Recently, I've been thinking about how much fun reading is. If you love to read, then you probably get me on this one. :)
I have also been thinking about how a lot of my reading choices have been made based on goodreads, and bookworm friends, and what's popular recently. Sometimes... this is AMAZING! Sometimes though, I wonder what happens to all of those incredible books that fall through the cracks once their popularity window ends. There are so many good ones in the world after all. :)
So here, I am going to share 5 books that I would recommend to you, if I could only recommend 5.
1) Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
Plot: Jane is orphaned at a young age and made to live with her cruel aunt. She is then spent to a strict and harsh boarding school. Despite her strife she emerges and becomes a governess at Thronfield. While there she falls in love with the mysterious Mr. Rochester, but everything isn't as it seems. When she uncovers mysteries, she leaves Thronfield, but she can't forget Mr. Rochester.
My Thoughts: My all-time favorite classic novel. It's such a great story of love, loss, madness, and growing into your own. It's especially nice for me that this one is not only a classic, but captivating to read. Sometimes language and plot can be tough to trudge through in a classic novel .... but not here. It's quite the page turner, especially for it's time. I would certainly recommend this to everyone.
If you are nerdy like me.... this edition... has really great footnotes.
2) Bel Canto by Ann Patchett
Plot: I read this book in high school, but it is very much adult fiction. It is about a famous opera singer who travels to a South American country to sing at an event for visiting Japanese government officials. During the opening chapter of the book, the building is overtaken by terrorists. The opera singer, the various officials from around the world are now held hostage, with no common language to bind them. As the story progresses the hostages form bonds with each other as well as their captors. In the end, their current environment isn't stable, and something has to change.
My Thoughts: I found this book, so breathtaking. I was on edge reading the book, I was so attached to so many characters. I was enamored with their ability to bond amidst struggle and tragedy. The language is beautiful here too. In the end, this book will leave you a little ragged, but you'll be glad that you read it. I would love to re-read it.
3) Riders of the Purple Sage by Zane Grey
Preface: Once upon a time we were taking a long road trip with KC's family (11 states in 10 days), and we were making a stop in Zanesville, OH. Home of the Zane Grey museum. For some reason, I got it into my head that I really needed to read one of his books during the trip. I picked up this one, which has been dubbed, "The greatest Western of all time," and the rest is history... but I'm SO glad that I read this book. It got rid of some genre stereotypes that I had in my head about Westerns!
Plot: Set in Utah in the 1870's (written in 1912) this novel centers around a woman named Jane who is being forced to marry an elder of the church. Enter Lassiter, a famous gunman searching for the people who killed his sister, who aides Jane in evading the marriage. She's reluctant to believe that she's being helped, but when she adopts a child, and is further persecuted, everything changes. The second plot centers around Venters, Jane's cowboy friend. When Jane's cattle are stolen by rustlers, Venters sets off in search of them. During a gun battle with the rusters, he wounds the infamous "masked rider." Upon inspecting the wounded "masked rider," he realizes that the rider is in fact a woman. Feeling incredibly bad about shooting a woman, he takes it upon himself to nurse her back to health. Along the way, other adventures happen, relationships develop, and escapes are made.
My Thoughts: I guess I have a thing for Stockholm Syndrome... ? I'm not sure. Nonetheless I am so glad that I read this book. It's unlike anything I had read before, overall, not naturally drawn to Westerns.... but this one was excellent. There was plenty of adventure, really gorgeous descriptions, mysteries, and a little bit of romance. It's a short read, the language isn't inhibiting... it's just a really good book. I would recommend it if you need a Western for a book challenge, or if you are just looking for something to spice up your reading!
*also, as with any old book, you'll have to take not-so-PC-things in stride... *
4) How to Sew a Button: and Other Nifty Things Your Grandmother Knew by Erin Bried
About: This book is written by Erin Bried after her interviews with 8 (I think!) grandmas. That's right, adorable, loveable, wise as can be, grandmas. You briefly "meet" the grandmas, and read about how they lived during the depression and WWII, etc. Then Bried uses their advice, and tips to form a sweet little how-to book. It is broken up into sections, such as cooking, gardening, home, entertaining, children, etc. The sections are short, and each has a little excerpt, a quote from a grandma ahead of the how-to. The tips can range from; how to make dandelion wine, to how to unclog a sink. How to develop a walking regimen to how to swaddle a baby. There are some really thrifty and fun tips in this, things I never would have known.... ever. I have legitimately used "How to unclog a drain," a lot of times! In different locations!
My Thoughts: I don't know how you guys feel, but for me, there are few people in the world that I love more, than grandparents. They're just the best. Reading this book had me smiling, laughing, and feeling like I was wrapped up in a cozy blanket. The short sections made it easy to pick up and put down, and I reference this book from time to time when I need to know how to do something! You will feel like you know these ladies, and you are soaking up their wisdom! Bried later wrote, "How to Build a Fire: and Other Handy Things Your Grandfather Knew," and "How to Rock Your Baby: and Other Timeless Tips for Modern Moms." I got the grandpa one for KC one year, and he has read it off and on and enjoyed it as well. Someday, we'll need that last one there... ;)
5) The Renaissance Soul: Life Design for People With Too Many Passions to Pick Just One by Margaret Lobenstine
About: The title kind of says the gist of this book, but it's such an incredible tool for people who read the title and think; "Hey! That's me!" *raises hand* I have always loved more things than I have time for. That's part of the reason I'm so busy! This book is geared toward the person who doesn't have just one calling or passion, but many. Lobenstine creates a practical manual, with real-life examples, of people who have many passions. She gives step by step examples of how different people pursue their interests at once, and the ways they format their days and careers. There are also some great activities for setting goals and determining priorities.
My Thoughts: Ok, this book is everything for me.... I have always loved everything. I wanted to be a marine biologist, an art historian, a librarian, a stationer, a yoga instructor, a nutritionist... a professor... College was so hard for me in that way, "What on earth do I choose as a major?!" This book helped me tremendously in determining what my passions were, and how to fit a handful into my days, rather than trying to choose one, or trying to pursue all 100 of them. How incredible. I even go back and work through the activities on occasion. In fact, I'm probably over-due to revisit. :) If you find yourself feeling like the title describes you... I can't recommend this highly enough.
There you have it 5 books I would recommend for your TBR!
**I am thinking of doing occasional posts featuring 3-5 books that I really loved (usually fiction!), but that are maybe not super popular anymore... following a similar format to this post. Maybe titled, "5 Unexpected Books to Add to Your TBR"...? Would anyone be interested in those types of posts...?!?! Let me know. :) **
If you could tell me 5 books to read, what would they be?