I Rated It:
The only two things that I knew about this book before I bought it were that it was set in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula (where I was raised) and it was on the bargain table at Barnes and Noble. I don’t think that I’ve ever been so pleased with a book that I knew so little about ahead of time. The town in which it is set (McAllaster) is a fictional town, but I could actually see all of the little U.P. towns that I’ve been to or driven through while reading Airgood’s description. The plot was very straightforward and not overly exciting. This was a beautifully written life-like account of a woman who chose to leave the city (Chicago) to explore her small-town roots and spend time with her long lost family. It was an incredibly enjoyable, quick read that was peaceful and relaxing. I’m struggling a bit to review this one. I really don’t have anything particularly special to say about this book, but I loved it. This is a beautifully written realistic novel about life in a small-town and rediscovering one’s self.
I Rated It:
I hate to suggest that I just might not be smart enough to really understand this book, but from reading other reviews, it is clear to me that reviewers were able to take away some meaning from this book that we “average readers” didn’t seem to get. The plot seemed pretty simple to me: A group of spoiled 30-year-old friends living in New York City trying to establish themselves and move forward with their careers meet a less privileged cousin who is apparently trying to work hard and make a name for himself in the big city by dropping out of college and selling out his own uncle. (And if you think that’s a long sentence, you should see some of the sentences that Messud uses in the book.) Then, along come the horrific tragedies of 9/11 leaving them all devastated and unsuccessful, feeling like they can’t move on with their lives. At the risk of “spoiling” the book for anyone who hasn’t read it – Bootie even fakes his own death so that he can get away and start over again. And the writing style-being a bit wordy and over done-was a little difficult to read (it’s almost as if Messud thought that the excessive use of punctuation marks would make the book sightly more interesting.) Hyphens, parenthesis, heck she throws interjections into her sentences that are so long you have to go back and read the beginning of the sentence again to understand what she’s writing. This one (obviously) took me a while to read. I thought about just giving up on it several times, but I really wanted to make my way all the way through it. Here’s what I took away from it: “The Emperor’s Children is a pretentious, over-written book about spoiled 30-somethings in New York City over-exaggerating the difficulties of their lives.”
After stumbling across a lot of “books to read in your 20’s” and “books to read before 30” lists I decided to compile my own list of books that I want to read before I turn 30. Just consider this my ultimate reading challenge for the next 5 years.
1. The Emperor’s Children by Claire Messud √
2. What She Saw… by Lucinda Rosenfeld
3. The Deptford Trilogy by Robertson Davies
4. The Secret History by Donna Tartt
5. Giovanni’s Room by James Baldwin√
6. A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan
7. The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junet Diaz
9. The Moviegoer by Walker Percy
10. White Teeth by Zadie Smith
11. The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay by Michael Chabon
12. Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace
13. Bright Lights, Big City by Jay McInerney
14. The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri
15. Call Me by Your Name by André Aciman
16. The Rachel Papers by Martin Amis
17. Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison
18. The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway
19. Never Let Go by Kazuo Ishiguro
20. A Home at the End of the World by Michael Cunnigham
21. The Sandman Series by Neil Gaiman
22. The Group by Mary McCarthy
24. Pastoralia by George Saunders
25. Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
26. A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius by Dave Eggers
27. The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath
28. Main Street by Sinclair Lewis
29. Generation X by Douglas Coupland
30. The Fortress of Solitude by Johnathan Lethem
31. Housekeeping by Marilynne Robinson
32. I Love Dick by Chris Kraus
33. On the Road by Jack Kerouac
34. Even Cowgirls get the Blues by Tom Robbins
35. Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World by Haruki Murakami
36. Bossypants by Tina Fey
37. Kitchen Confidential by Anthony Bourdain
