Book Talk: Wild

no spoilers, read on!

I know I’m probably late to the party, but I recently finished Wild by Cheryl Strayed and LOVED IT. You guys, it is so good.

Book Talk via Imperfect Chevron: Wild

(photo courtesy of Amazon)

Wild illustrates the true-story of author Cheryl Strayed’s journey along the Pacific Crest Trail. It’s an easy-to-read narrative with great voice, and the book is well organized. I was amazed to read about the trials and tribulations Strayed went through on the trail; it was such an honest portrayal. And it was very inspirational, reading about somebody who took on such a monumental challenge and succeeded, even though she struggled and experienced some failures along the way. I mean, I’m not going to be taking on the Pacific Crest Trail anytime soon, but it made me feel like I should really push myself in different challenging aspects of my life. Strayed was constantly facing her fears and experiencing set-backs on the trail, and somehow she came out the other end stronger.

In short, it’s a quick but a great read. I would definitely recommend it to my friends. I love non-fiction narratives like this one–there’s just something great to be learned from other peoples experiences. If you’re looking for a new read, Wild may just be the one for you!

Summer Reads

I rarely get to read (for fun) during the school year, so I’ve always tried really hard to read as much as possible during my summer breaks. This summer I had a hard time getting into reading, because I just wanted to spend all of my time outside in the sunshine, but I was able to get through some good books at my part-time job (such a great perk!).

Today I’m sharing all of the books I’ve read over my summer break — NO spoilers in this post, feel free to read on!

  1. Everything is Illuminated – Jonathan Safran-Foer

    Safran-Foer is one of my favorite authors, and this book is wonderfully written. It takes a little time to understand what’s going on with multiple narrators and different time periods, but stick with it!
  2. The Last Girls – Lee Smith

    This book follows a group of adult women who are brought back together for the first time since college, and plays with the idea that nothing is ever as it seems. It was a pretty quick read, it would be great for the beach or lounging at the pool.
  3. The Casual Vacancy – JK Rowling

    Let me just say this: this novel is NOTHING like the Harry Potter novels, so drop those expectations! It’s also an adult novel with mature themes, and it’s so well done. The voice is incredible, and each chapter weaves several seemingly different characters together. Don’t be intimidated by the length–it’s well worth it!
  4. Go Set a Watchman – Harper Lee

    This novel follows the same beloved characters from To Kill a Mockingbird when Scout is grown up. It gave me a new perspective–I thought about it for days after I finished! This book is really a reflection of racial tension, and though there’s been a lot of controversy over the story, I think it was really interesting to think about when it was written (hint–Lee wrote this novel before To Kill a Mockingbird!)
  5. The Catcher in the Rye – J.D. Salinger
    I’ve read this book so many times I’ve lost count. But it’s my favorite book–I read it almost every year and get something new out of it every time. I’ve heard it’s sort of a love-it-or-hate-it type of book, but it’s worth a shot. I think the narration is brilliant.
  6. A Farewell to Arms – Ernest Hemingway

    This book is not really a light-hearted read…but it is a sort-of romantic perspective on WW I about an ambulance driver. It has action, romance, suspense, and pages of lovely prose to sort through. I think I’d like to read it again in a couple of years to understand some of the metaphors and symbolism that is most certainly hidden within some of those drawn-out nature passages.
  7. Brave New World – Aldous Huxley

    I’m not typically as interested in the sci-fi/futuristic/utopia genre, but I really enjoyed this novel. It’s clearly well thought-out, a little bit terrifying, and it will haunt your thoughts for a while. At first it’s a little confusing, with all of the futuristic words that Huxley invented, but you’ll catch on quickly to what they mean.

So there you go! I feel pretty proud of myself to get through all of those books this summer. I’m pretty much ecstatic when I get through one or two! I hope you’ll try some of these novels on for size, and I’d love to hear what you think about them.

xo.

*Note: all images are from Amazon.com, and all images are linked to the books there*

Poolside Reads

Memorial Day often marks the beginning of summer, and while my summer break from grad school won’t start until mid-June, I’m already making a summer reading list. No surprise, I have a TON that I want to read (I’m already up to 20 books — yeah, right). I love reading in the sun, and I always bring a good book to the pool with me in the summer. If you’re looking for some good books to dive into this summer, whether you’re laying by a pool or a beach or even on an airplane, here are a few suggestions!

Beautiful Beach

The perfect reading spot

Poolside Reads

1. Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns) by Mindy Kaling — I picked up this book because I have an undying love for The Office, and Kelly Capoor was easily one of my favorite characters. Mindy Kaling is a comedic goddess, and her book really delivers. Laugh-out-loud funny, quick and easy to read, and you can really hear Kaling’s voice as you read!

2. Creative Block by Danielle Krysa — This is just a really fun book to flip through. It compiles brief interviews, examples of art, and tips for getting out of the “creative block” from over 50 artists. Whether you’re just looking for some new art inspirations, or some ideas for experimenting, this is the book.

3. Just Checking by Emily Colas — Colas’ memoir is really unique, because it’s a compilation of poems that uncover her struggle with OCD. It’s eye-opening, heartbreaking at times, and gripping. And it’s brutally honest. Really a great read!

4. Bossypants by Tina Fey — I just started reading this one this weekend, and I already love it. It’s entertaining and honest, and I relate so much to the awkward teenager/young adult Fey was. 30 Rock is one of my favorite shows, and learning about Fey’s life makes the show even more enjoyable! Love it.

