One of my goals for the year was to read a book every month, and I’m stoked to say I’ve kept up with that goal. Along with all of the magazines I read, I’ve been taking the time for myself to get lost in someone else’s world, someone’s else’s writing, and boy, it feels good. There really is nothing like curling up with a good book. Yes, I have my Kindle and I use it sometimes, but I also have a big ol’ bookshelf that I love to pull from (and add to!). I still love the smell of paper and the feel of a book as it starts to be gently used.
Not that I just went off on a tangent or anything…
So this summer, I’ve been lucky with every book I’ve decided to dive into. Each one was a winner! At least, it was in my opinion. Instead of reviewing each one in a separate post, I’ve decided to give you a brief glimpse into what I’m reading. I’m not going to give away too much of the plot, so I promise no spoilers here!
The Book Thief
This Markus Zusak read is based in Germany during World War II, so I immediately knew I was going to love it. I’m a huge sucker for anything based in that time period (another great read if you haven’t picked it up – Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand). The story follows the life of Liesel Meminger, a young girl who’s put into a new home with foster parents in the beginning of the novel because her mother can’t care for her anymore – we later find out this is because she’s Jewish.
The most interesting part of The Book Thief, and what kept me enraptured in the story, is that it’s completely narrated by Death. It was such a unique, captivating approach for the author to take, and I think he pulled it off flawlessly. Death encounters Liesel many times throughout the book and there are multiple incidents that weave the entire story together. We get to know Liesel, the youngster who – you guessed it – steals books and is obsessed with words. I fell in love with her sidekick, Rudy, and the eventual Jew Liesel’s family protects, Max. Liesel’s foster parents are equally engaging, as are the secondary characters sprinkled throughout the book. Zusak did such an incredible job portraying their emotions, making me feel exactly what they were feeling, that when traumatic events happened I was quite literally sobbing as I turned the page.
Where We Belong
Emily Giffin is the famous author behind Something Borrowed (which I still haven’t read), a novel that was turned into a film recently and starred Kate Hudson and Ginnifer Goodwin. But I digress. Where We Belong is a book I read early this summer because a preview copy was sent to me for work. I had never read anything by Giffin before, but thought, “What the heck? It’s summer and I could go for a light-hearted beach read.” It was a bonus that, as you can see above, I got to meet Giffin to chat about her new novel and snag her John Hancock.
The story is centered around Marian Caldwell, a television producer in New York City who seems to have everything she could’ve ever wanted in life: she’s working for a fairly successful TV show, dating the super-attractive boss of the company and well, living the dream in the city that never sleeps. Everything’s perfect, until 18-year-old Kirby Rose shows up. Turns out Kirby is the long-lost daughter Marian gave up for adoption long ago.
Yes, the story line sounds a bit cheesy, and I was hesitant going into it. It all sounded too predictable. And while it definitely wasn’t a mind-blowing read, Giffin did a great job of storytelling and kept me rooting for both characters. I never felt like Kirby or Marian was the bad guy, or even the boy who got Marian pregnant all those years ago. I felt like they were all extremely relatable characters, and in the end, I was just rooting for each of them to end up happy. This is definitely a beach read that will remind you of just how strong family ties can be, and how important the people you love really are.
Drop Dead Healthy
If any of you read Julie’s blog, you’ll notice that she’s also read a few of these books during her monthly book club. I follow her blog regularly, and whenever a book is chosen, I usually add it to my “To Read” board on Pinterest so I eventually circle around to it. I always mean to read it at the same time as everyone else, but somehow that hasn’t worked out yet. I came this close with this month’s read (you’ll find out what it is at the bottom of this post), but am only partially finished now and it’s the end of the month. There’s always next time!
Anyway, I say all that because this title by A.J. Jacobs was a PBFingers book club read. Boy oh boy, was it funny. As a blogger who likes to focus on healthy living, and an editor who works at FITNESS, I was excited to dive into a book that has the author spending two years trying to be the healthiest man in the world. We learn about his experiences with fitness and nutrition experts, a whole variety of workouts, different diets and anything else you can think of, all in the name of being healthy.
Fortunately for me, I met Jacobs before reading this book (another perk of my job – Jacobs was a guest speaker at FITNESS’ Blogger Meet & Tweet!). So I was really able to integrate his voice and personality into the book on a whole other level. But honestly, even if I hadn’t met him, I still would’ve loved it. I fully believe that there’s an overwhelming amount of information readily available for people to take in about being healthy, but it’s difficult to sift through it all. I loved the journey that Jacobs took us on, and I thoroughly enjoyed the “character” of his wife. I can only imagine what life would be like if Dustin tried to do the same thing – I give her major props for putting up with it all!
In the end, this was a very educational read and extremely entertaining. See, Mom was right again – learning is fun!
Love the One You’re With
Last but not least, I recently finished another Giffin novel. What can I say - Where We Belong got me hooked! This one addresses the classic “what if?” question so many of us have dangling in the back of our heads, especially if we end up marrying someone who wasn’t our first love. That’s what the main character, Ellen, is dealing with about a year into her marriage with Andy. They’re basically the perfect couple, but a random run-in with Leo, “the one that got away,” sends her into a tailspin, and she questions the decisions she’s made as secrets start to reveal themselves.
Again, Giffin made her characters extremely relatable. I didn’t hate any of them, but I was definitely pulling for Ellen and Andy to work things out. There was a soft spot in my heart for Leo, and by the end, I was rooting for his happiness, too. So clearly Giffin is really good at making me root for the warm-fuzzy endings. She just does a great job of reminding me about important life lessons that tend to be thrown into life’s background when things get busy.
And those are the books I tackled this summer. Pretty varied as far as topics go, but each one had its own enjoyable story line. I’m about halfway through Gone Girl now, which is a definite page-turner and seems to be the big book this summer. Of course I saved it for last!
What books did you crack into this season? Any I should check out?