Reading List: Suggestions Needed

Charlotte@Living Well on the Cheap  —  July 16, 2014 — 19 Comments

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I started out this summer devouring several books in a row, but lately I’ve hit a bit of a dry spell. I’ve started a few books and just can’t get into any of them. So, what are your favorites that you’d suggest? I like to really be able to get to know the characters, bonus if there’s a romantic element. Here are some I’m considering:

The Secret Keeper: A Novel During a summer party at the family farm in the English countryside, sixteen-year-old Laurel Nicolson has escaped to her childhood tree house and is happily dreaming of the future. She spies a stranger coming up the long road to the farm and watches as her mother speaks to him. Before the afternoon is over, Laurel will witness a shocking crime. A crime that challenges everything she knows about her family and especially her mother, Dorothy—her vivacious, loving, nearly perfect mother. Now, fifty years later, Laurel is a successful and well-regarded actress living in London. The family is gathering at Greenacres farm for Dorothy’s ninetieth birthday. Realizing that this may be her last chance, Laurel searches for answers to the questions that still haunt her from that long-ago day, answers that can only be found in Dorothy’s past. Dorothy’s story takes the reader from pre–WWII England through the blitz, to the ’60s and beyond. It is the secret history of three strangers from vastly different worlds—Dorothy, Vivien, and Jimmy—who meet by chance in wartime London and whose lives are forever entwined. The Secret Keeper explores longings and dreams and the unexpected consequences they sometimes bring. It is an unforgettable story of lovers and friends, deception and passion that is told—in Morton’s signature style—against a backdrop of events that changed the world.

Margot: A Novel Anne Frank has long been a symbol of bravery and hope, but there were two sisters hidden in the annex, two young Jewish girls, one a cultural icon made famous by her published diary and the other, nearly forgotten. In the spring of 1959, The Diary of Anne Frank has just come to the silver screen to great acclaim, and a young woman named Margie Franklin is working in Philadelphia as a secretary at a Jewish law firm. On the surface she lives a quiet life, but Margie has a secret: a life she once lived, a past and a religion she has denied, and a family and a country she left behind. Margie Franklin is really Margot Frank, older sister of Anne, who did not die in Bergen-Belsen as reported, but who instead escaped the Nazis for America. But now, as her sister becomes a global icon, Margie’s carefully constructed American life begins to fall apart. A new relationship threatens to overtake the young love that sustained her during the war, and her past and present begin to collide. Margie is forced to come to terms with Margot, with the people she loved, and with a life swept up into the course of history.

The Secret Life of Bees When Lily’s fierce-hearted black “stand-in mother,” Rosaleen, insults three of the town’s most vicious racists, Lily decides they should both escape to Tiburon, South Carolina—a town that holds the secret to her mother’s past. There they are taken in by an eccentric trio of black beekeeping sisters who introduce Lily to a mesmerizing world of bees, honey, and the Black Madonna who presides over their household. This is a remarkable story about divine female power and the transforming power of love—a story that women will continue to share and pass on to their daughters for years to come.

The Invention of Wings Hetty “Handful” Grimke, an urban slave in early nineteenth century Charleston, yearns for life beyond the suffocating walls that enclose her within the wealthy Grimke household. The Grimke’s daughter, Sarah, has known from an early age she is meant to do something large in the world, but she is hemmed in by the limits imposed on women. Kidd’s sweeping novel is set in motion on Sarah’s eleventh birthday, when she is given ownership of ten year old Handful, who is to be her handmaid. We follow their remarkable journeys over the next thirty five years, as both strive for a life of their own, dramatically shaping each other’s destinies and forming a complex relationship marked by guilt, defiance, estrangement and the uneasy ways of love. As the stories build to a riveting climax, Handful will endure loss and sorrow, finding courage and a sense of self in the process. Sarah will experience crushed hopes, betrayal, unrequited love, and ostracism before leaving Charleston to find her place alongside her fearless younger sister, Angelina, as one of the early pioneers in the abolition and women’s rights movements. Inspired by the historical figure of Sarah Grimke, Kidd goes beyond the record to flesh out the rich interior lives of all of her characters, both real and invented, including Handful’s cunning mother, Charlotte, who courts danger in her search for something better. This exquisitely written novel is a triumph of storytelling that looks with unswerving eyes at a devastating wound in American history, through women whose struggles for liberation, empowerment, and expression will leave no reader unmoved.

I know the easy solution would be to download a free sample of each to my Kindle, but I wanted to ask your opinions, plus inquire as to whether there are any others I might like. So what say you?

(all book descriptions are from amazon)

Charlotte@Living Well on the Cheap

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19 responses to Reading List: Suggestions Needed

  1. I read “the Secret Life of Bees” in high school for a class. I don’t remember much, but I remember enjoying it more than any of the other books we had to read at the time. I’ve also think I’ve seen it at Goodwill and whatnot before, if you wanted to try and pick up a cheap copy.

