Today’s Topic: It’s time to take a look down memory lane. What were those books that made you laugh so hard you fell out of your chair? The ones that made tears stain the pages in front of you? The ones that had you so angry you hurled it across the room? Today on The Broke and the
Bookish Top Ten Tuesday….
IT’S A LOVE / HATE RELATIONSHIP WITH THAT BOOK
- My Grandfather’s Son by Clarence Thomas. I have always admired Clarence Thomas, and came to admire him even more as I read his memoir. I connected with him from the very beginning, and as I learned more about him, I came to feel as though I really understood him, and understood his emotional, spiritual & political transitions. I loved how transparent Thomas was about himself, I loved how he did not excuse the bad things or overblow the good. I loved that he chose to narrate the audiobook, because it was personal & tender & touching. It’s one of my all-time favorite memoirs, and I would recommend it to anyone.
- Grace (Eventually) by Anne Lamott. As much as I loved Clarence Thomas’s book, I loathed this memoir by Anne Lamott. I won’t rehash my entire review, but I was so completely disgusted what I saw (see) as total spiritual shallowness, that by the end of the book I wanted to run it over with my car. I could not connect with her at all because I so passionately disagreed with her rendering of God’s grace, with her contradictory stances on key spiritual issues, and with what I perceived as a strange pride (near giddiness) at being able to admit that she had not one but two abortions (and why that was, ultimately, a good thing).
- The Help by Kathryn Stockett. I haven’t been so mesmerized by a novel in a long time. This one met every criteria (in my opinion) for a stellar work of fiction, and seems likely to become a book that will impact readers for many, many years. I loved this book on both an emotional and an intellectual level. It met every expectation that I, as a reader, require to make it a standout favorite. The story was touching, convicting, funny, beautiful and (ultimately) courageous. The audio narration was pitch perfect, and the movie adaptation was spot on. There is not a single thing I could find wanting, and it’s a reading experience that I would highly urge every reader (and especially connoisseurs of Southern fiction) to undertake.
- The Sorrows of Young Werther by Joann Wolfgang von Goethe. I despised this novel. I hated Werther, because he was weak, dramatic, and given to ridiculous flights of passion. He allowed himself to fall in love with a woman whom he could not have, continued to cultivate a “friendship” with her after she was married to someone else, and ultimately (because he, through his own stupid decisions was suffering great emotional pain) committed suicide. Rather than pulling himself together, or leaving permanently, he kept agitating his wounds of the heart to the point that he could not recover, and then took the coward’s way out. Because this was so utterly & entirely preventable, I literally wanted to kill him myself by the end of it. Aaarrgghh!!
- Queen of the South by Arturo Perez-Reverte. This is a book of great intrigue, danger and suspense. There are only a handful of authors whose thrillers I love, and Perez-Reverte is on the short list. He is a master storyteller, and this is as exquisite a thriller as I have ever read. I loved the characters, even some of the most dispicable ones. The protagonist herself was a difficult woman who transformed from a terrified girlfriend of a fairly small time drug smuggler to a formidable powerhouse within the international drug trade. I liked her resourcefulness, her ability to make decisions, and her business acumen. She knew how to get things done, and how to surround herself with the people who would best facilitate her business dealings. She was feared but ultimately respected, and I dug her for that. If thrillers are not typically your cup of tea, I would definitely recommend this one, as it is truly as good as they get.
- Pat Conroy’s books…because I can’t pick just one. I have read several of his books, and I simply can not choose just one as a standout from the others, so I’ll just say that if you have not read Conroy, especially if you are a Southern Lit aficionado, you are missing one of the best writers out there, and the coolest thing about him is that he is still writing. He has an absolutely beautiful style, and his command of the language is second to none. He creates characters that, despite all their foibles and shortcomings, are intrinsically likeable. He sets his novels in places he loves, and that affection is infectious. I can not recomment him highly enough. His books just rock!
- The Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George Speare. I don’t know if my emotional attachment to this book is due to when I read it (as an adolescent), why I read it (because it was one of the few novels in our parochial school library, and I was allowed to read those), or because it was a character with whom I could emotionally identify. I loved Kit Tyler because she was smart, educated, “rebellious” by Puritan standards, and a misfit in her new environment. I loved that she was strong, and that she sought out friends who were kindred spirits, much to the dismay of her judgmental aunt & uncle. I loved that in the end she was able to leave a dreary, joyless place and find happiness.
- Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert. I know that was a runaway bestseller, and that it spawned a movie of the same name, so it (apparently) had a lot to love about it. I (apparently) could not find it. I could not stand Ms. Gilbert’s self-absorbed, holier-than-thou, “I’m more self-actualized and emotionally evolved than you,” superior, WHINY demeanor. She left her marriage because she felt unhappy. Boo hoo. Then she went on this spiritual quest – sort of – except that it was a “quest” in name only, funded by the magazine for which she worked, with a story (book) to proceed from it. Blech! Blech! Blech! I couldn’t even finish, and I wanted to stomp it into pulp.
- Love You Forever by Robert Munsch. This book completely creeped me out, because rather than illustrating how much the mother loved her son, it illustrated (to me) a woman being so obsessed with her child that she stalked him, broke into his house, and continued to treat him like a baby long after he was grown & a father himself. What was worse (again, for me) was that when she became sick, he reciprocated the strange baby-like treatment, and then began the cycle again with his own child when she died. This, in my opinion, was more a story of obsession & control than a story of love. I read it once and immediately got rid of it…not an idea that I want to pass on to my kiddo.
- I Love You, Stinky Face by Lisa McCourt. In contrast to the above book, this one is completely and utterly perfect. Why? Because the mom conveys to the child that, no matter what happens, she will love him, “even if I was a super smelly skunk and I smelled so bad my name was Stinky Face?” Even then…that’s a story of love right there, and that is why I love this book, recommend it to others, and give it as a gift when I can. One of the best kid books I’ve read that shows what love really is.
Questions, comments & snide remarks are always welcome! 😛
Thanks for reading!