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Books I Have Read Recently

October 14, 2013
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The Bonesetter's daughterThe Bonesetter’s Daughter –  Amy Tan

I will be reading more of Amy Tan. Her voice and characters resonated with me. This is a story about identity, generation gaps, personal worth, and understanding one another. At its center it was about the redemption of a mother/daughter relationship before it was too late.

The Copper Beech       The Copper Beech – Maeve Binchy

I enjoyed this book, but I don’t think it is the author’s best work. This story is set in a small town in Ireland. The story is made up of the stories of children and adults connected to the village school. It takes a while before the stories start intersecting. It is warm and sweet with a satisfying ending.

Jekyll and Hyde       The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde – Robert Louis Stevenson

I have been wanting to read this both this book and Frankenstein since I read a world-view book (The Deadliest Monster – Baldwin) comparing these “monsters” several years ago. I have always loved Robert Louis Stevenson and was charmed into loving his work even more than before. This is not a horror story, but a treatise on humanity and the effects of evil on and within a person. The book is short but very thought-provoking.

Frankenstein_Frankenstein – Mary Shelly

The second part of my comparison of monsters.  The use of language and vocabulary was beautiful and challenging. We have become such an “instant” society that we neglect great literature because of the work it entails to read it.

I don’t watch scary movies or generally read this genre of book, but I am so glad I did. Mary Shelly creates sympathy for Frankenstein’s monster by relating its sad story of being spurned by society and being alone. Shelly gives these circumstances as the reason for his murderous and revengeful ambitions. Although much longer than Jekyll and Hyde, it too, is a book that will have your thinking deeply on the origin of evil and a human’s relationship to it while on this earth.

DraculaDracula – Bram Stoker

I don’t know why I chose to read this book, but it seemed fitting after a summer of reading the previous two titles. :) I am surprised that I stuck with it long enough to finish it. But I had to know how it ended. I keep wondering if stories of vampires and  werewolves originated here or if it was much earlier. I was surprised by the international cast of characters involved in the novel. I can’t say that I recommend this, but I will say it was entertaining.

nightNight – Elie Wiesel

It seems the other genre I have been attracted to is World War II and the atrocity of the Holocaust. This is a biography of a Romanian Jewish boy. It is short and to the point. It details his time in 3 different concentration camps (Buna, Buchenwald, and Auschwitz) with his father. He waited 10 years after his release before attempting to chronicle this time in his life. It was most touching to me to read of his feelings that “God was dead” and yet God was so woven into his life that I expected him to realize that God is not dead. This title is the first part of a trilogy (NIght, Dawn, and Day) but it appears to be the only autobiographical one.

secret of vigor        The Secret of Vigor – Shawn M. Talbott

I am always looking for health books that don’t make promises that can’t be kept. I like this book and agree with the author that health is a complex issue. The author promotes balance in diet, exercise, and stress management. He has a PhD in nutritional biochemistry, and several undergrad and grad degrees in sports medicine, fitness, and nutrition. After suffering for a year with plantar fascitis, I am glad I read this and because of some changes I made (mostly getting enough and better sleep) I am finding relief. I need to make some more health changes, but this is a start.

The Westing GameWesting Game – Ellen Raskin

This is a children’s mystery. It was fun to read. I am baffled by the work it must take for an author to come up with the mystery and then to incorporate the players and their dialogue into revealing just enough to keep you interested – but not so much that you figure the mystery out ahead of the characters. I think we might do this as a read-aloud later this year.

Nory Ryan's Song        Nory Ryan’s Song – Patricia Reilly Giff

This is a short book about the courage of a young girl during the Irish Potato Famine. It is sad and satisfying. This girl, in the midst of fear – of the landlords, and crisis – in the shortage of food and other necessities, and the work – in helping a sister keep a home for a brother and grandfather while her father is away; rises up and does what has to be done. She takes chances, learns skills, and scratches and clings to life for her family and community. She is a worthy heroine.

Number the StarsNumber the Starts – Lois Lowry

My other Holocaust selection. This is a children’s story. It is about the escape of a Jewish family from Copenhagen through the  Danish Resistance. The central character is a young girl, Annemarie Johansen. Annemarie’s best friend Ellen Rosen and her family are in danger of being “re-located” by the Nazis. Through the ingenuity and connections with the underground movement, along with the attention to detail and bravery of Annemarie. the family is smuggled to safety.

Johnny TremainJohnny Tremain – Esther Forbes

This is our current read-aloud and I had forgotten how much I loved this story of a budding apprentice silversmith who was crippled and had to find another way of living. It is set during the very earliest days of the American Revolution. It is a story about overcoming obstacles, discerning the times, and standing for what you believe. Our young and arrogant hero must decide what he believes, about himself, his friends, and “family” and then he must act on those beliefs.

All in all, the summer has provided an interesting list of books and I think I even left out some. I have a huge stack of books to start and a few to finish. What are you reading these days?

4 Comments leave one →
  1. Rosie Potter permalink
    October 15, 2013 5:55 pm

    Candy, Dale and I went up to Freeman last night hoping to see Paul and whatever kids he had with him, but he had already left.
    Your summer reading list is amazing! I hardly get through the stuff that comes in the mail!

  2. Joshua Trygstad permalink
    October 16, 2013 8:37 am

    You can put links to these books from amazon and receive commission in purchases through those links. I’ll get you some websites to reference for this. $-)

    Sent from my iPad

  3. Erika Boncz permalink
    October 16, 2013 3:19 pm

    if you want to check out a great holocaust book try “Those who saved us” by Blum. Both my mother and I read it and loved it.

    Date: Mon, 14 Oct 2013 21:45:36 +0000 To: airholst@hotmail.com

    • October 16, 2013 3:46 pm

      I will have to try that one. I downloaded ‘The Boy in the Striped Pajamas’ but haven’t started it yet. Maybe I’m ready for something more upbeat. :)

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