Hey book loving’ friends– It seems like in the last few weeks, there’s been a surprising amount of good reading time around here. And thankfully, I’ve been able to enjoy a great little stack of library books rotating on my nightstand. Here’s three that I especially enjoyed– and thought you might like them too…
THE STORIED LIFE OF A. J. FIKRY –by Gabrielle Zevin
The title character A. J. Fikry, is a cranky, rude, sometimes snobbish bookseller who runs Island Books on Alice Island. He’s gone through a lot. His wife died, his book sales are down and then someone steals at valuable set of Poe poems from his home. It’s bad.
Then one day he astonishingly finds someone has left a precocious toddler with a note in his book store. Her name is Maya and she changes everything.
I loved the sassy and quite literary dialogue with Amelia– the publishers agent, the tentative book club of the local police officer and the hilarious mishaps at the author event. If you love books, I think you’d be hard pressed to dislike this little volume. There’s a bit of romance, mystery and growing friendship, all centered around books. A. J. Fikry filters his life through his books– and the winsome story is a testament to the power of books in a life.
WHAT ALICE FORGOT –by Liane Moraiarty
It’s true, this book looks suspiciously like chick lit on first inspection– but the trail this character takes, goes deeper into questions of who we are and how we got there…
The story starts when Alice awakes from an amnesia producing accident in the gym– believing that she is 29, expecting her first child and very happily married to Nick. But she soon realizes that she is actually 39, has 3 children, is on the verge of a messy divorce, is estranged from her sister and has changed into the skinny, stylish and controlling women she never thought she’d be.
There’s a good measure of humor here, as when Alice is can’t bring herself to look in a mirror to see her 39 year old face– but the story goes beyond that…
Bit by bit she puts together the details of her last ten years, reconstructing her life. The questions come and you can’t help but think of your own life– How did I get where I am today? Have I changed in ways I wanted to over the last ten years? Is is possible to start over? How to go about managing acceptance and forgiveness…
It’s one of those can’t-put-it-down-until-you-know-what-happens sort of books. I think you might enjoy it as much as I did.
THE BOYS IN THE BOAT –by Daniel James Brown
I don’t know that I would have picked up this book, but that it was our Lit Group choice this month– and I’m so glad it was!! It’s an actual story of a team of 9 who rowed from the crew meets of the University of Washington and on to the gold medal in Hitler’s 1936 Olympics.
The author focuses on the difficult life of one of the rowers, Joe Rantz, who lost his mother young and was abandoned as a teenager by his father and stepmother. Left on his own, he provided for himself with a series of demanding jobs, through the days of the Great Depression. And finally, worked his way to the University of Washington and on to the rowing team, formed my 9 young men, mostly dirt poor sons of loggers or farmers, that would improbably win the Olympic gold medal.
The other star of the book is the history surrounding it– the sufferings of the families through the depression, the rise of Hitler and the mechanics behind his staging the Olympics in Berlin, the daily life of college athletes– their struggles and their camaraderie in the 1930’s. The sense of time and place is strong.
The book is based on the rower’s personal journals, and interviews with them and their families. It is written with precision and detail. The balance and rhythm of the rowers, the perseverance through beating weather and the tensions of the races are traced brilliantly. Brown takes you back to a place and time filled with people you admire and follows their intrepid rise to win the rower’s greatest contest at the Olympic Games.