Books I Want to Read Again

by on October 24th, 2014

This week I had an opportunity to work with two patrons who needed recommendations for great books on disc for a long car 2014 10 road tripride.  One person is facing 14 hours in the car each way.  The other patron decided to ask a Librarian after depending on the New York Times bestseller list last year and not getting the book he was expecting (funny story … he pulled over, called his wife and said, “Have you heard about a book … 50 Shades of Something?).  When in doubt, it’s always good to ask Library staff for recommendations.

Below are a list of some of my favorites that I’d love to read again.  Some are new and some are older.  Many I have have listened to while others (A Paris Apartment) were so good I wasn’t patient enough to listen to them so I either downloaded the eBook or checked out the print book.  You can’t go wrong with any of these titles.

Happy reading and listening!

Blum, Jenna 

Those Who Save Us

What would you do to survive during a war? What if what you did elicits a legacy of shame?   Jenna Blum explores these themes through the stories of Anna Schlemmer, a German woman who survived WWII in Germany and her daughter, who is now a professor of German history in the United States. The story is a mother/daughter drama about love, passion, survival, and choices. 

 

Bodensteiner, Carol 

Go Away Home & Growing Up Country

Carol Bodensteiner is an Iowa author from Des Moines. Her first book (Growing Up Country) is a memoir of growing up on an Iowa dairy farm. From milking cows to giving a 4-H presentation, it captures rural farm life from a bygone era. It is also a wonderful book for our Iowa City Hospice reading partnership where volunteers present programs planned to help residents of care centers focus on memories. Go Away Home is Historical Fiction and also has a rural setting and captures the hopes and dreams in a coming-of-age story about a young woman from Iowa. 

 

Dallas, Sandra 

Prayers for Sale & The Bride’s House

Sandra Dallas is a versatile author. Although all her books can be characterized as Historical Fiction, they are all different. Stories include Pioneer life in Colorado (Diary of Mattie Spenser), Gilded Age life in Denver (Fallen Women), and the lives of Mormons starting out in Iowa City and traveling to Salt Lake City (True Sisters). All books are recommended but Prayers for Sale, set in the mountains near Breckenridge, CO and The Bride’s House, set in Georgetown, CO, are my favorites. 

 

Doerr, Anthony 

All the Light We Cannot See

Set in World War II, it is the story of Marie-Laure, a young French girl who lost her eyesight when she was six and must escape from Paris with her father during WWII. It is also the story of Werner, a young German boy who has a special talent for building and fixing radios. As the war rages, Marie-Laure and Werner cross paths. Doerr received a National Book Award nomination for this book. 

 

Gable, Michelle 

A Paris Apartment

The stories of two women in Paris. One is a modern-day Sotheby’s furniture specialist (April Vogt) and the other is renowned courtesan during the Belle Époque period in Paris just before World War I (Marthe de Florian). April is summoned to Paris and jumps at a chance to escape her crumbling life in the United States. In Paris she discovers an apartment that has been shuttered for more than 70 years and full of priceless furniture and paintings collected by Marthe but abandoned by her family. 

 

Glass, Julia 

Three Junes & And the Dark, Sacred Night

All of Julia Glass’ books are recommended but these two are my favorite. I first read Three Junes while I was in Positano, Italy looking out over the Mediterranean. I was swept away by the compelling story, lyrical writing, and strong characters. I was happily surprised when her newest book was a sequel to the story that started in Three Junes. Julia Glass’ novels feature strong characters and compelling plots that make the reader want more books from this author! 

 

Hillenbrand, Laura 

Unbroken

The true story of Olympic runner Louis Zamperini.   He enlisted in the US Army Air Forces in 1941. When the plane he was assigned to crashes into the South Pacific, Louis survives the crash and 47 days at sea in a plastic life raft. He was captured by the Japanese and sent to a labor camp. I refer to this books as the, “I will never complain about anything ever again book.” An older title but highly recommended. 

