21 July 2011

Gettin' it done

My summer reading, that is.

Which is at least part of the reason this poor blog sits unwritten-in, lonely and neglected these days.

But I have been on a major reading tear over the last several weeks, staying up waaay too late and losing sleep to see how things end.  I must confess that much of my reading is pure escapism, not really edifying or educational in any way, although some of the books have made me really think about different things.  I finished Love, Greg and Lauren, and jumped into The Passion of Mary Margaret, which is a really good story that didn't go at all as I expected it to.  It's the story of a religious sister who knows from a very early age what she wants to do with her life and sets out to do just that, only to find that Jesus has other plans for her.  He literally sits down in her kitchen and tells her so.  I thought all the way through that book, how great would that be, to have Jesus sit down at my table for a cup of coffee and say, "Good morning sweet pea.  Here's what I have planned for you." I'd always know for sure what God intends for me, what His plans are for my day, my week, my life.  I wouldn't spend time needlessly worrying about if I'm doing what God wants, or if I've convinced myself that what I want is what God wants, by the sheer force of my desire.  In any case, it was a good book that I enjoyed reading, and there were some real surprises that I didn't see coming.  I don't like to give away spoilers so I won't tell you what the surprises are, but suffice it to say that it wasn't plodding or predictable.

From there I jumped into Unbroken,  for my book club, and I'm SO bummed out I had to miss the meeting where we discussed it.  What a phenomenal story, and written so beautifully.  It's the story of Louie Zamperini, written by Laura Hillenbrand.  He was a troublemaker kid in Torrance, CA, in the 1930's, who fell in love with running and was training in hopes of running in the 1940 Olympics, and when they were canceled because of World War II, he went into the Army instead and became a bombardier on B-24s.  He and his crew crashed one day and he, along with two other crewmembers survived the crash and drifted at sea.  After an astounding 47 days drifting in a liferaft, with very little food or water, and nearly constantly hounded by hungry sharks, he and his pilot were rescued and ultimately taken prisoner by the Japanese.  He endured nothing less than hell on earth and eventually made it back home to tell his story.  He is still traveling today, speaking at churches and community centers.  Hillenbrand is a fantastic writer; I felt like I knew him personally and there were several points in the book that were suspenseful enough to make me stay up reading into the wee hours just to know what happened.  This was one of those books that really affected me.  I'm a military person and a history nerd, but that's only part of it.  Amazing story, amazing man, amazing book.  Read it.

I also motored through Then Came You, Jennifer Weiner's new one.  A story of three women who don't know each other, have very little in common, and yet their lives are permanently intertwined.  I love Jennifer Weiner's books and this one was no exception.  Her style is just so comfortable...easy to read, snarky and funny and clever, but also heartbreakingly real and vulnerable.

I found Emily Giffin this summer too...I'm usually late to the party, and it's not as if she is new to the world of books.  I just hadn't read her before, and she is similar to Jennifer Weiner in that her books would be considered 'chick lit' but they're not fluffy.  My husband would never read her books, but they're about far more than who's having an affair with whom, or rich trophy wives and their shoe collections.  I've read Heart of the Matter (which I finished at 2:30 am the morning after I bought it....HAD to know where it was going) which addresses infidelity in a very thoughtful and thought-provoking way, and Love the One You're With, which is about a question most of us have asked ourselves at some point, if we're really honest with ourselves.  It's about "the one who got away"....what if you got a chance to make that choice again?  It's romance, yes, but much more at the same time.

I have started and set aside The Hunger Games a couple of times and I'm not sure why.    I did it this week, in fact.  I am reading Working It Out right now, by Abby Rike. If you're not a Biggest Loser fan, you probably don't know who Abby Rike is, but she was a contestant a couple of seasons ago.  She had by far the saddest story of anyone there, at least to my mind.  She lost her husband, her 5 1/2 year old daughter and her two week old son all at the same time, in a horrific car crash, and it just devastated her.  As a mom, I can't even fathom what that would be like.  She insulated herself with food and the weight gain that came with it, and ultimately became a contestant on The Biggest Loser.  Her story is inspirational and the love story of her marriage is bittersweet.

Next up is Angry Housewives Eating Bonbons, for my book club.  I've read it before and was the one who suggested it, but I am looking forward to reading it again.  It's the story of housewives who live on the same block and become friends, bonding over books and weathering life's storms together.  It's the story of the strength of friendships and how, sometimes, a girl just needs her girlfriends, even more than the other important people in her life.  Good stuff.

I hope that I can find time to do all the reading I still want to do!  I've read a lot in spite of lots of summertime running around, but there are still so many books, so little time.   I hope that you're able to make a dent in your summer reading, and while you're at it, leave me some suggestions from your list!