The Best Books About Books

     Sometimes it is really fun, as a book lover, to read about other characters that love books as much as you do. That’s why I thought it would be nice to suggest some of my favorite reads that have a main premise that centers around books and storytelling. So here they are; I hope you enjoy!

 

The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin

My Goodreads Rating: 3.5 stars
    This story is about about a curmudgeonly old man named A.J. Fikry who runs a bookshop on Alice Island after his wife dies. When A.J.’s rare collection of Poe poems is stolen and a mysterious package arrives in its place, he has to figure out what to do. This story follows A.J. as he tries to make his life happy again even if it isn’t how he thought it would turn out.
    I really enjoyed this story for how heartfelt and lovely it was. This story might not be for everyone because of how slowly it seemed to move and how character driven it was, but for the people who do end up enjoying it, I think it packs a big punch. I was one of the readers who did really enjoy it because I like books that have well developed characters who experience personal growth (basically what this story was). A lot of the relationships that form from the characters in this book are so sweet and genuine. It was very easy to relate to A.J. through his love of books even if I didn’t agree with every choice he made or his attitude at times. This book is the perfect book for a book lover that wants to read a heartwarming story about good characters who care for each other.

Quotes:

  1. “You know everything you need to know about a person from the answer to the question, What is your favorite book?”
  2. “Sometimes books don’t find us until the right time” 
  3. “We are not quite novels. We are not quite short stories. In the end, we are collected works.”

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

My Goodreads Rating: 5 stars
     This a world war 2 historical fiction about a young girl who learns to love books and words. I kind of wish I had included this book in my post, “World War 2 Historical Fiction Recommendations“, however if I make a part 2, then this will definitely be featured. I know that this book is pretty well known, but that is definitely for good reason.
    The main character is a girl named Liesel who is a foster child outside of Munich. She lives with an accordion playing father, an outspoken mother, and a Jewish man that they hide in their basement. As Liesel learns to read from a book she stole, she realizes how much she loves words and continues to steal books and learn as much as she can. As things in her life become more and more difficult, she learns to rely on words to get her through things.
    I have read this book many times (ever since I was in elementary school) and it truly is a timeless story. I think the most interesting part of this story is that it is narrated by death and this gives it a more encompassing view over every situation than if it were to be narrated from just Liesel’s perspective. It is very well written and the way that Liesel loves books will make you love them even more. I love the fact that almost any aged person (3rd grade and up) can read this, enjoy it, and feel its emotional impact. This book is one that will stay with me forever. I just love Liesel, Rudy, Hans, Max, and even Rosa. There is a movie out that was based on the book, but please read the book before watching the film! I thought the movie was very good, but I still enjoyed the book much better.

Quotes:

  1. “I have hated words and I have loved them, and I hope I have made them right.”
  2. “A snowball in the face is surely the perfect beginning to a lasting friendship.”
  3. “A small but noteworthy note. I have seen so many young men over the years who think they’re running at other young men. They are not. They are running at me.” 

The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon

My Goodreads Rating: 5 stars
    This book takes place in Barcelona in 1945 and is about a boy named Daniel whose father takes him to a secret place called the Cemetery of Forgotten Books when he is a kid. Daniel picks out a book called the Shadow of the Wind and is tasked with keeping it safe from harm. He falls in love with the story and seeks to find out more about the author, Julian Carax. However, on his journey of investigation, he discovers that a mysterious person is attempting to burn all of Carax’s books. As Daniel’s life begins to resemble The Shadow of the Wind, he realizes that everything is more mysterious than he first thought and he has to decide who to trust.
    This story is hands down one of my favorite books ever. I first read it very recently, but I was so excited about how good it was and now I can’t stop thinking about it. The writing is so beautiful (great bookish quotes), the plot is intricate, and the characters have so much depth. Not to mention the fact that this whole story gives you goosebumps and would be the perfect Halloween read. However, I won’t go into too much detail about it because I have already written a full length review on it. If you want to check it out, here is the link- Book Review: The Shadow of the Wind

Quotes:

  1. “Books are mirrors: you only see in them what you already have in you.”
  2. “Fools talk, cowards are silent, wise men listen.”
  3.  “The moment you stop to think about whether you love someone, you’ve already stopped loving them forever.”

