Sunday, June 22, 2008

Sunday Salon: Book Imitates Life

The title of this post is a little misleading. The book I currently am reading, Marie Brenner's Apples and Oranges: My Brother and Me, Lost and Found, is a true story. It is a memoir about the author's relationship with her brother. I began reading it not too long ago, and it would appear that my timing could not have been better. There are certain aspects of my life I am uncomfortable sharing in detail in such a public format, but suffice it to say the title is quite fitting for my own situation. While are stories are different in many respects, I still can relate to her and her brother's story and their struggle to make a connection they've longed to have much of their lives.

I wondered if others have had this experience too. You are reading along in a book, be it fiction or nonfiction, and you realize that your life is mirroring the story unfolding before you. Maybe not directly or in every detail, but enough to make the story familiar and real for you in a personal way. I am not just talking about those books that you connect with, that you can relate to in general. I am referring to books that seem to be imitating your life right then and there in that moment. Have you had this experience?

I am just about half way through Marie Brenner's book as she recounts her family history and talks about her visit to the apple orchards in hopes to be with her brother. I am learning quite a bit about apples in all their varieties. I will have to remind my husband to pick up some apples the next time he is at the grocery store.

After I finish Apples and Oranges, I hope to dive right into a mystery. It has been awhile since I last set foot in Wyoming and visited my friends in Absaroka County. I can almost hear Sheriff Longmire calling out to me already.

It will definitely be a day of reading. The temperature is rising and is expected to settle in at around 106F. I appreciate the air conditioner much more at times like this. I had better encourage the dog to get his outdoor time in while it's still relatively cool . . .

Reviews posted this past week:

Nefertiti by Michelle Moran
Moving Forward: Taking the Lead in Your Life by Dave Pelzer
Tarnished Beauty by Cecelia Samartin

Happy reading!


  1. I finished reading Apples and Oranges just before we left on vacation, and will be posting my review this week. I had trouble warming up to it overall, but that may have just been me. I'm looking forward to reading what you think of it!

    I've had similar experiences to what you describe. During the lengthy decline of my first marriage, I found myself having to avoid a lot of fiction because affairs and/or divorces figured so strongly in the plots that it just hurt to read it.

    Weather-wise, I gather that my family picked a good time to be away from SoCal for a week! Enjoy your Sunday, Wendy - stay cool!

  2. Yes, I have...and it's never a warm feeling. :(

  3. Florinda - I look forward to reading your review of Apples and Oranges. Hopefully I will be posting my review this week as well.

    I can understand wanting to avoid certain types of books or themes when you're in the middle of suffering through them yourself. It would be very hard--and as you said, painful.

    You were smart to go out of town when you did!

    J. Kaye - It can be quite uncomfortable, can't it? I'm hoping for some insight as well, but we'll see.

  4. Apples and Oranges sounds like a powerful book and yes, I have found stories that remind me of real life personal situations.

    For my own brother it was A River Runs Through It. It is a true story about children with similar talents raised with the same values who make startlingly different choices in life. It also speaks profoundly of the grief we feel when they reject our help.

    Enjoy your reading day and have a great week!

  5. It's raining again in Florida today so I am wishing some rain and slightly cooler weather to you!

    I haven't found a book that feels like my life or circumstances yet, but it must be a little surreal when you do.

    Stay cool!

  6. There have been a few books where the situations have been similar to mine and I've found them almost impossible to read, but feel that I just have to even if it's painful.

    I hope it's cooled down a bit by now for you - I can't imagine 106F.

  7. Having three brothers Apples and Oranges makes me very curious. I'm looking forward to your review. And yes, I have read books that seem very familiar to me.

  8. Jaimie - I haven't read A River Runs Through It, but I did see the movie. Apples and Oranges is a bit different from my own experience, but there are some similarities--enough to make it stand out a bit more for me right now then it might have otherwise.

    I hope you have a great week too, Jaimie!

    Jill - I wish I could steal some of your rain. We desperately need it here--as I know you do there as well.

    It can be surreal at times. And insightful.

