April and May 2015 Reading: 6 BOOKS.

BOOK EIGHTEEN: 11.22.63 by Stephen King. For years, I have seen Stephen King's books at the bookstore and mistakenly thought, Ugh, trashy literature. I think I assumed that because the man had written so many books, they must be equivalent to romance books sold by the newspapers at Publix, churned out one after another with little substance. But how wrong I was, because he is a great writer. I flew through this book in a week and had a hard time putting it down. It deals with time travel related to the shooting of J.F.K., and poses questions about how we could change the past for the better--or the worse--by going back in time. Favorite quote: "For a moment everything was clear, and when that happens you see that the world is barely there at all. Don't we all secretly know this? It's a perfectly balanced mechanism of shouts and echoes pretending to be wheels and cogs, a dreamlike chiming beneath a mystery-glass we call life. Behind it? Below and around it? Chaos, storms. Men with hammers, men with knives, men with guns. Women who twist what they cannot dominate and belittle what they cannot understand. A universe of horror and loss surrounding a single lighted stage where mortals dance in defiance of the dark." (Not sure how much I agree with the theology of that statement, but it's beautifully written, is it not?!)

BOOK NINETEEN: Homeland by Barbara Kingsolver. A nice collection of short stories, which again confirmed how much I love Kingsolver's voice, wit, and writing style. If you like Kingsolver and want something shorter to read, go grab a copy of Homeland. I promise you won't be disappointed.

BOOK TWENTY: A Handful of Dust by Evelyn Waugh. I've always wanted to read something by Waugh, as his last name was my maiden name. (And therefore, I think I'll just go ahead and claim kinship because I'd like to have even an ounce of his mad writing skillz...skills.) This book is a little Downton Abbey-esque because of its setting and characters. OK, it actually bears a good bit of resemblance to DA because there's a lot of drama in this novel. It's sad but comments a lot on society inbetween WWI and WWII in England, and there's a fascinating second ending to the story that Waugh once published (which was also included in the version that I bought). I'd love to read more of his writing!

BOOK TWENTY-ONE: Bury Me Standing by Isabel Fonseca. I found this book in Prague while wandering through (yet another) English bookstore. This particular shop had a really wide variety of literature and non-fiction that piqued my interest and was a little off-beat. Take Bury Me Standing, for example, a book on the history and social norms of the Gypsies. After several different short stints living in Europe, I've come into contact with Gypsies in different settings (there's one woman here who loves to whack me with a rosemary branch every single time I wander into the train station) and have been curious about their culture. Fonseca goes pretty in-depth and this book was obviously very well researched; she went to live amongst different Gypsy groups and has travelled extensively all over the world to study their language, history, and cultural and social norms. While I got a little bogged down in it, BMS was super interesting and though I still feel a little (or a lot) mystified about Gypsy culture, it was fascinatingly informative. 

BOOK TWENTY-TWO: Camilla by Madeleine L'Engle. I picked this one up on a bookshelf of used books in Valencia. It's a beautiful and tragic coming of age story set in New York City. I loved L'Engle's reference to Holst's "The Planets." Short but very sweet and memorable.

BOOK TWENTY-THREE: Elizabeth is Missing by Emma Healey. John bought this one recently in Amsterdam, and recommended it to me. Elizabeth is Missing is gripping; I didn't want to put it down. Written from the perspective of a woman with increasingly severe stages of Alzheimer's, I was rooting Elizabeth on as she tried to solve a life-long mystery in the ever more difficult and confusing world of her mind. (Even though it isn't light material, it would make a great beach read because it's a page turner!)

March 2015 Reading: 5 BOOKS

BOOK THIRTEEN: The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood. I picked this one up in Chester, England at a used bookstore. I've heard friends reference Atwood and thought I'd give her writing a try. I agree with the Daily Telegraph's two-word take on the front cover: "Compulsively Readable." A science fiction, post-apocalyptic tale of America way, way down the road, I was hooked. I thought about The Giver (one of my favorite books, especially after teaching it once, reading it aloud in its entirety five times to students, and reading it on my own multiple times) a lot while I was reading, as well as Station Eleven, which I finished earlier this year. If you liked either of those books, give The Handmaid's Tale a try, though be warned that it's a bit more graphic. I'm curious now what other Margaret Atwood books are like.

