Tag Archives: Books

Number 103 – Alma

Nope, not the Alma you were thinking of.  This Alma is a character in one of my favorite books.  As a friend of mine pointed out once, I seem to like books with young protagonists or narrators.  I had never thought of that, but once she said it, I realized it was true.

Alma is one of the main characters in The History of Love by Nicole Krauss.  Really, Alma is many characters in the book because of the book-within-a-book situation.  Alma is a teenager who is trying to help her mother find happiness and understand what life is all about (that’s a very simplified description of who Alma is…).

I love this passage, where the main Alma is telling about the Alma in the book:

The first woman may have been Eve, but the first girl will always be Alma… Maybe the first time you saw her you were ten.  She was standing in the sun scratching her legs.  Or tracing letters in the dirt with a stick.  her hair was being pulled.  Or she was pulling someone’s hair.  And a part of you was drawn to her, and a part of you resisted – wanting to ride off on your bicycle, kick a stone, remain uncomplicated.  In the same breath you felt the strength of a man, and a self-pity that made you feel small and hurt.  Part of you thought:  Please don’t look at me.  If you don’t, I can still turn away.  And part of you thought:  Look at me.

Alma is a girl I wish I knew.  Alma and I could hang out with Oskar.  I think they could help each other a lot (I wonder if this was the idea… since History of Love and Extremely Loud and IncrediblyClose were written by a wife and her husband).

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Number 68 – A Wrinkle in Time, A Wind in the Door & A Swiftly Tilting Planet (and When You Reach Me)

Madeleine L’Engle’s Time Quartet (although I’ve only ever read 3…) is one of my favorite series ever written.  I think I’ve read A Wrinkle in Time a dozen or so times, A Wind in the Door 3 or 4 times and A Swiftly Tilting Planet 8 or 9 times.  I love them.  I love Meg, she’s a very strong female character.  I love the themes of love, family and fantasy.

The idea of time travel is so cool – I remember being amazed the first time I read it.  The way that Mrs. Who, Mrs. Whatsit and Mrs. Which explain the physics of time travel was so creative.  I loved it.

The new Newberry Award winner, When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead has some lovely ties to A Wrinkle in TimeWhen You Reach Me is a beautifully crafted story that deserves a spot on the shelf right next to L’Engle’s classics.  It is really a lovely book.

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Number 55 – The Thorn Birds

This is my favorite literary guilty pleasure.  I think I’ve read it at least a half dozen times.  It’s a great summer book and a great winter mini-series.  It is the unlikely love story of Father Ralph Dd Bricassarte, a Catholic priest who is sent to a small town surrounded by sheep stations in Australia, and young Meggie Cleary.  Father Ralph quickly becomes entangled with the Cleary family who live on Drogheda.  This is an epic story that spans three generations of Cleary women – all trying to find their path and their love.  It’s very dramatic.

I think I was in middle school when I saw the mini-series for the first time.  I remember sitting in our green rocking chair watching the show during one summer break.  I was enthralled.  I have always wanted to go visit the Australian outback and all the other Australian locales that are in the book.  Oh, to walk where Meggie walked…

I know it’s silly.

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Number 50 – Books

I. Love. Books.  I have always loved reading.  I think this is what happens when your mother is a librarian… I remember going to bed with a stack of books every night when I was a kid.  I loved looking at the pictures, remembering the stories, turning the pages…  Reading a book is a very beautiful thing (which is why I don’t think I could ever get a Kindle or something like that…).  I love the feeling of turning the pages, the smell of books, the way the print looks on the pages, the texture of the pages.

I have a very specific system for how I store and display books.  The above photo (I love the built in bookcases!  These basically sold the house for me…) is of a few different kinds of books.  In the top left are old books and smell divine and have wonderful cloth covers.  Beneath them are all my Azerbaijani books and magazines.  Some favorites are the monster Azeri-English dictionary, the 6th and 10th form English text books – seriously funny and scary lessons in those books!  Under the Azer-shelf are my absolute favorite books of all time… more on those later.  Then we have too many scrapbooks for one shelf… still don’t know where those are going.  On the top right are spiritual books – the Bible, Dali Lama, Book of Common Prayer, Bhagavad Gita, and I need to get a Koran and Torah sometime…  Under the “shrine” is Harry Potter.  Gotta love it.  Then on the bottom within reach for small hands are some children’s books.

These are my favorite books.  I’m sure I’m missing some here, but for the most part here they are.   You can see that my tastes vary from Tom Robbins to Lois Lowry to Jonathan Safran Foer and Nicole Kraus.  From plays to young adult novels.  From civil rights to World War Two.  You might even notice a well-worn-falling-apart-often-read copy of The Thorn Birds (a guilty please that is often read in the summertime).  I love these books and read them over and over and over and loan them out and give them away and buy new copies again and again.  Love.

On another wall in my living room I keep some of the others.  The top shelf are books I love, but not enough to be on my favorite shelf.   These books are all organized by topic or some other system that probably only makes sense to me.  Old English text books and anthologies anchor everything on the bottom.

My mom brought home a stack of middle school books for me to read this summer, so I am off to read now…  I’m just starting Cybele’s Secret by Juliet Marillier which takes place in Istanbul, so I’m already really into it…

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Day 49 – Atonement

Atonement by Ian McEwan is one of the most beautifully written books I have ever read.  It was recommended to me by my Uncle Steve.  I have to admit that it took me a while to get into the book.  In fact, I think it took a couple tries.  I am so glad I kept trying, because I love it so much.  It is such a well crafted story.  It has lots of things I love in a book – a child narrator, World War II, an epic love story, beautiful imagery…

It is about Briony, a 13 year old girl, who witnessing something that changes her life, and the lives of everyone involved.  It is a beautiful story about guilt, forgiveness and of course, atonement.

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