books worth your time

“Once I read a story about a butterfly in the subway, and today, I saw one. It got on at 42nd, and off at 59th, where, I assume it was going to Bloomingdales to buy a hat that will turn out to be a mistake – as almost all hats are.”  ~Kathleen Kelly (You’ve Got Mail)

I’m heading out for a little vacation in a couple days and will not be accompanied by my computer.  I thought it would be a nice little break away from the virtual world (a world I wonder if I’m too invested in…do you ever wonder that?).  I thought before I left, I would post a few books I’ve read or currently reading this summer.  Although, before I tell you about the books, I want to tell you about this hang-up I have with reading.

I love to read.  In fact, I would say it’s border-line obsession.  When I was younger and lived at home there was a rule, “no books at the table”…and still, I would bring one and set it in my lap, trying to “casually” look down to read.  Needless to say, I have never had the gift of subtlety.  When I went to college there was no time to read–my free time was spent studying or sleeping.  And then I became a teen librarian and if I was reading, I felt obligated to read teen books.  Well, now I’m free.  I can read whatever I want and I’m pretty stubborn about it.  If I don’t like a book, regardless how far through it I may be, I’ll put it down and be done with it.  Time set aside to read is a valuable thing; I certainly do not want to waste your time.  </End Rant>

Books Worth Your Time


Escape by Carolyn Jessop

This powerful book left me re-evaluating how I view typical American life.  Born into the Fundamentalist Latter-Day Saints, she was quickly given into marriage right out of high school to a very important man in her religion, many years her senior.  This chronicles her life in the community and eventually her escape.  While the book evokes a lot of emotions, it’s not an emotional book for the sake of being emotional.  She’s direct and very matter-of-fact about some issues that are difficult to read.  It’s not a religious book by any stretch of the imagination (in fact, toward the end she mentions she’s not in the market for “another god”).  If you read this book, I would love to know your thoughts!

Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell

Profound.  Like his other book (The Tipping Point, yes you should read that one too), he inspires me to think about things differently.  The book evaluates success and the “I came from nothing” story of fame, wealth, or expertise; every time I would doubt his theories, he would cover it by the end of the chapter.  “The lives of outliers — those people whose achievements fall outside normal experience — follow a peculiar and unexpected logic, and making the logic plain Gladwell presents a fascinating and provacative blueprint for making the most of human potential” (from the book jacket).  This book covers such a range, from the Beatles and Bill Gates,  to the “asians are good at math” stereotype.

Dearest Friend by Lynne Withey

This is a non-fiction book about the life of Abigail Adams, the wife of America’s second president.  I’m not a history buff but I love this book.  Because John and Abigail were apart for long, they wrote hundreds of letters–thus the foundation of the book.  Abigail is portrayed as a vibrant woman who unendingly supported her husband, though not afraid to have an opinion. Although this is a bit longer than the other books listed, it is worth it!

Lying Awake by Mark Salzman

I’m rereading this book this summer.  Jen (the gal who requested this post) is a friend from college and had to endure one of the worst professors in the history of mankind with me.  However, the one good thing I got from the class was this book (and direct training on how to deal with difficult people in authority positions, but that’s beside the point).  This fiction book is about a nun who has spent years of service at a Carmelite monastery.  She begins receiving visions (waking dreams) that are blessing her and her sisters.  Unfortunately, following the dreams are unbearable headaches.  She is faced with the choice to cure her headaches and potentially end her visions.  It’s a fascinating look at the cloistered life!

True Nature: An Illustrated Journal of Four Seasons in Solitude by Barbara Bash

I can not tell you enough times how much I LOVE Pilgrim At Tinker Creek.  It’s other-worldly and art…and you should read it.  But if you want to start slow with those types of reflective books, you must try True Nature.  While I’m not Buddhist by any stretch of the imagination (the author is and mentions it on occasion), the contemplative nature of the book is an inspiration to spend more time reflecting…being quiet.  I’ve read this book over 10 times and every time I get something new out of it.  At simply 140 pages and literally filled with illustrations, it takes no time to read–but I encourage you to absorb the meaning.  (A friend of mine got it from the Barnes & Noble discount books section–don’t you love finding treasures there!)

And I can’t wait to finish Pilgrim At Tinker Creek by Annie Dillard…so I can start reading her other books!

*Edit made to fill in a portion of Dearest Friend that was deleted.


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5 responses to “books worth your time

  1. Cindy

    Thanks for these book recommendations. Like you, I’m always reading. I, too, find it a balm, a challenge, a privilege. I love to immerse myself in someone else’s voice! Thanks for spreading the literary good news!

  2. McKay

    Our book club here read Escape, but I missed it. Heard it was good (like Schindler’s List – you’re glad you did it, but not going to revisit it anytime soon). But, I’m really excited about the Abigail Adams one – definitely going to pick that one up (right after I finish my reread of Harry Potter before the movie comes out!). I’ve never been into historical books, but our book club read Killer Angels and it was fantastic!

  3. Jen

    Yea, yea, yea!!! Books 🙂 Thanks for the post! Honestly, I had never even considered rereading Lying Awake because of that horrid class…but I think I still have the book lying around somewhere. Can I do it? I don’t know… 😉 Have fun on your vay-cay!

  4. Ooo, I just read an excerpt from Annie Dillard’s Pilgrim At Tinker Creek… very good! And (maybe because I AM a history nerd), I really like what I’ve read of Abigail Adams’ letters.

  5. Pingback: thankfulness #3 « the sparrow

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