BOOK FOURTEEN: Bread and Wine: A Love Letter to Life Around the Table with Recipes by Shauna Niequist. Another recommendation by the Modern Mrs. Darcy blog (which strangely enough features an article today about Shauna Niequist's new book, Savor: Living Abundantly Where You Are, As You Are), and another favorite that I will be referencing in the future. There are so many good things about this book, it's hard to know what to say in a small space. It's an honest look at her own relationship with food and her body that I can relate to as a woman (you know, really liking and savoring food but also seeing these constant images of tiny, skinny, and did I mention TINY? women in every advertisement and commercial). It's full of stories of traveling, her cooking club, and her family and dear friends gathering together around the table. She is a firm believer in the power of food to unite people, old friends and new ones, family and strangers, and to bring us together to talk about life. There are some incredible recipes in the book, too! I just made her mushroom parmesan risotto which was incredible (John can testify to that!) and I look forward to making more of her recipes soon (bacon wrapped dates anyone?). This is a beautiful book.

BOOK FIFTEEN: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling. AH--I finished the HP series! If you are a hater, stop hating and start reading. If you know and love the series, then I believe I have now joined your ranks. I was very attached to the characters, and there were a couple of times in the last two books that I was nearly in tears. So, so good.

BOOK SIXTEEN: The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd. OK, so I'll admit that I judged a book by its title on this one. I'd heard of the book and something about the title (maybe the title mixed with the cover?) made me think it would be a silly book. But it wasn't. It was a sweetly written story about a girl who escapes her past and comes to terms with it. The thing I loved most about this books was the voice of the main character, who was also the narrator. I laughed out loud a few times. Favorite quote: "Stories have to be told or they die, and when they die, we can't remember who we are or why we're here."

BOOK SEVENTEEN: The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern. Once I got into the book's style of magical realism--I don't think that's what I was expecting at first--I really enjoyed it. It was a fun read, imaginative and mysterious, light-hearted at times and serious at others. It's a story of no ordinary circus.

February 2015 Reading: 6 BOOKS

BOOK EIGHT: Lila by Marilynne RobinsonI now have all of Marilynne Robinson's books sitting on my small end table that is serving a secondary function as a bookshelf in our little home. And in a matter of months, I've inhaled all of her novels. I remember reading Gilead a few years ago, and just not connecting with it. Rereading it this fall was delightful, and I dug into Home shortly thereafter. Finally, Lila appeared on the shelves of bookstores, and I used precious tutoring money (and a lot of it, I'll add) to buy Robinson's latest book (only in hardback and subjected to the hefty Euro) when we wandered into Book in Bar Aix-en-Provence a few weeks ago. I couldn't help myself.

The final book in this trilogy of sorts (though you can read the books independently and in any order) was a beautiful, poetic story of the life of Lila, the woman who wanders into Gilead and though young, marries an aging pastor in town, John Ames. In Gilead and Home, Lila is a bit of a mystery, and this book sheds light into who she is and how she ticks. The whole book is full of quotable sections, but here's one example of the simple, poetic nature of the novel that drew me in: "Lila was glad to be seeing the country again, the fields looking so green in the evening light. Knee-high by the Fourth of July. So it must be June. Every farmhouse in its cloud of trees. There is a way trees stir before a rain, as if they already felt the heaviness. It all just went on and on, the United States of America. It was so easy to forget that most of the world was cornfields."

BOOK NINE: Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by J.K. Rowling. Annnnnnd the Harry Potter saga continues! I love this little escape from Muggle world and into the wizarding world of Harry, Hermione, and Ron. My husband was right: it's great. This was was a bulky 870 pages, but I made it through and am on to the next one!

BOOK TEN: Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel. After reading high praise for this recently published novel on a blog I love, I ordered it on Amazon.es (thanks, family, for Christmas money!). I wasn't disappointed. It asks big questions: What would happen if a flu epidemic swept over the world? How do we survive and rebuild society? What part do we play in the functioning of society? What is our relationship to the world--technology, land, resources--around us? How do we relate to others--are we leaders or followers, and who do we trust? And it gives a fascinating possibility for an answer. It made me think, and I could hardly put it down. I highly recommend getting a copy and curling up in your favorite chair with it and some tea (or coffee, or wine) this weekend.

