Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert

After turning the last page, it’s no wonder why “Eat, Pray, Love” became a best seller. Now, I’m aware I’m about 10 years late on this band wagon, but honestly my 15 year old self wouldn’t have understood the beautiful journey that the author embarked on. Which also makes a point that even a decade later, this book is still entirely relative and just as inspiring to a younger generation. If you haven’t read this book, read it now. Don’t even finish the review- go get a copy, curl up somewhere really comfortable, and just read.

Ok, now that you’ve read the book- and those of you who ignored my advice- this book follows along the spiritual and personal growth of the author, Elizabeth Gilbert. It’s written as a personal account, and I promise it’s not some mumbo-jumbo point of view where she tries to push her religion on you. It’s funny, witty, heart wrenching at times, and so truthful. She spares some details, but nothing is left untouched as she describes how she changed her own life after falling apart during a failed marriage. She travels to Italy, learning the language and tasting the finest foods (Eat). She then spends months in an Ashram in India and reconnects with her spirit (Pray). And finally, she travels to Indonesia to find balance, and in turn finds peace and (Love). (See what I did there?)

I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book, and was constantly finding sources of inspiration from Liz’s (I feel like I know her, so I’m going first name basis here) writing. I had to keep a stack of flag-post-its to keep track! So, a few things that spoke to me:

  1. “L’amor che move il sole e l’altre stelle…. ” Italian for ‘The love that moves the sun and the other stars’. Speaking about the language and this example made me want to learn the language myself- or atleast make a better attempt at my dream to be bilingual.
  2. “Attraversiamo”. Italian for “Let’s cross over” as in cross a street. It takes on more meaning to the author, but she’s right- it’s fun to say!
  3. “”Dear God, that family needs grace.” She replied firmly, “That family needs casseroles,” and proceeded to organize the entire neighborhood into bringing that family dinner, in shifts, every single night, for an entire year. I do not know if my sister fully recognizes that this is grace.” Amen, Liz, amen.
  4. Om Namah Shivaya. I honor the divinity that resides within me.” A mantra that found its way into my head after reading the author’s tale about it.
  5. “You gotta stop wearing your wishbone where your backbone oughtta be.” The author’s friend’s advice is too good not to laugh or ignore!
  6. “Ray Charles could see your control issues!” When a book makes a joke and I laugh sincerely, that’s when I know it’s good.

I plan to buy this one for my personal library, and I encourage you to do the same if you haven’t already. I know it’ll be one that I’ll pick up for a little inspirational reading. So good you guys, so good. Okay I’m done gushing. Just read it!

 

Advertisements

“An Appetite For Violets” by Martine Bailey

When I picked up “An Appetite For Violets” off the library shelf, I was in a bit of a hurry. I quickly scanned the jacket and thought it may be interesting since I liked historical fiction, so I signed it out.

By the time I finished reading the novel, which only took me 5 days, I admit that I liked the main character’s spunky attitude and was eager to see how the story ended. However, there are nearly 400 pages in this book, and about half of them are unnecessary. They don’t influence the reader’s thoughts, impact the action, or really do anything but distract from the story line. I found myself skimming over these parts to get on with the action when I’d rather savor every word. Additionally, the first few chapters were difficult to follow, with the use of the character’s 1770’s dialects and verbiage, though the readability does get better as the main character becomes more “educated”.

A quick summary: Biddy Leigh is the main character, an English servant under-cook who is elected to accompany her mistress on a journey to Italy. This opens up a new world for Biddy, and doing as her mistress bids starts to find her in a heap of trouble.

As far as a recommendation, I think that only┬á history buffs who like historical fluff would be interested, or people like me who are just looking for something to take their mind off of reality. Yes, there are some exciting bits, but for the most part the novel is simple in it’s story line and predictable in it’s outcome.

“Sisterhood Everlasting” by Ann Brashares

Are you guys ready to go down memory lane with your 13 year old self? Get ready, because that is exactly what this book will do to you. I was doing a lap around my local Goodwill the other day, and just happened to browse the bookshelves when “Sisterhood Everlasting” caught my eye. I read the “Traveling Pants” series as a teen and thought I’d check the inside cover to remind myself what happens in this book, when I realized I hadn’t read this one. Surprise! In 2011, Brashares apparently decided to give her fans a little gift- the knowledge of what happened to the Sisterhood ten years later. I bought the $2.00 book and took it home, my inner teen squealing in excitement.

As I read, I was reintroduced to the adult versions of Carmen, Lena, Bridget, and Tibby. Carmen is an actress and engaged, living the life of luxury as she always dreamed. Lena is still a shy, quiet artist and teaching at her alma mater. Bridget is still the free spirit she’s always been, living with long-time boyfriend Eric in California. And film producer Tibby and boyfriend Brian moved to Australia. After two years of being apart, Tibby arranges a reunion with the sisterhood in Santorini, Greece.