5. 100 Unforgettable Dresses by Hal Rubenstein — Not much to read in this book (although each dress has a description and a little history about it or its owner), but it is just so much fun to flip through! There are really some amazing gowns, and it was really neat to read about them. Very drool-worthy!

These are just a few good reads to pack in your pool bag this summer, if you try any of them I hope you find them as enjoyable as I have! Happy Memorial Day weekend.

xo.

Book Talk: Collected Stories of F. Scott Fitzgerald

I’ve been working on “Collected Stories of F. Scott Fitzgerald” for over a year now, and I’m happy to have finished it! While Fitzgerald’s most popular work today is probably “The Great Gatsby,” he was a really popular short story writer in the 20’s and 30’s, and this collection is truly amazing.

Collected Short Stories

The nice thing about taking on a collection of short stories is that you’re not committed to finishing a full-blown novel in a timely fashion; you can just read one short story at a time, as slowly as you need to go, which is perfect when you don’t have a lot of free time.

Some of my favorite short stories in this collection were “The Offshore Pirate,” “Bernice Bobs Her Hair,” “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button,” and “Jemina the Mountain Girl,” among all of the other stories. I can’t wait to read this collection over and over again, because I can tell it’s the type of book that you get more out of every time you read it.

If you’re looking for a good read, definitely check this one out.

Book Talk: Orphan Train

(No spoilers in this post–go ahead and read on!)

I have to admit — I haven’t been reading much.

I do feel like grad school is a fairy good excuse; with the long hours of classes, hours of studying, and lots of other things going on in my life, I really don’t have the time (or energy!) to sink into a good book at night.

But it is unfortunate. So when my mom raved about Orphan Train over the phone this fall, I knew I had a great read for my winter break.

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Christina Baker Kline weaves a captivating story through the narration of two characters: 17 year old Molly and 91 year old Vivian, who are sort of thrown together without knowing how much they have in common. Both are orphans, and both have experienced hardship in their lives (though their stories are very much different!). While the writing isn’t prose, Kline does an excellent job of telling an important story, and I couldn’t put the book down. I finished it in 2 days. If you’re looking for a great story that you could potentially finish in a weekend, this is the book.

The amazing part about the orphan train in the story is that it’s more fact than fiction–between the late 1800s and early 1900s, orphaned children were loaded onto trains and driven town-to-town, hoping they’d be selected from a lineup and finally have a place to call home. I have to admit that I was intrigued enough by the history that I did a little research on orphan trains after I finished the book. I just couldn’t stop thinking about the story!

I would recommend this book to anyone looking for a quick read and a captivating story–I really enjoyed reading it, and I hope you do, too!

xo.

 

Book Talk: Lying

I was assigned this novel for one of my classes, and I was surprised to find it so enjoyable! Usually, books required for classes are dry and flat, long-winded and often difficult to understand. But this novel was one that I’d recommend to my friends and family, and I hope that some of you find it enjoyable, too!

Lying

Lying: A Metaphorical Memoir is a unique read from cover to cover. Lauren Slater delights with the challenge of determining what is real vs. not-real in this powerful tale of her life. She weaves together the story of her youth, when she was diagnosed with epilepsy and started to develop neurological and psychological difficulties. Slater also struggled with the compulsion to lie for much of her life, which is apparent in the novel–it makes it difficult to discern what has actually happened in her life, and what has not. This is a beautiful aspect of the novel, though frustrating at times, because it is an accurate depiction of her personal experiences. In a sense, it doesn’t really matter what the “truth” is; through numerous metaphors, Slater is able to communicate her experiences with her illness, as well as her recovery through creativity and storytelling.

I had a hard time putting this novel down–I read it in one weekend! Of course, I was working under a school deadline, but I think I would’ve finished it pretty quickly no matter what. It’s a really powerful story. This is a quick read, just over 200 pages, and it really pushes you to think about how we all create our own stories about how we see the world.

Book Talk: The Book Thief

Don’t worry: no spoilers in this post!! Read on, book-lovers.

I love a good read. When I was a kid, my mom would take us to the library in the summer and I would pick 4 or 5 books because I couldn’t stop finding things I wanted to read. And once we made it home, I’d curl up in an armchair and read for hours; I was the girl who could finish a book in one sitting because I’d get addicted to the story. As a busy college student with a job, I haven’t had much time to read the past four years, which makes me so sad. But this winter break I’ve been (very slowly) making my way through The Book Thief by Markus Zusak.

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Okay, okay. I admit that I’m a bit late on The Book Thief bandwagon. The movie (which I haven’t seen, and am not sure that I want to see it) based on the book came out this fall, and I’ve seen loads of book lists on Pinterest that include The Book Thief as a must-read. But I would highly recommend this amazing novel.
I’m pretty picky with books–I don’t enjoy a book unless it’s well-written, and The Book Thief is just that. The unique narrator pushes this novel past falling flat as “just another Holocaust story” and the story is woven together neatly. It sucks you in and won’t let go. Even hours after finishing the book, I’m still thinking about the story and characters, with whom I became strongly attached to.
I hope you head to your local library to pick up The Book Thief, and I hope you find it as enjoyable as I have! Happy reading!
Xo, Kelly