Comfort in Reading

July 16th

journey safely

I’ve done a good bit of reading this summer toward my goal of 40 books this year. To add to the list:

18. “What is the What” — which I already reviewed and loved. Five out of five bananas, absoloodle. The perspective and writing are excellent. This has serious potential to be my Christmas book of 2008.

19. “What the Dead Know” by Laura Lipmann: Two bananas, good plot and I liked the Dennis Leary-esq character Kevin Infante, but too heavy on the needless profanity to be truly enjoyable.

20. “Kabul Beauty School” by Deborah Rodriguez: Three bananas, fascinating memoir and I appreciated this foreigner’s take on living in a Muslim country as a divorced Christian woman. However, some of her choices leave her as a less-than-desirable lad character.

journals for mother and daughter

21. “I Capture the Castle” by Dodie Smith: Four bananas. Love the characters, the way of telling the stoyr, the creativity of the author. It was an entertaining summer read that I recommend for teens.

22. “Hank & Chloe” by Jo-Ann Mapson: Two bananas. Didn’t hate the story but didn’t think it was much more than mind candy. Lots of sexual detail that made me blush when reading this in public.

23. “It’s Not About the Tapas” by Polly Evans: 1 banana. I couldn’t get hooked on this one, but it would be a good read for European history buffs. It is a nonfiction travel memoir of a girl who decides to ride her bike across much of Spain.

24. “Millions Saved.” Four Bananas, and a mandatory read for anyone interested in international public health programming.

25. “Good Faith” by Jane Smiley. Two bananas. This was slow and again I wasn’t sure I liked the characters by the end.

africa, back patch

26. “Fieldwork” by Mischa Berlinski. Four bananas. Such a vividly written tale that when I was done, I felt like I’d been the one traveling through Thailand. I loved this story. Several of you recommended it, so thank you!
{Sidenote, Berlinski recommends “The Dogs May Bark but the Caravan Rolls On.” I am going to add this to my library list.}

27. “Three Cups of Tea” by Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin. Four bananas. This true story of a man building schools in Pakistan and Afghanistan has been handed to me several times by friends. When I finally sat down to read it, I couldn’t put it down and did the very socially ugly act of even reading at the dinner table. It was that good. If you want to be motivated into how one person truly can make huge change, pick this up. Mortenson is one of my new heroes.

28. “The Law of Similars” by Chris Bonjalian. Three bananas. I like the way this author teaches the reader so much about topics — such as food allergies and homeopathy in this case — without it coming off as stuffy. Good fiction.

29. “More Than You Know” by Beth Gutcheon. Three bananas. The author does a good job of bouncing between two main stories and eventually tying them together.

30. “Soul Cravings” by Edwin McManus. Five bananas. My minister gave this to me before I left and it was perfect timing. This book is written in entry-style, so you can read it a bit each day or all at once. Great spiritual insight and motivation to ask more questions about faith.


31. “We Wish to Inform You that Tomorrow We Will be Killed with our Families” by Philip Gourevitch. Five bananas. This is an excellent read for anyone interested in the Rwandan genocide and Africa politics. It is a good study of what pushes the average everyday mind into being comfortable with killing others and how to prevent this sort of nonsense from happening again.

32. “Vinegar Hill” by A. Manette Ansay. Two bananas. Surprise, surprise. This Oprah book pick left me sad and miserable. The female lead lives a hopeless life.

33. “Hard Laughter” by Annie Lamott. 1 banana. I know, I know. Usually I love Lamott. Come to find out I really love her nonfiction. Her fiction is a bit too odd for me.

34. “The Four Agreements” by Don Miguel. Five stars. Again, another spiritual book that will rock your socks if you give it a chance. I have found myself repeatedly reminding myself of these agreements when faced with obstacles and they’ve helped me to find grace in the journey.

35. “At the Mercy of the River” by Peter Stark. Four bananas. A nonfiction adventure tale about a team who decide to kayak the Lugenda River in Mozambique. Absolutely wonderful writing and I am bias because I kinda love the country.


36. “Things Fall Apart” by Chinua Achebe. Three bananas. Good story with interesting African tribal insights. Reminded me of “The Alchemist” in the writing style.

Currently reading and loving, “Cold Mountain” with “Lucky” on deck. What have you been enjoying?


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22 Responses

  1. I am going to read When A Crocodile Eats the Sun if you’re interested in reading that too. My bookclub is reading Three Cups of Tea. Hope to start (and finish!) it this weekend in time! (BTW, what are those lovely journals for? You’re so crafty!)