There, in Santorini, is where I knew I couldn’t stop reading. 50 pages in of the 350, I was turning the pages as fast as my eyes and hands could move. I wasn’t sure what to expect of this book, but I’ll tell you I didn’t see Brashares’ turn of events coming. I won’t spoil everything, but I cried many times throughout this novel. As with all the “Traveling Pants” books, I knew that friendship, sisterhood, and love were going to be strong themes, and I expected some of the story lines to be semi-predictable. But the way that Brashares unfolds the story, the reader isn’t guessing what while happen next, but rather experiencing it as the character does. It was really enjoyable to connect with the protagonists on that emotional level.

Overall, I will definitely re-read, and recommend to anyone who has read the series- because this truly is the necessary wrap up. I have to give fair warning that the ending is a little soft… in the way that makes this a definite work of fiction and not realistic. But again, worth the read. AND, rumor has it, for those fans of the movies, there may be a movie of this book! *teenager squeal* I’m eager to see if it actually happens, and with all the revamps of movies/series/sequels these days, I feel like there is a strong possibility. So jump on the fan wagon now, just in case!

 

 

 

“My Life is a Little Hectic” by thelexingtonbookie

Hi everybody! So, as you can see, I am considerably failing at my resolution to keep reading, but I’m trying to at least write a little something so that you know I haven’t forgotten about you!

So, you all know that as of mid-June I finally (FINALLY) closed on my first house, and I’ve been working like a mad woman to make it my home this past month. It took me about two weeks to get everything out of my apartment and into some pile at the house. Then, it’s taken me the past two weeks to shift it from one room to it’s semi-determinant location.It was a tiny bit of hell for a lot of heaven, due to the fact that I did about 90% of the moving myself (thanks Josette for the other 10%, you’re the best!) and I did all in Kentucky’s lovely June humidity. Needless to say, I’m glad that part is over.

This of course coincided with Independence Day weekend here (#merica) so I actually got to have my first guests stay in the house, my best friend from college and her fiance (shout-out to Miko and TyTy! Yes, I call him that to his face.) We had a blast running around from distillery to distillery, trying bourbons and brews across the Bluegrass, while catching show after show of firework displays. However, this left very little time for work around the house, and no time whatsoever for quiet reading.

I did attempt to get some reading in this weekend while I was house sitting for another couple, but honestly, I was way more into the TV because this place has cable- a luxury that I have yet to have in over 3 years!

So between all this excitement, my regular job, my fun farm “job”, petsitting, having company over, and just pure exhaustion, I’m admittedly doing a horrible job at keeping up the reading resolution. The rest of this month isn’t looking promising either- but hopefully by August, the dust will settle and I’ll be getting back on the bandwagon. So hang in there with me folks, I’m doing the best I can, and I’m determined to make a strong comeback soon.

Thanks for sticking by me,

thelexbookie ­čÖé

“Wild About Horses” by Lawrence Scanlan

First a preface- Yes, I’m slacking again, and here’s the short version of a long tale…I bought a house, it took 90 days to close on it due to going the government loan route, and I finally (FINALLY) have finished moving into the new house. And let me tell you- moving in 90 degree heat and humidity will tucker you out! So I haven’t been reading much, hence why it’s taken me almost 3 weeks to finish this book. Now that you’re up to speed…

“Wild About Horses” is a really neat book for the horse lover. As I’ve said before, horses are my passion. It’s why I’ve moved 600 miles away from home to the horse capital. This book compiles all the stories of why the human is drawn to the horse- a connection seen throughout history, depicted on cave walls, and detailed in storybooks. I don’t think I’ve ever been asked directly why I’m so passionate about horses, but I know I’ve contemplated it fairly often, and Scanlan tries to find the answer to such a deep and personal question. Throughout the book are many examples and stories of why human and horse have been companions for thousands of years.

Without giving his entire answer, the quote that sums the entire research, in my opinion, of this novel is this:

“Because to sit astride a walking horse is to banish time and to live, as the horse lives, in the moment.”

Personally, there is nothing like escaping to the barn for a ride to clear my head. These days we are so wrapped up in our jobs, kids, responsibilities, and stressed out, technology laden, and bogged down in appointments that it’s difficult to take a minute and enjoy the moment. That’s why I ride- it’s a break (sometimes 30 minutes, sometimes a glorious couple of hours) from the daily plagues.

But, as Scanlan points out, you don’t necessarily need to be astride to be connected with horses. There are so many legendary equine tales to take your imagination for ride instead/ There are ones you’ve probably heard of- Secretariat, Roy Rogers and Trigger, Black Beauty, Snowman (if you read my review on his story) – and ones you probably haven’t- Alexander the Great and Bucephalus, Ian Millar and Big Ben, Keogh and Comanche.

And if you still can’t get enough, pick up “Wild About Horses” and read how all these characters and the history between horse and man began- “Because partnership with a horse is ancient and primal and all consuming, and writers and storytellers are still drawn to that territory, so that riding begets reading.”