The Inkheart Trilogy by Cornelia Funke

My Goodreads Rating: 3 stars
     The first book in this trilogy, Inkheart, is about a girl named Meggie who finds out that her father, Mo, can read book characters out of their books. When Meggie was three, Mo read from a book called Inkheart and accidentally made Meggie’s mother go into the book while characters from the book came into the real world. Mo and Meggie are determined to rescue Meggie’s mom and find that in order to do this, they must face the Inkheart villain, Capricorn and many other characters that came out of the story.
    I have to be honest, I haven’t read the third book in this trilogy called Inkdeath, but I have read Inkheart and the second book, Inkspell. When I was little, I was obsessed with Inkheart and the copy that I owned was very well loved. I wanted to be Meggie so badly and I thought it would be the coolest thing in the world if characters from a book could come into the real world (I still do). I also loved Dustfinger, his ferret, and his fiery talent. Inkheart is such an imaginative and fun story that is perfect to help a child fall in love with books. I haven’t read this series in a long time, but I remember that I really really loved it as a kid. I definitely want to read it again soon. I think the series is suited well for younger children (maybe 10+), but any age can still read and enjoy how creative and wonderful it is. Also, there was a movie made off of it that I thought was pretty good. Once again though, I would recommend reading the book before you watch the movie because it is nice to create your own imagery in your head before watching it on a screen.

Quotes:

  1. “Books have to be heavy because the whole world’s inside them.”
  2.  “It’s a good idea to have your own books with you in a strange place.”
  3. “Books loved anyone who opened them, they gave you security and friendship and didn’t ask for anything in return; they never went away, never, not even when you treated them badly.”
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Book Review: Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Goodreads Rating: 4 Stars

Description

    Americanah is the story of two Nigerians, Ifemelu and Obinze, who fell in love as kids in Nigeria. As they get older, Ifemelu heads to America for college, but Obinze is unable to get a visa to America and forced to live an undocumented life in London. This story follows their lives as they experience the struggles of immigration, racism, and the ability to stay close to their loved ones from far away.

Overall

    I first decided to pick up this book after watching a really good Ted talk by the author, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. I will link her talk at the very end of this post if you are interested in watching it (you should, it’s very good). Overall, I really enjoyed this book! Beware, it is long, but it is so worth it. In order to write this reivew, I think I am going to talk about the book through three adjectives that I would use to describe it- Honest, Clever, and Empathic.

Honest

     The things that are said throughout this story, can very easily be classified as honest. The story is told through the eyes of Ifemelu and Obinze as they observe the world around them. The observations that these two make throughout the story hold nothing back regarding their new experiences of being black in England and America. This book takes racism and the hardships of being an immigrant and talks about it in a very truthful way. I loved that the book seemed to cover so many different subtopics in regards to race and immigration through all of the different characters that Ifemelu and Obinze interact with. When I say subtopics I mean that it included mental health, interracial relationships, finding a job as an immigrant, growing up as a minority, returning to your home as an immigrant, maintaining your identity, etc. This book was able to go deeply into each of these subtopics without becoming boring because of the honest thoughts that the main characters provided.

Clever

     This book had so many clever lines throughout it! Obinze had good lines, but I got a big kick out of some of the things that Ifemelu would say and think. Ifemelu was a character that had a hard time not saying things that she truly thought and some of the things that came from her were so funny. I especially loved reading her blog posts. A lot of the time, her chapters would end with a blog post that she wrote with her observations on race and her posts were so clever (I could describe her posts using more adjectives, but I think the word “clever” sums them up best). I also really enjoyed reading Ifemelu’s journey of becoming a blogger since I am just starting out my own blog.

