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Sunday, March 11, 2012

My Reading List

My friend Seana was looking for some book recs, so I took a few minutes to go through my journal and remind myself what I've read in the past year. I love getting recommendations from friends, so I thought I'd share these with you...

Also, I have a habit of writing down a compelling quote or two when I finish a book, so I had fun looking at what I'd written down and thought you might also enjoy these quotes:

Unaccustomed Earth by Jhumpa Lahiri (This is a collection of short stories...also LOVED her novel The Namesake.) She writes beautifully about the experience of being a first-generation American and what it means for the parent-child relationship. But I find her stories to be very universal; they speak to coming to terms with one's identity and the ways in which we forge an identity that is both separate from and inextricably linked to our parents.

He imagined the boy years from now, shutting the door as Roma and Romi had. It was inevitable. And yet he knew that he, too, had turned his back on his parents, by settling in America. In the name of ambition and acccomplishment, none of which mattered anymore, he had forsaken them.

Persuasion by Jane Austen (I got hooked on Downton Abbey and went on a Brit lit kick)
It sometimes happens that a woman is handsomer at twenty-nine than she was ten years before; and, generally speaking, if there has been neither ill health nor anxiety, it is a time of life at which scarcely any charm is lost.  
Backwards off the Curb by my former Sunday school teacher, Chris McMillan
All my judgments about my parents came back to haunt me -- not a doubt. I saw clearly how I could have been more tolerant of the character flaws I saw in them. I could have loved them instead of being such a harsh critic. My relationship with Mac could have been different, if only I'd found it in my emotional range to love more, to give more, to be more accepting. Shut up, Saint Francis. Why could I not care more about loving and less about being loved?

Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese
"Why must I do what is hardest?"
"Because, Marion, you are an instrument of God. Don't leave the instrument sitting in its case, my son. Play! Leave no part of your instrument unexplored. Why settle for 'Three Blind Mice' when you can play the 'Gloria'?"
"...not Bach's 'Gloria.' Yours! Your 'Gloria' lives within you. The greatest sin is not finding it, ignoring what God made possible in you."

Girls in White Dresses by Jennifer Close. This was a fun no-brainer about a couple of college friends living in New York, struggling with life post-college as their friends all get married.
"I pushed someone on the subway," Isabella admitted. "They were going too slow, and I just pushed a little bit."
Harrison laughed. "So you think you need to leave New York?"
"Yeah," Isabella said. "I always said when I push someone, it's time to go." 

Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell
We pretend that success is exclusively a matter of individual merit... These are stories, instead, about people who were given a special opportunity to work really hard and seized it, and who happened to come of age at a time when that extraordinary effort was rewarded by the rest of society. Their success was not just of their own making. It was a product of the world in which they grew up.

(I also loved Gladwell's theory that work needs three things to be satisfying: autonomy, complexity, and connection between effort and reward. My job failed in all three wonder I was bored at work!)
Remains of the Day, Kazuo Ishiguro
...for a great many people, the evening is the most enjoyable part of the day. Perhaps, then, there is something to [the] advice that I should cease looking back so much, that I should adopt a more positive outlook and try to make the best of what remains of my day. After all, what can we ever gain in forever looking back and blaming ourselves if our lives have not turned out quite as we might have wished?

Every Last One by Anna Quindlen
"Do you have children?" I ask.
"Explain to me why that's important."
"Sometimes we -- sometimes you -- there are children who need more. Or not more, but different. I'm sorry, I'm not being articulate."
"There are children to whom parents give more."
"I wouldn't put it like that."
"He smiles. ... "Let me rephrase," he says. "Sometimes children can get more attention because they seem to be in more need of attention. And then there are children who seem so self-possessed and competent that they seem to need less."

One Day by David Nicholls
She sometimes wondered what her twenty-two-year-old self would think of today's Emma Mayhew. Would she consider her self-centred? Compromised? A bourgeois sell-out, with her appetite for homeownership and foreign travel, clothes from Paris and expensive haircuts? Would she find her conventional, with her new surname and hopes for a family life? Maybe, but then the twenty-two-year-old Emma Morley wasn't such a paragon either: pretentious, petulant, lazy, speechifying, judgemental. Self-pitying, self-righteous, self-important, all the selfs except self-confident, the quality that she had always needed the most.

No, this, she felt, was real life, and if she wasn't as curious or passionate as she once had been, that was only to be expected.

This section leapt out of the page and seemed written just for me, given my obsession/fascination with that letter I wrote myself in high school and my anxiety about opening it in 2010.


MCW said...

I highlighted that same quote in Girls in White dresses. And One Day was a recent fave. Did you see the movie?

Lyns said...

yes! loved the book and the movie. book was better, as usual!