Friday Finds

Friday Finds—June 24, 2011

Friday FindsI found a lot of interesting books this week! My department chair recommended Jennifer Donnelly’s [amazon_link id=”0312378025″ target=”_blank” ]The Tea Rose[/amazon_link], which happens to be the first in a trilogy—the other two books are [amazon_link id=”1401307469″ target=”_blank” ]The Winter Rose[/amazon_link] and [amazon_link id=”1401301045″ target=”_blank” ]The Wild Rose[/amazon_link]. I can’t wait to read these books.

Amazon sent me a mailer recommending some historical fiction that looks interesting. [amazon_link id=”0312144075″ target=”_blank” ]The Samurai’s Garden[/amazon_link] by Gail Tsukiyama has over four stars on Goodreads after thousands of ratings. That looks promising, even if some of my Goodreads friends didn’t care for it. A reviewer said of [amazon_link id=”B004VD3XQU” target=”_blank” ]The Lotus Eaters[/amazon_link] by Tatjana Soli that if you’ve never read a book about the Vietnam War, this is a good one to start with. Sounds good to me. Alan Brennert’s [amazon_link id=”0312304358″ target=”_blank” ]Moloka’i[/amazon_link] is about the leper colony in Hawaii and also has a high rating on Goodreads.

I can’t decide if [amazon_link id=”1599952025″ target=”_blank” ]The Yellow House[/amazon_link] by Patricia Falvey us up my alley or not. It’s set in Northern Ireland during the Revolutionary period, and I would like to read more about that time, but it also features a main character torn between an Irish political activist working to help Ireland achieve independence from Britain and the black sheep son of a wealthy Quaker family that owns the mill where she works. It reminds me a bit of the scenario presented in all those teen historical romances published by Sunfire in the 1980’s. The girl almost always chose the guy who was more rebellious and dangerous. The only exception I can think of is in the novel [amazon_link id=”0590331566″ target=”_blank” ]Danielle (Sunfire, No 4)[/amazon_link]. I quit reading the novels after a while because they were too predictable—even if I did learn a lot about history from them. In fact, I probably have them to thank for my love for historical fiction. I need to write a Life in Books post about those novels soon. I am suddenly overcome by a wave of nostalgia.

After reading [amazon_link id=”0345521307″ target=”_blank” ]The Paris Wife[/amazon_link] by Paula McLain (review), I sought out [amazon_link id=”143918271X” target=”_blank” ]A Moveable Feast[/amazon_link] and discovered a newly restored edition published in 2009. I am interested to read it after reading the story of the Paris years from Hadley’s point of view.

Browsing around on Goodreads for books set in Paris, I found [amazon_link id=”1596914254″ target=”_blank” ]Paris: The Secret History[/amazon_link] by Andrew Hussey. It’s not about Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette. It’s more about the prostitutes, street urchins, opium addicts, and artists. Looks really good.

[amazon_image id=”0312378025″ link=”true” target=”_blank” size=”medium” ]The Tea Rose: A Novel[/amazon_image] [amazon_image id=”1401307469″ link=”true” target=”_blank” size=”medium” ]The Winter Rose[/amazon_image] [amazon_image id=”1401301045″ link=”true” target=”_blank” size=”medium” ]The Wild Rose[/amazon_image]

[amazon_image id=”0312144075″ link=”true” target=”_blank” size=”medium” ]The Samurai’s Garden: A Novel[/amazon_image] [amazon_image id=”B004VD3XQU” link=”true” target=”_blank” size=”medium” ]The Lotus Eaters: A Novel (Reading Group Gold)[/amazon_image] [amazon_image id=”0312304358″ link=”true” target=”_blank” size=”medium” ]Moloka’i[/amazon_image]

[amazon_image id=”1599952025″ link=”true” target=”_blank” size=”medium” ]The Yellow House: A Novel[/amazon_image] [amazon_image id=”143918271X” link=”true” target=”_blank” size=”medium” ]A Moveable Feast: The Restored Edition[/amazon_image] [amazon_image id=”1596914254″ link=”true” target=”_blank” size=”medium” ]Paris: The Secret History[/amazon_image]

So did you find any good books this week?

