“Sometimes you read a book so special that you want to carry it around with you for months after you’ve finished just to stay near it.”
― Markus Zusak
1. The Poisonwood Bible By Barbara Kingsolver- This is the story of an evangelical Baptist missionary who moves his wife and four daughters to the Belgian Congo in 1959. Dad is a little nuts to say the least and nothing the family does to prepare for this trip pans out. Force-feeding Jesus to the people of the Congo is an ill fated mission from the start. I related so completely to this book perhaps because it is told from the alternating POV of a mother and her four daughters and also because I grew up in an evangelical church that saw a regular a parade of missionaries through its doors. Each daughter, in one way or another, reminded me of my own daughters and as I read it my daughters would ask me what their character was up to. It was especially tragic for all of us when one of them died. Nathan Price, the father, comes up with ridiculous punishments for his children, most of which are related to the Bible. Poisonwood Bible was tragic, funny, clever, sad, and above all, well written. Saying goodbye to the characters at the end of this book was very difficult as I felt like I was a part of their family.
2. A Thousand Splendid Suns By Khalid Hosseini- I love the way the female characters in this book, both wives of the cruel and sadistic Rasheed, take care of one another rather than allowing the situation they are in to cause them to strike out at each other with bitterness or hostility. Mariam and Laila are utterly alone and unprotected in this harsh society, but the strong alliance they form allows for some measure of comfort, love, and eventually resolution for both women. What makes this book so uplifting is observing the self-reliance and resilience of Mariam and Laila as well as they ways in which they help each other and rely upon one another. Women everywhere can learn a lesson from these two.
3. Night By Elie Wiesel- This desperately sad account of the Holocaust is the most haunting I have ever read. The images, the words, the brutal honesty stick with me to this day.
4. City of Thieves By David Benioff- City of Thieves is a fantastic story that takes place in 1942 in Leningrad. The city has been cut off from all supplies by the Nazis and its citizens have resorted to cannibalism and eating the glue from the spines of books. Kolya, a 22 year old deserter, and Lev, a 17 year old Jewish boy, are picked up one night by the Soviets and thrown into prison. They are given the seemingly impossible task of finding a dozen eggs for a high-ranking Soviet official’s daughter’s wedding or they will be executed. Lev and Kolya must travel through the snow and bitter cold into Nazi occupied territory to accomplish their task. This story has it all: a perilous quest, comedy, romance, suspense, tragedy, and history. I was thoroughly satisfied when I finished reading this book.