BOOK ELEVEN: Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince by J.K. RowlingIf you've read Harry Potter, you know where I am in the journey. And if you haven't read Harry Potter, you need to go to the library, and put your "but" list aside: it's time you entered this magical world. I'm planning to start book seven--the final one!--in the near future.

BOOK TWELVE: The Bean Trees by Barbara Kingsolver. I'm going to make a bold statement, and I don't mean this lightly. Ready? The Bean Trees is one of my (newest) favorite novels. I read it for the first time last week, and I'm adding it to my mental "Favorites" list. I already knew that I liked Kingsolver's witty, down-to-earth writing after reading The Poisonwood Bible last year. I picked this one up at the library last week (much shorter than The Poisonwood Bible) and read it in two days. Her characters found an immediate place in my heart, and it didn't hurt that her writing has a way of making me laugh out loud, even on the bus. For example: "She rubbed her neck and turned her face to the sun again. Lou Ann's face was small and rounded in a pretty way, like an egg sunny side up. But in my mind's eye I could plainly see her dashing out the door on any given day, stopping to say to the mirror: 'Ugly as homemade sin in the heat of summer.'" Maybe it's just my sense of humor, but she has a way with words. The themes of home, adoption, family and deep friendship set against the backdrop of Arizona and Oklahoma, with some from-the-hills-of-Kentucky accents thrown in there made for a beautiful novel. 

BOOK THIRTEEN: The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood. I picked this one up in Chester, England at a used bookstore. I've heard friends reference Atwood and thought I'd give her writing a try. I agree with the Daily Telegraph's two-word take on the front cover: "Compulsively Readable." A science fiction, post-apocalyptic tale of America way, way down the road, I was hooked. I thought about The Giver (one of my favorite books, especially after teaching it once, reading it aloud in its entirety five times to students, and reading it on my own multiple times) a lot while I was reading, as well as Station Eleven, which I finished earlier this year. If you liked either of those books, give The Handmaid's Tale a try, though be warned that it's a bit more graphic. I'm curious now what other Margaret Atwood books are like.
 

January 2015 Reading: 7 BOOKS

BOOK ONE: Farewell to the East End by Jennifer WorthI read Worth's best-seller Call the Midwife last summer before leaving for Spain and loved it. Since Farewell to the East End is a follow-up book in the series, I felt like I already knew the characters and it was a great continuation in Jennifer Worth's memoir of serving as a midwife in the slums of East London. Like Call the Midwife, this book is not for the faint of heart or stomach. It's brutally honest about life in the poorest areas of East London, in a way that opened my eyes to the art and science of midwifery as well as the bravery of the women who served that community 24 hours a day, seven days a week. I wanted to laugh and cry, sometimes at the same time. Favorite quote: "Why does God so often cause good people to suffer so greatly? It is a question I have often asked myself. Sister Julienne turned the question the other way, and said, 'God loves greatly those whom He requires to suffer greatly.' This is a riddle wrapped in a mystery we cannot comprehend."

BOOK TWO: Notes from a Blue Bike: The Art of Living Intentionally in a Chaotic World by Tsh Oxenreider. It's hard to describe how much this book affected me in the most positive way possible. I felt like I was reading an eloquently, perfectly ordered essay on so many of the ideas and topics that have been floating around in my mind (rather un-eloquently, I might add) for years. Tsh speaks from her own life experience having lived cross-culturally several times, both as a single woman and with a husband and family; upon returning to the U.S., she craved the slower life of living overseas and the intentionality that came with such a lifestyle. Her writing in Blue Bike encourages thinking about how to live a purposefully thought-out life, boldly going against the "buy one get one free," bigger-is-better and faster-is-ideal mentality of the U.S., while still engaging with our home culture and being gracious human beings who know not everyone chooses to live that way. I will be reading this book at least one more time in 2015, and then probably again in 2016, and 2017, etc. Favorite quotes: "Sucking the marrow out of life requires that I sit down in the silence, un-entertained. And then, remarkably, the marrow-sucking becomes the entertainment I crave." And, "People are willing to be brave when they admit their smallness within the enormity of the world, and the best way to understand our smallness is to leave our comfort zones and start exploring, one foot in front of the other. When we go on an adventure, we'd better understand where we truly belong."