The Paris Wife, Paula McLain

[amazon_image id=”0345521307″ link=”true” target=”_blank” size=”medium” class=”alignleft”]The Paris Wife: A Novel[/amazon_image]Hadley Richardson Hemingway is perhaps best known as the first of Ernest Hemingway’s four wives. [amazon_link id=”0345521307″ target=”_blank” ]The Paris Wife[/amazon_link] is the story of how the Hemingways met, married, and lived in Paris as Hemingway’s writing career was beginning. During this time, Hemingway writes [amazon_link id=”0684822768″ target=”_blank” ]In Our Time[/amazon_link], [amazon_link id=”1907590250″ target=”_blank” ]The Sun Also Rises[/amazon_link], and [amazon_link id=”0684839075″ target=”_blank” ]The Torrents of Spring[/amazon_link]. They meet and befriend such Lost Generation writers as Gertrude Stein, Ezra Pound, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ford Madox Ford, John Dos Passos, and other key figures of the Left Bank artistic renaissance of the 1920’s. The novel chronicles the infamous trip to Pamplona that inspired The Sun Also Rises as well as the couple’s trips to Austria and the disintegration of their marriage when Pauline Pfeiffer, who would become Hemingway’s second wife, enters the picture.

I haven’t read Hemingway’s memoir [amazon_link id=”143918271X” target=”_blank” ]A Moveable Feast[/amazon_link], so I can’t argue with reviewers who say that this novel is basically the same story from Hadley’s point of view, but somehow, I don’t think that’s all it is. I was swept into the story immediately, and whipped through the last 40% of it on my [amazon_link id=”B002Y27P3M” target=”_blank” ]Kindle[/amazon_link] last night. Hemingway and Hadley’s relationship intrigued me. McLain evokes the Hemingways’ Paris skillfully (and definitely made me want to go!). Fans of Hemingway’s work will meet all those who inspired his fiction in the pages of McLain’s novel, too. Hemingway said of Hadley in A Moveable Feast, “I wished I’d died before I ever loved any other woman but her.” Ultimately, the book is about their romance—and even years later, after Hemingway was on his fourth wife, and she was happily married to journalist Paul Mowrer, they still had something of their old feelings for each other. Some critics say Hemingway tended to idealize Hadley, particularly as he grew older. She had some spirit. She followed Hemingway and supported him as he fulfilled his dreams, but when it came time to put up with his infidelity, she drew the line.

I enjoyed meeting all of the characters, particularly Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald, Lady Duff Twysden (the inspiration for Lady Brett Ashley), and Hadley herself. I have been intrigued by Hadley ever since I was in college when I met a girl in my dorm who had been named after her—her parents were, I believe, English professors. What kind of woman, I wondered, would inspire Hemingway to marry her when she was eight years his senior and he was a young, good looking, up-and-coming writer? This book is a fantastic read with some gorgeous language in its own right and a fascinating glimpse into the Hemingways’ romance. I highly recommend it, especially to Hemingway or Modernist literature fans. A few favorite quotes:

No one seemed to have any hold on anyone, in fact. That was a sign of the times. We were all on the verge now, bursting with youth and promise and little trills of jazz. The year before, Olive Thomas had starred in The Flapper, and the word suddenly meant jazz and moved like it, too. Girls everywhere stepped out of their corsets and shortened their dresses and darkened their lips and eyes. We said “cat’s pajamas” and “I’ll say” and “that’s so jake.” Youth, in 1921, was everything, but that was just the thing that could worry me sick. I was twenty-nine, feeling almost obsolete, but Ernest was twenty-one and white hot with life. What was I thinking? (location 789)

And for the rest of the lunch our table was like an intricate game of emotional chess, with Duff looking at Ernest, who kept one eye on Pat, who was glaring at Harold, who was glancing furtively at Duff. Everyone was drinking too much and wrung out and working hard to pretend they were jollier and less affected than everyone else. (location 4092)

“Sometimes, I wish we could rub out all our mistakes and start fresh, from the beginning,” I said. “And sometimes I think there isn’t anything to us but our mistakes.” (location 4100)

“I’m always on your side,” I said, and wondered if I was the only one who felt the complicated truth of that hovering over us in the dark room. (location 4579)

McLain’s prose reminded just a bit of Hemingway’s—you can see the polysyndeton, for example, in the second passage, which is a scene that would be familiar to those who have read The Sun Also Rises. One thing the book made me want to do is run right out and read A Moveable Feast. The Paris Wife is a beautiful book.