38. How to Lose Friends and Alienate People by Toby Young
39. The Dirt by Motley Crue and Neil Strauss
40. Lunar Park by Bret Easton Ellis
41. Just Kids by Patti Smith
42. Another Bullshit Night in Suck City by Nick Flynn
43. Oh the Glory of it All by Sean Wilsey
44. I Don’t Care about Your Band by Julie Klausner
45. Wild by Cheryl Strayed
47. I’m with the Band by Pamela Des Barres
48. Dear Diary by Leslie Arfin
49. The Complete Poems of Anne Sexton
50. Actual Air by David Berman
51. The Collected Poems of Kenneth Koch
52. Alien vs. Predator by Michael Robbins
53. The Collected Poems of Audre Lord
54. Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris
55. How to be a Woman by Catlin Moran
56. My Misspent Youth by Meghan Daum
57. Slouching Towards Bethlehem by Joan Didion
58. Up in the Old Hotel by Joseph Mitchell
59. Stumbling on Happiness by Daniel Gilbert
60. The Road Less Traveled by M. Scott Peck
61. Getting Things Done by David Allen
63. Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand
64. Walden by Henry David Thoreau
65. The Magic of Thinking Big by David Schwartz
66. Predictably Irrational by Dan Ariely
67. The 4-Hour Workweek by Time Ferriss
68. How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie
69. Siddhartha by Herman Hesse
70. 1984 by George Orwell
71. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
72. The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
73. The Richest Man in Babylon by George S. Clason
74. Quitter by Jon Acuff
75. The Success Principles by Jack Canfield and Janet Switzer
76. The Paradox of Choice: Why More is Less by Barry Schwartz
78. The Art of War by Sun Tzu
79. The Wisdom of Crowds by James Surowieckiv
80. The Power of Full Engagement by Jim Loehr and Tony Schwartz
81. Switch: How to Change Things When Change is Hard by Chip and Dan Heath
82. The Four Agreements by Miguel Ruiz
83. Economics in One Lesson by Henry Hazlitt
84. Rich Dad, Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki
85. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams
86. Bad Behavior by Mary Gaitskill
87. The Edible Woman by Margaret Atwood
88. To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf
89. White Teeth by Zadie Smith
90. The Golden Notebook by Doris Lessing
91. Nightwood by Djuna Barnes
92. Delta of Venus Anaïs Nin
93. Self-Help by Lorrie Moore
94. The Portable Dorothy Parker by Dorothy Parker
95. The Complete Claudine by Colette
96. The Liars’ Club by Mary Karr
98. The Silent Woman by Janet Malcolm
99. Magic for Beginners by Kelly Link
100. The Complete Stories of Flannery O’Connor
101. Against Interpretation by Susan Sontag
102. The Unbearable Lightness of Being by Milan Kundera
103. Sula by Toni Morrison
104. Bastard Out of Carolina by Dorothy Allison
I Rated It:
Based on some of the other reviews I’ve read on this book, I feel it’s necessary to start this review by stating what this book is not. This book is not a work of literary genius filled with beautiful imagery and outstanding symbolism. If that’s what you are looking for you might as well just stop reading my review right now. This book IS a fast-paced, exciting, semi-dark young adult novel. At first the book seemed almost too cliche, even for YA fiction. Once I got through about the first third of the book it got interesting. That was the point when Graylee Perez woke up in her twin sisters body to discover that she had actually been dead for several months. This book is filled with family drama and cheesy high school love scenes, but isn’t that what makes for a good YA novel. It’s a very fun, quick read. I will definitely be reading the second book in the series!
I read this book as part of the “Indie Fever Reading Challenge”
I have read 1 of 15 books towards my goal.
I Rated It:
I’m a bit embarrassed that it has taken me so long to finish this book. It was a well written account of a year in the life of a mother of Down Syndrome. Hampton holds nothing back in describing her feelings about Nella’s condition or the transformation that takes place within her over her daughter’s first year of life. This is probably a great first read for someone who has never worked within the realm of children with disabilities. It just wasn’t exactly what I was looking for personally. I appreciate personal stories of adversity, but when it comes to books such as this one, I am generally looking for things that cater more towards professional study and/or professional experience with children who have disabilities. It’s a very nice book; well written, beautiful pictures, and very honest. Great personal story. Doesn’t do much for people who have worked with disabled children in the past and are looking to gain more professional insight.
