Lots of reading done this week as I tried to finish up some tasks for the Spring Challenge, which ends Monday!
READ: If I Stay | Gayle Forman
Wow....... Seriously, WOW. This book was so powerful and emotionally gripping. It's heartbreakingly sad and beautiful, and so, so real. It's hard to explain how amazing this book is. It's so simple in it's premise, and somehow still gentle through both it's quiet and disturbing moments. A loving, happy family leaves for a day of fun, which quickly turns disastrous. Mia, a 17-year-old girl, is left watching from above the aftermath of what could be aptly called the worst day of her life. In the end, only she can make the decision if she will stay and fight to live. I wasn't sure how this book would effect me listening to it rather than reading it, but I was crying within 20 minutes. The story and words are both so powerful, you can't help but be instantly connected to Mia's family, and share their pain, grief, and ultimate hope as the book progresses. The intricacies of life and death are handled with care and respect, and the joys of Mia's life and family are brought alive through flashbacks and reminiscences. It's the story of tragedy, true, but's also a testament to love and life. I would recommend this book to anyone. Seriously.
READ: Water For Elephants | Sara Gruen
Another winner this week! I really enjoyed reading this book, not only because the writing was excellent, but because I find the topic of circuses in the 1920s fascinating. It's such a different world, it almost seems make-believe. And yet, it is true. This book is about family, about home, about finding a place to belong. It's about the humanity we can see in animals that makes them true and loyal friends. And it's also about the demise of one of those small traveling circuses, which was entirely brought about by the ruthlessness of the management. Jacob is someone it is easy to sympathize with. He is out of his element when he finds himself in the middle of a circus, but quickly finds a place to belong, and people to belong with. He is caring and upright, and he and Marlena just belong together. I most felt for Jacob as a 90-something, though. I immediately wanted to defend him, to get after his family for abandoning him in a home, to support him in his arguments against the nursing staff. I will just say that I am happy with the way this ended up, both in his youth and old age. If there is anything I would say about this one, the characters perhaps could have been more developed, and the central theme more solidified. Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed reading this one and had a hard time putting it down. Also, they are making a movie of it! Starring Reese Witherspoon and Robert Pattinson! So yay!
READ: The Code of the Woosters | P.B. Wodehouse
I'd been wanting to read a Wodehouse book for a while because I kept hearing how funny and clever his books are, how witty the language he uses is, and they always seems sort of like F. Scott Fitzgerald's books in my mind. Unfortunately, it just didn't live up to the hype for me, and I wanted to like it more than I actually did. I wanted to find this book hilarious. Unfortunately, the most I can call it is amusing. Maybe I wasn't in the right mood for it, and thus just felt like getting through it rather than savoring it. But still, I didn't want to savor it. I found Bertie kind of annoying, and thus, didn't really care if he went to jail or not. It is a clever story, and the writing is smart and witty. I think overall, it's just not my cup of tea. Oh well! Another one crossed off my giant list at least.
STARTED: Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln | Doris Kearns Goodwin
I first heard of this biography of Lincoln last summer, and had added it to my ever-growing to-be-read list at the time. At 975 pages, though, I kept pushing off reading it. After reading Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter earlier this year, though, I wanted to learn the truth about Lincoln, and so I checked out the audio version of this book. 42 hours. On 36 discs. Yeah, this is going to take a while to listen to. But you know what? It's really interesting so far, and I already feel like I have a new perspective on Lincoln. And it was going to take me forever if I actually read it, anyways, so I might as well listen. :)
Up next week: one final book for the spring challenge, and then jumping in to the summer one! :) Happy reading!