I am a changed woman.
I never thought I would turn my back on printed books. But it appears I'm moving in that direction.
Books have been a huge part of my life since I learned to read. In fact, I chose an English major in college, mostly because it allowed me to read a lot.
There have always been stacks of books next to my bed. There are books lining my bookshelves, and I have books in boxes that I can't bear to give away.
But once I start using a Kindle (a gift from my children), I've found I am switching my allegiance. I feel a bit guilty about it since books have been my friends for so long. But the Kindle offers several benefits I can't get with real book.
- I read more books with the Kindle. For some reason, I read faster using it. And I can order a new book without the delaying of going to a bookstore or ordering one online.
- It is much easier to hold while reading in bed. This is where I do 90% of my reading. Books get heavy and cumbersome. The Kindle is lightweight and easy to maneuver no matter what position you're in while reading.
- It is much easier for travel. Because it's so slim and lightweight, it's a no-brainer to choose it over a heavier book when traveling.
I will never give up real books altogether. They are still my first love. But in the past few months, I've been consuming Kindle books at an astounding rate and have read some that are really outstanding. I thought I'd share a few of my favorites with you.
by Diane Setterfield
For anyone who loves books, this is a great mystery and a beautiful story about writers told here in Diane Setterfield's debut novel. I loved the characters almost as much as the intriguing plot. Here's what Amazon has to say about the book:
Settle down to enjoy a rousing good ghost story with Diane Setterfield's debut novel, The Thirteenth Tale. Setterfield has rejuvenated the genre with this closely plotted, clever foray into a world of secrets, confused identities, lies, and half-truths. She never cheats by pulling a rabbit out of a hat; this atmospheric story hangs together perfectly.
There are two heroines here: Vida Winter, a famous author, whose life story is coming to an end, and Margaret Lea, a young, unworldly, bookish girl who is a bookseller in her father's shop. Vida has been confounding her biographers and fans for years by giving everybody a different version of her life, each time swearing it's the truth. Because of a biography that Margaret has written about brothers, Vida chooses Margaret to tell her story, all of it, for the first time.
by Tana French
This is a fantastic psychological thriller set in Ireland. The characters are fascinating and multifaceted, surprising you when you least expect it. The plot twist at the end is quite compelling. A real page-turner. Here's the Amazon description:
As dusk approaches a small Dublin suburb in the summer of 1984, mothers begin to call their children home. But on this warm evening, three children do not return from the dark and silent woods. When the police arrive, they find only one of the children gripping a tree trunk in terror, wearing blood-filled sneakers, and unable to recall a single detail of the previous hours.
Twenty years later, the found boy, Rob Ryan, is a detective on the Dublin Murder Squad and keeps his past a secret. But when a twelve-year-old girl is found murdered in the same woods, he and Detective Cassie Maddox—his partner and closest friend—find themselves investigating a case chillingly similar to the previous unsolved mystery. Now, with only snippets of long-buried memories to guide him, Ryan has the chance to uncover both the mystery of the case before him and that of his own shadowy past.
Richly atmospheric, stunning in its complexity, and utterly convincing and surprising to the end, In the Woods is sure to enthrall fans of Mystic River and The Lovely Bones.
by Amanda Coplin
Another amazing debut novel, this book is so beautifully-written you want to savor every word. The characters are both heartbreaking and admirable, and you find yourself immersed in their lives and personal stories. I adored this book. Here's the description:
At the turn of the twentieth century, in a rural stretch of the Pacific Northwest, a reclusive orchardist, William Talmadge, tends to apples and apricots as if they were loved ones. A gentle man, he's found solace in the sweetness of the fruit he grows and the quiet, beating heart of the land he cultivates.
One day, two teenage girls appear and steal his fruit from the market; they later return to the outskirts of his orchard to see the man who gave them no chase. Feral, scared, and very pregnant, the girls take up on Talmadge's land and indulge in his deep reservoir of compassion.
Just as the girls begin to trust him, men arrive in the orchard with guns, and the shattering tragedy that follows will set Talmadge on an irrevocable course not only to save and protect but also to reconcile the ghosts of his own troubled past.
by Susan Richards Shreve
This is a quirky little book about family secrets and how they impact the lives of these fascinating, unconventional, and highly-nuanced characters. Here's the story:
It is 1973 and Watergate is on everyone’s lips. Lucy Painter is a children's book illustrator and a single mother of two. She leaves New York and the married father of her children to live in a tightly knit Washington neighborhood in the house where she grew up and where she discovered her father’s suicide.
Lucy hopes for a fresh start, but her life is full of secrets: her children know nothing of her father’s death or the identity of their own father. As the new neighbors enter their insular lives, her family’s safety and stability become threatened.
by Eben Alexander M.D.
