Well folks, if you are going on vacation, about to have ankle surgery or are underneath two feet of snow, Merry Christmas. Thanks to friends on facebook and elsewhere, we have gotten you started with some great recommendations for books. Whether you want footloose and fancy free, spiritual inspiration, suspense or global interest, here ya go. Please feel free to comment on your favorites and I'll add them and keep a running list for us. P.S. If you have a kindle, some of these books are .99 !! Happy Reading!
By far the most recommended book has been The Help. I can't say anything more about this book. It is important. It is relevant. It is fantastic. Keri's (and Amy Norris's ) review of The Help. Thanks to Melissa Musgrove, Lindsey Buck, Audrey Brannen, Christine King, Frances Gatewood Raybon and others for reminding me how great it is.
The Virgin Suicides-Eugenides's remarkable first novel opens on a startling note: "On the morning the last Lisbon daughter took her turn at suicide... the two paramedics arrived at the house knowing exactly where the knife drawer was, and the gas oven, and the beam in the basement from which it was possible to tie a rope." What follows is not, however, a horror novel, but a finely crafted work of literary if slightly macabre imagination. In an unnamed town in the slightly distant past, detailed in such precise and limpid prose that readers will surely feel that they grew up there. Thanks Catherine Welsh!!
Water for Elephants Now being made into a movie with Reese Witherspoon and Robert Pattison, I read and adored this book. I recently said this: For you animal lovers, maybe steer clear of this one. It's a hard read but a really captivating story about the circus and the intertwined lives of the people who live and work on it. I believe set in the 20's. I couldn't put it down but definitely had some moments where I had to close my eyes.Thanks Lindsey Kirley Nichols- great choice!
Pretty Little Liars- for the adolescent girl in your life, Eason Garmany highly recommends this box set. I'd take her recommendation any day!
The Red Tent. The red tent is the place where women gathered during their cycles of birthing, menses, and even illness. Like the conversations and mysteries held within this feminine tent, this sweeping piece of fiction offers an insider's look at the daily life of a biblical sorority of mothers and wives and their one and only daughter, Dinah. Told in the voice of Jacob's daughter Dinah (who only received a glimpse of recognition in the Book of Genesis), we are privy to the fascinating feminine characters who bled within the red tent. In a confiding and poetic voice, Dinah whispers stories of her four mothers, Rachel, Leah, Zilpah, and Bilhah--all wives to Jacob, and each one embodying unique feminine traits. As she reveals these sensual and emotionally charged stories we learn of birthing miracles, slaves, artisans, household gods, and sisterhood secrets. Eventually Dinah delves into her own saga of betrayals, grief, and a call to midwifery. One of my all time favorite books, thanks to Dr. and Mrs. Shirley for having it on your mountain house book shelf and giving me such a great read!
I Alex Cross by James Patterson- featuring detective Alex Cross (after Cross Country), in which Cross takes on yet another barbaric serial killer, this one known as Zeus. Word that an estranged 24-year-old niece, Caroline Cross, has been murdered disturbs Cross's birthday party. To make that horror even worse, the killer fed Caroline's body through a wood chipper. Cross soon discovers that Caroline supported herself as a high-price escort for Washington, D.C.'s elite, and that other women who served similar clients have turned up missing. Cross's investigation soon attracts the attention of the feds, and he concludes that Zeus is better connected than most of the psychopaths he's brought to justice. A subplot centering on a health threat to another member of Cross's family adds padding.
Thanks Greg Smith for recommending one of two books my husband may consider on this list!
A Chance to Die: The Life and Legacy of Amy Carmichael-A Chance to Die is a vibrant portrayal of Amy Carmichael, an Irish missionary and writer who spent fifty-three years in south India without furlough. There she became known as "Amma," or "mother," as she founded the Dohnavur Fellowship, a refuge for underprivileged children. Amy's life of obedience and courage stands as a model for all who claim the name of Christ. She was a woman with desires and dreams, faults and fears, who gave her life unconditionally to serve her Master. Bringing Amma to life through inspiring photos and compelling biographical narrative, Elisabeth Elliot urges readers to examine the depths of their own commitment to Christ. Thanks Laura Susan Cain for this. I have heard really fantastic reviews and can't wait to read it.
