I loved reading this post, in which Jackie asked a non-blogging friend for reading recommendations, and also Sandy ‘s posts about her mom’s and sister’s favorite reads. Those of us in the blogging world go on book sprees, and we have a tendency to read the same books at the same time. What about people who don’t rely on blogs for their reading recommendations and choices?
My best friend, Michelle, is as much of a book-lover as I am. (I tried to find a picture from one of our boys’ birthday parties, but it turns out she’s as camera-shy as I am.) We met a little over three years ago, when her family moved across the state. I had been despairing of finding homeschooling moms that I clicked with, because the few that I’d come across were extremely conservative in what they allowed their kids to read (no Harry Potter, for example), and some of them didn’t even like to read! (The thought of a mother who “doesn’t have time to read” teaching her children makes me shudder, but that’s another post.)
When Michelle and her husband and two boys moved here, we just clicked. She has a very similar philosophy of homeschooling, and we have similar tastes in books, but we’re also different enough in other areas to keep things interesting. We have weekly play dates during which our boys run around like wild things or have Yu-gi-oh! battles and we talk ourselves hoarse. If a week goes by without time to chat (like this one, since her boys are sick), I start to go through withdrawals. My reading tastes have become more diverse, thanks to our conversations.
She is also a gifted writer, and I’ve been trying to convince her to start blogging, but I haven’t had any success. I asked her to give me some book recommendations to pass on to my readers, and she e-mailed me this wonderful list.
An Assembly Such as This: A Novel of Fitzwilliam Darcy, Gentleman by Pamela Aidan
Duty and Desire: A Novel of Fitzwilliam Darcy, Gentleman
These Three Remain: A Novel of Fitzwilliam Darcy, Gentleman by Pamela Aidan
Michelle’s thoughts: “These three books are a must read for any Austen/Pride and Prejudice fan who wants to know what Mr. Darcy was doing when he wasn’t with Miss Bennet. Pamela Aidan stays true to the tone and texture of Austen’s story, particularly where it overlaps within her own novels, while adding a richness and depth to the character of Mr. Darcy that will more than satisfy even the most die hard P & P fan. If you’re not already besotted with Mr. Darcy, you will be after reading These Three Remain.”
The Boy in the Striped Pajamas by John Boyne
Michelle’s thoughts: “I read this book twice – once for myself and again with my sons when we studied WWII. This is not your typical Holocaust story. The entire book is seen through the eyes of a nine year old boy whose father is the officer in charge of Auschwitz. Reading this book was like watching a train wreck in slow motion; you know exactly what is going to happen, but you can’t look away. Have the tissues handy for this one.”
A Separate Peace by John Knowles
Michelle’s thoughts: “John Knowles explores how friendships are made, strengthened and slowly unravelled at a New England Prep School. The focus of the novel is the friendship between two boys and how one incident changes both of them forever. Knowles description of New England, both its natural surroundings and its elitist society, is spot on. Once I started reading, I couldn’t put this one down.”
The Lost City of Z: A Tale of Deadly Obsession in the Amazon by David Grann
Michelle’s thoughts: “What do you get when a journalist, who hates camping and can manage to get lost on his way home from work, decides to follow in the footsteps of a famous explorer who disappeared while searching for a mythical “City of Gold” in the heart of the Amazon? An amazing story, that’s what. Grann sheds light on just what may have happened to Percy Fawcett, a British explorer whose obsession with finding El Dorado appears to have cost him his life. He provides a perfect amount of detail, whether you’re an armchair archaeologist or an ardent adventurer. You feel like you’re right there with him every step of the way, from the halls of the Royal Geographical Society in London to the depths of the Amazon. A fantastic read!”
The Finer Points of Sausage Dogs by Alexander McCall Smith
Michelle’s thoughts: “The second book in the Portuguese Irregular Verbs series, this volume centers around Prof. Dr. Von Igelfeld and an unfortunate misunderstanding with regard to his field of expertise. He is a Philologist whose focus is on Portuguese Irregular Verbs who, do to an unfortunate similarity of names, is mistaken for a Veterinary Dr. whose specialty is Sausage Dogs. The resulting series of events will have you laughing out loud. I read parts of this book to my sons who laughed so hard it brought tears to their eyes. A very short, very entertaining read.”
Five Quarters of the Orange by Joanne Harris
Michelle’s thoughts: “When her mother passes, Framboise Simon takes her inheritance, a book of family recipes, and heads back to her childhood home, her purpose being to reconcile the horrors of past events with her present day life. Set in a French Village before and after WWII, this is a heartrending story of the very human desire to make sense of even the most senseless events in our lives. Joanne Harris is an amazing writer. I can’t imagine that any of her books would disappoint.”
See what I mean? She should be blogging, right? The cool thing is that I can add all these to my to-read list and not have to buy them, since we trade books back and forth all the time.