BOOK THREE: Little Bee by John Cleave. A friend recommended this story and I picked it up at the library. A page-turner, I finished it in a couple of days because it was hard to put down. A story of intertwined lives, troubled and horrific pasts, and questions about the future, it made me wonder, what is is really like to be an immigrant (when you don't hold a U.S. or U.K.--or Western for that matter--passport)? Told from two points of view, Little Bee let's you see into two very different worlds. One (of many) favorite quote(s): We must see all scars as beauty. Okay? This will be our secret. Because take it from me, a scar does not form on the dying. A scar means, I survived. In a few breaths' time I will speak some sad words to you. But you must hear them the same way we have agreed to see scars now. Sad words are just another beauty. A sad story means, this storyteller is alive. The next thing you know, something fine will happen to her, something marvelous, and then she will turn around and smile.

BOOK FOUR: Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout. I'm so glad to have friends who love to read, because another friend recommended this book! Based in small town Maine, each of the thirteen stories are based around a central character, Olive Kitteridge, though at times she only makes a momentary appearance or is referenced in a story. And yet, her character is alive and raw, ever-present; she is someone I feel like I know but who I don't think I'd want to spend time with. Strout's characterization is poignant, and I did laugh out loud a couple of times. Favorite quote: "...she had not known what one should know: that day after day was unconsciously squandered....It baffled her, the world. She did not want to leave it yet."

BOOK FIVE: Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J.K. RowlingAnd so the series continues, and I am hooked. (Currently reading Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, to be finished soon and very soon.)

BOOK SIX: The Water is Wide by Pat ConroyI picked this up on a Kindle daily deal for $1.99; it was recommended by a blogger as well as a friend who was in town at the time. And the price was right! This memoir recounts Conroy's time spent teaching fifth through eighth grade students on Yamacraw Island, off the coast of South Carolina, only accessible by boat. (The real name of the island is Daufuskie Island if you look on Google maps.) A white teacher on a mainly black-inhabited island, Conroy enters a different world and his heart and mind are forever changed by the kids he comes to love. The dialogue is sometimes hilarious, and the bureaucracy and racism of the school district are unbelievable and frustrating. Strangely enough, there were scenes and ideas in this book that corresponded very much with our experiences teaching here in Spain. Favorite quotes: "...life was good, but it was hard; we would prepare to meet it head on, but we would enjoy the preparation," and "Teaching is a record of failures. But the glory of teaching is in the attempt."

BOOK SEVEN: Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. I decided to try Audible for a month, a service that allows you to listen to audiobooks. Now, I have never liked being read to, which probably seems weird coming from someone who is often more of an auditory learner than a visual one. However, to pay attention well it is helpful for me to see the words on a page. 

So what changed my mind? I sometimes walk 35 minutes to school, and some days (if I'm not feeling lazy or my legs aren't aching from walking and training for a race) I will also walk home. That's a lot of time, but I obviously can't read a physical book while I walk (I'm too busy looking for dog poo on the sidewalks and making sure cars actually stop at crosswalks). I decided to try Audible for a month (free 30-day trial to see if you like it!), and now I'm thinking about paying for a membership for our remaining time in Spain because I really enjoyed listening to a book during my commute, on flights, and even while I worked out at the gym. 

And Americanah was a perfect book to listen to! Largely character- and setting-driven, it recounts a Nigerian woman's journey to America and back to her homeland, and asks questions like, What is race? How do different races relate to each other? How do different groups of people within the same race relate to and view one another? The book is read by a woman with a charming British accent who also read the characters in various Nigerian, white and African American dialects so well. It was a pleasure to listen to. I think I'll remember the novel in a special way, too, because it became part of my daily routine.

December 2014 Reading

Hello fellow book lovers, 

I've decided to post my "On the Bookshelf" reading lists here as well as in the "Bookshelf" tab so that those who are subscribed to the blog get an update about it. And if you aren't subscribed? Go to the bottom of this post (or any post--but you only have to do it once, and it doesn't matter which blog post you subscribe under...it's not the best system, sorry) and click to sign up via email.