  2. Thanks to you, I recently discovered Anne Lamott, so I’m working my way through her non-fiction. Took me a while to get used to her style. Don’t think I’ll even attempt her fiction …

  3. Might try Edwin McManus tho!

  4. Right now I’m reading Alone in the Kitchen with an Eggplant, and am loving it! I also have A Year in the World going, but it wasn’t keeping my attention and I had to move on. I enjoyed the part that I’d read (the first 50 pages only took me a week), so I’m going to try it again once I finish Eggplant.

  5. I am loving “The Secret of Lost Things” by Sheridan Hay. Just bought “Musicophilia” by Oliver Sacks. Reading is the best way to escape!

  6. I’ve wanted to read Three Cups of Tea.. I will have to pick it up for sure now. Thanks for the recommendations. I read lots of books, but most of them are mindless stuff, lol. Here is the list of all I’ve read if you care to check it out.

  7. Wow – you are going to surpass your goal very soon!! Love these kinds of posts for inspiration – my Amazon wish list just grew.

  8. I am in a bit of a reading rut this year due to the classes for my credential…which require enough reading in and of themselves. But I am really enjoying re-visiting “Anne of Green Gables” and “Anne of the Island”. Also, “Drreamhunter” and “Dreamquake”, a young adult fantasy duo that’s pretty darn good. I guess I’m trying to escape into a younger, more carefree world, hehe!

  9. Thanks for all the suggestions – several of those sound really good and not things I’d have found on my own.

  10. I’m reading the nr 22 for this year (I don’t know if will accomplish my goal of 50!) that’s The Lollipop Shoes by Joanne Harris.
    Btw, what are those personalized block-notes for?

  11. Right now? I’m reading a bunch of what can only be described as mindless drivel. You know… easy, entertaining reads that don’t require much concentration and always end happily ever after. They’re good for sitting on my deck with a glass of wine, listening to the sounds of summer around me. Next on my list is a kids book – Antarctic Antics by Judy Sierra and Jose Aruego.

  12. Nothing right now, but I have two books coming in: Married to a Bedouin and The Ugly American. We traveled to Jordan earlier this year and now I’m really interested in the Bedouin culture, and the other is about the failings of our State Department overseas (although I do believe it’s a fictionalized book, and it’s older).

  13. What a great reading list, Kelli. And are those little journals you’ve made in which to record your thoughts about the books? They’re lovely. I’m working with Anne Morrow Lindbergh’s book Gift from the Sea right now; it’s quite a delight and I’m learning so much about myself.

  14. Oh, I love “I Capture the Castle” and “Three Cups of Tea”..two of my all-time favorites..I’m definitely going to have to check out “What is the What” and a few others on this list..This summer I’ve been crazy random with books, starting lots but not finishing too many..the last one I read was actually by Anne Lamott–“Traveling Mercies”..and I just ordered some new ones to take to the beach in August.. the giraffe stamp!!

  15. You inspired me to write a post on some of the books I’ve read this year. Come on over for a look-see…

  16. Debb_de July 17, 2008

    delurking to say…
    I haven’t started them yet, but I heard Say You’re One of Them by Uwem Akpan and The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz are both amazing reads. I’m a pretty slow reader – I’m still trying to get through “A New Earth”!

  17. Danielle July 17, 2008

    Hi Kelli,
    Thanks for the reading list (I love it when people share their favourites) I am forever looking for something good to read.
    Here are two books I thoroughly enjoyed this year.
    Marley & Me, Life and Love with the World’s Worst Dog.
    Mao’s Last Dancer
    It’s been fantastic to hear and see your adventures oversea’s. Keep blogging and keep on sharing.

  18. Tina in Duluth July 18, 2008

    My daughter is an anglophile and we liked watching the I Capture the Castle DVD when she was younger. We didn’t know it was a book.

    Do you ever sleep??

  19. Love The Four Agreements. It’s on my short list of books that I pick up whenever I see them in a used bookstore (along with Out of Africa, A River Runs Through It, and Man’s Search for Meaning…so I can give them away).

    I adore Ann Lamott, especially Traveling Mercies, but have found the same thing with her fiction. I can’t express how this bums me out because her book on writing, Bird by Bird, is one of my favorites.

    So happy you are now on GoodReads:-)

  20. I needed to ask the Do You Ever SLeep? question too! Great variety of books Kelli. Some of will jhave to read. Thanks for the reviews!

  21. Thanks! I really appreciate book recommendations. Just finished the wonderful “Eat Pray Love”. And at the library I picked up “Water for Elephants” on CD with no recommendation; I’d never heard of it, but I loved it!

  22. I’ve been on a reading tear the past few weeks.
    Loved: The Glass Castle, Kavalier & Clay, Three Cups of Tea, Stones from the River.
    The God of Small Things was pretty good, and the Known World was ok.