  2. I’ve been on quite the reading kick lately and hitting up our local library bc it’s free!
    Do you use Goodreads? You can enter in the books you read and once you give a certain amount of reviews (stars) it’ll recommend books to you! I’ve found a few good ones that way.
    My recents include Wife 22 (Melanie Gideon) (excellent!), The Silver Star (Jeannette Walls), What is the What (Dave Eggers) (heavvvy but good). I would recommend the other Dave Eggers, A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius. Gone Girl, Gillian Flynn. Jenny Lawson’s book (spit out your drink funny!). ….
    I’m currently reading The Descendants … good so far.
    I thought The Secret Life of Bees was just okay.
    Kristin Hannah and Mary Kay Andrews are always good summer chick lit reads.
    Feel free to check out my Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/2259900-jennifer

    Sorry for the long comment! :) Happy reading

  3. Oh! And if you haven’t read The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh, READ IT! Great story about foster care and attachment.

  4. Man, I want some reading time, too!

    Have you ever read Poisonwood Bible? I read it in high school and when I found it in a goodwill a few years ago, I had to read it again. And am I the only one who wants to reread “The Giver” now that it is going to be made into a movie? I remember loving it in 5th grade. LOL.

    A few more recent reads, The Time Traveler’s Wife, Lovely Bones, and your Jane Austin quote makes me want to read a few more of her books :)

    • I love Barbara Kingsolver. I read Poisonwood Bible in college and need to read it again. Also totally with you on reading The Giver again, though I don’t think the movie will do it any justice whatsoever. Many of the previews I’ve seen look like some random movie slapped with The Giver title to attract an audience. The last preview I saw did at least seem to have some semblance of an actual plot line, but I still don’t have high hopes for it!

    • I re-read The Giver recently too! Loved it.

    • Charlotte@Living Well on the Cheap July 17, 2014 at 8:11 am

      I haven’t ever read Poisonwood Bible! And I know that I read The Giver as a kid but I can’t even remember what it’s about now. The Time Traveler’s Wife and The Lovely Bones are both favorites of mine!

  5. Add Modern Mrs Darcy to your blog reader. Seriously. A good majority of my Saved list at the library is thanks to her recommendations. Find the Summer Reading Guide on the right side of her site.

  6. I read The Invention of Wings a few weeks ago, and highly recommend it! Kidd is an amazing writer and the story is captivating. I found myself Googling the Grimke sisters before I even finished the book because I was dying to know more about them! On that note, The Secret Life of Bees was my first exposure to Kidd back in high school, and while I don’t remember too much about the details of the book (I read too much!) I do remember enjoying her writing and it is what pushed me to read The Invention of Wings.

    I’m very into WWII literature, including historical fiction. Margot has been on my reading list for a while, but every time I read a page or two and am immediately bored. It may be one of those things that is good once you push past the boredom, but I haven’t been able to get to that point yet.

    If you’re not already on Goodreads, I highly recommend it – I find the best suggestions there! If you are on there, I would love to be GR friends since we seem to have similar taste if these novels are of interest to you – I’m krm0789 (https://www.goodreads.com/m/user/2399601-kristy) :)

  7. Romance – The Time Traveler’s Wife
    Coming of age novel – Black Swan Green
    Horror/Thriller – House of Leaves
    Beautifully intricate puzzle – Cloud Atlas

    My girlfriend and I like to read together, sometimes even the same novels. Hope you find something juicy.

    • Charlotte@Living Well on the Cheap July 17, 2014 at 8:13 am

      Thanks for the suggestions! The first in your list is the only one that I’ve read.

  8. I recommend “The Obituary Writer”…its two stories in one, taking place in two different times…one in San Francisco after an earthquake in the early 1900s, and another taking place when Jackie O was all the rage, and people had fondue parties. I pretty much loved it, and I think I remember crying at one point(but I’m a crier).

    I also read, “Whistling in the Dark” on a flight a few years ago, and though I’ve forgotten most of the story, I remember liking it. It centers around two girls, probably 12-14ish in small-town America, mid century, and there is a murderer involved. Its not a mystery or anything, but it was interesting.

  9. I’m also on Goodreads. I not only give my books stars, but I also write a review on them. My favorite author is Charles Martin. I’m working my way through all of his books. My absolute favorite of his is When Crickets Cry. It’s one of the best books I’ve ever read.

  10. I was going to compliment your book descriptions!
    Just read Invention of Wings, I thought it was fantastic. (and Secret Life of Bees a few years ago. She is such a good writer. Really draws you in)
    The House Girl by Tara Conklin.
    Longbourne- Pride and Prejudice from the downstairs viewpoint. Really fun.
    If you like YA fiction, the Raven Boys (recommended by my daughter Eva, and she was right. I couldn’t put it down, nor the sequel- name escapes me. And the 3rd of the trilogy is reportedly coming out this fall)

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