This is a fascinating and very compelling true account of a well-respected neurosurgeon who falls into a coma after contracting bacterial meningitis. During his 7 days in the coma, he has a near-death experience that is completely life-altering for this non-believing scientist.
Thousands of people have had near-death experiences, but scientists have argued that they are impossible. Dr. Eben Alexander was one of those scientists. A highly trained neurosurgeon, Alexander knew that NDEs feel real, but are simply fantasies produced by brains under extreme stress.
Then, Dr. Alexander’s own brain was attacked by a rare illness. The part of the brain that controls thought and emotion—and in essence makes us human—shut down completely. For seven days he lay in a coma. Then, as his doctors considered stopping treatment, Alexander’s eyes popped open. He had come back.
Alexander’s recovery is a medical miracle. But the real miracle of his story lies elsewhere. While his body lay in coma, Alexander journeyed beyond this world and encountered an angelic being who guided him into the deepest realms of super-physical existence. There he met, and spoke with, the Divine source of the universe itself.
by M. L. Steadman
The plot of this book reminds me of some of Jodi Picoult's books in which the characters are driven by tragic decisions and life-altering consequences. The story here takes place in Australia at the turn of the century when a lighthouse keeper and his wife discover baby in boat that has washed to the island. Here's the description:
After four harrowing years on the Western Front, Tom Sherbourne returns to Australia and takes a job as the lighthouse keeper on Janus Rock, nearly half a day’s journey from the coast. To this isolated island, where the supply boat comes once a season and shore leaves are granted every other year at best, Tom brings a young, bold, and loving wife, Isabel. Years later, after two miscarriages and one stillbirth, the grieving Isabel hears a baby’s cries on the wind. A boat has washed up onshore carrying a dead man and a living baby.
Tom, whose records as a lighthouse keeper are meticulous and whose moral principles have withstood a horrific war, wants to report the man and infant immediately. But Isabel has taken the tiny baby to her breast. Against Tom’s judgment, they claim her as their own and name her Lucy. When she is two, Tom and Isabel return to the mainland and are reminded that there are other people in the world. Their choice has devastated one of them.
by Kathleen Grissom
This is a wonderful historical novel set on a tobacco plantation in Virginia. Although the story of slavery and cruelty is all-to-familiar, the characters in this book are unique and well-developed. And the plot races from one compelling and tragic event to another, while showing the power of love and family.
When a white servant girl violates the order of plantation society, she unleashes a tragedy that exposes the worst and best in the people she has come to call her family.
Orphaned while onboard ship from Ireland, seven-year-old Lavinia arrives on the steps of a tobacco plantation where she is to live and work with the slaves of the kitchen house. Under the care of Belle, the master's illegitimate daughter, Lavinia becomes deeply bonded to her adopted family, though she is set apart from them by her white skin.
Eventually, Lavinia is accepted into the world of the big house, where the master is absent and the mistress battles opium addiction. Lavinia finds herself perilously straddling two very different worlds. When she is forced to make a life choice, loyalties are brought into question, dangerous truths are laid bare, and lives are put at risk.
by Susan Cain
I heard Ms. Cain speak this summer at The World Domination Summit I attended in July. As an introvert myself, I was fascinated with her premise that introverts are undervalued and often misunderstood. This is a great read for introverts or anyone who knows one!
At least one-third of the people we know are introverts. They are the ones who prefer conscious listening to speaking, reading to partying; who innovate and create with self-confidence; who favor working on their own over brainstorming in teams. Although they are often labeled “quiet,” it is to introverts that we owe many of the great contributions to society–from van Gogh’s sunflowers to the invention of the personal computer.
Passionately argued, impressively researched, and filled with indelible stories of real people, Quiet shows how dramatically we undervalue introverts, and how much we lose in doing so. Taking the reader on a journey from Dale Carnegie’s birthplace to Harvard Business School, from a Tony Robbins seminar to an evangelical megachurch, Susan Cain charts the rise of the Extrovert Ideal in the twentieth century and explores its far-reaching effects.
She talks to Asian-American students who feel alienated from the brash, backslapping atmosphere of American schools. She questions the dominant values of American business culture, where forced collaboration can stand in the way of innovation, and where the leadership potential of introverts is often overlooked. And she draws on cutting-edge research in psychology and neuroscience to reveal the surprising differences between extroverts and introverts.
In just a few weeks, I will be releasing my own book, The 52-Week Life Passion Project. It is a book of weekly lessons and actions to help you uncover and live your life passion. A companion Passion Project Workbook also will be available.
Each weekly lesson leads you on a journey of deeper self-awareness so that you gain more clarity on who you are, what you want in life, and how to go about getting it. Each lesson concludes with specific actions and assignments that you will complete during the week. The lessons and actions are designed to be followed sequentially so that you are working steadily toward uncovering your life passion and creating a realistic plan to live it in a way that works best for you and your life.
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