Literary Glance

Just in case you are at a crossroads wondering what your next read might be, I thought I would write up some brief summaries of books we have read lately. And if you want to borrow our copy, let me know!

  First, The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson.  I must confess that while a handful of people had recommended the book to us, it wasn’t until I opened to the first page that I realized this is a non-fiction novel!  As I continued reading it blew me away that I didn’t know anything about the historical events that this book portrays.  TDITWC (come on, it’s shorter) is about two men and their lives surrounding the 1893 World’s Colombian Exposition. The first, Daniel H. Burnham, was the architect behind the fair construction in South Chicago. The second, H.H. Holmes (or so was his alias), a serial killer masquerading as a charming doctor.  Larson switches between the two lives and left me wanting to be a part of this fascinating time in history — far away from the “castle” of H.H. Holmes.  Where the book is a bit dry at times it makes up for it by tying together fascinating historical events such as Olmsted’s creation of the Biltmore in Asheville, NC and the sinking of the Titanic. Wonder how these all come together? You’ll have to read the book!  (PS – there is talk of a movie on this one involving Leonardo DiCaprio)

I know that The Secret Life of Bees is older as popular novels go, but I have been on a kick reading books that have recently become movies.  This book was a pretty quick and easy read in which Sue Monk Kidd takes you into the life of a 14 year old girl in a backcountry town in 1960′s South Carolina.  What I liked most about this novel was the sense of childhood magic and wonder that came through the eyes of the main character Lily.  The novel tells the story of a bright pink house where 3 sisters have made a living selling honey from their bees and what happens when Lily and her caregiver have no where to go but there. It is a story of faith, unusual women, coming of age, and honey. It made me reminisce about what went on in my head and heart at the age of 14.

Here is yet another non-fiction about two men. Same Kind of Different As Me has an entirely different story to tell and definitely one worth reading. I will say up front that this book made me cry – I’m talking about the kind of cry that shakes your shoulders. So be ready for that. The two men are Denver Moore, a man raised as a modern-day slave in Louisiana who spent the majority of his life homeless on the streets of Texas, and Ron Hall, a wealthy and well-educated art dealer who took some wrong paths. The book spans the story of their lives from a young age to recent history including how they became friends and how this unlikely friendship changed both of their lives. SKODAM is a book about faith, love, hope, and the ups and downs of our life here on earth. I was challenged and inspired and I think I will read this book again soon.

One more. I read A Homemade Life last summer, but I am throwing it in because it is quit different from my other recent reads.  Molly Wizenberg is the creative genius behind the food blog Orangette. This is her first book and it brings tastes and smells to the stories of her life.  Each chapter has a recipe and a story that goes along with it.  One reason I like this book so much is that I relate to her a lot — she is around my age and I can easily imagine myself drinking a glass of wine in her kitchen while we bake something from scratch without a recipe just to see how it will taste.  Molly is also a francophile and will inspire even the most home-body of you to fly to France and eat chocolate and bread for breakfast.  Molly and her husband opened a delicious New York inspired pizza restaurant on a quiet street in the Ballard neighborhood of Seattle. We have only been to Delancey once but will hands down recommend you go.

OK, that is all the books for today. I have to confess that I am currently half way through the Hunger Games trilogy and can’t put it down. I hope that doesn’t negate your thoughts on my taste in books.

Happy November Y’all.

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5 Comments

Filed under Thoughts and Reviews

5 responses to “Literary Glance

  1. Robin Magonegil

    I knew that you would like the Devil in White City. Erik Larsen has a new one out called – In the Garden of Beasts- also excellent. As well as Isaac’s Storm and Thunderstruck.

    As for the Hunger Games trilogy – they are great. Well written and captivating and nothing is wrong with reading what you enjoy – well as long as it is not Harlequin Romance or Danielle Steele.

  2. Yay! I’m glad you liked Molly’s book. Wish we could come down this weekend. Hopefully we will see you soon.

  3. same kind of different as me = excellent read.

  4. Robin, I always love your suggestions – keep em coming! Jessie, I still have your book and need to get it to you soon. Hopefully I will see you both in Madison :)

  5. Mom

    Hey, I have read three of the four. “The Devil”, thanks to you and I would love to check out A Homemade Life. ‘just finished, The Sweet Bye and Bye. It has some great characters and a perspective on aging that rings true. I say that as one with parents living the story.

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