I'm an English Lit minor, so to say that I love to read would be a serious understatement. The problem for me started during college, when I had to read so many required books for both my Elementary Education classes and to fill the requirements to have a minor as well, that reading for fun just was lost on me.
I made a promise that I was going to start reading for fun more - and that I was going to keep track of what I was reading so that if I needed to make recommendations to friends/family, I could have something to pull from. So I started a goal of reading at least a book a month for fun - usually I shoot really high with goals and set myself up to fail, so amidst a social life, work, and just being stressed for time, I figured this was an accomplish-able goal.
I set up a book journal, mainly because the first book that I read for fun introduced a ton of characters, and I found that writing down what was going on helped me to really enjoy the book so much. Plus, I can be highly OCD, so having an organized list of books I read and notes I made about them appeased the crazy in my head that would happen if I just wrote down notes on notebook paper and stuffed it somewhere.
So in case you are in need of some books, these are a few of my favorites that I HIGHLY recommend.
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society - by Mary Ann Shaffer & Annie Barrows.
-Told as a series of letters from a ton of different characters to one specific woman - can get a bit confusing to try to remember everyone (hence writing it all down), but this book is incredible.
-Told in two parts - the exact notes I wrote say,
"Beautifully written and gripping - takes a little while to get into it and sort out different characters, but it so worth the investment. This book is an absolute gem and I would recommend it to anyone".
The Glass Castle - by Jeannette Walls
-I have a soft spot for memoirs. This book bothered me and really stuck with me. It was one of those books that leaves you thinking, "Wait, something isn't right here." What Walls goes through is abusive in a very strange way that you can't quite put your finger on right away.
-My notes say,
"While this was emotionally unsettling, I couldn't put this book down. It is raw, real, and emotional from start to finish. Made me feel guilty for ever complaining that my life was unfair/hard/etc."
Nineteen Minutes - by Jodi Picoult
-This was recommended by a friend of mine, so I decided to read it. Picoult books are a guilty pleasure - she actually is a good writer, but her stories become kind of the same. You know there is going to be a huge twist ending, (hello, My Sister's Keeper, anyone?!), and they're quick reads, which isn't a bad thing.
-It's told through all different perspectives of residents in a small town after a school shooting (obviously I read this book before the events in Newtown - I don't think I could have handled reading a book like this now in spite of recent events). It flips from past to present events to show progression and character development.
-My notes say:
"Not necessarily great/classic literature, but gripping and extremely thought provoking. An easy, quick read that could be good for a book club because of the discussion it could prompt".
The Bell Jar - by Sylvia Plath
-I am both a feminist and a book nerd, so I do not know how I let this book pass me up for so many years. It reminds me (and my notes even say that stylistically it is similar to) of The Catcher in the Rye, told by a female point of view. The Catcher in the Rye is my favorite book of all time, so it figures that I would like this one just as much.
-This book is almost hard to read at times, because it is said that this book was really Plath describing her own struggles with extreme depression and emotional disorders/psychosis.
-My notes say,
"Plath's descriptions are beautiful and vivid - she effectively uses humor to contrast an otherwise depressing subject. Humor is juxtaposed against the background of suicide, anguish, and psychosis."
-Rating - 4.5/5
Defending Jacob - by William Landay
-Oh my god. I waited to get this book for over a month from our library, and it was finished in seriously two days (granted, one of these days was during a 10 hour drive to South Carolina, but STILL). I was gripped from the first chapter, and Landlay played with my emotions and intelligence, since I was flip flopping over whether or not I thought Jacob was guilty or innocent.
-I don't want to say too much about this book because the beauty is how it all unfolds. I recommended it to my dad after finishing it, and he read it in a day and a half.
-Rating - 4.5/5 - Seriously, especially if you're not a big reader - try to get your hands on this book!
Other books that I read so far include: Memoirs a Geisha (rated 4/5); The Help (rated 5/5); Little Bee (rated 3/5 - I know people loved this book, maybe I need to give it another shot?); and I'm currently reading Mr. Punumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloane.
Any on this list that you agree/disagree with ratings? Or any that you recommend?
Currently listening to: The City - Madeon