Of course, now it looks like I'm just copying Keith. I'm not. It's time to give an update on what I've been reading lately.
Native Son by Richard Wright
My adivsor has this habit where almost every day in class he says, "Every English major should read this book" and then lists a book or two (or ten or twelve). Well, Native Son is a book I believe all people must read. The historical fiction book takes a look at the enslavement of Bigger Thomas in Chicago in the early to mid-1990s. It looks at the social constraints, personal choices, and repercussions Bigger faces being a black man in a white-dominated society. Definitely a must read but not for young audiences.
Serena by Ron Rash
This is a dark book with bizarre injuries and a lot of murders. I don't normally like those kinds of books, but I liked this one. I will admit I am a little biased, but this fictional novel about forestry in NC/TN in the 1920s and 1930s is just starting to become popular and I want to be the first to tell you about it. Serena is a malicious woman who has literally burned her past and looks forward in life, aiming for complete domination of the lumber industry, worldwide. She's will to do anything she can to get there. I'd venture to say she and her counter-part, Galloway, are sub-human. She and her husband Pemberton eventually become the sole owners of Boston Lumber Company. The darkness and pacing Rash has written in this novel will keep you reading all the way through the end and vital coda. Read it!
A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini
Hosseini exposes readers to a world many of us know little about: Afghanistan from the 1970s to the present. He follows Mariam and Laila through a variety of different situations, most of them unpleasant, as the government changed incessantly. I got lost in this book, the womens' struggles, and the culture differences. Due to the horrific experiences the characters had, I cannot call this a "great book" but it is definitely worth your time.
The Help by Kathryn Stockett
Apparently I was on a historical fiction kick. This book looks at race relations in Mississippi in the early 1900s. It raises a lot of questions. Can a white woman accurately represent/ write from the point of view of two black women (and a white woman)? I would be willing to say yes. Is Miss Skeeter just another white woman trying to make a buck off of a blacks? I would say no. Read the book, look at the culture, and see how (if) things have changed.
In the Time of the Butterflies by Julia Alvarez
Another historical fiction book that takes a look at life in the Dominican Republic in the 1950s and 1960s, under the reign of Trujillo. The Dominican author wrote the novel in English (with periodic Spanish words thrown in) to enlighten the English speaking world to the horrors Dominicans faced under Trujillo and to glorify some of their national heroines, the Butterflies. These three sisters fought against Trujillo and the novel talks about their plight, fight, jail time, and death. Switching points of view between the three Butterflies and the fourth sister, the novel provides several different glimspes and thus opinions on these challenging times. Another book not for young audiences but definitely worth your time.
The Shack by William Paul Young
Another book I'm a little biased about. It was written just for Young's kids in order to attempt to explain how his brain works. No one would publish it, so his friends started a garage publishing business and boom. I think it shows God in a way He (She?) has never been shown before. It may not be the answer to everything, but a lot of the things Young writes are Biblically accurate. Be prepared to cry, laugh, think, and ponder. Also be prepared to read it all the way to the end.
Redefining Beautiful by Jenna Lucado with Max Lucado
I stopped reading this book halfway through. Not because it was bad or anything but because I didn't fit the target audience, but my sister did. This book is aimed at preteen and teenage girls in order to help them realize that they are beautiful, inside and out. Since I didn't read it all the way through, I don't know if it was clean or not, but I'd say it's worth the of teenage girls (and maybe their parents).
Invisible I by Stella Lennon
Part of The Amanda Project, another young adult literature book. This one is radically changing the way people look at literature. Each book in the series is written by a different author and told from a different character's perspective. Readers also get the opportunity to write their own endings to the story through the interactive website. Great for younger readers and (as far as I can remember) clean.
The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
I was worried about this book simply because I'd read a review and expected it to be graphic. Then I remembered I watch House and read Harry Potter, I could probably handle it. It wasn't as graphic as it could have been, which I respect Collins for since it's a young adult book and therefore her target audience doesn't need to be exposed to nastiness. However, I don't like the way Collins ended it, but the book is part of a series. Personally, I would have made it a single book and been done with it. I did find parts predictable, but there were unanticpated twists, too. If you like young adult fiction (or are a young adult), I'd read it. There is some kissing and a romantic relationship, but it's mostly clean.
The Wednesday Letters by Jason Wright
This tells a very sweet, romantic story about a husband's love for his wife. It also promotes the importance of forgiveness and family. As a writer, I'm not really sure who the protagonist of this novel is, but I did enjoy the third person omniscent POV. Laura absolutely LOVED this book. It's an easy read, too.
What have you all been reading lately? My bookshelf is getting empty and I see a trip to Barnes & Noble in the near future. Anything I must read?
Back to the books!