Wednesday, January 1, 2014

What I Read Wednesday

Happy New Year! I hope you have a lot of new books to read. I read a lot over this last week, due to not feeling well. I read an entire book during a three hour wait at urgent care, actually, so that was fun.

Born to Run
I am basically the last runner to read this book. I've had it for a year, I just haven't had a chance to open it up for various reasons. It was interesting to read this in the aftermath of Micah True's death. It seemed like from some of his comments and some of the author's observations on conversations held that maybe he never knew a long life was for him. I really enjoyed reading this. Ultra-running is fascinating to me. I can't imagine doing it. I can't even imagine running a marathon, to be honest, but I do find double distance runs to be hugely relaxing, as compared to short, fast runs. So I can see how if one had the ability to run for huge distances and just zone out, it would be amazing. Unfortunately, I'm not a writer for a men's health magazine like the author and can't hire someone to train me to run like the Tarahumara. Still, I really enjoyed the book, especially the observations on trail running, which I really want to do more of this year.

This was actually three books in one, all three about the Cameron and Ruben Wolfe. It isn't necessary to read all three books together, but I enjoyed reading all three together. Cameron, the main character, is the younger brother and the youngest in the Wolfe family. He is always trying to get the girl and do right in life, but he always kind of falls short. Ruben, the older brother, is an excellent fighter, the guy who always gets the girl (even when he doesn't want her) and Cameron's sometimes idol, sometimes worst enemy. I loved these stories and the coming of age element that connected them all.

The House Girl: A Novel (P.S.)
This was an interesting novel. It was told from dual perspectives: Josephine, a slave, and Lina, a modern day lawyer. I'll be honest, the Lina chapters read like a John Grisham novel, but the Josephine chapters were incredibly engaging. Josephine is, as the title alludes, a house girl for a very sick woman and her abusive husband. Josephine is also an incredibly talented painter and a century and some decades later, Lina is involved in a lawsuit that includes proving that Josephine was the creator of these beautiful paintings and not the woman who enslaved her. There are other intricacies involved that would give away the plot hugely, but overall, I did enjoy this read and was very much engaged in the character of Josephine and her plight. Is it the best historical fiction book I've ever read? No, not by a long shot, but I still enjoyed it.

Orphan Train: A Novel
This was another book told from dual perspectives, as well as a historical fiction novel. Molly, a Native American teen in foster care, is made to do community service hours to make up for stealing a library book. She fills her hours by cleaning up the attic of an old woman, Vivian. Like Molly, Vivian is also an orphan. The novel switches from the present to Vivian's past, when she lost her family and was placed on an orphan train from the east coast to the midwest, where she was chosen by a would-be "family." The novel intertwines the two characters very beautifully and manages to make both stories compelling, while teaching a history lesson, as well. I had no idea that orphan trains existed and did more reading on them after this novel. ps, it looks like the Kindle version is only $1.99 for those with a Kindle!

This is the book I chose to take to urgent care and I'm glad. It was a light, easy read and a suitable distraction from the fact that I was there for three hours and could only hear out of one ear (middle ear infections are fun!). The premise follows two soon-to-be college roommates who contact each other after receiving their letters and continue to communicate via email throughout the summer. It follows their last summer before college and their burgeoning relationship with one another, as well as the goodbyes they have to say. It was a really sweet book, one I think that anyone who has gone to college can relate to easily.

The Language of Flowers: A Novel
I loved this book, but it was not an easy book to love. It was the kind of book that makes you pretty sad in parts. Victoria is a life-long product of the foster care system and the novel picks up when she's 18 years old and aged out of foster care. Victoria also speaks the Victorian language of flowers, the belief that giving your love a bouquet of roses or baby's breath is a statement more than just giving a pretty bouquet of flowers. The novel alternates between present time and when she was 10 years old, the only time she was in a loving home. Yet, you know it didn't last and you know Victoria is left with scars, so you're constantly on edge, wondering what will happen. Parts of this novel were hard to read. Victoria is drenched in self-loathing and life never seems to treat her right. She makes mistakes. People make mistakes by her, but at the same time, I couldn't put it down and I couldn't get her character out of my head.

What are you reading?


InTheFastLane said...

I finished the Divergent series last week. I think it ended appropriately, even if it was a little sad. Good series. A lot to think about in there.

Then I read The Ocean at The End of The Lane by Neil Gaiman. I really really enjoyed this book. Even though it was so mysterious it took some figuring out. Also, it was a little too short for me (180ish pages) and I read it in just a couple hours. It was an especially fast read because the mystery kept me engaged.

I currently reading Goldfinch. LOVING it. And also the fact that it is almost 800 pages long. Some people might not like long books, but to me, it gives me my money's worth by keeping me occupied for a longer time AND keeps away the depressed feeling I get when a good book is over.

Molly said...

LOVED the Language of Flowers, but it was heartbreaking.

I just bought Orphan Train for kindle thanks to your post! It's on my list.
I'm in the middle of The Absolutely True Diary of a Part Time Indian by Sherman Alexie. Next up is either The Reason I Jump, or Goldfinch. Or one of the books I have samples of on my kindle! Grad school is making it impossible to read for fun.

The Many Thoughts of a Reader said...

I just started Something Like Normal by Trish Dollar.

Barb Ruess said...

I haven't read Born to Run so you're officially NOT the last runner to read it. :)

I read Mrs. Poe last week and thought it was too contrived, which was a bummer because I wanted to like it. Then I read Bellman & Black which I very much enjoyed. Not as good as her first book but still a solid story.

I should finish The Midnight Palace today if all goes as planned and then I have two books on my nightstand and I'll have to choose. I like making choices like that.

One crazed mommy said...

Finally finished the Hangman Daughter Series - good, but glad they are done. They are fun reads, but the 1st and 4th were the best.
Recently downloaded The Sisterhood, Me Before You (the Mindy Haynes version) and Flowertown. That will take me a while, since I don't read fast. :) I have The Orphan Train and The Language of Flowers on my wish list, so have to check them out. Also, want to read Wonder.

pcb said...

I loved The Language of Flowers.

It's been eight years since I read this one, but it has stayed with me: The History of Love: A Novel by Nicole Krauss. I'm not sure it's for everyone but I can't forget it.