The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo. This debut thriller--the first in a trilogy from the late Stieg Larsson--is a serious page-turner rivaling the best of Charlie Huston and Michael Connelly. Mikael Blomkvist, a once-respected financial journalist, watches his professional life rapidly crumble around him. Prospects appear bleak until an unexpected (and unsettling) offer to resurrect his name is extended by an old-school titan of Swedish industry. The catch--and there's always a catch--is that Blomkvist must first spend a year researching a mysterious disappearance that has remained unsolved for nearly four decades. With few other options, he accepts and enlists the help of investigator Lisbeth Salander, a misunderstood genius with a cache of authority issues. Recommended by Miss Rosemary Cone, with two of the author's other books The Girl Who Played with Fire and The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest. I am reading this now and am intriqued!
Dandelion Dust-Jack and Molly Campbell are right where they want to be, enjoying an idyllic life with their four-year-old son Joey, and the close family and friends who live in their small hometown just outside Atlanta. Then the phone call comes from the social worker the Campbells never expected to hear from again. Three states away in Ohio, Joey's biological father has just been released from prison. He is ready to start life over, but not without his son. - recommended by Lindsey Brooks Buck, the author is one of mine and Lindsey's fav's, Karen Kingsbury.
Llama Llama Red Pajama-PreSchool-K–With its sweet rendering of the trials of bedtime and separation anxiety, this book's familiar theme will be a hit with youngsters. Thanks Emily O for your favorite read this year :) I have read and concur!
The Mountain Between Us-From the author of Where the River Ends, comes this page-turning story of love and survival.On a stormy winter night, two strangers wait for a flight at the Salt Lake City airport. Ashley Knox is an attractive, successful writer, who is flying East for her much anticipated wedding. Dr. Ben Payne has just wrapped up a medical conference and is also eager to get back East for a slate of surgeries he has scheduled for the following day. When the last outgoing flight is cancelled due to a broken de-icer and a forthcoming storm, Ben finds a charter plane that can take him around the storm and drop him in Denver to catch a connection. And when the pilot says the single engine prop plane can fit one more, if barely, Ben offers the seat to Ashley knowing that she needs to get back just as urgently. And then the unthinkable happens. The pilot has a heart attack mid-flight and the plane crashes into the High Uintas Wilderness-- one of the largest stretches of harsh and remote land in the United States. As the days on the mountains become weeks, their survival become increasingly perilous. How will they make it out of the wilderness and if they do, how will this experience change them forever? Both a tender and page-turning read, The Mountain Between Us will reaffirm your belief in the power of love to sustain us. Meg Mamalakis Hollis has recommended this author before to me and I see why. He's on my list!
Jodi Picoult, My Sister's Keeper- Picoult's total collection of books was recommened and I linked my personal favorite. The difficult choices a family must make when a child is diagnosed with a serious disease are explored with pathos and understanding. The author, who has taken on such controversial subjects as euthanasia (Mercy), teen suicide (The Pact) and sterilization laws (Second Glance), turns her gaze on genetic planning, the prospect of creating babies for health purposes and the ethical and moral fallout that results.- these books will make you think- medical ethics are never black and white. Thanks sweet Hilary G for the rec!
Tuesdays with Morrie- It's not a cliche- the book is beautiful and heartwarming. Thanks Debi for remiding me. This one needs a re-read :)
Fall of Giants by Ken Follett- The story follows five families across the globe as their fates intertwine with the extraordinary events of World War I, the political struggles within their own countries, and the rise of the feminist movement. Intriguing stories of love and loyalty abound, from a forbidden romance between a German spy and a British aristocrat to a Russian soldier and his scandal-ridden brother in love with the same woman. Action-packed with blood on the battlefield and conspiracies behind closed doors, Fall of Giants brings the nuances of each character to life and shifts easily from dirty coal mines to sparkling palaces. There is so much to love here, and the good news is the end is just the beginning: Fall of Giants is the first in a planned trilogy.- Amy Solana Whitaker- you have 2 very small children, a job and a husband in a surgical residency. Please explain to me how you read a 1,000 page book??
Stuart Woods books'- He is an author from Georgia with "fast-paced," "intriguing plots." Recommended by Guy Kemp (for any men wanting a 'manly' book :)
Forever, Erma: Best Loved Writing from America's Favorite Humorist-The housewife columnist whose gently subversive humor has won her a prominent niche in American culture is commemorated in this collection of over 120 of her most popular and memorable essays. Bombeck, whose bestsellers include All I Know About Animal Behavior I Learned in Loehmann's Dressing Room, died in 1996. Trained as a newspaper reporter, she honed her skills into a unique blend of humorous social commentary based on the quotidian passage of domestic life and an empathy with women in their relations with the larger world, including spouses and children. Not surprised at all that Miss Beth Ross suggested this book. Looks like fabulous light reading.
