Sunday, September 7, 2014

Summer Readings of a 20 Year Old Traveler

I love reading. I remember spending hours at the library as a little girl, and that passion has never died. When my schedule allows, I love to hike out into the woods and read until the sun goes down.

This summer I had the opportunity to live in Asia for two months. The first thing on my packing list was books. I knew I'd be backpacking for most of my time, so I couldn't bring many books, but I also don't have a Kindle, so I needed to bring at least a few. So I brought four (The Lovely Bones, The Kite Runner, The Help, and Wild). The rest of the books were borrowed from friends, traded in,  or stolen from our guest house (still feel bad about that one).

The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold 
       This was my second time reading this book. I hardly ever reread books (I get bored easily) but this one enthralled me just as much the second time. There was so much symbolism that I didn't pick up on the first time because I was too worried about catching the killer. So if you've read it, read it again. If you haven't read it, read it, and then read it again. Warning - it is a little gruesome and has to do with the author's beliefs on an afterlife, so I understand that it's not everyone's favorite reading material.

The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini 
       My friend recommended this book to me. He praised it so much that I actually did not believe that a book could ever be as wonderful as he described. However, the middle eastern culture was displayed beautifully. I truly fell in love as I read about the love and betrayal of two best friends eating naan and flying kites. Which made it just that much harder to read the ending. While I admit that I often cry at the end of books, this time I didn't. I shut the book, laid it on the floor, and stared at my ceiling for the rest of the day. Once the shock wore off, I read it again, picking up on so many hints that I had missed the first time. It's honestly my new favorite, and I think everyone needs to read it.

The Hunger Games Trilogy by Suzanne Collins
        I had already read these a few years ago. But I was so excited to join the bandwagon and read them before the movie came out, I sped-read and missed a lot of details. So I took my time and reread them all (The Hunger Games, Catching Fire, and The Mockingjay). They are easy reads, so they were perfect for after a long day of working, or for while waiting to hop on the next plane. They are aimed for a teenage audience, but are still good reads.

The Help by Kathryn Stockett 
        I had already fallen in love with the movie before even realizing the story was based on a book. So when I saw it at a thrift store a couple months before I left, I knew I had to read it. It is 100% full of both humor and raw emotion. I found myself laughing out loud at one scene but in the next chapter fuming with anger. It breaks my heart at what people used to go through, and even more, at what is still going on in this world when it comes to racism. God bless Kathryn Stockett for writing this book, and bringing so much attention to this issue.

Eat Pray Love by Elizabeth Gilbert
      The book inspired me right off the bat. Young single woman traveling the world? Count me in. I found myself jealous of her as she wrote about her travels to Italy, India, and Indonesia. The book was separated into three sections for each of her destinations. I found that I most enjoyed the first section, liked the second, but found myself fighting my way through the third section. The third section (the "love" section) isn't really my kind of reading, so maybe that's why. But I still recommend you read it - at least the first two sections!

Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail by Cheryl Strayed
       I hear that this book was inspirational. And in a way, it was, as a young single woman (again!) took on a long, dangerous hiking trail all by herself. But there were also many parts that broke my heart. Mostly it was the easy going way she talked about her infidelity, family's deaths, abortion, casual sex, etc. There were many humorous parts, and I do envy her bravery and self-discovery, but I wish her worldview was a little better.

And The Mountains Echoed by Khaled Hosseini 
       When I found this book and saw that it was the same author as The Kite Runner, I jumped at the chance to read it. It was not nearly as good as The Kite Runner (I'm convinced nothing is!) but it was still a remarkable read. The culture is beautifully depicted and there are so many intertwining stories, I loved trying to fit all the pieces together. It was definitely not a boring read and the end left me wanting to know more.

One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp
        During one of the many weeks I was sick in bed, my friend gave me this book to read. It could not have come at a better time. While the rest of my friends were working hard in an orphanage, I was lying in bed, literally not able to do anything. This book is all about finding joy in the little things, even when things go terribly wrong (like fighting dengue fever thousands of miles away from a good hospital). While some parts were a bit cheesy and lovey dovey for my tastes, it was an incredible read, and I have grown a lot because of it.

Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom 
        This book was incredibly short, which is usually opposite of what I read. It was sweet, with so many life lessons jam-packed into such few pages. I ended the book feeling so inspired and wishing that I could have met Morrie but then ultimately wishing that I could be just like Morrie. It inspired me to be inspiring, which is something that I am still working on, leading me often to think of this book.

With all that said, I've read over a dozen books this summer, so now my library is completely read and reread. Now I need recommendations for what to read next! Any suggestions??