Tuesday, August 16, 2016

What I've been reading lately

Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline 
It's interesting that I read this book near the time that I read The Thirteenth Tale because of the similarities both the books had. They both were flashing to different time periods, both orphans, and in both books, the main character was interviewing the other main character and realizing things about their life that were the same. So I guess the story idea isn't unique but their stories were completely different.

First, I knew little about the orphan train that took place in the early 1900's so that was fascinating. It was interesting to read how the process works and you just feel for the kids that go from one place to another because they are no longer needed or wanted, as if they weren't real people. There was one part of the book that I got so angry at a character that it took a lot in me to stop it all together. As awful as Vivian's childhood was, her perspective on learning from suffering was a neat thing at the end.

I especially loved that Vivian reached out to Molly, the juvie girl when she needed a "home." Makes me realize that sometimes we go through things for the purpose of helping another along the way. My hang up was I was drawn to Vivian's story a lot more than Molly's story and so when it flashed back to present time, I wasn't sucked in. 3.5/5  *content warning: attempted rape but you can see it coming so you can skip over the page 

The Chosen by Chaim Potok 
This was a great coming of age book and in a way a struggle between faith and secularism. Unfortunately I don't know much about Jewish culture as I would like (I remember some things from the movie Loving Leah) but besides that, I was unfamiliar with the phrases like tzaddik and such. I really wish I had done more digging while I was reading this book. I know that would have helped.

I loved the beginning of how Danny and Reuven gained their friendship. This isn't a drama filled book so it is a slower pace but well worth the read. There were aspects of it that I caught on more especially talking about Freud and psychology. I thought it was interesting how drawn Danny was to that. And I thought the role of silence between father and son was interesting.

This book would provide some interesting discussions for a book club. Overall it made me want to learn more of Jewish culture and read more books by the author like "My Name is Asher Lev." I heard that's a good one. 4/5

A Man Called Ove
I tried to describe the premise of the story to my sister and it sounded really weird: "This is a book about a really grumpy old man." Even though that's true it's also far from the truth. So much more goes into the story giving backstory of Ove and why he is the way he is. Then crazy outgoing neighbors move in next door and throws his whole life for a loop. At first I thought of Ove like the old man from the movie "Up" but with a lot more colorful language. ;) There was a bit of language and a lot of "shouting" in the dialogue that sort of bugged me but I guess you really had to get the point that he was a grumpy old man. :)

I loved that this contemporary book was very realistic like men and their emotional ties to their cars and his frustration on trying to buy an iPad and getting so confused. That's only a couple of examples. In the story during the present, little characters or things in the house would trigger memories from the past. But the flow of the stories was great. A lot better than the Orphan Train flashbacks. His wife, Sonja, is complete opposite of Ove but she was my fave for many reasons (and not because she was opposite of Ove ;) She had so much unconditional love for him despite his crazy rants and his bitterness.

I love her little gems of wisdom that Ove would remember throughout the book. One of my favorites was:

"Loving someone is like moving into a house," Sonja use to say. "At first you fall in love with all the new things, amazed every morning that all this belongs to you, as if fearing that someone would suddenly come rushing in through the door to explain that a terrible mistake had been made, you weren't actually supposed to live in a wonderful place like this. Then over the years the walls become weathered, the wood splinters here and there, and you start to love that house not so much because of all its perfection, but rather for its imperfections. You get to know all the nooks and crannies. How to avoid getting the key caught in the lock when it's cold outside. Which of the floorboards flex slightly when one steps on them or exactly how to open the wardrobe doors without them creaking. These are the little secrets that make it a home." 

A book with funny and tender moments...I might have teared up a little. 4.5/5
p.s. if you read it and interested in listening to a book blab about it, check one out here. I loved hearing their thoughts!

Seabiscuit: An American Legend by Laura Hillenbrand (audiobook)
I was about to start this book and I was talking to my brother Seth about it because he had also been listening to it. His impression was that there is a lot of back story at the beginning but then it picks up like a speed of a race. I thought that was a cool analogy. And I would have to agree: definite necessary backstory but all important for the elements of the story later.

I did like this book but I realize I'm just not a huge thoroughbred racing fan that it glued me so much. It was fascinating, the underdog story and I'm glad I learned many new things relating to the sport but I didn't love it (but Laura's writing as always is fantastic). A good audiobook too. 3.5/5

Have you read any of these? Any good books that you've been reading?

*images from Google


  1. Wow! You're a great reading. So impressed how you're plowing through these books. Makes me want to read more. So interesting!

  2. I'm seriously so impressed how you get through books! You are motivating me to read more!