 

 

“Forrest Gump” by Winston Groom

One week and 250 pages later, the only way I can can describe this book is chaotic. I’ve seen the movie before- of course, who hasn’t- and naturally there is plenty in the book that was left out. But by golly, I didn’t see any of this coming, and I’m almost at a loss for words on how to describe my thoughts.

Since the book bounces from one adventure to the next, I’m just going to outline them this way:

  1. Meet Forrest, the “idiot”.
  2. Forrest goes to a “nut school”.
  3. Forrest plays football for high school.
  4. Forrest plays football at University.
  5. Forrest gets drafted to the Vietnam War.
  6. Forrest becomes an international Ping Pong champion.
  7. Forrest plays Harmonica for “The Cracked Heads”.
  8. Forrest becomes an unwilling NASA participant.
  9. Forrest survives a Pygmy attack.
  10. Forrest becomes a pro wrestler.
  11. Forrest becomes a Chess champion…sort of.
  12. Forrest becomes a Hollywood actor.
  13. Forrest starts up a multi-million dollar shrimping company.
  14. Forrest runs for US Senate…and then doesn’t due to his past “careers”.

If you happen to decide to read this book, you’ll figure out how all these segue, but the long running gist is Forrest following the love of his life, Jenny Curan. And let me tell you, the movie Jenny and Forrest are much more G-rated than the book. And, while I’m at it comparing the book to the movie, the movie’s two famous quotes- “Run Forrest, run!” and “Momma said, life is like a box of chocolates…”- are only hinted at but never said in the novel version. Sorry folks.

All I can say is Groom made an interesting story line, but it was like he couldn’t decide what direction to take his main character, so he took him in EVERY direction. Which, the underlining moral of the story is somewhere between ‘this is what happens when you live rolling with the tide’ and ‘even with a handicap, you can do something extraordinary’ and ‘we are all a bunch of idiots’. So I guess if you want to read something quick and entertaining, crack this book. Otherwise, I suggest stick to the movie.

 

 

 

“South of Broad” by Pat Conroy

I’m seriously experiencing┬áa bad case of Post-Book Depression- you know, that feeling of sadness when you finish an amazing book- after reading the last page of “South of Broad”. This novel is about 500 pages, and I read it in a week, stealing every chance I got to read a few pages. Even my brother noted how absorbed I was- upon finding me curled up on the couch while everyone else was gathered around the table, he casually calls as if on an intercom “Nerd, party of one? Nerd, party on one. ” (Thanks bro.)

I’m still in the process of moving (don’t ask, it’s a long story) but last week I asked a friend (Shout out to Sydney!) if she’d bring a book from her collection to work so I’d have something to read in my spare time. She had told me “South of Broad” had been sitting on her bookshelf, forgotten, for a long time. Her friend had highly recommended it, but after the first few pages, she had lost interest and didn’t pick it up again. So she brought it in for me to check out, and I’d agree that her first impression wasn’t wrong- the prologue is very descriptive and slightly boring- but once I got into the first chapter, I got that feeling that I was reading something very special.

Now, the hard part about describing this novel is that there is so much detail and character development that I know I won’t be able to summarize it with justice. But for the sake of helping set the mood, I’ll put it this way: Think of this novel as a cross between “Gone With the Wind” and “The Outsiders”. Set in the city of Charleston, SC, the story bounces (with easy readability for no confusion) from the past to the present in five parts. Part One, the reader is introduced to the main character, Leo, his family, and his dark childhood, and we are lightly introduced to his soon-to-be core of friends. Part Two, we flash forward 20 years, and we learn about present day Leo and his relationships with his close friends, and to what lengths they all go to for their friendships. Part Three, the action gets fast paced and thrilling (and I’ll leave it at that). Part Four,┬áis a┬áflashback to Leo in his senior year of high school, and we learn about how the core group of friends developed their friendship. Part Five is literally and figuratively how Leo weathers the storm that has changed his life.

Not only did Conroy write a very convincing and detailed story, but he manages to make the characters so witty and conversational. I couldn’t help but want to be friends with all of them, and kept reflecting on the wonderful friendships that I have made over the years, but particularly those of my core high school friends. These characters┬áare a mismatch group of misfits that came together to share a┬ádeep sense of family- a bond of trust and respect despite class, bloodlines, and ghosts in the past. Their commentary and fast wit had me laughing along with them, and along side that, their fears and sadness had me held in suspense and empathy. There are so many scenes, so many running jokes that I can’t possibly (even though I tried) quote to recreate what Conroy has delicately woven into his story.

I’ve returned Sydney’s copy of the novel to her, and she’s already reading it. But I urge anyone and everyone to pick this one up off the shelf. I will be buying a copy of this book for my shelves, so that I may go back to Charleston with Leo and his friends once more.