In the small Greek village I grew up in, my father read poetry to me when I was too young to understand any of it, and likely because of this I was pulled to the sound of the words and to reading anything that came my way. In high school, I fell in love with Plato’s writings, and later, as an undergraduate, philosophy saved me from my official major: economics. I continued in my Psychology Master’s, with Paul Kline’s “exceptional abilities” course, a philosophy class about consciousness. I read tons of books and I am enticed by writers who search for life’s questions and self-awareness.
At the heart of all this, a motley crew of “Minor & Major Immortals” mingle: Socrates, Alma-Jane’s dead grandfather. Dr. Harvey, a neuroscientist who conducts research on “Pure Mighties,” lab engineered mice that lack a fear gene. And, finally, ΩNING, a 7-year-old humanoid who loves playing the piano. What connects all these characters is the belief that “wise-thinking” leads to a longer and happier future, and that it’s the only way to guarantee a “Life bigger than Death.”
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Its plot is Kunderian, light, and poetical. The story initiates from a simple gesture by Agnes, one of the protagonists, but as it progresses the reader begins to feel the heaviness of mortality and the endless challenges of love. It’s a beautiful discussion on the nature of one’s legacy, and how one changes (or not) through the passage of time, and unfortunately can’t do much about it.
Bernard reminds Leigh-Cheri that “Love is the ultimate outlaw. It just won't adhere to any rules. The most any of us can do is to sign on as its accomplice. Instead of vowing to honor and obey, maybe we should swear to aid and abet.” One of the best reads for one who is in love or in need of falling in love!
The book is about the artist, as well as any ordinary human being, who yearns to reach his/her own higher potential or to live for something higher and for a moment he/she does. This literary work of genius is a hymn to the irremediable desire of the humble soul that reaches for the stars, despite the fact that in the majority, or almost all, of its life lives in the gutter.
Even though Liesel’s everyday life is struck by war, she manages to find comfort within the stolen words of books. Thus her playfulness and curiosity survive and among them Liesel’s ability to keep on hoping, in spite of the fact that most of her beloved family and friends perish before the war ends. The Book Thief is a bright take on the grim realities of war and it might remind you of Benigni’s academy award movie winner Life is Beautiful.
We think you will like Beyond The Moon, Convenience Store Woman, and Gone With the Wind if you like this list.
This is Taylor’s debut novel and like my book, the time slip element takes us back to World War 1 in 1916. Louisa is admitted to Coldbrook Hall Psychiatric hospital after an accident in which she is believed to have tried to commit suicide. Whilst there she slips back to her days at a hospital treating wounded soldiers and falls in love with Robert Lovett. Not only must she find a way to remain with him, but she must find him when he is taken prisoner on the Western Front. The detailed descriptions of life in the trenches really brought the horrors of WW1 to life. Taylor has researched this area thoroughly and her vivid writing style allows the reader to experience the cold, muddy, and rat-infested conditions for themselves.
The author’s observations on everyday life during the war add interest and are sometimes surprising, for instance, the fact that West End shows were still running, the attitudes towards women undertaking war work, and the consequences of shell shock for those returning to normal life. I also liked that Louisa finds an ally who believes her story and helps her rather than dismissing her as delusional.
This book contrasts with many time slips in that Louisa is mistaken for a woman from the past and takes on her identity, living her life when it is tragically cut short.
My only reservation with this story is the portrayal of Coldbrook Hall in the present. Louisa is admitted against her will and whilst we know this is entirely possible, I found it unlikely she would be considered suicidal it would be clear to anyone involved that the landslide was a natural occurrence and not a suicide attempt. That aside, the love story element and the historical detail will keep readers turning the pages and if you sign up for the author’s newsletter you get bonus content too.
From Nina's list on the best books with iconoclastic women.
Keiko Furukura can’t find her fit in the world until she’s hired as a sales clerk at Smile Mart. (I imagine it’s like the 7-11 stores in Tokyo, which serve pretty good food.) She’s an ideal worker, primarily because her passion for Smile Smart is genuine. Yet her sister and others think she should marry, pursue a career, and at least have a boyfriend. Herein lies the heart of the inner struggle, to which each of us navigates to some degree or another: how much to relinquish oneself in order to please others? Keiko’s inner battle is valiant and believable, and I rooted for her throughout the story to choose her idiosyncratic, odd self over something as bland as the world’s definition of female.
From Joy's list on the best books with strong and complex female characters.
It’s been years since I’ve read this book and yet I could tell you a million details about the story, the main character as well as the side characters. I didn’t like the character of Scarlet for the majority of the book but I always understood her and respected her determination to survive no matter what. I can’t help but admire Margaret for writing such a strong, complex character.