Hi friends! Those of you who are long-time CET readers know that reading is one of my favorite passions in life, and I plow through books like nobody’s business. In fact, I have a weirdly close relationship with my Kindle, and even though it cost me less than $130 it’s definitely one of my most prized possessions. Whether it’s getting lost in a book during my hour-long metro ride to work or reading a few pages in bed before falling asleep, nothing makes me happier than having a good book to read!
That said, I’ve read quite a few good books this summer (and unfortunately a couple of duds as well) so I thought I’d share a few of the highlights with you today. Maybe you’re hitting the beach one last time before summer ends or maybe you’re spending some time at the pool before it closes after Labor Day, but wherever your plans may take you, if you’re looking for book recommendations here are some of my recent favorites!
Fabio’s sister Diane bought this book for me when we were in Cartagena since the Nobel Prize-winning author, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, is one of her favorite writers. I actually already had the book on my “want to read” list, so I was thrilled when she offered to get it for me as a souvenir. The book also takes place in Cartagena, which made it really fun to read once our trip was over.
Aside from all of that, I loved this book so much because of Marquez’s absolutely beautiful writing. While the plot is definitely interesting, the highlights of this book for me were the vivid descriptions of the setting and the interactions between the characters. Marquez uses the most mundane details that most writers would skip over to paint a realistic picture of what life is actually like for these characters. His writing is so complex and detailed that I actually had a hard time getting into this book for the first few pages, but once I got into it I had a hard time putting it down. When the book was over I felt like I had actually gotten smarter from reading it, and I felt like I probably would never read another book again that was written so beautifully. This one can be summed up in one word: wow.
This is another book that had been on my reading list for ages, and when I decided to start reading it I honestly had no idea what to expect. This nonfiction book follows the journey of the author, Rebecca Skloot, as she uncovers the history behind Henrietta Lacks, a black woman living in 1950s Baltimore whose cells were taken from her unknowingly during a medical procedure, which wound up being a major contributor to medical science and helped find the cure to polio. Even today, most scientists have Henrietta’s cells in their labs, and they are still being used to find the cures to diseases like cancer and AIDS. The crazy part about this story is that even though Henrietta was a major contributor to modern day medical treatments, she was a poor black woman at the time (in fact her descendants are still poor today) and she had no clue her cells had even been taken from her by one of the only doctors who would treat black patients at the time.
This true story the author uncovers in her research is shocking, and it’s hard to imagine that just 60ish years ago, the U.S. was treating African Americans in this way. It was a really eye-opening book for me, and I felt like I was telling all my friends about this book as soon as I was done reading it.
This book! Ah! I really loved this one. Someone recommended this book to me a while back, and for the life of me I can’t remember who it was. If it was anyone reading, then thank you!! As you may know, historical fiction is my favorite genre, and this one took me right into rural 19th century China where young girls were being foot-bound. This is a historical phenomenon I honestly didn’t know anything about before, but I always sort of wondered about it (maybe everyone does?). This book explains the whole process in detail, and it’s really interesting to see how this practice shaped Chinese culture.
Aside from the historical context of this book, I also really connected with the characters and empathized with them during their journeys. Excellent read!
This was another book that I had on my reading list that I didn’t know anything about before picking it up. The fictional story takes place in England in the 1930s, which was actually when the book was written. It follows the story of a young girl who starts off as a poor maid to a rich old lady, who falls in love with a handsome man almost twice her age, marries him, and then finds herself in charge of his beautiful and famous manner on the water. The main character – who is weirdly not named throughout the whole story – is haunted by her new husband’s late wife, who seems to be everything she’s not. Whereas the main character is young, inexperienced, awkward, from a poorer background, and introverted, her husband’s late wife was beautiful, brilliant, funny, outgoing, well-bred, and commanding.
Again while the story line was interesting, the writing here is really what stood out to me. The author does a great job of making you feel exactly what the main character is feeling, which sometimes is awkward and very introverted behavior (these parts made me cringe!). It was a beautiful story with a couple of twists, and I’m planning to go back and reread this one in a couple of months.
Ok, this was a book I wanted to love but I think I just didn’t get it. This book had tons of great ratings and I even got a couple of comments from you guys saying you loved it, but I think it just wasn’t for me. While I did enjoy the character development of the grumpy old man named Ove – and I especially liked finding out why he was so grumpy – I didn’t like it enough to feel really wowed by the book and I was honestly kind of happy when it was over so I could move on to something else. In fact, I almost didn’t even include this book on this list but I know a lot of other people really enjoyed it and it wasn’t that I hated it or anything, so I am still throwing it up here. If you read this book and loved it, please enlighten me!
Question(s) of the day: Have you read any of these books? What did you think of them? What’s the best book you’ve read lately?