Thursday, April 2, 2015

Book Report

Those of you with kids know, getting a minute to read is a Big Deal.  I've been making an effort lately to turn off my phone at night and read things made out of paper. I know, it's revolutionary stuff.  Because spare time is so precious to me, I hate to waste is on books that are anything but wonderful. Here are a few that I wholeheartedly recommend.

The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh. The journey of Victoria Jones, a foster kid who has been bounced from home to home, unwanted and untrusted, abruptly shifts when she is thrust out on her own upon her eighteenth birthday. Without resources, she sleeps in the park with one eye open, habitually wary of everyone. Her only source of joy is flowers and the lost Victorian code that assigned secret meanings to different blooms. When she gets a job harnessing this passion with a sympathetic florist, she comes face-to-face with someone from her past, opening up some old wounds from her childhood. Victoria must learn to trust and love herself as well as other people in order to form human relationships, and it is almost impossible for her to overcome the walls that she has built up around herself.

This truly beautiful book captured me. The world of someone who has nothing on which to fall back is pretty squirm-inducing for me, living as I do in a cocoon of loving family and friends. Particularly touching to me was the main character's dealings with (spoiler alert!) breastfeeding while crippled with overwhelming postpartum depression. This book is about forgiveness of others and forgiveness of yourself, and I really loved it.

Trigger warning: if you are currently experiencing postpartum depression, I would encourage you to set this one aside for a while. When you are ready to read it, it will knock your socks off.

Me Before You by Jojo Moyes. This is another gripping and powerful emotional journey. Louisa is a young woman who lives within the small world of her hometown.  She takes a job as caretaker for Will, a former glamorous playboy, now paraplegic following an accident. He is rude and sullen, deep in a depression that Louisa becomes desperate to help him lift. Her attempts to convince him that life is worth living become tangled with her own developing feelings, and they find themselves in an insolvable dilemma.

The prose in this novel is so raw, it first feels like a fluff piece, but the wonderfully flawed characters really pull you in and the story is anything but ordinary. This book is really one of the best I've read and I urge you to pick it up. As soon as I finished it I began devouring Moyes' other books, and I've since read Ship of Brides and One Plus One.  They are both solid books, but Me Before You is far and beyond the shining star of Moyes' work that I have so far read. You will cry and you will probably yell at the characters a bit.  Then you'll thank me.

Trigger warning: the book alludes to some vague memories of a gang rape.

The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion. This wonderful RomCom is the type where you kind of know where the characters are going to end up but you delight in discovering how they get there.

Don is a genetics professor with asperger's who has never had any interest in romance. Upon discovering that, statistically, marriage will increase his changes of happiness and longevity, he comes to the logical conclusion that he must seek out a wife, and produces a logical (and somewhat offensive) algorithm for weeding out women with undesirable characteristics. Along comes Rosie, a fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants type who, of course, possesses every one of Don's rule-outs, but to whom he keeps finding himself drawn. She teaches him to find worth in the experiences whose worth is not measurable, and their bumpy romance is delightful

I'm always looking for recommendations.  Friends, what are you reading???


  1. Oooooo! I love me some book chat!! I use GoodReads and I love to stalk all my friends' books. And I am like you: life is way too short to waste time on crappy books!

    The only one out of the three I have read is "Me Before You." I gotta be honest, while I liked it, it wasn't my fave. But "The Language of Flowers" sounds like something I need to check out!

    My favorites of all time would be:

    "Pillars of the Earth" - don't read the description: it sounds horribly boring. But I've forced about 8 people read it (true story - I'm very insistent) and they all loved it.

    "American Wife" by Curtis Sittenfeld
    - I didn't know what this was based on at the time, so that made me like it even more. It explores the complexities of marriage and I liked the deeper, explorative side of it.

    And I just read "I Know This Much is True" by Wally Lamb. Like 30 years old, but still relevant. It took me awhile to get into because of other things going on, but I found it to be brutally - and hilariously at times - honest. Things didn't all tie up neatly in a nice little bow. It was realistic and I liked that.

    And I know everyone and their dog loved "Gone Girl" but I liked Gillian Flynn's other two books too.

    1. Vanessa, thank you for the recommendations! Adding them to my library requests right now :). And I haven't read Gonr Girl (gasp!) but I suppose I ought to check Flynn out.

    2. You're welcome. I hope you like them, but I won't be offended if they aren't your cup of tea. The book by Wally Lamb deals with mental health, and with a family member dealing with such issues, certain parts of it (in terms of acceptance, etc) I found to be insightful.

      I did like Gone Girl, although at this point you might have way too high of expectations! lol I hate it when books have been built up so much and I read it late. So then I am basically expecting Pulitzer Prize quality work. Major disappointment.