Inspired by my friend Sarah Daigle, who was inspired by my beach reading posts, I FINALLY picked up and purchased Khaled Hosseini’s The Kite Runner. Oh. My. Word. Absolutely my favorite book of the year.
I’ve picked this book up at least a hundred times when browsing Barnes and Noble. For whatever reason, the book jacket’s description of the friendship between two Afghani boys and a complicated father-son relationship didn’t grab me. It wasn’t until my friend Sarah told me, “I am reading the Kite Runner and am in love with language use that reads more exotic than American writers and the dialog is poetic,” that I vowed to give it a try. She was right.
Lyrical, haunting, hopeful. A book I will read again and again.
“For you, a thousand times over.”
“There are a lot of children in Afghanistan, but little childhood.”
“Sad stories make good books.”
“Not a word passes between us, not because we have nothing to say, but because we don’t have to say anything – that is how, it is between people who are each other’s first memories.”
There’s nothing like a week at the beach, unplugged, with sunlight streaming in the windows waking you at 5:30 a.m., to indulge your love of reading.
With the sugar-soft white sands of Seagrove Beach beneath my toes, (and the smart phone smartlyleft behind in the condo), the only item on my daily agenda was to eat, drink, sun and read. With zero Facebook notification interruptions (and zero games of Candy Crush) I managed to devour 5 books during our 6 days on the beach.
Below is a very brief recap of what I read (in order) and what I thought…
The Engagements by J. Courtney Sullivan. My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars Details/Topics: I picked this up in the bargain bin at Barnes and Noble and it was worth every penny of the $5.99 price tag. The book weaves together the story of Frances Gerety, the real-life pioneering ad woman who coined the famous slogan “A Diamond is Forever,” as well as 4 other stories of relationships at various stages. I was genuinely surprised by the way the stories tied together at the end. Favorite Quote(s): “I don’t always have to understand the people I love.” “Scars. A sign that you had been hurt. A sign that you had healed.”
The Good Luck of Right Now by Matthew Quick My Rating: 3out of 5 stars Details/Topics: Another bargain bin selection, but I had extremely high hopes for this one as it was written by the author of Silver Linings Playbook, my favorite book of 2013. It was okay, but definitely didn’t measure up to SLP. Every chapter is a letter addressed to the actor Richard Gere. Let’s just leave it at that. Favorite Quote(s): “Remember that not getting what you want is sometimes a wonderful stroke of luck.”
“God doesn’t do coincidences. You can bet your ass.”
Nantucket Sisters by Nancy Thayer My Rating: 4out of 5 stars Details/Topics: Another bargain bin selection. (Are you sensing a theme?) I had relatively low expectations for this book, but thought it would be mindlessly entertaining – a true “beach read.” I’ll admit I was very pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed meeting these characters and even got a bit choked up at the end. The story is about two little girls – one a privileged child from Manhattan, the other, an “islander” who’s lives with her blue collar single mother year round on Nantucket. The two spend their summers together every year and become the best of friends – “Nantucket Sisters.” Of course their backgrounds complicate their friendships as they get older, as does falling in love – especially WHO they fall in love with.
At this point (day 3 of the trip), I’ve run out of books. Luckily, my niece Sadie had brought a book with her which I quickly snatched up.
The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd My Rating: 4out of 5 stars Details/Topics: “Handful,” a young girl slave, is given as an 11th birthday present to her Master’s daughter, Sarah Grimke. The story is told with each chapter alternating between the two characters’ perspectives. Handful holds on tightly to her mother’s stories of when their ancestors in Africa had “wings,” while Sarah, aware of the injustices of the time, discovers her own wings as an abolitionist and feminist. Sue Monk Kidd was inspired by the real-life Sarah Grimke. Favorite Quote(s): “If you must err, do so on the side of audacity.”
“She had the look of someone who’d declared herself, and seeing it, my indignation collapsed and her mutinous bath turned into something else entirely. She’d immersed herself in forbidden privileges, yes, but mostly in the belief she was worthy of those privileges. What she’d done was not a revolt, it was a baptism.”
Now I’m out of books again… luckily Genna enjoys one of my favorite genres, Young Adult.
Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz My Rating: 4.5out of 5 stars Details/Topics: A coming of age story of two Hispanic boys, their friendship, their families, and self-discovery. Favorite Quote(s): “Maybe the problem between me and my father was that we were both the same.”
“Yeah, I had all kinds of tragic reasons for feeling sorry for myself. Being fifteen didn’t help. Sometimes I thought that being fifteen was the worst tragedy of all.”
“Scars. A sign that you’ve been hurt. A sign that you have been healed. Had I been hurt? Had I been healed? Maybe we just lived between hurting and healing.”
Follow my blog with BloglovinMost of America will remember Christmas 2015 as the Christmas of #MakingaMurderer. (Yes, we were sucked in by the phenomenon too, and of course I have strong opinions!) However, we’ll remember Christmas 2015 a little bit differently.
At Casa Dilday, our holidays consisted of pre-op appointments, lab work, surgeries, and LOTS of hours spent in matching pajamas in our matching recliners. (Oh, and throw in one ambulance ride trip to the ER just for excitement!)
Mark’s surgery had been planned for quite some time. He suffered a torn rotator cuff about 18 months ago and was scheduled to have it (along with a torn bicep tendon) repaired in late December. We were NOT, however, planning synchronized surgeries, nor double the doctors bills. But – regular blood work at my annual physical showed one teeny tiny gland wasn’t working properly and needed to come out. I never knew that “parathyroidectomy” was a thing.
