Monday, July 20, 2015

Where Is Your Bookmark? (07/21/2015)

It was nice to get away for a little while last week. The weather was perfect; I got to enjoy the best macaroni and cheese I have ever had; we took in a lot of sights and sun and enjoyed playing in the water. We were all spoiled by our vacation, my daughter especially. There were lots of tears on the drive home. Mouse did not want her vacation to end. And truthfully, I wasn't quite ready for it to end either.







We came back to rain and thunderstorms, which weren't exactly unwelcome. The rain is always welcome here. Although, we could have done without the flash floods.  Fortunately, we weren't one of the areas affected by power outages.

I did not get any reading done this past week. None. Zilch. Our entire vacation was full of activity and very little down time. When we were resting, we were eating or sleeping. I am still reading Kirsty Larson's The Gracekeepers, which I fell right back into when I picked it up again after my vacation.  I hope to finish it in the next day so so. I haven't decided what I will pick up next. I am kind of in the mood for a romance, but a mystery sounds good too.

I thought I would share a the opening of one of my all time favorite books with you today, one I feature below as part of the Top Ten list for the week.  Here is the opening of Lisa See's Snow Flower and the Secret Fan

I am what they call in our village "one who has not yet died"--a widow, eighty years old. Without my husband, days are long. I no longer care for the special foods that Peony and the others prepare for me. I no longer look forward to the happy events that settle under our roof so easily. Only the past interests me now. After all this time, I can finally say the things I couldn't when I had to depend on my natal family to reaise me or rely on my husband's family to feed me. I have a whole life to tell; I have nothing left to lose and few to offend.


Random teaser from Snow Flower and the Secret Fan: 

“When I knew I couldn't suffer another moment of pain, and tears fell on my bloody bindings, my mother spoke softly into my ear, encouraging me to go one more hour, one more day, one more week, reminding me of the rewards I would have if I carried on a little longer. In this way, she taught me how to endure--not just the physical trials of footbinding and childbearing but the more tortuous pain of the heart, mind, and soul. She was also pointing out my defects and teaching me how to use them to my benefit. In our country, we call this type of mother love teng ai. My son has told me that in men's writing it is composed of two characters. The first means pain; the second means love. That is a mother's love.”

What do you think? Would you keep reading?  

What are you reading at the moment?  Is it anything you would recommend?

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by the lovely ladies at Broke and Bookish.

This week's  Top Ten Tuesday theme is Ten Books That Celebrate Diversity/Diverse Characters (example: features minority/religious minority, socioeconomic diversity, disabled main character, neurotypical character, LGBTQ, etc.). Today I thought I would share with you some of my favorite books featuring diversity/diverse characters that I have read over the past ten years. All of these books received either 5 paws or 4.5 paws from me. There are others, of course, and it was hard to narrow down to just ten. All of the books I mention still resonate with me in some way, even those I read years and years ago.

1.

Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie ~  From the beauty of the writing, to the all too real characters and the difficulties they faced and endured. Set in Nigeria, this novel focuses on a number of characters, touching on class and race struggles.

2.

Haunting Bombay by Shilpa Agarwal ~ I love this book for many reasons and am still recommending it to friends years later.  Set in Bombay, this novel gives readers "a taste of Indian culture as [the author] takes us into an upper class Indian family as well as deep into the city’s underbelly, where crime runs rampant. The reader gets a sense of the injustices that existed during that time period, including the corruption and prejudices." [Excerpt from my actual review]

3.

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie ~ This one was first brought to my attention as a banned book.  Tell me a book is banned, and, of course, you give me a reason to read it.  This wonderful book is about a Native American boy who lives on a reservation and decides to attend an all white school. Alexie's book is both humorous and sad, touching on several very serious issues, including poverty, alcoholism, bullying, prejudice. This book might appeal to those who like graphic novels as well because of the occasional artwork throughout the novel.

4.

Moloka'i by Alan Brennert ~ Having lived in Hawaii for a short time during my childhood made me forever interested in the Hawaiian Islands and their history. I can't say enough about Moloka'i and how much I loved it. The island of Moloka'i was once a leper colony where people were exiled and sent to die.  Missionaries and doctors cared for them, but it was a while before treatments were found that were successful in treating the illness--and in understanding exactly what leprosy (Hanson's Disease) was. There is a lot of Hawaiian folklore woven throughout the book, which I especially appreciated.

5.

Beasts of No Nation by Uzodinma Iweala ~ If ever there was a character I wish I could have reached into a book and saved, it would be Agu, a West African boy.  He is enlisted as a child soldier at a young age. The writing is raw and authentic, the story heartbreaking. This book made quite an impression on me, and is one I will likely never forget.

6. 

Out by Natsuo Kirino ~ Out is a Japanese crime thriller that delves into cultural and gender issues. It is the story of one woman  who murders her abusive husband and is aided by coworkers to hide the crime. This complex novel was not only intense, but also a harsh study of human nature.

7.

Push by Sapphire ~ Precious is a black young woman, living in the Bronx with her mother who is collecting welfare. Discrimination is nothing new to her. She does not trust the authorities nor most white people. She spends much of her time wishing she was lighter skinned and thinner. She's also pregnant. What follows is a heart wrenching story of one young woman's struggle to survive and make something of herself. This story is as inspiring as it is heartbreaking.

8.

Snow Flower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See ~ Snow Flower and the Secret Fan is set in nineteenth century China, and is the story of two lifelong friends, laotongs, who have their own langage, as they navigate through their lives. Lisa See's novel is rich in culture and history, capturing the hardships of the time, including the role women played in a society. I loved everything about this book, and it's one of my all time favorites.

9.

The Space Between Us by Thrity Umrigar ~ This was my first Thrity Umrigar book, and she's become one of my favorite authors. The book broke my heart and yet it is so beautiful. The Space Between Us is about an upper-middle-class Parsi housewife and the woman who works as a domestic servant in her home. From GoodReads:
Thrity Umrigar's extraordinary novel demonstrates how the lives of the rich and poor are intrinsically connected yet vastly removed from each other, and how the strong bonds of womanhood are eternally opposed by the divisions of class and culture.
10. 


Fingersmith by Sarah Waters ~ Fingersmith is a modern classic set in the Victorian era that delves into the cultural view of women, the divide between the poor and the wealthy and the institutional side of the time period. It is also the story of the two women who love each other. This is a beautiful book, rich in history and intrigue.  

Have you read any of these books? What are some of your favorite books celebrating diversity/diverse characters?




© 2015, Wendy Runyon of Musings of a Bookish Kitty. All Rights Reserved. If you're reading this on a site other than Musings of a Bookish Kitty or Wendy's feed, be aware that this post has been stolen and is used without permission.

72 comments:

  1. Nice vacation pics! Looks like you had a great time. Moloka'i is on my bookshelf and has been recommended to me by so many people. I'll get to it one of these days. Happy reading!

    My Tuesday post: www.bookclublibrarian.com/2015/07/first-chapter-first-paragraph-113.html

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    1. Catherine - Thank you! Part of me is still in vacation mode, I think. :-)

      I join in with all the others who highly recommend Moloka'i. It really is good. :-)

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  2. That intro is so sad, although I suspect mirrors reality a little too well! Here is my Tuesday post https://cleopatralovesbooks.wordpress.com/2015/07/21/first-chapter-first-paragraph-july-21/

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    1. Cleo - It does have a sad, reflective feel for it, doesn't it? It's a beautiful story.

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  3. Looks like you and your family had a wonderful vacation, Wendy! I wouldn't want it to end too if I were you.

    Our weather is hot hot hot here! Definitely needs some rains here!

    I enjoyed reading Out so much. So intense and scary in my opinion. Scary in a sense that what a person could do under circumstances. I still have not read Snow Flower and the Secret Fan so that'd be on my wishlist.

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    1. Melody - We did! I am still not happy to be back at work. I could use another week or two off, I think, just to recover from the vacation. LOL

      It was pretty humid out yesterday. It's been an unusual summer so far. We've had hot temperatures mixed in with the recent thunderstorms. But it is nice to have cooler days as well.

      Yes! Out was intense--and yes, scary in the sense you describe.

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  4. The opening paragraph seemed sad to me. It could be because I'm getting up in years. I need to know more about the story. I know many fellow readers have enjoyed the book.

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    1. Margot - It's such a good book! I highly recommend it.

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  5. Out looks absolutely fascinating! I hadn't heard of it before. I must add it to my TBR! Great list. :-) My TTT!

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    1. Chrissi - It's such a good book--dark and intense--and definitely worth reading if you get the chance.

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  6. I really want to read THE SPACE BETWEEN US but now I am thinking I need to read the Half Yellow book too. So many books argh...the list will never end.
    Anne's Top Ten

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    1. Anne - Both The Space Between Us and Half of a Yellow Sun are worthwhile reads. Both authors are among my favorites. I hope you do get to read them at some point--although I know all about that never ending want-to-read list!

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  7. I haven't read any of the books on your list sadly, but it looks good!
    Please fell free to read mine here http://wonderstruck-kcks.blogspot.com/2015/07/july-21-ten-books-that-celebrate.html Happy Summer Reading!

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    1. KayCee - I enjoyed all of them and hope you will give even just one a try!

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  8. Lovely photos, I'm glad you had a nice little break. It is always hard coming back afterwards.
    I really enjoyed Fingersmith, and I would like to read something by Adichie as I haven't yet and so many people recommend her books.

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    1. Lindsay - Thank you! It was all too short, I'm afraid. I'm not ready to be back at work, but duty calls.

      I am hoping to try something else by Sarah Waters soon--maybe next year if not this year. So many of her books appeal to be. Adiche is definitely an author I would like to read more by as well.

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  9. Love the vacations pictures! Looks like you guys had a great time and I can understand being on the go and no reading. You were making memories. :-)

    The only one of your books that I've read is Snow Flower. What a lovely book! I discussed it with a book group and can still remember the beautiful language. And the vivid pictures in my mind with such an economy of words. I should reread it. LOL

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    1. Kay - Thank you! So many memories made, yes. :-) My daughter doesn't really remember her first vacation with us and so this was like an entirely new experience for her. :-) Her reactions to everything made the week even more special for us.

      Snow Flower and the Secret Fan is such a beautiful book, I agree. When I pulled it off my shelf for today's post, I almost caught myself re-reading it. I would like to do that someday.

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  10. Glad vacation was so good you didn't want it to end. I really liked Snow Flower, See is a good writer.

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    1. Beth - Those are the best kinds of vacations, aren't they? We spent way too much money too, and I'm sure will be recovering for awhile.

      I've enjoyed the books I have read by Lisa See. She's such a talented writer.

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  11. I keep meaning to read Adiche's novels but haven't gotten to them yet. I've read a lot of the other books on your list and they are great. I put a book about leprosy on my list too but it was based in Greece. It is called The Thread.

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    1. Heather - Adiche is definitely an author I recommend giving a try!

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  12. That's a lie. My recommendation for a leprosy book is The Island. The Thread is by the same author.

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    1. I will have to look for The Island and give it a try. Thank you for the recommendation!

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  13. I've read The Haunting of Bombay and The Space Between Us. The Space Between Us had much more of an effect on me and is a great choice for a topic on diverse characters.

    So glad to hear you've had some rain!

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    1. Jenclair - If only all that rain could have made a dent in the drought!

      The Space Between Us was definitely a book I enjoyed more of the two, although I liked both very much.

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  14. Sounds like you had a great vacation! I don't blame Mouse for not wanting it to end.
    I'm not sure about this one. I'd need to know a little more before deciding to read it.
    Today I'm featuring Orphan #8

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    1. Kim - I felt so bad for her--and yet found it kind of funny too--as she cried on the way home about how she missed the hotel and her vacation. Only a four year old. :-)

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  15. I usually don't get any reading done while I'm on vacation either but that's okay - it just means we're fully engaged in our holiday. I'm glad yours was so good!

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    1. Kathy - In my pre-child days, it was much easier to slip in reading time.

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  16. I've been meaning to read Lisa See and I LOVE that intro. Gorgeous writing and intriguing content. Great list as well!

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    1. Sarah - I hope you get a chance to try Lisa See's work. Snow Flower and the Secret Fan is my favorite of hers.

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  17. Sometimes life keeps us from reading, if it is a vacation, that's great. I also like Snow Flower and the Secret Fan a lot. Of your top ten, that is the only one I have read. I'll be adding some to my lists. Glad you enjoyed your vacation.

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    1. Judy - Yes, if I am not going to read, I'd rather know it is for a good reason--like having fun on vacation. :-) I am glad to hear you also liked Snow Flower and the Secret Fan. It's such a great book.

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  18. The voice of the narrator is so important in a first person novel. You can really connect with her in this opening.

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    1. Suzie - I agree. I think you get a good feel for the narrator here. I connected with the character right away, wanting to know what stories she had to share with me.

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  19. Lovely vacation shots! Now I want to go somewhere...but later. I have house guests now....maybe we can all take a short trip.

    I haven't read Lisa See's books, but this excerpt touched me. Now I want to know more! Thanks for sharing...and for visiting my blog.