I'm in the middle of a few good books now, but those will get posted in January's Bookshelf post. I also have some New Year's Resolutions related to reading, so stay tuned! Let's just say that the new year will continue to involve a lot of reading! I finally have access to a wonderful English, non-digital library here, so I'm looking forward to digging into a lot of books in 2015.

Don't Let's Go to the Dogs Tonight by Alexandra Fuller--This memoir of growing up in Africa was a delightful. I couldn't put it down; it was funny, sad, and haunting all at the same time. It also reminded me why I'm living in Europe and not in Africa.

Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris--This book was so good, especially the stories about his brother, "The Rooster," and his time spent in France (I connected with the language learning portion and the fact that sometimes when you're living abroad, you just want to watch movies and not go outside). If you aren't familiar with Sedaris, he is a little off-color, but such a wonderful writer, and I love his voice. (He also reads a lot of his stories aloud, and those are available on Youtube.)

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J.K. Rowling--Yes, I realize I am very, very late to this whole Harry Potter world. Maybe it was my desire for non-conformity ("The masses are reading it and I WILL NOT!") or possibly my supposed inability to get into the genre of fantasy (it's growing on me), but I read books one and two in college and left the series there. I am thoroughly enjoying something new (to me) and different from what I typically tend to read. And yes, now I'm on book four.

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn--No. Do not read it. It will suck you in and you'll be all, "WHA?" and you'll keep reading (when you really have MUCH better things to be reading, anyway, like the next Harry Potter!), and suddenly you're nearing page 300 thinking, I can't put it down now, even though you're tiring of the drama and the five thousandth f-bomb, etc., etc., etc. Not to mention, the ending is the worst; there wasn't an ounce of redemptive-ness that I could muster out of it. 

Tenth of December: Stories by George Saunders--A different side of George Saunders than I've read before. In college, I was exposed to Saunders in a class on the essay, and I studied one of his essays on Dubai from his collection The Braindead MegaphoneI (wrongly) assumed that he was more of a humorous writer, but after reading Tenth of December it's clear that he doesn't just make readers laugh, he can also make them seriously think. This is a great collection of stories that was given to me by a friend this Christmas, and I enjoyed it very much. They're stories I will reread in the future, I'm sure, so that I can think more about the themes he develops throughout the collection. As a bonus, the book includes an interview between David Sedaris and George Saunders.

November 2014 Reading

So...I read a lot this month! And the month is not over yet, so I hope to squeeze in one more book before it's over (reading Schooling by Heather McGowan and Home by Marilynne Robinson at the moment). It's a busy week with Thanksgiving festivities and a couple of trips into the city, though, so I'm going to go ahead and publish this list. I am really, really enjoying reading in a way that I haven't previously. Reading hasn't always come naturally to me, but I'm finding that the older I get, the more reading is becoming a pleasure. Here's what was on the bookshelf this month:

All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr--An enchanting story that allows us to peek into the drastically different lives of a young German soldier and a blind Parisian girl whose lives momentarily intertwine on the coast of France during the second World War. Doerr is one of my favorite authors, and I'm proud to say that I've now read all of his novels (The Shell CollectorAbout GraceFour Seasons in RomeMemory Wall, and All the Light We Cannot See). He has such a grace to his writing, and he sees the details of life (even the minutiae) and then shares it all with us so beautifully.

Digging to America by Anne Tyler--I picked this up at one of the few English bookstores in Madrid because I was craving a physical copy of a book. About two distinctly different families in Baltimore who adopt Korean babies at the same time, I thought I would be more interested in it. A little cheesy and not the best writing, but hey--you win some, you lose some.

Wise Blood by Flannery O'Connor--Well, this is one I'm going to have to read again. And probably again after that. (And in the meantime, I'm going to listen to a lecture from a Yale professor that's available online.) This is my first Flannery O'Connor novel, and I have to admit--I wasn't entirely sure what to make of it. The characters are extremely memorable; in twenty years if you say the name Hazel Motes, I will immediately be transported back to this novel! Anyway, I need to do a little self-study of this book to get more out of it than I did on a first read-through. 

