Most people who know me are aware of the fact that buried under my fun, outgoing, beautiful, generally perfect exterior is the heart of a raging nerd. When given the opportunity, this nerd can go full force. (Most of my friends are like this, too, so I’m in good company.) In the summertime, when I have a lot more free time than I do during the school year, reading (second, perhaps, to drinking outside) is my favorite pastime. Maybe because I just finished a book that I absolutely loved, I feel like telling you people about some of my favorite books so far this summer. I’m adding my own cry-meter ranking for each of these books, because, while Kathleen medically can’t produce tears (seriously), I am gifted with the ability to cry at anything. I happen to think that it’s a good thing for a book to be so good that it brings me to tears. Some of my more notable cries: during an episode of Dancing with the Stars, when all the Spice Girls were there to cheer on Ginger Spice; during an episode of Lizzie McGuire; while watching the end of a marathon (with completely able-bodied runners, mind you); through the entirety of P.S. I Love You; etc. I once even fell asleep for all of Armageddon, then woke up during the sad part and immediately began sobbing. The point is, I cry a lot (I have an overactive heart, right Madeline?), so in honor of that I will be ranking these on a scale of one to five Christians (as in the lion, not the religious group; one being wet eyes and five being audible, full-body sobs). Here we go:
Water for Elephants, by Sara Gruen — Even though I prefer my Sarah’s with an h, I’ll allow this particular Sara. I finished this book last night, so of course it’s currently my favorite. In a few words, it’s about a circus. In a few more words, it’s about a great love story, an old man you’ll absolutely adore, an elephant that makes you wish that somehow you could actually have an elephant for a pet, and more. It’s a great read…not an insanely quick one, but not one you have to force yourself to get through. [4 Christians]
Infidel, by Ayaan Hirsi Ali — This is a pretty intense read, but it’s well worth your while. I’m fascinated by Muslim culture, so I’m a huge fan of books that deal with the topic (i.e. Nine Parts Desire, by Geraldine Brooks, and The Kite Runner and A Thousand Splendid Sunsby Khaled Hosseini…you may have heard of him). The book is the true story of the author’s life, from growing up in a strict Muslim family in Africa to escaping to the Netherlands and becoming a member of their parliament. Her writing is somewhat journalistic, but her stories are larger than life. It’s interesting to see Ayaan’s transition from a devout Muslim to a non-believer, and her reasoning behind that transition. An excellent, thought-provoking novel. [2 Christians]
The Secret Life of Bees, by Sue Monk Kidd — Lent to me by my friend Annie, this is one of those books that I’ve been wanting to read for a long time, and I’m glad I finally got around to it. It tells the story of a young girl growing up in South Carolina in 1964 who, with her black nanny, Rosaleen, escapes from her abusive father and is taken in by three black sisters. The young girl, Lily, learns all about beekeeping, and starts to learn more about her mother, who died when she was young. Because of the setting, this book reminds me of To Kill a Mockingbird. [2 Christians]
Firefly Lane, by Kristin Hannah— This sizable novel traces the lives of two best friends, Kate and Tully, through middle school, college, careers, and family life. It’s a really fast read, and — I think — a must read for any girl who’s pondered the career v. family dilemma. Great book for lounging poolside. [5 Christians]
Nineteen Minutes, by Jodi Picoult — I finally broke down an read a Jodi Picoult book. I resisted partly because I was being a book snob, but after my sister told me about the plot of this one, I decided to give it a shot. Picoult is a great, easy-to-read writer, and I loved this story about a school shooting in a small town in New Hampshire. It tells the story from a variety of perspectives, and I was impressed that Picoult makes you consider every character’s perspective. You’ll close the book empathizing with all of the characters, and you’ll think twice about the way our society handles school shootings. [4 Christians]
So uh, thanks for humoring my inner book critic. If you decide to take some of my recommendations, enjoy, and let me know what you think!
[Posted by Mallory]