I gave my sister a box of some of my favorite books for Christmas.
Nadine is a busy physician and mom of three active school-aged boys. She rarely has time to read anything beyond her medical journals.
When we were growing up, we both had our noses in books. (I remember a 6-week-long cross-country trip we took with our family...in the days before DVD players!...and we read the entire trip, while my brother just looked out the window.)
Recently she began reading Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone with her sons, and she remarked to me how much she was enjoying it. She said that it made her realize how much she'd missed reading, so she started reading Ken Follet's Pillars of the Earth. I've never read Pillars of the Earth, but apparently it's one of my mom's favorite books (which is why my sister was reading it). However, it's 983 pages long (depending on the edition)! I gently suggested that as she tried to get back into reading, she might want to try something a bit shorter and more satisfying than a dense, 983-page book! So I decided to help her along.
I came up with a selection of some of my favorites. They are nearly all by and about women, and many of them about sisters or very close friends (probably why they are my favorites!). This is what she got:
My Sister's Keeper by Jodi Picoult: "Gotta love that Jodi Picoult! Another gut-wrenching read that makes you think about what's important to you...and also surprises you at the end. It made me want to spend some quality time with my sister!"
The Glory Cloak by Patricia O'Brien: "I discovered this book because a woman I interviewed for a job in Honolulu brought the book to the interview (to read while she was waiting). I asked her about it, and she recommended it. Then we ended up not hiring her--and she sent me the book with a thank you card--sign of a true book lover. I loved this book! Delicious historical fiction loosely based on the lives of Louisa May Alcott and Clara Barton. A beautiful story of women's friendship in the time of war and trials."
The Girls by Lori Lansens: "Memorable, bittersweet, and beautiful story of a set of conjoined twins. It was a wonderful depiction of sisterhood."
My Year of Meats by Ruth Ozeki: "My new favorite writer! excellent parallel stories of a Japanese-American film maker and a Japanese housewife; explores Japan's fascination with all things American."
Women of the Silk by Gail Tsukiyama: "Beautiful story about silk workers in China. After recently hearing Tsukiyama speak in person, I decided to go back and read her novels in order. This is an excellent first novel, about the lives of women in China working in the silk trade. I loved it! Excellent story of women's friendship."
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Schaffer and Annie Burrows: "If you enjoy reading letters (the most important criterion, in my mind) and stories about friendship, books, and love winning out over class and creed, you will enjoy The Guernsey Literay and Potato Pie Peel Society." Click the link for a more detailed full review.
Jewel by Bret Lott: I read this before I started writing book reviews...but I remember liking this story of a woman in 1940s Mississippi who gives birth to a child with Down's Syndrome, Brenda Kay, and refuses the suggestions to institutionalize her. I guess Bret Lott is a man, so this is one exception to the all-female authors!
The Memory Keeper's Daughter by Kim Edwards: "Very sad, well-written book about a man who makes a split-second bad decision that affects his whole family for a lifetime."
If you were giving a box of books to a returning reader, what would you choose?