 

Horan, Nancy 

Loving Frank & Under the Wide and Starry Sky

Readers fell in love with Horan’s Loving Frank, a fictionalized story that captures the life of Frank Lloyd Wright and his second wife. Under the Wide and Starry Sky is the fictionalized story of Robert Lewis Stevenson and his American wife, Fanny Van de Grift Osbourne. The story takes readers around the globe and, like Loving Frank, centers on the love story between the main characters. 

 

McLain, Paula 

The Paris Wife

The fictional story of Ernest Hemingway and his first wife, Hadley Richardson. After a whirlwind courtship the couple marries and moves to Paris so Ernest can pursue his writing career. The Hemingways are drawn into Parisian life and meet many other writers and artists. There is a constant friction, though, between Ernest the writer and Ernest the husband. 

 

Orringer, Julie 

The Invisible Bridge

Sometimes books come along and leave a lasting impression, forcing the reader to ruminate about events and characters long after the book is done. This is one of those books. Andras and Tibor Levy are Jewish brothers who grew up in a small village in Hungary. It is the 1930′s and both aspire to do great things. The book focuses on Andras, his adventures and studies in Paris, and the relationship he establishes with the mysterious Klara Morgenstern, a Hungarian ballet instructor. 

 

Rosnay, Tatiana de 

Sarah’s Key & The House I Loved

Tatiana de Rosnay’s writing features solid characters, a strong sense of place, and a time of significant historical events.   Sarah’s Key is unforgettable and haunting. It begins with the Vel’ d’Hiv roundup of Jews in German-occupied Paris in 1942 and contrasts that story with a modern-day American journalist living in Paris. The House I Loved is a fictionalized story of Rose Bazelet and her opposition to the destruction of her family home during Haussman’s renovation of Paris, 1853-1870. Haussman’s radical plan was criticized for the large-scale destruction it caused; however, in recent times he has been credited with establishing Paris as a modern city. 

 

Rutherfurd, Edward 

Paris

Rutherfurd presents a multigenerational story that moves between time, character, and story. With Paris as the background, this approach brings characters to life, presents an understanding of historical events, and makes this reader really want to visit Paris and explore the geographical areas of the story.   I also want to read Rutherfurd’s other stories including London and New York

 

See, Lisa 

Shanghai Girls, Dreams of Joy & China Dolls

Lisa See’s books are full of details, family, love and complications. The characters are well developed, there’s a strong sense of place, and the reader cares about the characters and their journey. Shanghai Girls, and its sequel, Dreams of Joy, take readers on a journey from China to California and back again. China Dolls focuses on the 1930’s and 1940’s Chop-Suey Circuit in the entertainment world and focuses on three girls from diverse backgrounds who form a strong bond. 

 

Vreeland, Susan 

Clara and Mr. Tiffany

Because of this book, I went to New York City to the Metropolitan Museum of Art and other places to see Tiffany Glass.   Fictionalized story of Clara Driscoll who worked with Louis Comfort Tiffany at his New York studio and possibly the person who conceived the idea for the iconic Tiffany stained glass lamps. Set with the turn-of-the-century New York City backdrop with issues such as the rise of labor unions, women in the workplace, and advances in technology. 

 

Zevin, Gabrielle 

Storied Life of A.J. Fikry

A.J. Fikry owns a book store and he loves books. He’s not just any bookseller, though. He is picky, contrite, a wee bit arrogant, and has poor customer service skills. Despite these faults, he has a passion for books and a capacity to love. When his life takes turns he never imagined, and A.J. Fikry finds himself in the depths of despair, his redemption is his capacity to love. And love is what makes this book so wonderful. A love for people, community, literature, and most of all, a love of family. 

 

2 Responses to “Books I Want to Read Again”

  1. Charles Lynch says:

    Kara
    What a delight to read your blog. I read Unbroken and hope to be the first in the theater when the movie is released. I’ll try others on your list.
    Thank you
    Charles

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