observed by Diane » photo journal for those who enjoy vignettes of an ordinary life

What are you reading?

“The beauty of the written word is that it can be held close to the heart and read over and over again.” ~Florence Littauer

home-9025I’m so immersed in my photos I haven’t been doing nearly as much reading as usual. Other than a couple of technical books (on Lightroom for instance), I haven’t read some good fiction for a while. I’d love to know where your bookmark is currently resting.

I’ve mentioned my friend Karen Bass in a previous post, but thought I’d mention her book again for anyone who may be looking for a good read. Karen’s novel, Run Like Jager is classified as Young Adult but I can guarantee it’s every bit an interesting read for adults as well!

While I’m at it, a fellow dog writer/photographer recently sent me a copy of her lovely picture book, Salty Dogs. Jean Fogle has some fantastic photos of dogs at the beach paired with apt and interesting quotes. This would be a great gift book for anyone who simply loves dogs or those who love being near water.

The reason for not reading some good fiction lately is definitely not because I don’t have some at hand; no, I have two piles of promising novels sitting in abeyance waiting for me to crack their fresh spines. As an avid reader, I’ve read a lot of really powerful, well written novels (and a few that weren’t so great too). I can never list an all-time favourite or even a top 5 or 10 for instance. That said, here is a sampling of some of the novels I’ve read that do make my list of favourites though I couldn’t put them in any kind of order — each was a favourite for different reasons. (These are simply notes I made on these novels and are by no means any sort of review.)

The Secret Life of Beesby Sue Monk Kidd: Outstanding. I read and loved this book long before Hollywood got a hold of it. I’ve purposely not seen the movie because I know they could never do the book justice. It’s a feel-good book full of interesting facts on bees, wisdom of life, humour, and intelligence. It’s truly a book every mother and every daughter should read. Kidd writes with lovely descriptive prose and turns of phrase. More importantly, she is adept at characterization and the voice of this protagonist (Lily) is delightful. I loved Lily! She made me smile despite her circumstances.

A Fine Balanceby Rohinton Mistry: a bountiful epic told in the most richly woven prose. Mistry is an artful wordsmith. Not a dry spell to be found in this book. I learned so much about India, their culture, politics, and everyday life in their different social castes. His writing is so full of imagery and so well wrought that I could smell the streets and see the colour as I read page-by-page. The fine balance was that fine line between despair and hope. A book I can never forget. (I also read it years before Oprah discovered it 🙂 )

The Kite Runner Illustrated Editionby Khaled Husseini: An excellent book with great storytelling and total involvement in the characters. The protagonist, Amir’s shocking betrayal of his loyal friend Hassan is at the root of this novel’s intensity. Highly recommended.

No Great Mischief: A Novel by Alistair MacLeod: A really pleasing read. Plain (in a simple/good way) lucid writing which used landscape as a prominent backdrop. A well told story of family, the historical parallels, and the strength of family ties — “always take care of your blood” as the characters would say. I really enjoyed a line used in the novel, which was repeated as the closing line, “All of us are better when we’re loved.”

House of Sand and Fogby Andre Dubus III: a page turner. The fog, and sand to a degree, are characters in this moving story. I found the characterization of Colonel Behrani exceptional. Constant, and building tension, together with adept storytelling made this an engaging novel to read. I’d classify it as a contemporary tragedy. (I think I’m flattered that Oprah selected some of the books I had already read!)

The Stone Carversby Jane Urquhart: The unique characters and subject — wood & stone carvers — were dealt with such clarity in this novel. As in past novels I’ve read by Urquhart, she uses the underlying theme of “a trace”. In this case, it’s the trace of the carver on the wood or stone, although I also saw the trace of a man on a woman theme. Each of the characters also had obsessions, which tied in so well with their adventures in life. A detailed, yet enjoyable literary novel.

Memoirs of a Geishaby Arthur Golden: Beautiful language. What an engaging novel, full of voluptuous prose; an extraordinary story that was hard to put down. His indepth research has made the building blocks of an exquisite story. I didn’t want the book to come to an end and actually remember holding on to the book and not wanting to let it go when I finally did finish it. It flows like gentle ripples on a pond. I was so intrigued by her story and in learning so much about a life of which we all have far too many misconceptions.

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Oh dear, I could go on and on. See! It’s hard to pick just a few favourites 🙂  What books have you immersed yourself within that inspired you, made an impact, or even altered how you view your life?

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