Hampton references this letter in which one mother uses an interesting metaphor to describe her feelings about raising a child with a disability.
WELCOME TO HOLLAND
Emily Perl Kingsley.
c1987 by Emily Perl Kingsley. All rights reserved
I am often asked to describe the experience of raising a child with a disability – to try to help people who have not shared that unique experience to understand it, to imagine how it would feel. It’s like this……
When you’re going to have a baby, it’s like planning a fabulous vacation trip – to Italy. You buy a bunch of guide books and make your wonderful plans. The Coliseum. The Michelangelo David. The gondolas in Venice. You may learn some handy phrases in Italian. It’s all very exciting.
After months of eager anticipation, the day finally arrives. You pack your bags and off you go. Several hours later, the plane lands. The stewardess comes in and says, “Welcome to Holland.”
“Holland?!?” you say. “What do you mean Holland?? I signed up for Italy! I’m supposed to be in Italy. All my life I’ve dreamed of going to Italy.”
But there’s been a change in the flight plan. They’ve landed in Holland and there you must stay.
The important thing is that they haven’t taken you to a horrible, disgusting, filthy place, full of pestilence, famine and disease. It’s just a different place.
So you must go out and buy new guide books. And you must learn a whole new language. And you will meet a whole new group of people you would never have met.
It’s just a different place. It’s slower-paced than Italy, less flashy than Italy. But after you’ve been there for a while and you catch your breath, you look around…. and you begin to notice that Holland has windmills….and Holland has tulips. Holland even has Rembrandts.
But everyone you know is busy coming and going from Italy… and they’re all bragging about what a wonderful time they had there. And for the rest of your life, you will say “Yes, that’s where I was supposed to go. That’s what I had planned.”
And the pain of that will never, ever, ever, ever go away… because the loss of that dream is a very very significant loss.
But… if you spend your life mourning the fact that you didn’t get to Italy, you may never be free to enjoy the very special, the very lovely things … about Holland.
In chapter 4 of Bloom, Kelle Hampton shares the lyrics to this song by Sara Groves. Hampton’s sister shared the song with her shortly after she gave birth to Nella, who has Down Syndrome. It’s a beautiful song and the lyrics are very inspirational; quite fitting for what the author was going through at that time in her life.
I have decided to participate in the 2014 “Indie Fever Reading Challenge.” I will be participating at the amateur level which means that my goal may be to read anywhere between 1 and 24 self-published books. For this challenge, I will be aiming to read 15 self-published books each by a different author during the year of 2014.
See List Below:
1. Entangled by Nikki Jefford √
2. Shine not Burn by Elle Casey
3. And all the Stars by Andrea K. Host
4. The Edge of Darkness by Lissa Bilyk
5. True Love Story by Willow Aster
6. Scriber by Ben S. Dobson
7. The Impact of You by Kendall Ryan
8. Wishing for Someday Soon by Tiffany King
9. The 19 Dragons by S.M. Reine
10. No One’s Angel by Kelly Walker√
11. Now or Never by A.J. Bennett√
12. Blind Obsession by Ella Frank
13. Safe Word by Teresa Mummert
14. Knotted Roots by Ruthi King√
15. Shattered by Elizabeth Lee
Check back soon for my reviews and updates on my progress!
To get the ball rolling, here is a quick update on the book I am currently reading.
Bloom: Finding Beauty in the Unexpected, is a memoir written by Kelle Hampton, who gave birth to a little girl with Down Syndrome in 2010. Before I began reading the book, I did not realize that the author is a talented professional photographer. The book includes beautiful color photos, works of both the author and other photographers. Some of the photos were also contributed to the book by the author’s family. The photos are shown in superb quality in the Kindle Edition of this book as well! They’ve really added to my reading experience and helped me to feel more connected to the author and her family.
For more information about the author and to view some of her stunning photos, visit: