Wednesday, January 15, 2014

January reading: 2014 is looking good!


Today I'm linking up with Modern Mrs. Darcy's monthly "Twitterature" post to share what I've been reading.

 If the rest of the books I end up reading in 2014 are half as good as these first two, it's going to be a great year!




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Bel Canto by Ann Patchett (fiction).  It's about a hostage-taking that occurs at a party for an important businessman in an unnamed South American country.  "Hostage-taking" implies a grim, violent story, but this book is neither.  The way the author explores the growing relationships among the captors and captives -- with opera as the central theme -- is funny, sad, and beautiful.

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Tattoos on the Heart:  The Power of Boundless Compassion by Father Gregory Boyle (nonfiction).  Boyle, a Jesuit priest, has worked for over twenty years with gang members in Los Angeles.  In this book he weaves stories of the people he's met with themes of compassion, grace, and kinship, emphasizing how much each individual person matters to God and how knowing one's true worth can lead to remarkable change in a life.  Boyle is a gifted writer who made me laugh hysterically one moment and moved me to tears the next.  I would count this among the best books I've ever read about the Christian faith -- but anyone with a heart for marginalized people would find it well worth reading.

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Next on my to-read list:  What Matters in Jane Austen? by John Mullan.

What have you read so far in 2014?


18 comments:

  1. Oh, I loved Bel Canto, and your assessment is spot-on. The plot sounds so improbable, and definitely sounds grim, but Patchett really pulls it off.

    I've heard great things about Boyle's book, and I'll be looking forward to hearing how you like the Austen book.

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    1. Thanks, Anne! I was so glad to finally read Bel Canto after reading so many great reviews. My book study group is discussing it in a couple of weeks so that will be even better.

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  2. Bel Canto is so wonderful. It's one of my all time favorites!

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    1. So glad to have finally read it. It's one of those books people tell you about and then you read it and think "Why didn't I read this sooner!!!???" Thanks for stopping by, MJ.

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  3. Oh man, I loved Bel Canto. So much so that I've been a bit disappointed in some of the other Patchett books I've read. (Magician's Assistant, I'm looking at you!) I bet that will be really fun to talk about with your book club.

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    1. Thanks, Sarah! Someone told me State of Wonder is really good and I was thinking of trying it next. Have you read that one?

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    2. I have to answer that for you. :) Bel Canto is a top-five favorite book of mine. State of Wonder left me feeling a little disappointed. I have read some of Truth and Beauty but nothing else by Patchett. I'm afraid Bel Canto set the bar quite high for me.

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    3. Thanks, Dawn -- actually, the friend who originally lent me Bel Canto said exactly the same thing!

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  4. I haven't read anything by Ann Patchett, but have seen her name and works everywhere! Have you read others by her?

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    1. Not her novels, but I have read her book Truth and Beauty, about her friendship with writer Lucy Grealy (whose Autobiography of a Face is about Grealy's jaw cancer, surgeries, etc.). It was v. good, sad though.

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  5. Bel Canto is just a hard book to describe, isn't it Jeannie? So good.

    Tattoos on the Heart - you have entirely convinced me to add it to my to-read list. I'm a struggling and doubt-filled Christian to say the least but it sounds like a book I'd like. And my 19 year-old social work major of a daughter would love it.

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    1. I'm sure you would both like it, Shana. Thanks for stopping by today!

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  6. You've really sold me on Tattoos on the Heart. It sounds incredibly powerful!

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    1. I hope you'll check it out; it really is an incredible book.

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  7. I'm going to add Tattoos on the Heart to my to-reads in 2014. Thanks for the review!

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    1. You're welcome, Jenn -- I hope you enjoy it. Thanks for stopping by here too.

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  8. Added Bel Canto to my list! Sounds interesting :)

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    1. I hope you like it, Stacey; I was certainly glad I finally read it! Thanks for stopping by.

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