Paul Kalanithi’s When Breath Becomes Air

When Breath Becomes Air was reassuring on many levels, albeit deeply heartbreaking. The book appeared on the breakroom table at my job one day, an advanced readers’ copy. As booksellers, this is one of the perks we get.

I picked up the book and read the letter that came along with the book. Lucy Kalanithi, Paul’s wife, was the author of the letter. She wanted the reader to know what a labor of love Paul’s book was, and how special it was to her to see it published. It was a gift to us, the bookseller. His book is truly a gift to all.

Before deciding on a career in medicine, Paul was an English Major. His writing is just phenomenal. He talks about books like the treasures they are. But though he was an English Major at first, Paul moved on to his other love, medicine. Breath is his journey from student of English to student of Medicine, to student of life, as he learned of his upcoming untimely death and prepared for the birth of his daughter.

They say life goes in cycles, and I grieve for Lucy and their daughter. Lucy has lost her love, and baby has lost the chance to know her father. But I know Lucy and her baby are in good hands.

Incidentally, I was once a long-time reader of A Cup of Jo, a blog by miss Joanna Goddard – twin to Lucy Kalanithi. This comforts me in knowing that Lucy is okay.

I recommend this book to both those who study the arts and those who study the sciences, but especially to those with a heart capable of understanding that art and science are twins just as life and death are, just as Lucy is, and just as night and day are.

 

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Summer Reading Program

Anyone have a summer reading list they made up for themselves?

I just finished When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanoithi and Lucy Kalanithi and will be reviewing it shortly. Spoiler Alert: This is a breathtaking, must-read.

Now onto The Great Gatsby. For me, this is a re-read… it’s one of my favorite stories despite its problems. The re-read this time is for pleasure, and in anticipation of the newest and likely last season of Pretty Little Liars.

Let’s talk books. Comment or send me a message!

A Tale of Two Besties

When I first started reading Sophia Rossi’s A Tale of Two Besties, I was unsure if I was going to like it. I love reading YA novels, but this book is on the cusp of middle grade. There are plenty of adults who love to read middle grade novels, and I applaud them. I cannot wait to read Roald Dahl, Jerry Spinelli, and Kate DiCamillo with my kids one day. But for now, it is teen & adult for me. Besties takes place in ninth grade, and is a novel about being yourself, and friendship. There is no sex or drugs, only one scene I could recall with alcohol. The alcohol scene was tame, and I would never suggest that someone over the age of ten could not read this book.

 

In the beginning, I was getting a little bit confused about who’s head I was in in the alternating chapters. After a while, Harper and Lilly began to have unique voices; I didn’t like either character very much, but I was sympathetic towards them. Having been a unique dresser in middle school and high school, I could sympathize with Lilly’s being alternately teased and copied when it came to her fashion accessories. I felt like she was definitely a little bit of a manic pixie dream girl at times, but there was no man to save her or change her, and for this I thank Rossi. The male characters in this book were side characters, relegated to best friend and boyfriend, and were not essential to the story at all. While this was refreshing, it would have been nice if there were any POC or LGBT characters in the novel. There were not.

 

I saw Sophia Rossi speak at the 2015 BookCon in New York City, which I attended on my own dollar. She, Tavi Gevinson, and Akilah Hughes were on a panel together. I would read another book by Rossi, but I would not read a sequel to Besties if there were to be one. However, as a bookseller who works in the children’s department, I will be recommending this book to those who insist that their 10 year old granddaughter is wise beyond her years, in MENSA, and simply cannot read another children’s book.

The Girls by Emma Cline; published June 14, 2016.

 

When I saw The Girls A.R.C. on the table at work, up for grabs, grab it I did. I’ve had the book on my to-read list for a few months now, and so when I saw it, I felt like it was a gift.

 

From the minute I started reading I was hooked. The first line is, “I looked up because of the laughter, and kept looking because of the girls.” I was immediately transported back to my early teenage years in which I looked at the girls around me as people I wanted to emulate, love, and become. Women are magical creatures, girls are exhilaratingly so.

 

Emma Cline is my own age (25-26) but she manages to capture the 1960’s so perfectly in her book, you’d think she time traveled. I recommend this book to people in their 20’s and 30’s – especially women. You need to be at an age where you can still not just connect to your teen self, but remember your teen self, and understand where she was coming from. I was really inspired to pick up the pen after reading this novel. It was paced well, and kept my interest throughout.

 

I will definitely be looking out for more Emma Cline books in the future. She signed a three book deal, of which The Girls is the first. The film rights have been purchased as well. So this is just the beginning of Cline’s possible, probable reign as Lit’s new Queen of Cool.

 

When the movie comes out, I imagine it will be all about Russell – but the book is definitely al about The Girls.

 

Pairs well with:

The Virgin Suicides movie or book

Lana Del Rey’s Honeymoon Album

the girl on the train, paula hawkins: book review

so i finally got off my ass and read the girl on the train, hawkins’ psychological thriller. this book has been constantly compared to gillian flynn’s gone girl, a book i thoroughly enjoyed, so i wasn’t sure about this one. after reading, i can see where the comparisons come from, but i don’t really agree with them. the villain in this movie is different, and i’m actually not sure that i like that.

so the simplest synopsis i can give of this novel is that rachel rides the train every day past her old house, capturing glimpses of her past and he delusions. eventually, she becomes entangled with the people on her old block – some she’s known for a long time, some she is about to get to know.

what i liked about rachel’s character is that she grows as a character, she is far from perfect, and… i can’t say anything else because i’d spoil the book for you.

i enjoyed the first 2/3 of this novel, but at the end, i was tempted to put the book down and google the ending.  i likely won’t see the movie but whether i do or don’t, i hope they change the ending. i was a little bit let down.

 

overall, 6.5/10.