Tuesday, May 8, 2012

My Literary Moment

I have a confession to make. Before I had children I used to be someone who read at least a book a week.  I loved to read! I was constantly on the lookout for the next new book. I read all of the Man Booker Prize nominations before the winner was announced and was positively bummed when editions weren't readily available in the US. I only read book blogs (I know shocking considering how many quilt blogs I read now), and constantly scribbled little notes of their recommendations on little pieces of paper I kept in my purse. At the time I lived in a cute little condo in DC, so I was always going to hear authors speak at various bookstores and universities. Then I had kids and moved to the suburbs and everything flew out the window.  I would try to read when my children were babies, but honestly I couldn't concentrate.  My foggy, sleep deprived brain couldn't handle any new information, so I stopped trying.  I also fell back in love with quilting!

While I'm still in love with quilting, the past couple of months I have been finding more and more time for my first love.  It has been wonderful! While the baby is napping in the afternoon and my toddler is playing with his toys or watching Nick Jr I've been on the couch reading. It has become my new favorite escape (again)!

I've noticed over the past couple of weeks others have been asking for recommendations for good books to read, so I've decided to start mentioning on my blog when I have read something I've enjoyed.  I don't know how regular of a feature this will be, but I excited about it! I'm hoping someone will find it useful especially with summer just around the corner.  Everybody's looking for a good beach read right?

I've actually finished two books recently that I wanted to mention to everyone: Matterhorn by Karl Marlantes and A Friend of the Family by Lauren Grodstein.

Matterhorn: A Novel of the Vietnam War

Matterhorn is the story of the Vietnam War told by a veteran. It took him more than 30 years to write, and once you read the novel you understand why.  It is absolutely brutal! Marlantes starts the novel off right in the middle of the war.  No background about the characters, no history lessons, just the Vietnam War presented to you through the eyes of a young lieutenant, fresh out of college. I of course have no idea what it is like to be in a war, but it really was almost like being in the jungle with them.  There were times I had to put the book down because some of the scenes were too much for me! **Disclaimer** While I highly recommend this novel, it is not for the faint of heart. If you don't like violence and filthy language this probably isn't the book for you. However, I think this is the closest way to know about the inner workings and thoughts of troops on the ground without having to actually fight in a war.

jacket image for A Friend of the Family

The book I read while escaping from the jungle of Vietnam was A Friend of the Family. I picked this book up from the library based solely on the publisher. Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill is my absolute favorite publisher. I have never read a book from their collection that I didn't like. If you are a reader I highly recommend you check out the link above. I don't think you'll regret it!

The main character is a man who is "living the dream".  He's a successful doctor, has a happy marriage, and a cherished son.  He, like so many of us, never really appreciates everything he has, and only starts to when he is about to loose everything. As I approached the end of the book, I couldn't put it down.  I was dying to know what happened to Dr. Peter, his family and his best friends. The story is essentially the tale of the dangers of trying to have it all including the "perfect" child. I think one of the things I liked best about this story is that I could relate to the main character.  I've been known to take things for granted and I also have BIG dreams for my sons. I'm sure I probably won't go to the extremes Dr. Pete does in the story to protect my dreams for my children, but I can see how it would be easy to get caught up in making what I want happen instead of letting them do what they want.

If you are still reading this I appreciate it! I hope if either of these seem interesting to you that you'll check them out.  Also, if you have any questions about either of these books please let me know.  I would love the opportunity to discuss them with you. I'm always looking for new books to read please leave me suggestions in the comments.


felicity said...

Thanks for this post! I love to read, too, and I'm always on the lookout for titles. Thanks for sharing!

Lee said...

Thanks for the recommendations! I'm in a book club with a group of very well-read ladies, so I'm always on the lookout for a good read when it's my turn to choose the book. I've read about Matterhorn—it looks heavy, but excellent.

OPQuilt said...

I'm always looking for new, good books and while I think the Vietnam book may be too much for me, the Friend of the Family looks intriguing.

I do Audible books with my mom (who has a hard time seeing) and we've enjoyed a few as well. I loved The Weird Sisters, if you haven't read that one. We "read" this year's winner of the Mann Booker recently, too.

Fun to see a post about books. I'm always listening to them as I quilt and try to note which ones are on the "listen" on my blog, too.

Elizabeth E.