Rating: ★★★★★

WWW Wednesdays

WWW Wednesdays—June 22, 2011

WWW WednesdaysTo play along, just answer the following three (3) questions…

• What are you currently reading?
• What did you recently finish reading?
• What do you think you’ll read next?

I am currently reading Paula McLain’s novel about Hadley Richardson Hemingway, [amazon_link id=”0345521307″ target=”_blank” ]The Paris Wife[/amazon_link]. I have been reading a lot of books set in Paris this year (compared to usual, I guess). I guess I’m on a France kick. This one is really good so far.

I recently finished reading [amazon_link id=”0743482832″ target=”_blank” ]The Tempest[/amazon_link] by William Shakespeare (review) and [amazon_link id=”1401302025″ target=”_blank” ]The Geeks Shall Inherit the Earth: Popularity, Quirk Theory, and Why Outsiders Thrive After High School[/amazon_link] by Alexandra Robbins (review).

Next I plan to read [amazon_link id=”B0048EL84Q” target=”_blank” ]The Dream of Perpetual Motion[/amazon_link] by Dexter Palmer, and beyond that one, I’m not too sure. I guess I’m open for whatever looks interesting.

Teaser Tuesdays

Teaser Tuesday and Top Ten Tuesday—June 21, 2011

What to do when you have found two interesting book memes and want to do both, but you don’t want to write two different blog posts? Combine, them I say.

Teaser TuesdaysTeaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
  • Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

My teasers:

[amazon_image id=”0345521307″ link=”true” target=”_blank” size=”medium” class=”alignleft”]The Paris Wife: A Novel[/amazon_image]“This isn’t a detective story—not hardly. I don’t want to say, Keep watch for the girl who will come along and ruin everything, but she’s coming anyway, set on her course in a gorgeous chipmunk coat and fine shoes, her sleek brown hair bobbed so close to her well-made head she’ll seem like a pretty otter in my kitchen.”

—location 116 on my [amazon_link id=”B002Y27P3M” target=”_blank” ]Kindle[/amazon_link], [amazon_link id=”0345521307″ target=”_blank” ]The Paris Wife: A Novel[/amazon_link] by Paula McLain

Top Ten TuesdayThe Broke and the Bookish has a weekly Top Ten. This week’s focus is book blogging.

Top Ten Reasons I Love Book Blogging

  1. The other book bloggers in the community are some of the nicest people on the Internet. I enjoy being a part of such a friendly group.
  2. Book blogging offers me a chance to reflect on (as well as keep track of) all the books I read. It’s nice to be able to look back at books I’ve read and know not only exactly how many I read, but also how I felt about them.
  3. Blogging has opened some doors for me in terms of being able to afford more books. I am an Amazon associate, and the good people who buy books from Amazon after clicking through a link I followed generate a small commission that Amazon pays me in gift cards. It feels a little bit like being paid for doing something I love, but it has also enabled me to do what I love—not sure I could buy all these books otherwise.
  4. This last year especially had some real professional ups and downs for me, and this blog was a refuge. I blog about education at, and I have found it harder to feel motivated to write for that blog lately for many reasons, but this blog has been a true source of inspiration.
  5. Through this blog and through Twitter, I have had the opportunity to interact with authors. Syrie James and Jael McHenry both have mentioned my reviews of their books, and I had the amazing opportunity to interview Mary Novik.
  6. Being a part of the book blogging community has introduced books and authors to me that I might otherwise not have heard about or read. It would be impossible to figure out how many wonderful books I discovered through other book bloggers.
  7. Participating in reading challenges and chronicling them on my blog has helped me try out new books. I have enjoyed many of these new books. Some challenges I have begun to look forward to every year (Carl’s RIP Challenge, for one). For the first time this year, I hosted my own challenge.
  8. Book bloggers inspire me to read more. One year a few years ago, I only read 14 books. This year, I’ve already read 21. Some book bloggers are such fast readers that I can never hope to compete with the speed through which they fly through books, but without the inspiration to try, I’m not sure what my reading life would look like. My friends tell me all the time they don’t know how I read so much or how I find the time. Little do they know there is this world of readers in the book blogosphere who far outstrip anything I do! I do think I have become a faster reader since I began blogging.
  9. There is no better community for talking about books and reading than the book blogging community. Everyone else loves reading as much as I do and is just as excited about reading as I am. Reading can be a lonely activity. I’m not part of a book club, but I plan to revive our faculty book club next school year. It’s fun to share books and reading with others. It’s one of the reasons I chose to be an English teacher. Now that I am moving into technology teaching, it will be more important than ever for me to have an outlet for talking about books. The only thing that could be better is if we could gather regularly with food and chat in person.
  10. This last one might seem silly, but I find that book blogs are the prettiest blogs I read. All the pretty book covers and headers with books or readers of cups or coffee or tea. So homey and pretty. I like hanging around places like that.
WWW Wednesdays