Empathic

     I think the best thing about this book is the fact that it evokes so much empathy for the struggles of minorities and immigrants. I definitely found this book eye opening and I hope that I have become a more empathetic person from reading this. The characters seem so real because the things that they go through are things that many real life people have gone through. Chimamanda was born in Nigeria and came to America for college, which lets you know that a lot of her experiences probably translated into this story. I don’t think that I’m going to forget too much of what I read in this story and I hope that it stays with me.

Lastly…

     I know that Chimamanda also has other books such as Purple Hibiscus, The Thing Around Your Neck, Half of a Yellow Sun, We Should All Be Feminists, Dear Ijeawele, or a Feminist Manifesto in Suggestions, etc. I would definitely be interested in picking up another one of her books after reading this one. Most likely, We Should All Be Feminists as I imagine it is a lot like her Ted talk. Also, I think it is a much quicker read than Americanah, which was 588 pages. Overall, Americanah is a book that I think could benefit everyone in some way, shape, or form.
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World War 2 Historical Fiction Recommendations

     I want to share with you four of my favorite historical fiction reads that take place during World War 2. This is by no means all them, however all of these are books that I know I will be rereading in the future. I am a huge historical fiction fan. It is usually the genre that I will turn to if I ever feel like I don’t have anything interesting to read. Hopefully this post provides you with some ideas for what to read next if you want some historical fiction adventure in your life!

All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

My Goodreads Rating: 4.5 stars
    This book follows two perspectives that both show us a different side of the war. We learn about Marie Laure, a blind girl who lives in France, and Werner, a Hitler Youth in Germany. The story expertly weaves their stories together in a way that opens your eyes to things about the war that you may not have learned in history class. Marie Laure and Werner’s stories collide when they both end up at Saint-Malo, a walled citadel in France. There are also other people’s perspectives that are woven into the story through short viewpoint chapters. This book was really beautifully written and I learned a lot about the history of radios from Werner’s perspective chapters. This book is 530 pages and took me awhile to finish, but if you’re looking for a well researched and well written historical fiction, then you can’t go wrong with this one.

The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah

My Goodreads Rating: 4 stars
     This book takes place in German-occupied France and also follows two different perspectives. The chapters switch back and forth between the perspectives of two sisters, Vianne and Isabelle, who both have extremely different personalities. This book does a really good job of showing the difficulties that women during the war had to endure while their husbands were away fighting. There are a lot of books out there that discuss what it was like for the soldiers during the war, but not many touch on the subject of the women on the home front. I must admit that at the beginning of this novel, I was pretty sure that I wasn’t going to like it because of the writing and the fact that I thought there was going to be a love at first sight story. However, I’m so glad that I continued reading because there got to a point where I absolutely couldn’t put it down. The writing improved as the story went on and the plot line was so riveting that I just had to know what was going to happen next. At the end, I was left shocked at the hardships that the women in the story had had to endure. Pick this one up if you want a good story about human bravery and perseverance!

Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys

My Goodreads Rating: 4 stars 
    I first read this book when I was in middle school and I remember that it made me cry and that I absolutely loved it. I read it again recently just to see if it was actually as good as I first remembered it and it had the same effect on me (I cried again). You may notice that I have two Ruta Sepetys novels on this list and that’s because she is one of my favorite authors. She is so good at bringing to light stories about historical events that most people have never heard of (including me). This book is about the Soviet invasion of Lithuania in 1941 and follows a Lithuanian girl named Lina and her mother and little brother as they are deported to Siberia. The stories of the hardships that the Lithuanian people had endured has been lost to history for a really long time, but this book attempts to reveal the past. Ruta is Lithuanian herself and I think that is what motivated her to research this part of history. It is a beautiful story that you must read!

