Friday, March 12, 2010

Happy Birthday, Pat!

Happy 32nd Birthday to my son, my greatest blessing.

Twenty-Five Books Women Love

Just read this on AOL and thought I'd repost it here.  A few of my favorites from the list:  Little Women;  Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood;  Pride and Prejudice;  and The Five Love Languages. 

Twenty-Five Books Women Love
posted Mar 11th 2010 4:44PM by Genevieve Cruz

We at AOL Shopping wanted to put together a list of books every woman should read, so we asked our readers that very question. This is what we got: an eclectic group of books, all recommended by women for women. Whether these books inspired these readers, made them think, laugh or cry, they all share one common factor: they are books women want to pass along! You're bound to discover a new book here or get moved to read an old favorite. We sprinkled in some of our staff's favorites too (you know we wouldn't be able to resist). And we know this isn't the end-all, be-all list of books......

Committed: A Skeptic Makes Peace with Marriage by Elizabeth Gilbert

"Questions the institution of marriage from all perspectives. But before you read Committed, you must read Gilbert's earlier memoir: Eat, Pray, Love. Every woman I've given a copy of this book has come back to me saying she couldn't put it down, and every woman I've ever spoken to about the book says there is something Gilbert discusses that seems to have been written just for her." -- Alice Girardot

(I'm reading this now and am enjoying it....I loved Eat, Pray, Love.)

Handle with Care by Jodi Picoult

"Jodi Picoult can tell a story in a way that is unlike any author I have come across. Her books are always gripping and this one, which came out in 2009, is no exception. In this novel, Picoult challenges the reader to ask the question: "What length would you go to as a parent to help your child." -- Joyce Carole (Joyce also suggests Anna Karenina)

The Help by Kathryn Stockett

"This first novel by Stockett is amazing. It is one of the few books that I have read that touched on every emotion: anger, humor, humility, excitement, intrigue and passion. It is set in Mississippi in the early 60's and supersedes all of the stereotypes that you would have about a novel at this racially charged time. You can't stop reading it and when you are finished, you wish the book would continue. I highly recommend this book for anyone interested in a little more depth than the usual but wants to be entertained all the same."
-- Marquette Heaven

(Just started this....I usually am reading 2-3 books simultaneously, picking up and putting down each as the mood strikes.)

Making Toast by Roger Rosenblatt

"A 176 pager and great memoir of what it's like to lose a child and helping a family to recover from the loss. I recently lost a loved one and have been having a hard time with my own grief as well as my family struggling to deal with theirs. This book reminds us the value, strength and importance of a family. A great comfort and a must read!" -- Michelle Basile

Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Last Olympian by Rick Riordan

"I love book anthologies, and this one especially since it is based on Ancient Greek myths, which has some excellent stories. The author did a wonderful build-up to his final book in this anthology. He stayed true to the genre along with showing a great deal of respect for religion and disabled individuals (Percy has dyslexia). Overall, I fell in love with the series again after reading this book." -- Dawn Lucan

Reading Lolita in Tehran by Azar Nafisi

"This memoir is Azar's story of how she started a class in her home about Western literature after she resigned from teaching at the University of Allameh Tabatabei in Iran. It explores the effect reading the West's best literature can have on those who read it. It also sheds light on the what life is like in an oppressive war zone. As a woman, I feel it is important for women all over the world to read about the experiences of women from their own firsthand accounts."-- Wendy Withers

Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man by Steve Harvey

 "This is a funny and endearing look into all the bad relationship advice women have been giving each other for years. Steve Harvey has successfully decoded what men are made up of, how they think, what motivates them and how they love. It was an incredible eye opener. I wish I had read it 10 years ago. Yes, it does give up the relationship games played for generations. However, it empowers women to take control of their standards and treat themselves how they want to be treated first. And that is true love." -- Robin Aguilar

The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz

"Peppered with Diaz's electrifying (and uproariously hilarious) language, this book takes you back to those high school and college days, a time you wished you'd been nicer to boys, nicer to girls, nicer to yourself. But it leaves you somehow invigorated that you are who you are. Now." -- Lori Gordon (Lori also suggests How Proust Can Change Your Life)

Pursue the Passion by Brett Farmiloe

"Life is complicated enough for women without the burden of a frustrating work life. This book explores the notion that doing what you love will surely bring you not only a paycheck, but a sense of real satisfaction. There's a staggering statistic showing that more than 75 million people hate their jobs. This book will inspire you that anything is possible and life is far too short to hate what you do for 40+ hours per week."
-- Sharon Murphy

The Lost Symbol by Dan Brown

"Don't let the movies inspired by Dan Brown's novels fool you -- his written word is powerful and a nail-biting page turner. This is his latest mystery thriller also featuring the symbologist Robert Langdon, who we first met in Angels & Demons and The Da Vinci Code. I love that the story keeps me guessing, and puzzle lovers will race to solve the clues before Dan Brown reveals them. Or, if you're like me, you can stay completely clueless right up to the conclusion!" -- Kareena Macasaet

Winter Garden by Kristin Hannah

 "I think that every woman should see or begin to see their own mother in a different light. I challenge anyone to read this book (published in 2010) without having to use a tissue or two... maybe three. After tragedy strikes, a family is left to care for their Russian frigitd and sometimes cold-hearted mother. As the story develops, it is learned through her fairy tales that the mother had suffered greatly during Stalin's reign in Russia." -- Sarah Brooks

(This might be my next read.)