WWW Wednesdays—June 15, 2011

WWW WednesdaysTo play along, just answer the following three (3) questions…

• What are you currently reading?
• What did you recently finish reading?
• What do you think you’ll read next?

I am currently reading [amazon_link id=”1401302025″ target=”_blank” ]The Geeks Shall Inherit the Earth: Popularity, Quirk Theory, and Why Outsiders Thrive After High School[/amazon_link] by Alexandra Robbins. It’s a really good read, and I think anyone who is a teacher or parent should probably read it for the insight it gives into how painful the teen years can be and what children that age are facing.

I know I said that I would read [amazon_link id=”0743482832″ target=”_blank” ]The Tempest[/amazon_link] next, but I am just not feeling up to it yet. I guess I want lighter fare as the summer begins. I will probably start [amazon_link id=”0345521307″ target=”_blank” ]The Paris Wife[/amazon_link] by Paula McLain next—perhaps not tonight, but tomorrow. It looks pretty good. It’s told from the point of view of Hadley Hemingway, Ernest Hemingway’s first wife.

I recently finished [amazon_link id=”1439191697″ target=”_blank” ]The Kitchen Daughter[/amazon_link] by Jael McHenry (review). Wonderful book! Highly recommended. I also finished [amazon_link id=”1594202885″ target=”_blank” ]A Jane Austen Education: How Six Novels Taught Me About Love, Friendship, and the Things That Really Matter[/amazon_link] by William Deresiewicz (review) since last week. Summer means more time to read!

A side note: I am really enjoying seeing my map fill up for the Where Are You Reading Challenge. I am beginning to have a little bit more diversity in terms of setting than I had a few months ago. You can view my map in progress (you can click on the map and drag it around):
View 2011 Where Are You Reading Challenge in a larger map

Friday Finds

Friday Finds—May 27, 2011

Friday FindsI think I found one of this week’s new books via Any New Books. I’m also sharing some I found some time ago and forgot to tell you about.

I first found out about [amazon_link id=”B003F76HLQ” target=”_blank” ]Bound[/amazon_link] by Sally Gunning after reading [amazon_link id=”0061782157″ target=”_blank” ]The Rebellion of Jane Clarke[/amazon_link] by the same author (review). Somebody reviewed [amazon_link id=”0345521307″ target=”_blank” ]The Paris Wife[/amazon_link] by Paula McLain recently, and I forget who it was. I am sorry! Speak up if it was you because it made me want to read the book. I downloaded it on my Kindle tonight. I just love Hemingway. I had a friend in college who was named after Hadley Hemingway. To round out the American literature theme, I also discovered that Thomas C. Foster of [amazon_link id=”006000942X” target=”_blank” ]How to Read Literature Like a Professor: A Lively and Entertaining Guide to Reading Between the Lines[/amazon_link] (review) fame has a new book called [amazon_link id=”0061834408″ target=”_blank” ]Twenty-five Books That Shaped America: How White Whales, Green Lights, and Restless Spirits Forged Our National Identity[/amazon_link]. I’m all over that.

[amazon_image id=”B003F76HLQ” link=”true” target=”_blank” size=”medium” ]Bound: A Novel[/amazon_image] [amazon_image id=”0345521307″ link=”true” target=”_blank” size=”medium” ]The Paris Wife: A Novel[/amazon_image] [amazon_image id=”0061834408″ link=”true” target=”_blank” size=”medium” ]Twenty-five Books That Shaped America: How White Whales, Green Lights, and Restless Spirits Forged Our National Identity[/amazon_image]

Did you find any good looking books this week?