Literary Notes #17


I have been reading some great books lately! In the midst of so much change, it’s been a great escape to open up a book or fire up my Kindle (yes, I’m now one of those e-book people thanks to a generous and thoughtful gift from my lovely in-laws) and enter into another world. Here’s what I’ve been reading. If you want more information on any of these titles, just click on the picture and you’ll be taken to my amazon.com store.

Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese

I was totally absorbed by this book. It’s the story of a young man growing up in Ethiopia during the 20th century. Marion, the protagonist, is the child of an Indian nun and a British doctor and he and his twin brother are all but orphaned at birth and are brought up by their loving adoptive parents. His life takes him from Ethiopia, where he lives through part of the Revolution, to New York, where he completes his training as a doctor. There are all sorts of twists and turns in the plot and it can feel a bit heavy-handed at times, but it’s a fascinating read. It made me want to learn a lot more about Ethiopia and its ancient and contemporary history.

The Greater Journey; Americans in Paris by David McCullough

What a great book. I actually listened to this one as the hardback I thought I’d ordered turned out to be a recorded version. It ended up being great ’cause I heard all about the adventures of the many Americans who went to Paris as I packed for our move. If there’s anything to help you get over the frustrations of packing, it’s having a soundtrack that keeps your eye on the prize. As always, David McCullough is at his best in researching and recording the very-human details of his characters. I loved this! And, best of all, my dad has been taking copious notes while he reads it and is putting together a “Greater Journey” tour for when he and Mom come to visit at the end of the week!

The Paris Wife by Paula McLain

This is a sort of fictionalized account of Ernest Hemmingway‘s first wife, Hadley. It whetted my appetite for all things Parisian and made me even more exited to be moving to this city. It’s a beautiful story but also heartbreaking and tragic. If you liked Midnight in Paris, you’ll really enjoy the insights into the lives of those literary giants who stalked the streets of the City of Lights back in the early 20th century.

The Complete Sherlock Holmes

Realizing that I have mostly been reading contemporary novels, I decided to download some classics to my Kindle. In fact one of the things I love about the e-reader is the availability of classics. And they often cost very little or are free. So, I’ve decided to alternate one classic and one contemporary novel. And the Sherlock Holmes stories have been on my to-read list for far too long. So I have now read A Study in Scarlet, The Sign of the Four and The Hound of the Baskervilles. It’s been really fun. I’ve seen multiple movie versions of these – from the Basil Rathbone versions to the great BBC Sherlock production starring Benedict Cumberbatch (what a name!) as the “world’s only consulting detective.” It’s easy to see why these are considered the gold-standard of mystery novels and they are quite fun to read, although they are also very dated and contain some shockingly racist ideas. And I also had no idea that the original Sherlock regularly shot up cocaine.

Love Wins by Rob Bell

I know that this book has been hugely controversial in the States but I’d been wanting to read it and was encouraged to do so by some friends. I found it fascinating and not nearly as shocking as the blogosphere led me to believe. I would recommend it – I think it has some great ideas about heaven and hell and how our beliefs surrounding the afterlife will shape our actions in this life.

The Millennium Trilogy by Stieg Larsson

So, I had been seeing these books everywhere and basically wrote the whole thing off as a trend akin to that literary abomination, Twilight. And then I started noticing that when I saw people reading these books they weren’t teenyboppers or goth-chicks. No, they were generally very normal looking people – business men in suits on the underground, elderly women in the park. Hmm, I thought, maybe I was too quick to jump to my snooty conclusion. So I did some research and when I found out that Stieg Larsson died shortly after turning over the manuscripts to his publisher, never knowing how phenomenally successful his books turned out to be, I was intrigued. Intrigued enough to go buy the first one. Well, in quick succession I’d read all three and cannot believe that there will be no more. Here’s some caveats. These books are not for the faint of heart. If you don’t like violence or dark story lines, these are to be avoided. And they’re definitely not appropriate for children or YA readers. I found them fascinating and very well-written. The characters are well-developed and Larsson’s liberal Scandinavian politics infuse the books with interest. Thoroughly enjoyable and deliciously frightening at points.

So, those are the highlights of my reading – there were a few others but they’re really not worth mentioning! So, what have you been reading?

About Rebecca

Hi! After five years in Europe, I'm adjusting to life back in the US. I use this blog to record my adventures, post photos, organize recipes, and post about things that interest me.
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12 Responses to Literary Notes #17

  1. Nathalie says:

    I read the Sherlock Holmes stories when I was 12, when I got to a scene where he uses cocaine my little innocent self was devastated!

  2. Melissa says:

    Morning Becca,
    I can always count on you to find a great book for me to read! Thanks bunches!
    hugs!!

  3. Bethy Manor says:

    Thanks Becca, what a great book list. I also have David McCullough’s book on my kindle and you have inspired me to finish it. Scotty can tell you that we watched ALL of the old Sherlock Holmes videos we could find while he was growing up. Some of them several times over. I’m curious about the Heaven and Hell book so I might look into that too!

    • Rebecca says:

      The McCullough book is so good for opening up more of the amazing history in this city! And Scotty’s interest in Sherlock was what made me want to read the originals! They’re a lot of fun.

  4. Michael L. Martin says:

    Thanks for a great book list. Have you read the book by Kristin Espinasse, titled: “Words in a French Life: lessons in love and language from the south of France. c.2006

    • Rebecca says:

      Hi Michael, Thanks for the book suggestion. I haven’t read that one and am adding it to my wish list! I always appreciate book suggestions, so keep them coming. Thanks for reading.

  5. patty says:

    I also enjoyed “Cutting of Stone” read for my book club on my “nook”; it was not a book I would have read on my own but became so involved in the story that I was sorry it ended

  6. Cabbie Notes says:

    Great selection of books reviewed. Love the inclusion of some classics like Sherlock Holmes and Jeremy Brett as Sherlock Holmes was a favorite of mine.

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