Beatrice and Virgil by Yann Martel--I read Life of Pi a couple of years ago (in Madrid, actually) and I enjoyed it. So I picked this newer novel by Martel up recently in J&J's Books in Madrid. It was definitely a strange story; it had some powerful--as well as disturbing--images related to taxidermy and others harkening back to the Holocaust. Sound like a strange mix, right?  I read a scathing (and poorly written) review of the novel after reading it; it seemed like many people out there truly hated Martel's newest book. However, he asks some good ethical questions and I think it's probably worth reading, especially if you liked Life of Pi. At the very least, Martel is willing to write about some difficult topics in a very out-of-the-box kind of way.

Gilead by Marilynne Robinson--I read Gilead a few years ago, and I don't think I appreciated it half as much as I did this second time around. Robinson is a master with words. If you don't know the premise, the novel is a long letter from an aging father to his still-young son, telling him stories of the past and all he wants him to know before he leaves him on his own in the world. There is wisdom, there's humor, and you feel the deep love of a father for his only son. I'm about to embark on Home, Robinson's follow-up novel.

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My Ántonia by Willa Cather--In high school I read O Pioneers! by Cather and I remember enjoying it so much. At some point, I went out and purchased My Ántonia, but of course it sat on my bookshelf all these years and I never read it. I very much enjoyed reading this book on our trip to Rome. It made me remember why I loved Little House on the Prairie and why I dressed up in my pioneer costume and ran around in it outside as an 8-year-old (true story...and yes, I had a pioneer costume). There is something enchanting and wild about the American West, and Willa Cather captures a picture of life there so well. Man, am I impressed by what pioneers had to do to make a life for themselves and survive!

September and October 2014 Reading

It is so nice to have more time for reading these days. While I wish I could have packed up many of the books on our shelves at home, they are tightly packed away in storage. I told myself that I would only buy and read books on the Kindle app on my iPad, but my love for a physical book that I can hold and dog-ear pages in and smell the scent of a bookstore on has gotten the better of me. I have been shocked at how expensive books are here at a new bookstore; both books in Spanish and in English can start around 20-22 euros (roughly 27 dollars). Thankfully, I've run across a couple of used bookstores, one better stocked than the other, that allowed me to pick up several good reads. And thus begins my reading journey in Spain!

A friend back home gave me this book after her book club finished reading it, and I'm glad she passed it along. I suppose I'm a little late reading The Book Thief, because it was recently made into a movie. I don't like to see movies before I read the book, so now I feel like I can see the movie!

This was a beautifully crafted, hauntingly quirky book about an orphan who is placed with a foster family in Munich during WWII. She quickly bonds with her foster father, who stays up late at night teaching her to read. The character development was impressive, and I finished the book so sad to have to leave these characters. The book is told from the perspective of Death--strangely perfect for this haunting tale of love, friendship, devotion, and the destruction of war. It was special to visit Munich so soon after reading this novel.

I haven't seen this movie yet, either, and when in The Munich Readery (see my blog for this wonderful bookstore's link) I realized I haven't read one thing by W. Somerset Maugham. Being the English major that I am (and kind of a bad one, seeing as there are so many holes in my reading...) I knew I had to remedy that fact, and so I purchased this novel. His writing style is lovely, and I can hear the early 20th century Brit in his writing very clearly. The Painted Vale is a story of an adulterous and naively selfish wife, a knowing husband, and an obnoxiously egotistical lover, set in the city of Hong Kong and a tiny village plagued by cholera many miles away. It's a story of the selfishness of the heart and the possibility of redemption. What the main character struggled with in her own heart is a good picture of how we all struggle--perhaps not with adultery as she did, but with doing the things we want to do that we know hurt others as well as the things that we don't want to do but do anyway. (Which immediately reminded me of Paul's words in Romans 7, "For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate.") And the beautiful thing about this novel is that it doesn't just fixate on the problem and the main character's struggles over and over again, it points to the chance for redemption and a new start. There is hope.

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If you've read anything by Marilynne Robinson, you know she is an incredibly gifted writer. She has a way of saying things that I would never in a million years think of phrasing that way. Housekeeping was an almost otherwordly novel about sisters who are passed from family member to family member due to abandonment--sometimes purposeful, other times necessary. In their transience, they both learn how to cope in different ways and discover more of who they really are in light of their sad, lonely upbringing. Largely character driven, the novel is also heavily influenced by the setting and landscape. (If you read the book, this cover is absolutely spot on.) I highly recommend this novel.