Saturday, December 8, 2007

50something Book suggestions

After reading The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini, I can’t imagine a better story than that. But Mom, the insatiable reader of West LA, the queen of dollar hardbacks, assures me that A Thousand Splendid Suns is EVEN BETTER.

I have little time to read these days. I squeeze in bits and pieces of chapters just before bedtime.

But it wasn’t that long ago when everything fell by the wayside when I got absorbed in a book. I’d stay up all night reading. I’d carry my book everywhere in the event that I’d have to kill time. Honestly, I’d be tempted to read even while I was having a phone conversation (but I won’t say with whom). And meals? Well, they could wait, couldn’t they?

I really like blood and guts mysteries—the Tess Gerritsen type. But I learned not to buy the 2 books-in-one volume because neither story is as good as her usual fine writing.

The Lovely Bones was one of those I-can’t-put-it-down books. How often do you get to see a story through the eyes of a dead person?

The Red Tent: A Novel made the biblical story of Leah, Rachael, and Jacob come alive. Growing up I never put a personality to each of these characters. Now I think of them as real people with real problems.

Hirsi Ali’s Infidel tells without restraint about her traditional Muslim childhood including female mutilation. This is a must-read nowadays.

Waking Up: Climbing Through the Darkness, memoirs by my cousin Terry Wise (names have been changed), should be required reading. You couldn’t begin to fathom what a brilliant wit Terry has (it makes me wish she and I shared the same DNA) by reading the book because the topic, suicide, is so tragic. She effortlessly writes from both sides of the psychologist’s desk, giving the reader both perspectives. And the best part of it is that we get to watch her transform into a brave and compassionate woman as she faces each of her demons.

Danielle Steele books? I stay away from them. Too predictable—woman is deeply, passionately in love with her soulmate. Something awful happens to soulmate, then a painfully lot of agony, and finally woman finds another soulmate. (Come on--can you really have more than one soulmate in a lifetime? I thought there was a moratorium against this. Maybe Danielle knows something I don’t.)

It is obvious that Philippa Gregory researches her subjects well before writing about them. The reader is instantly transported into another century. I’ve enjoyed every book but The Other Boleyn Girl has remained my favorite so far. That King Henry VIII had quite a harem. These days you could be facing the death penalty or worse (divorce) for all that he did under the guise of royalty. History would be so much more appreciated if it were taught in the form of historical fiction.

And finally, you’d have to be comatose if you couldn’t comprehend the hardships pioneer homesteaders endured or the despair rampant in Depression-era households by reading deceased author Barry Broadstreet’s collection of eye-witness stories. Rarely have I found tales so riveting.

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