Tuesday, September 20, 2016

On the Bookshelf: Memoirs & Some Delightful Novels

Hello, everyone! I've been reading up a storm in the past several weeks, so I think it's time to discuss some literature. First, though, I want to give a shout-out to Michelle, because her book recommendations are one of the first places I look when I want to read some new and exciting stories. Some of the books I'm discussing today I first discovered on her awesome blog. Anyways, let's link up with Tuesday Talk to discuss books!

The Seven Storey Mountain, by Thomas Merton. This book is a beast, and I actually began reading it years ago, while a freshman in college. But homework happened, teaching Totus Tuus happened, engagement happened, etc, so I didn't get around to finishing it (well, I just re-started it from the beginning again) until a handful of weeks ago! This book is so good. I loved, absolutely loved, reading about Thomas Merton's life and conversion. The scene where he describes his Baptism was particularly epic. This book says a lot about so many things, but I think one of the big ones that stood out for me is God's peace. The importance of actively seeking God's peace, the importance of living in His peace, the importance of letting God guide our lives. I highly recommend this book!

The Story of the Trapp Family Singers, by Maria Augusta Trapp. I grew up watching-and loving-The Sound of Music. So, I was excited to hear about this book, and eagerly read it...and discovered that it is not like the movie. Well, some of the plot points are similar, but as the story went on, I realized why the book's cover said "The story that inspired The Sound of Music." You know what? I love that movie, but I love this book even more. It gives a much fuller image of Maria's discernment and story, as well as that of the whole family. It talks about their financial struggles, their immigration to America, and the hardships that they endured. It talks about that one time when a doctor was pressuring Maria to have an abortion, and that other time when she and the Captain wound up having lunch at a table adjacent to Hitler's. What I loved most was that this book is all about seeking God's will, even when it makes no sense. It also described how the Trapp family celebrated the liturgical year together, and how their Catholic faith shaped their activities and prayer. Basically, this book is wonderful, and I highly recommend it!!!!!!!

My Life in France, by Julia Child. I never knew much about Julia Child before I read this book. I saw her occasionally on TV when I was little, so I always thought of her as "that famous chef who knows so much!" What I never imagined was that Julia Child didn't even begin cooking until she was in her thirties. Mindblown. I guess I had always thought of her as a child prodigy in the kitchen, so I think her story says a lot about how the human person can continue learning things and developing talents long past his or her childhood. I enjoyed reading her story, and it helped me appreciate food more. It was a fun read! I recommend it for people who like memoirs, people like cooking, and people who love France.

Salt to the Sea, by Ruta Sepetys. I love reading about WWII. I enjoy memoirs, articles, and historical fiction set in this time period. I find it super fascinating! So, I really, really enjoyed this book. First off, there doesn't seem to be very much WWII fiction that is set in Eastern Europe and isn't about the Holocaust. Secondly, I don't think I had ever heard about the Wilhelm Gustloff, so I really enjoyed learning about that! Thirdly, I found the pace marvelous, and I liked that the story is told through the eyes of several different characters who we grow to love more and more (or dislike more and more) and eventually find their stories intertwined. I'd say middle school on up could read this. It's quite an excellent book for teens and adults alike!

Major Pettigrew's Last Stand, by Helen Simonson. This novel was simply delightful, charming, and oh so lovely. It follows Major Pettigrew, a widower who is long retired from the military, as he deals with life, change, and family in the small English town where he lives. He strikes up a sweet friendship with a Pakistani widow, and the rest is history. This story was so sweet but not to marshmallow fluffy for me; it said some good things about respecting other cultures and history, and hit some philosophical notes here and there. I didn't like some sexual references that were given (why is fornication so normalized?!?!?!) but I appreciated that most things were handled delicately. I recommend this book for older teens and adults.

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, by Jane Austen & Seth Grahame-Smith. This novel was a delight to read. Much of the story follows Austen's novel closely, with zombies inserted here and there, and I liked it-for the most part. I really, really loved that all of the sisters were fleshed out more than they were in the movie (you can see my review of the movie here). I was glad that instead of tossing around under-developed plotlines (which the movie seemed to do), this story was, quite simply, Pride and Prejudice. Now, this book is funny in parts, but in other parts it's also a lot more brutal than the movie. Some characters have no qualms about killing off others who aren't even zombified yet (I'm looking at you, Elizabeth Bennet. Sooo many dead ninjas in this book), and many of the zombies seemed more in the vein of The Walking Dead than the mostly-person-zombies of the P&P&Z movie. I personally could have done with a little less violence, but I still enjoyed reading the book. Even though it is a bit different from the movie, it helps me appreciate the movie more, because there are parts of the movie that I like quite a bit, like the laugh-out-loud humor (while the book was fun, it didn't make me laugh like the movie). There is some tragedy in the book which I was not expecting, and I'm glad that the movie left those parts out. This is a fun read, and I recommend it for fans of Northanger Abbey!

I hope you enjoyed hearing about these books! Let me know if you have any recommendations, because I love hearing about awesome literature :) 


  1. I read "The Story of the Trapp Family Singers" years ago. It came as a surprise given my knowledge of the family was from the movie! I found their faith and perseverance through trials to be inspiring.

    1. That's so neat that you read it! Now that I've read it, I'm going to start telling other people about it because so many people are familiar with the movie-but it seems that very few people I know have heard about the book!

  2. Salt to the Sea YES. Loved it. And P&P&Z was soooo good. I'm not usually a fan of zombies, but I thought it was so fun how it was literally the exact story of P&P with just zombies added in. Hilarious!

    1. Yes! It's such a fun, delightful concept. I was sad at the plight of Charlotte and Mr. Collins in the book, though-I preferred how Mr. Collins was in the movie (but that probably also has to do with the fact that I really like Matt Smith).