I am a reader. I love it and always have a book or two going. Most of the books that I read though I can walk away from after 20 minutes and come back the next day for another 20 minute session. It's that rare book that sucks me in for hours at a time. Those are the books that I develop a relationship with the characters. I picture them coming over to my house for dinner, and we have the most interesting conversation over a bottle of wine. Or, if it's set in an exotic place maybe I go and visit them. I come away feeling like we are long lost friends. I don't want their stories to end, and I make up little scenarios of what they are doing for several days after the book is finished. Well, you get the idea.
So what books have transported me to that special place this past year? I'm so glad you asked! I will start with the book A Girl of the Limberlost by Gene Stratton-Porter. This was a book chosen by a member of my former book club (I moved away). This book was first published in 1909 and is actually the second in the Limberlost series. I didn't realize that when I first started it and was a little confused when characters were brought into the story with no introduction. But, once I figured that out, I was happily lost in a swampland in Indiana with Elnora Comstock through her high school years and beyond. It is a very sweet and touching coming of age story.
Book 2 is A Season of Gifts by Richard Peck. A little background for you on why I even read this book in the first place... every year for the past 5 or 6, I would read aloud A Long Way from Chicago by Richard Peck to my 7th grade students. It is a unique story in which each chapter is a short story about another summer spent "at Grandma's" in Indiana. Each time I read this book aloud I became more and more attached to Grandma. She's rough around the edges, but her heart is huge. Last year I was crying so hard during the last chapter that I had to have a student finish it for me. Anyways, when I saw A Season of Gifts featuring Grandma, I just had to read it! Maybe it's not as good of a book as I would like to think, but because I love Grandma, I loved this book. If you have an old Midwestern grandma figure in your life (you know the type), then you'll probably understand Grandma and come to love her for who she is too.
Book 3 is The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss. It was my turn to pick a book for that book club of mine, and I had no idea what to pick. My friend Brad is a big reader, so I asked him what he thought would be a great book to read. He told me The Name of the Wind was one of his favorite books of all time. I had a list of about 5 books for the club to pick from, but this one was the winner. I know, I know, fantasy, you don't read it. Yeah, I don't read much of it either. We just thought we'd try it to put some variety in our reading, besides it has the highest Goodreads rating ever so it was worth a shot. We all enjoyed the book! Every single person in the club liked it. When does that ever happen? And a fantasy book nonetheless? I think it works though because it's really not too fantastic. It's a very interesting blend of "magic" and science, and the characters are really mostly human with a few interesting side characters to keep the plot moving. This is a long book, but one that I don't think you'll mind reading. So if you're looking for some variety in your reading, please, please at least get this one from the library and read the first few chapters. If you're not hooked by then, this isn't the book for you.
And finally, book 4, Moloka'i by Alan Brennert. Be prepared for an emotional ride here. This book is about a leper colony in Hawaii. The disease hit the islands very hard when white men came to settle. To keep it from spreading, a colony was set up to quarantine the sick. They spent the rest of their lives there. This story follows Rachel Kalama as she is diagnosed with the disease at an early age. She grows up and makes an entire beautiful life in Moloka'i. The story chronicles her struggles and triumphs with Hansen's disease (leprosy). I know that it sounds incredibly sad, and yes, there are some very sad parts, however, this is ultimately a touching story of triumph.
That's it! Not too long of a list actually when I consider all that I've read in 2013. Most of the other books I read were decent, but really not worth mentioning in detail. They were also easy to put down after 20 minutes to get the rest of my life taken care of. However, if you're interested in knowing what else I've read, check out www.goodreads.com and find me on there. If you're not already on Goodreads and you like reading, go open an account today! It's the only way that I remember what I've read and what I want to read.
What have you read this year that transported you to another world? What should be on my to-read list for 2014? Let me know! I'd love to add it to my list.
As the year comes to a close, I hope that you and your loved ones have a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!