I am a slow reader. And sometimes I go months where I don’t crack open a book. But they’re always at least part of the background for me.
Last week, I rediscovered the library and I am totally drawn to it. My library card is about 17 years old, and I just found out it’s still usable. So now I have three library books checked out and a collection of purchased books I’m looking to sell. No joke, every time I’ve opened one of my rented books this week, I’ve gotten a thrill. They make a different sound. They’re awesome.
Considering my snail reading pace, I thought I’d kick things off on the blog with some all time favorites, instead of a “what I’m reading now” list.
First up, my absolute favorites (not genre specific). And to throw a High Fidelity reference in for good measure, I made it a Top Five list.
Water for Elephants, by Sara Gruen // The movie adaptation for Water for Elephants came out in 2011, and I made it my goal that year to read the book from start to finish before it did. Don’t get me wrong, I love Reese Witherspoon. And at one time, was a bit nuts for Robert Pattinson. But when I read a book, I like to create my own characters. It might be the best part of reading for me, even though I love movies most of all.
I was really glad I did. I fell for all of the characters in the book. It starts out with a Polish kid going to school to be a vet, and after a really tragic beginning to the book, it finds him running away to the circus. It was a really great read for when you’re going through some “there must be something else” moments. I’ve had a few of them over the past few years.
The book throws Jacob into a brand new life and I love the world that the author creates. There’s some sap and obviously some love. I wouldn’t have it any other way.
The Time Traveler’s Wife, by Audrey Niffenegger // Another book turned movie. I made the same rule for myself for this one, and read the book before the movie premiere. For this one, I was not a fan of the movie. I liked seeing the adaptation, and what they chose to do with some of the scenes. But it lost all of the great, beautiful, sappy pieces that brought the story to life. I definitely suggest sticking to the book. If you’ve already seen the movie, it might already be too late.
It centers on time travel, which sounds even hokier than the circus. But I really dug it. Basically, it was a really refreshing take on a love story, that you just couldn’t follow in order. It was perfect for the story, because the two people falling in love didn’t even get to have it in the same order. It was like little snapshots of their story unfolding, and it was so well written.
The Night Circus, by Erin Morgenstern // Two books about the circus on my top five list. You must think I’m nuts. Honestly, if anyone has any suggestions for even more beautifully written novels that take place at a circus, lay them on me. I think they’re so rad.
This might be my favorite book of all time. Even in the top five list. It took me a few pages to care about it or really want to keep reading. I bet I can tell you exactly how many pages…
OK, I can’t. I went looking for that exact moment I realized I was smitten with The Night Circus, and instead I spent five minutes reading passages instead of writing this blog post. But, it happened. It took more than 50 pages and less than 100, and then I was totally obsessed. The book is pretty magical, and descriptive in the very best way. You follow the circus that “arrives without warning.” And it’s a winding love story. I fell in love with the characters, but it’s at least as much about, if not more about, falling in love with the magical black and white circus. And Erin Morgenstern painted it beautifully. I’ve been waiting for something else to read from her because I loved what she created.
Garden Spells, by Sarah Addison Allen // Sarah Addison Allen might be the reason I keep looking for something else by Morgenstern. Every book I’ve picked up by her, I’ve devoured. The plots are a bit predictable. Set in a small town, with a charming but flawed cast of characters, something the main character needs to discover, unlikely love, and a lot of magical realism on top of simple day-to-day things. But it is done so well every time, and I hope it doesn’t change.
Garden Spells was the first book I read by Allen, and I think it’s still my favorite. (Though, I have honestly liked every single one, and am currently reading The Peach Keeper.) There is an enchanted apple tree, and a sister who comes home to North Carolina, and really good love story plot, too. I’d suggest just starting with whichever book your library has. ;-)
The Help, by Kathryn Stockett // I’m not sure about this one. I don’t know if I would have checked it out if it hadn’t blown up the way it did in popularity. But I’m really glad I did. It’s another case of just adoring how the author crafts the scenes. It didn’t seem out of place to go back and forth between narrators, and I didn’t struggle at all with the dialect being written how it should have sounded. I got really into it, actually.
It’s a story about women and their maids in the south 50 years ago, and how all of their plots weave together. I love Skeeter and all the women her character helps to give a voice. I’m not sure I can do it justice any more than that.