Although I can think of lots of things I’d rather do than go under the knife for Christmas, being the “glass half full girl” that I am, I’ve compiled a list of the silver linings that shine through in an experience like this.
We are healthy. These procedures were minor in the scope of things.
We are loved. Our family, friends and neighbors SHOWERED us with meals and other offers of help.
We are insured. Enough said.
Paid sick leave. Seriously. Knowing our jobs were not in jeopardy and we could take the time needed to rest and recuperate was a comfort. It made me think of all of the hourly workers who are one illness away from catastrophe.
Teenagers. Ethan got his driver’s license just in time to be our everyday errand boy. It was a life saver. Having Grace home for Christmas helped too.
Downtime. Getting Mark to “chill” is virtually impossible. Tethering him to the “Iceman” for hours on end forced him to take a load off. After the crazy year I’ve just had at work, I needed a little downtime too.
I love our home. Being at home for two solid weeks was a JOY because of all the renovations Mark completed this fall.
Marriage. When we were married 23 years ago we didn’t opt for the traditional vows, so we never actually said “in sickness and in health.” But I think its sort of implied. We did promise “in all circumstances of our life together to be loyal to you with my whole life and all my being.” I think we passed this test.
Loving Frank by Nancy Horan My Rating: 3 out of 5 stars (The writing was good, but I didn’t care for or about Mamah and Frank.) Why I Picked It: The November 2015 Book Club pick. Coincidentally, the Bachman-Wilson home designed by Frank Lloyd Wright opened this month at Crystal Bridges. I see a day trip in my future!
Details/Topics: Historical novel based on Frank Lloyd Wright and Mamah Borthwick Cheney’s extramarital love affair.
I was pretty disgusted by both characters’ choices throughout the book, so I couldn’t connect with them or feel empathy. It was kind of a chore to get through the book…but worth it in the end
“It’s the heart of his dilemma,” Mattie muttered. “The man’s values have flown right out his abstract windows.”
#Nature‘s first green is gold,
Her hardest hue to hold.
Her early leaf’s a flower;
But only so an hour.
Then leaf subsides to leaf.
So Eden sank to grief.
So dawn goes down today.
Nothing gold can stay.
Thank you S.E. Hinton and Ponyboy Curtis for the one and only Robert Frost poem committed to memory, and for The Outsiders – the quintessential novel of my youth. #Gratitude30
The Light Between Oceans by M.L. Stedman My Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars Why I Picked It: We were heading to the beach for a week and I knew I’d need several books to take with me. Thank goodness for the bargain bin at Barnes and Noble. I don’t typically read a lot of historical novels, but this one really tugged at me. I’m so glad. Details/Topics: A lightkeeper and his wife live in isolation to tend to a lighthouse. One day they discover a baby who has washed ashore in a boat along with a dead man. Favorite Quotes: “When he wakes sometimes from dark dreams of broken cradles, and compasses without bearings, he pushes the unease down, lets the daylight contradict it. And isolation lulls him with the music of the lie.”
“The town draws a veil over certain events. This is a small community where everyone knows that sometimes the contract to forget is as important as any promise to remember. Children can grow up having no knowledge of the indiscretion of their father in his youth or the illegitimate sibling who lives fifty miles away and bears another man’s name. History is that which is agreed upon by mutual consent. That’s how life goes on; protected by the silence that anaesthetises shame.”
“Such a mysterious business, motherhood. How brave a woman must be to embark on it.”
The Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown My Rating: 3 out of 5 stars Why I Picked It: This was a book club pick, not something I would have likely chosen for myself. But, as always, I appreciate being stretched beyond my personal preferences. That’s how we grow!
Details/Topics: The subtitle says it all: Nine American’s and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics
“…when Hitler watched Joe and the boys fight their way back from the rear of the field to sweep ahead of Italy and Germany seventy-five years ago, he saw, but did not recognize, heralds of his doom. He could not have known that one day hundreds of thousands of boys just like them , boys who shared their essential natures – decent and unassuming, not privileged or favored by anything in particular, just loyal, committed and perseverant – would return to Germany dressed in olive drab and hunt him down.”
Me and Earl and the Dying Girl by Jesse Andrews My Rating: 2 out of 5 stars Why I Picked It: Several months ago Gracie sent me a text or a FB message with the trailer to the movie “Me and Earl and the Dying Girl” and said she wanted to see it together when she came home. We never watched the movie. But then I saw the book on the clearance rack at Barnes and Noble a few days before we were heading out for our beach vacation, so I grabbed it.
Details/Topics: High school boys befriend a girl with cancer. This is NOT The Fault in Our Stars 2.0. Favorite Quotes: (which pretty much sums up the book for me) “I’m not really putting this very well. My point is this: This book contains precisely zero Important Life Lessons, or Little-Known Facts About Love, or sappy tear-jerking Moments When We Knew We Had Left Our Childhood Behind for Good, or whatever. And, unlike most books in which a girl gets cancer, there are definitely no sugary paradoxical single-sentence-paragraphs that you’re supposed to think are deep because they’re in italics. Do you know what I’m talking about? I’m talking about sentences like this:
The cancer had taken her eyeballs, yet she saw the world with more clarity than ever before.
Barf. Forget it. For me personally, things are in no way more meaningful because I got to know Rachel before she died. If anything, things are less meaningful. All right?”