Salt to Sea by Ruta Sepetys 

My Goodreads Rating: 4 stars
    This is Ruta’s most recent book and it takes place in 1945 in East Prussia as many refugees from the war made their way to a ship called the Wilhelm Gustloff. The Wilhelm Gustloff is a ship that sank and killed about 9,400 people, which is the largest loss of life from a sinking ship in history (yet it’s not very well known). The book follows three different characters as they journey through East Prussia to the Wilhelm Gustloff for salvation. There is Joana (a Lithuanian nurse), Florian (a Prussian with a mysterious letter), and Emilia (a little polish girl in a pink cap). In the story, the three of them have to band together to survive as they journey to the ship that is supposed to save them. This book was so captivating and I think I liked it even better than Between Shades of Gray. This is one of those books that makes you sit and stare at a wall after you finish it and try to digest what you just read. This book has stayed with me and I definitely recommend it.
Ruta Sepetys has also written one more book called Out of the Easy that takes place in New Orleans in the 1950’s. I haven’t read it yet, but I certainly want to!

There you go! Those are four of my favorite historical fiction World War 2 books. I hope you consider reading them all because they are all so good!

Book Review: The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon

This is the excerpt for your very first post.

 

My Goodreads rating: 5 stars
    I think this is the perfect book to start off my new book blog because it is now one of my favorite books of all time. I’m serious…. this book blew me away. I’m not one to go around throwing out praise if a book doesn’t deserve it, but this book definitely does. There are 3 major components that I would like to include in this review and they are character development, plot, and writing style.

Goodreads Book Description

Barcelona, 1945: A city slowly heals in the aftermath of the Spanish Civil War, and Daniel, an antiquarian book dealer’s son who mourns the loss of his mother, finds solace in a mysterious book entitled The Shadow of the Wind, by one Julián Carax. But when he sets out to find the author’s other works, he makes a shocking discovery: someone has been systematically destroying every copy of every book Carax has written. In fact, Daniel may have the last of Carax’s books in existence. Soon Daniel’s seemingly innocent quest opens a door into one of Barcelona’s darkest secrets–an epic story of murder, madness, and doomed love. 

1. Character Development 

       In this book, Zafon does a great job of giving a believable backstory to each one of the major characters. Each character has so much detail and depth to them. He does this so well, that you truly feel as if you are reading about real live people. He also does a good job of making you despise the characters that you should and fall in love with the characters that you should. There is one character, Fermin, that quickly became my favorite because he made me laugh, but at the same time had such a hard back story and a really beautiful heart.

2. Plot

       The plot of this story was so unique and like nothing I have ever read before. It was so detailed that I had no doubt Zafon knew everything about the stories he was creating. The mystery in this story kept me on the edge of my seat and I didn’t want to put it down (even though I was forced to participate in real life). Towards the middle of the story, it slows down a little and I can see how it could become a bit hard to continue for some people, but the information that we learn is essential to the plot of the story. Nevertheless, there are so many twists and turns in the story that leave you questioning everything you had previously thought was the answer until you are left thinking “who can I trust?….. Apparently nobody”. This story made my heart race.

3. Writing Style

          Carlos Ruiz Zafon’s writing style is why I am going to make it my mission to read more of his books. I don’t know what it is, but the way he crafts sentences makes you feel like you are listening to music. The writing in this story was so beautiful and wonderful. Here are some examples so that you understand what I’m talking about…..
  • “…few things leave a deeper mark on a reader than the first book that finds its way into his heart. Those first images, the echo of words we think have left behind, accopmpany us throughout our lives and sculpt a palace in our memory …”
  • “Every book, every volume you see here, has a soul. The soul of the person who wrote it and of those who read it and lived and dreamed with it. Every time a book changes hands, every time someone runs his eyes down its pages, its spirit grows and strengthens”
  • “Fools talk, cowards are silent, wise men listen”

Overall

      Overall, I think this book would appeal to anyone who loves books, mystery, suspense, love, and thrill. This is the type of book that I have always wanted, but never knew was out there.