Five Favorites: More Books

Here are some of my bookish favorites of late:

1. Corelli’s Mandolin by Louis de Bernieres.

I just finished this for book club. Highly, highly recommended.

This book is historical fiction, it’s a romance, take your pick. When trying to describe this book, I fall into clichés because it’s just that great: sweeping, poignant, epic, character-driven . . . magnificent. It’s the story of Greece’s occupation during World War II and the civil war and strife caused by its own Communist thugs afterward. It’s told through a love story between a Greek doctor’s daughter and a captain in the occupying Italian forces.

I’ve taken my fair share of history courses, but I never internalize history so well as when I learn about it in a novel. This one is long but it’s worthwhile. It’s broken up into short chapters and written in pithy language and filled with life-like characters. Please don’t be prejudiced by the movie version. I haven’t seen it, but Nicholas Cage plays the romantic male lead, so . . . *shudder.*

2. If you need something lighter, check out Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me (And Other Concerns), by Mindy Kaling.

Ms. Kaling plays the airheaded Kelly Kapoor on The Office, but she also co-writes, directs, and produces the show. I love, love reading funny, smart-as-a-whip women who don’t take themselves too seriously (bonus points for those whose minds are not stuck in the gutter). Among other topics, Ms. Kaling recounts her deliciously awkward childhood and reflects on being as a normal-sized woman in Hollywood:

Since I am not model-skinny, but also not super-fat and fabulously owning my hugeness, I fall into that nebulous, ‘Normal American Woman Size’ that legions of fashion stylists detest. For the record, I’m a size 8 (this week anyway). Many stylists hate that size because, I think, to them, I lack the self-discipline to be an aesthetic, or the sassy confidence to be a total fatty hedonist. They’re like ‘Pick a lane.’

She also expresses surprisingly traditional views on love and marriage, coming from a completely secular point of view, which makes me love her even more.

3. BOB Books by Bobby Lynn Maslen:

Girl 1 is starting to read, and it is so exciting! I’ve never wanted to homeschool but I always thought it would be nice to teach my kids to read. I taught swimming lessons back in the day, and teaching a child a new, life-changing skill is so satisfying. As it happens, Girl 1’s reading moment came this summer, so I guess I can say I taught her. Any suggestions for other beginning level readers for us to read with her at home?

4. The Great Gatsby, by F. Scott Fitzgerald.

Everyone reads this in high school. Everyone should re-read it at least ten years later, as I recently did for book club. It takes on a whole new significance once you’ve lived long enough that each character reminds you, at least a bit, of someone you’ve met in real life. And it’s quite the jolt when one realizes Myrtle Wilson might very well look like oneself.

Has anyone seen the new movie version? I can’t wait for it to come to DVD. Leonardo DiCaprio has a lot of haters but I don’t really mind him. I started watching the 1970s Robert Redford version, but it bored me, and Jack McCoy as Nick Carraway was just too weird.

5. Goodreads: Not a book but an online book listing/reviewing/sharing social network of sorts. I love it! I never find myself wandering around the library anymore, wondering what to read next. (Sometimes that sort of wandering leads to an Evelyn Waugh kick, which isn’t so bad. But sometimes it leads to really horrible mistakes and other choices you’re not proud of later.)

Every time I come across a book I want to read, I add it to my “to-read” list so I won’t forget. I have enough books on my “to-read” list now to last me the next ten years, and it’s kind of a luxurious feeling. And I love seeing what my friends are reading.

Does anyone know of a similar site for movies? I often hear about movies that I want to see, but I never remember them when Pat and I sit down to watch Netflix or go to Redbox.


I’m doing double triple duty today, linking up with Hallie at Moxie Wife for her weekly Five Favorites and with Jessica at Housewifespice for What We’re Reading Wednesday and with Modern Mrs. Darcy for her Twitterature link-up, which I just discovered (a monthly link-up of short, informal book reviews: my favorite kind). Thank you ladies!