Five stories well worth reading


Literature / Thursday, September 26th, 2019

Two nonfiction + three novels = five captivating reads.

At least for me.

I can never guarantee you’ll like them.


Mr. Owita’s Guide to Gardening

By Carol Wall
Nonfiction, 2014

Mrs. Wall writes a gentle and poignant book touching on illness, aging, personal baggage, and friendship.

This is her own story, and she starts the book as a real pill.

I found her the same kind of cantankerous hero as Ove. Hang in there.


Peace Like a River

By Leif Enger
Fiction, 2002

In this unlikely and magical story, a child named Reuben Land finds himself in need of miracles. Real miracles, not the “miracle” of a sunset or a brand new baby. One part Western, one part love story, and one part spiritual journey.

You will not approve of all its characters’ choices. This is both a warning and a promise.


I Capture the Castle

By Dodie Smith
Fiction, 1948

When I read this book, I could not believe I’ve never heard it discussed. I stumbled on it – have you heard the title?

In many ways, it’s a classic coming-of-age story about first love. But I found several things about it irresistible: its humor, its adorable 17-year-old child heroine, its British/American tensions, and its numerous unexpected twists.


The Year of Magical Thinking

By Joan Didion
Nonfiction, 2005

This is Mrs. Didion’s memoir of the year following the death of her husband, a story of complex grief. I found it the most helpful book I’ve read on loss, mostly because it looked with open eyes, and felt with open hands, and didn’t try to solve.


All the Light We Cannot See

By Anthony Doerr
Fiction, 2014

I kept hearing this title recommended, and when I finally broke down and purchased it, I found it the best page-turner I’ve read in a long time.

Marie-Laure is a blind French girl. Werner Pfennig is a motherless German boy. Two separate stories and many different time periods intertwine in this masterpiece novel set in World War II.

Doerr’s use of words and detail is stunning. He writes like an artist.


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13 Replies to “Five stories well worth reading”

  1. Yes! Love talking books with you and agreeing and disagreeing. 😉 Peace Like A River was lyrical but the ending disappointed me. I guess stories are allowed to do that. I wonder if I’ll be cool enough someday to enjoy All The Light. Maybe some day, maybe not, who knows?

  2. Oh Shari…Posting a book list right when I am being convicted about wasting too much time with books! And after all you just said about self-discipline and good choices…For shame! That’s like giving a Dairy Queen gift card to a dieting friend. Ha ha 😆 Looks like a list I’ll come back to when in need of a good read. They are all new titles for me.

  3. I love love love I Capture the Castle. You’re maybe the second person I’ve “met” who’s read it (and now I know you’re a kindred spirit). The British humour is wonderful.

    I have to agree with Anita that I found All the Light a difficult read. Not because it wasn’t well-written, but because of the lack of redemption all throughout. Also because of the boys school. Picturing my boys there and wondering how long they would have survived makes me want to call the fires of hell on the devil.

  4. I listened to the audio book of “All the Light” and really enjoyed it, although the ending was a bit abrupt. I’m intrigued about the differences between reading/listening (for me anyhow). I watched Capture the Castle and wasn’t particularly awed by it but I think in this case the book will be better! I will be ordering the rest of these from the library because I always enjoy your book recommendations!

  5. You didn’t ask for suggestions, but I forgot one last time. ‘Grey Matter ‘ by Dr. David Levy is his story about becoming a neurosurgeon who prays for and with his patients.
    I just read ‘Vaccines, Autoimmunity, and the Changing Nature of Childhood Illnesses by Dr. Thomas Cowan. Eye-opening and thought provoking!

  6. Quite probably you already know about and have the ThriftBooks app; my SIL Thyme recently introduced me to the app, and since I have 4 titles in the cart- under $20!- and free shipping, I want to make sure the whole book-loving world knows.

    1. I’ve read 3 of these! 😊
      Peace Like A River was really well written but it just wasn’t my favorite. I found the storyline and particularly the ending somewhat disturbing.
      I should probably be embarrassed at how fast I devoured All The Light We Cannot See. What a gifted author! But I wished so that I could change the ending and give second chances.
      And I Capture The Castle is a gem. Definitely not your typical fairy tale, and I enjoyed it very much!

  7. I love that out of these books, only the first one was new to me.

    I started Peace Like a River on audio but didn’t get far. I need to try again.

    I Capture a Castle was such a fun light read. Not one that I’d push on just anyone, but certainly enjoyable.

    I just listened to The Year of Magical Thinking. I found it a lovely book though sad that she had no hope in Christ. I can’t imagine walking through my grief without him.

    I listened to All the Light and LOVED it. Then I was given the print book and reread my favorite parts and wondered if I would have liked it if I would have read it first. Hearing it read was such a lyrical experience. I recommend it. Though of course it doesn’t make the topic any easier. But for a World War 2 story it was amazingly free of violence and language.

    Now to find the first book you listed. Looks like one I’d like.
    Gina

  8. After reading Gina’s comment I think I’ll listen to All the Light instead of reading it.
    I just finished Forty Autumns and The cellist of Sarajevo on Scribd and while I like to re read both of them in book form, I loved the lyrical well narrated forms of the audio version.

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