Forgotten God- A follow up to the profound message of Crazy Love, Pastor Francis Chan offers a compelling invitation to understand, embrace, and follow the Holy Spirit's direction in our lives. In the name of the Father, the Son, and ... the Holy Spirit. We pray in the name of all three, but how often do we live with an awareness of only the first two? Thanks Molly Mac for what I'm sure is such an inspiring call to live differently.
Robinson Crusoe- Crusoe is also a story about the ability of mankind to master his surroundings through hard work, patience, and Christianity. The combination of these three supports are what allow him to escape captivity in Africa, overcome the deadly obstacles on the island, and finally leave the island itself. His physical prowess and combat skills are significantly less important to his journey than the message of trust and persistance that the decades he spends on the island convey. While this message might need tempering for the modern reader, it is also inspirational and important to read. From Rachele Gibson, reading some timeless classics that, like me, eluded her childhood.
To Kill a Mockingbird- I will admit that I have not read this and as I've said before, should probably reliquish my Master's Degree for not having done so. It's on my list! Thanks again Rachele G!
Emily Giffin's books- such as Something Borrowed and Something Blue- from Katie Leverett Waller- recommending my favorite beach-read author- appropriate since Katie now gets to live at the beach!
A Lucky Child, A Memoir of Surviving Auschwitz as a Young BOY- A 10-year-old inmate in August 1944 at Birkenau, Buergenthal was one of the death camp's youngest prisoners. He miraculously survived, thanks, among others, to a friendly kapo who made him an errand boy. Buergenthal's authentic, moving tale reveals that his lifelong commitment to human rights sprang from the ashes of Auschwitz. -this and the following four books recommended by my BFF Katrina Critchley. After reading the excerpts from these books, I am now convinced that Katrina may be one of the most well-read, socially aware and compassionate people I know. Far cry from the ditz I previously assumed her to be :)
I am Nujood, Age 10 and Divorced- Chosen by Glamour magazine as a Woman of the Year in 2008, Nujood of Yemen has become an international hero for her astonishingly brave resistance to child marriage. With the help of an activist lawyer, sympathetic judges, and the international press, she divorced her husband and returned home. Her clear, first-person narrative, translated from the French and written with Minoui, is spellbinding: the horror of her parents’ betrayal and her mother-in-law’s connivance, the “grown-ups” who send the child from classroom and toys to nightmare abuse. She never denies the poverty that drives her parents and oppresses her brothers, even as she reveals their cruelty. Unlike her passive mother, she is an activist, thrilled to return to school, determined to save others, including her little sister. True to the child’s viewpoint, the “grown-up” cruelty is devastating. Readers will find it incredible that such unbelievable abuse and such courageous resistance are happening now.rec by Katrina Smith Critchley
My Own Country and Cutting for Stone. I have read both and easily have them in my top 10 books ever. Both are by Dr. Abraham Verghese, an Infectious Disease physician. The first tells of his work as an Ethiopian doctor treating AIDS in the early 80's in the poor areas of Tennessee. It's phenomenal. The second is his fiction work, set in India and Ethopia, about twin brothers whose lives are irreparably changed. Lots of it takes place in a hospital so the medical backdrop is awesome. There is also a nun as one of the main characters who is such a vibrant character. rec by Katrina Critchley but reviews are my own. Great minds read alike :)
Still Alice- Neuroscientist and debut novelist Genova mines years of experience in her field to craft a realistic portrait of early onset Alzheimer's disease. Alice Howland has a career not unlike Genova's—she's an esteemed psychology professor at Harvard, living a comfortable life in Cambridge with her husband, John, arguing about the usual (making quality time together, their daughter's move to L.A.) when the first symptoms of Alzheimer's begin to emerge. First, Alice can't find her Blackberry, then she becomes hopelessly disoriented in her own town. Alice is shocked to be diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer's (she had suspected a brain tumor or menopause), after which her life begins steadily to unravel. She loses track of rooms in her home, resigns from Harvard and eventually cannot recognize her own children. The brutal facts of Alzheimer's are heartbreaking, and it's impossible not to feel for Alice and her loved ones.) from Katrina again and this one may be the first one I read while I have extra hands for la bebe this weekend. Sounds amazing.
I Love You This Much-Share God's love for his children through this moving story about the love between a parent and child. This sweet little tale is based on a beautiful lullaby, I Love You This Much, sung by a parent to a child, as a gentle reminder to children of just how much they are loved by their earthly parents -- as well as their heavenly Father. Filled with picturesque illustrations that reflect the soothing melody and gentle words, you and your child will treasure the precious moments shared together with this wonderful story, I Love You This Much. Thanks Tracy Wallbank McVay. I love this one too!