Confessions of a Shopaholic by Sophie Kinsella

 "This was my first real introduction into chick lit. Anyone who has ever justified a purchase by calling it an "investment" will appreciate this well written, funny and light hearted book. It is the first in a series of super successful Shopaholic books by Kinsella." -- Marquette Heaven

Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

"My personal all-time favorite classic is always a crowd-pleaser. Whether you have sisters or not, you'll appreciate the importance of sisterhood, of keeping your own identity even in a disciplined world, of doing the right thing, and finding love. And it's so much fun to read. Perfect to share with a tween-age daughter or neice!" -- Alice Girardot (Alice also suggests Little House on the Prairie)

(And March, the story of their father away in the Civil War interwoven with the Little Women storyline, is a fascinating look at not only him as a person, but also of his meeting and relationship with Marmee, the girls' mother, and his wartime experiences with the slaves.  Groaning through chapter one in which he drags a fallen comrade across land, I almost gave it up, thinking it a "guy" book.  Then it turns and we begin to know him intimately and it's hard to put down.  I can absolutely picture March in film.  But if we stick with the cast of the remake, which I confess I like -- Susan Sarandan as Marmee, Winona Ryder, Claire Danes, Kirstin Dunst -- I'm having trouble envisioning who would play March, himself.  Anyone?)

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou

 "Granted, most everything written by Maya Angelou is worth reading more than once but this one stands out as a five star read." -- Kris P. (Kris also suggests The Bell Jar and the The Color Purple)

(What's not to love about Maya Angelou?)

The Red Tent by Anita Diamant

"If you are a fan of historical fiction this book will not disappoint. Weaving stories about the life of women in biblical times filled me with a sense of female strength and kinship. Anita Diamant has created an inspiring story that leaves you thinking. Please just remember it is a work of fiction inspired by the Bible, but definitely takes some liberties." -- Clare Valudes (Clare also suggests The Birth of Venus and The Poisonwood Bible)

The Biblical Story of Ruth

"Most commonly found in the Old Testament of the Christian Bible, this short story continues to enthrall the hearts of women all over the world. Simply magical." -- Kris P. (Kris also suggests The Swan House)

Push by Sapphire

"There is a reason why Precious has won a number of awards this year. Push, the novel the movie is based on, is a story everyone should read. It is an important book because, unfortunately, many young women around the world suffer similar fates to the novel's heroine." -- Wendy Withers

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

"Fitzgerald will enchant you with line after line of elegant prose filled with romantic imagery and metaphors. His language is beautiful, but his story is tragic. This deception echoes further within the characters and their lives, revealing truths of the human condition and the hollowness of the American Dream. Fitzgerald is a true poet, well-versed in the study of humanity; and this is his masterpiece. You'll fall in love." -- Gina Nguyen

Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood by Rebecca Wells

"Getting to know your own mother is like getting to yourself. As women, we are each a piece of our mother and her history. As a reader, I got hooked on "Divine Secrets" because of the rich detail of the histories of the characters and their relationships with each other." -- Sarah Brooks

(I'm usually a film-over-the-book fan -- I know, I know, a traitor to English departments everywhere -- but this one ties!)

The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne

"It is a fascinating exploration of religion, morality, love, revenge, and the need to live an authentic life. It is a must-read for me, because it explores the decisions we make as women and how we let society around us dictate our actions and even our emotions." -- Wendy Withers

(Well-said!  As ever -- the independent, and admittedly, rebellious -- feminist that I am.)

Pride & Prejudice by Jane Austen

 "One more awesome love story! While the movie is excellent there's nothing like reading the actual black and white print of a five star romance to make your heart skip a beat and the breath to catch in your throat." -- Kris P. (Kris also suggests Mrs. Dalloway)

(Great romantic story, but again, I liked the movie heart belongs to the film medium.) 

Are You There God. It's Me, Margaret by Judy Blume

 "Published in 1970, I am not sure how I, or other pre-teen girls, would have survived those formative years without Blume. Tackling female "development', religion and boys, Blume hits all the right marks. You can truly identify with Margaret's struggles and laugh along with her, even during her most traumatic life experiences." -- Sharon Murphy

(I would recommend her novel, Summer Sisters, too.)

The Good Earth by Pearl S. Buck

"In this Pulitzer Prize winning novel, Buck tells the harsh reality of peasant life in China during the 1930's. This includes the women of the Chinese culture and their sacrifices. Her book continues to entertain and inspires us nearly 80 years later. It is a brilliant piece of literature, one of value for every generation." -- Susan Mayfield (Susan also suggests The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks)

(Makes me so grateful to be living now.  And envious of the truly equal marriages I see in my son's generation.)

The Five Love Languages by Gary Demonte Chapman

"I love books that can give you insight into your relationships and offer advice on how to improve your relationships. Chapman's concept is that everyone speaks and understands love through a certain love language and by knowing yours and your significant other's love language, you can have a better relationship. I got a lot out of this and you can really apply it to all your relationships in life." -- Genevieve Cruz (Genevieve also suggests Captivating)

(One of so many books about relationships that should be required reading.  I can think of other better ones, but this one is right up there on the list.)

The Volcano Lover by Susan Sontag

"So I'm on a retro reading binge at the moment, and this moment very much revolves around Susan Sontag. This is one of the most literary of the literary fiction I've read. And it involves art. It plunges to the depths and crests of character development. Sontag is brilliant in this. There's so much more to savor. It definitely merits another read." -- Lori Gordon (Lori also suggests The Matisse Stories )