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    1. Laurel-Rain - Thank you! I hope you are enjoying your house guests and that you get that short trip you want to take after they are all gone. :-)

      Lisa See is such a good writer. I hope you get a chance to try one of her books someday.

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  20. Out Definitely sounds like a very interesting and twisted novel, ill definitely be checking out. Awesome Post Check out my Top Ten Tuesday

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    1. Tori - I hope you do try Out. I am glad to see so many people interested in giving it a try. It's worth it!

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  21. I definitely would keep reading. This is a book I've not heard of before so thanks for sharing.

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  22. From the look of your pictures I don't think I would've wanted to come home either but hopefully Mouse has adjusted to vacation being over.
    I skipped this Top Ten topic because I couldn't think of any books but the more lists I read I think I could've easily gotten my top ten list filled. I really want to try Lisa See. I own at least one of her books but haven't read it yet. Have a great week!

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    1. Katherine - I don't think we could have afforded to stay much longer, but it wasn't for lack of desire to! :-) Mouse was very upset to have to return to daycare yesterday, but when I went to pick her up, she didn't want to leave. She still missed being on vacation, but I'm glad she is also not completely adverse to returning back to her regular routine.

      I hope you like Lisa See's book when you get to it. I have a couple on my shelf of hers I haven't yet read that I would like to at some point.

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  23. You've got a beautiful selection of reads. I am always attracted to books set in India as it is so diverse. In both authors of Indian origin you find human nature at its best and worst. I find Unrigar and Aggarval's books fascinating and very emotional.

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    1. Mystica - Thank you! I love reading about other countries and cultures. India seems to be one of my favorites without my having realized it. I think you are right though in that the country is so diverse.

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  24. I would! That's a fascinating teaser! Very interesting.

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  25. Glad you enjoyed your vacation with Mouse. You came up with some different and interesting titles here! I now want to put the Lisa See book on my wishlist. I love the way that intro was written. She no longer cares who she offends and is living out her last days her way. Though it does sound melancholy, being called "one who has not yet died". Wow! Thanks, Wendy for a thoughtful post.

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    1. Rita - It was a lot of fun. :-) She keeps asking when our next vacation will be. :-) We do have some time off coming up in September, but we likely won't be going anywhere.

      I hope you will give Lisa See a try. I love her writing, especially in Snow Flower and the Secret Fan.

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  26. I haven't read any books from your TTT list, but I see some interesting ones I might need to check out soon!!

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    1. Kaitlyn - I liked they all and can't recommend them enough. :-)

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  27. So glad you had such a great vacation. Thanks for sharing the photos. I remember loving Snow Flower and the Secret Fan!

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    1. JoAnn - All this talk of the book make me want to re-read it. :-)

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  28. I don't think I've ever gone on a non-reading vacation. Not even on the plane? ;-) But it sounds and looks like you had a wonderful time which all that matters on a vacation.

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    1. James - No airplanes on this trip. Even if there was, my daughter would make sure I was too busy answering her questions to let me read for long. :-) That's how it was on the drive to and from our destinations. When she's a little older, I am going to see if we can squeeze in some audiobook time.

      Technically, I suppose I did read--but my daughter's books.

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  29. I still remember that painful foot binding info when I read this one years ago. Wonderful story- keep reading.

    Also tough when happy vacations end.

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    1. Diane - I remember it made quite an impression on me when I first read the book.

      Yes, I wish I could have taken a vacation after my vacation, but that probably would have had me wanting more. LOL

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  30. What a fun vacation.

    We can also use rain here, and don't need the flash flood or the lightening.

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    1. Alice - It was! I hope you get some rain too.

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  31. Oooh, was that a Legoland? It looks fun!

    Moloka'i sounds like an interesting read, and I remember enjoying Out as well! :D

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    1. Eustacia - It is Legoland. :-) My husband was in seventh heaven and my daughter loved it. I liked it too, although it definitely is aimed more for children.

      I highly recommend Moloka'i!

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  32. The vacation looks fabulous. I'm not sure the book would be for me.

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  33. it looks like such a great vacation! I wouldn't have wanted to leave either!
    trish - tales from trish

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    1. Trish - It was hard to leave and come back to work. I'm still getting back into that rhythm.

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  34. Great TT from Snow Flower and the Secret Fan

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  35. Oh do I understand the feeling of not wanting vacation to end. Sounds like you guys had a wonderful time! Enjoyed reading your Top Ten list and I've read seven of the books you mentioned and loved them all so I need to read the ones I've missed. I am sure I'm going to love them.

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