    Margaret - In this case it isn't proving to be too painful--just a bit uncomfortable in some respects. Perhaps I will gain some insight from this book. I hope so.

    This area usually doesn't see these kind of temperatures until August and early September. I hope this doesn't mean it will be even hotter then.

    Kristy - Sibling relationships can be quite interesting and so very different, can't they?

  9. Can't wait to see your review of it esp since having such a personal connection with it. 106 degrees sounds miserable. It's pretty nice here in Iowa today:)

  10. Yes, I've had this experience with some books too. Unfortunately, it's rather painful stuff. I'm often not sure whether to put the book down because it's painful or keep on reading because I feel like someone else can relate; you know, the club you'd rather not belong to.

    I hear ya on the heat thing. Suffering with you. I just had to go move my car and it's been sitting in the sun. I really felt like I was in Phoenix in August! It was HOT. The car thermometer was telling me the outside air temp is 101 degrees right now. Glad I got my walk in early this A.M. I am now going to sit on my butt (and read) in the air conditioned indoors until the sun goes down.

  11. Tracy - It is hot, that's for sure. I'm keeping cool though and drinking lots of ice water.

    Iowa deserves many nice days after all the bad weather the state has had, especially the areas impacted by the flooding.

    Terri B - I imagine it can be painful, depending on the topic and experience.

    Try and keep cool!

  12. I haven't had the experience you talk about but, wow. And 106? I think I would just hide!

  13. Oh definitely... Sometimes though I don't want to read those kind of books just because it then forces me to confront some issues and I'm all about non-confrontation! ha,ha... The book sounds good though and I'll have to keep an eye out for it. Stay cool - we got up to 98. Ugh.

  14. Apples and Oranges sounds like a powerful book! I can't wait to read your review about it...

    The weather is getting very weird over here... at times it's sunny and other times it's rainy. If the weather's too hot, I'd not go anywhere too! ;)

  15. Marie - Thank goodness for a working air conditioner, is all I can say! Even the animals were a bit lethargic today. None of us really wanted to do much.

    Iliana - I imagine it helps if you are ready to tackle whatever issues the book might bring up. In your in the moment, it probably isn't the best time. Haha

    I finished the book this afternoon and the second half hit me on a different level, reminding me of my friend who died of cancer not too long ago. That wound is a little too fresh still, I'm afraid.

    You stay cool too! It sounds like your temperatures are up there as well.

    Melody - I'm going to put off writing my review until tomorrow. Sort through my thoughts and then hopefully I'll get he review posted later in the week.

    I hope your weather stablizes some--in the direction you want it to go. ;-)

  16. I haven't read Apples and Oranges, but I've admired a lot of Marie Brenner's journalism over the years. Didn't realize until recently that she's from San Antonio, my hometown. I'll be interested to read your review of the book. And yes, I've had similar emotional experiences with some books myself; it can be overwhelming.

  17. That's warm! Next month is when I'll start hiding out under the air-conditioner as much as possible. Thank goodness for whoever invented them!
    I've related generally to stories but nothing that struck me so personally as this seems for you. Must be a bit strange and difficult to read.
    Have a good week. I hope your weather cools off a bit.

  18. Exactly, Wendy. Maybe that's why I get very emotional reading them...

  19. Joy - I didn't know much about Marie Brenner until I started reading this book. She has done some very admirable work.

    Tanabata - I hope your weather next month won't be quite as hot. ;-) Today was cooler by about 8 degrees, thank goodness.

    Alice - It can be emotional. Interestingly enough, the book took a turn for me towards the end and I found it difficult reading for another reason, which I will mention in my review.

  20. I've felt this way in a couple Nick Hornby books - High Fidelity and Fever Pitch. I identified with the passion toward music in the first, and baseball in the second - even though FP dealt with soccer, it could have been written by a life-long Red Sox fan.

  21. I haven't yet read either High Fidelity or Fever Pitch, but I do want to. I have seen both movies, but I know that doesn't count. :-) I think I could probably relate on some level to both books to--hopefully I'll find out soon.


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