got lost in the world of Martha’s Vineyard and the friendship between two best friends over 20 years while lounging on the beach in Jamaica.

Blume gets female friendships. She demonstrates how they can be complex, simple, beautiful, obsessive, trite, and disastrous all at once. Funny, addicting, and heart breaking. I could not put it down. It caused me to buy another of her adult fiction books. 

WeWereLiars

We Were Liars by E. Lockhart

My rating: 5 out of 5 stars

“Be sad, be sorry-but don’t shoulder it.” 

YA literature at its best. Loved, loved, loved this little coming of age book. 

I gobbled up this book in one setting, it was so good. It’s about 3 cousins and one friend who spend their summers together off the coast of Massachusetts. I can’t say much else without giving it away, but simply a short, must read.  A great mystery with a shocking twist.

I guessed the ending – let me know if you do too! 

 

Have you read any of the above? What are you reading right now? Let’s talk books!

 

 

  • I LOVED We Were Liars. But I’m a YA lit addict, so no surprise there. I guessed the ending, but it was good enough that I wasn’t bored after I figured out what was going on.

    • kwalshmac

      Wasn’t it sooo good! I really hope they come through with the movie deal. And guessing the ending wasn’t so bad, like you said, still entertaining.

  • I’ve been debating whether to pick up The Secret History. I quite enjoyed the Goldfinch, even though parts of it seemed a little long (the overall story of it was fantastic though; almost everyone in my book club liked it) and I didn’t know if I was ready to commit to another brick of a book lol.

    • kwalshmac

      I really recommend The Secret History, and it wasn’t that long. Once I got past the first 20 pages I was hooked. I’m adding The Goldfinch to my Amazon wishlist and will read it sometime soon. I’m okay with wordy if the words form a really fantastic story 🙂

  • I read The Secret History a few months ago! I thought it was very good too and also stayed up late one too many nights lost in the story! I agree whole heartedly with your thoughts on sharing the books you read. Sometimes you just want to keep a good one to yourself. 🙂

    • kwalshmac

      Yes, it’s so selfish, but sometimes that experience just feels too intimate to broadcast, when you know no one else is going to have the “same” feelings as you. I feel the same with TV show and Movies too. Like how everyone is SO excited about Gilmore Girls being on Netflix…I’m all like THAT’S MY FAMILY!!! 🙂 Did you read The Goldfinch as well?

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