Recommendations from a non-blogger #1 – Michelle

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.

assemblyAn 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.”

boyinstripedThe 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.”

separatepeaceA 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.”

lostcityofzThe 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!”

finerpointsThe 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.”

fivequartersoforangeFive 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. 🙂

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27 Responses to Recommendations from a non-blogger #1 – Michelle

  1. Sandy
    Twitter: youvegottaread

    I have been having fun with seeing the top ten lists of not only non-bloggers, but avid readers from different walks of life. Even though my sister is my sister, she and I couldn’t be more different. This Sunday I am featuring the top ten list of a very interesting friend of mine, a retired executive who would be my pick of a dinner companion anytime, who too should be blogging!

    I love this list of books. No best-sellers in there, just a nice, prolific list from someone who has a passion for reading! It’s wonderful!
    .-= Sandy´s last blog ..Spies of Warsaw – Alan Furst =-.

  2. Kathy says:

    She definitely needs to start a blog!

  3. Great selection! The only one I’ve not heard of is An Assembly Such as This – I’ll have to look it up,
    I love this sort of post! We should remember that a lot of non-bloggers read great books too!
    .-= Jackie (Farm Lane Books)´s last blog ..What shape is your rating system? =-.

  4. I have The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas on Mt. TBR and on my War Through The Generations reading list. Have you seen the movie? I’m going to read it first, though I’ve found I like the movies better if I watch them then read the books. Less of “That wasn’t in the book!”
    .-= The Kool-Aid Mom´s last blog ..The Looking Glass Wars by Frank Beddor =-.

    • CarrieK
      Twitter: booksandmovies

      Kool-Aid Mom – I have a hard time making myself read a book if I’ve already seen the movie, for some reason.

  5. Book Psmith says:

    What a fun post. I am especially interested in the McCall Smith book. I love that cover and the title is even better. I do hope we see a new blog soon.

  6. JoAnn
    Twitter: lakesidemusing

    Michelle…if you’re reading this, you REALLY need to start a blog! I know I read A Separate Peace back in high school and, more recently, really liked Five Quarters of the Orange. I enjoyed reading your thought on all these books. Thanks for posting this, Carrie!

  7. Beth F
    Twitter: BethFishReads

    Very cool list! I definitely have to add the Pamela Aidan books to my list. And several others caught my eye. So glad you found a kindred spirit for you and your boys!
    .-= Beth F´s last blog ..Monthly Wrap Up: July 2009 =-.

    • CarrieK
      Twitter: booksandmovies

      Beth – I was so glad, too – authentic friendship can be so hard to find!

  8. Carol
    Twitter: carolsnotebook

    Great list. I loved Five Quarters of the Orange.
    .-= Carol´s last blog ..Giveaways in Blogland =-.

    • CarrieK
      Twitter: booksandmovies

      Carol – I’ve never read anything by Joanne Harris – sounds like I need to!

  9. Serena (Savvy Verse & Wit)
    Twitter: SavvyVerseWit

    these are some great recommendations and new austen-inspired works to delve into for the everything austen challenge…perfect timing for that!

    I loved A Separate Peace as a teen and would recommend it for anyone to read

    I haven’t read the Boy in the Striped PJs yet, but I’ve seen the powerful movie.

    Great selections. Thanks for sharing these.
    .-= Serena (Savvy Verse & Wit)´s last blog ..6th Virtual Poetry Circle =-.

    • CarrieK
      Twitter: booksandmovies

      Serena – I haven’t read The Boy in the Striped Pajamas – or watched the movie. I plan to read it this year to accompany our homeschool studies of WWII>

  10. Margot says:

    I really enjoyed this post. How lucky/blessed you are to have found such a good friend. I’ve added to my library list from her suggestions. Thank her for me.
    .-= Margot´s last blog ..Book Review: Of Bees and Mists =-.

  11. Rebecca says:

    Great recommendations from your friend! This is a cool idea. I don’t know anyone who reads quite as much as I do, though. (Although I am in agreement that there should be some kind of law against moms who don’t read.) I am adding a couple of these to my list that weren’t there yet. Thanks for the cool post!
    .-= Rebecca´s last blog ..The Wednesday Short Report =-.

    • CarrieK
      Twitter: booksandmovies

      Rebecca – I liked this idea so much that I’m going to ask my sisters to do a list, too.

  12. Kim
    Twitter: BookstoreK

    Michelle has probably already read The Book Thef, but if not, it is an interesting pair with “Pajamas.”

    I agree, I love finding out what people who are not in the “book world” are reading.
    .-= Kim´s last blog ..Skylight Books – The Place to be on a Hot Summer Night =-.

    • CarrieK
      Twitter: booksandmovies

      Kim – Actually, I don’t think she has read The Book Thief yet – I’ll make sure to mention it to her!

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