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.