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5 Books To Feed Your Soul

5 Books To Feed Your Soul

There are some books you read and forget, but some stay with you forever.  They have characters that you become emotionally involved with.  They are the books that make you laugh and cry and the ones you don't want to know what happens, but you can't put the book down.

A book that makes you want to snuggle up in the pages, where you totally escape the world and become entrapped into the world of the book.

I spoke to Natasha from Book Bonding, and we came up with our top 5 books to feed your soul.

Some of these were a part of our book club, so for something different, we have provided you with the notes from the group discussion, which we know you will find enjoyable.

1. A Little Life By Yanagihara Hanya

An epic about love and friendship in the twenty-first century. When four graduates from a small Massachusetts college move to New York to make their way, they're broke, adrift, and buoyed only by their friendship and ambition. There is kind, handsome Willem, an aspiring actor; JB, a quick-witted, sometimes cruel Brooklyn-born painter seeking entry to the art world; Malcolm, a frustrated architect at a prominent firm; and withdrawn, brilliant, enigmatic Jude, who serves as their center of gravity. Over the decades, their relationships deepen and darken, tinged by addiction, success, and pride. Yet their greatest challenge, each comes to realize, is Jude himself, by midlife a terrifyingly talented litigator yet an increasingly broken man, his mind and body scarred by an unspeakable childhood, and haunted by what he fears is a degree of trauma that he'll not only be unable to overcome-but that will define his life forever. 

Be prepared, this book is one of the most emotional books I have ever read.  I laughed and cried the whole way through.  Beautifully written book and the friendships are inspirational.  

 Hana receiving one of her many awards for "A Little Life".   Photo

Hana receiving one of her many awards for "A Little Life".

Photo

2. Mischling By Affinity Konar

Review by Natasha from Book Bonding 

One of our book clubs selected Affinity Konar's debut historical book Mischling as their June read and I thought it would be perfect to listen to on audio as it has alternate chapters by twin sisters Stasha and Pearl. Beautifully read and well paced by Vanessa Johnanson, we follow the story of these young twins as they enter Auschwitz and become victims to the medical experiments of Dr Josef Mengele. Having studied a lot of Holocaust history at university, read over 20 novels on the topic at least and visited a number of concentration camps including Auschwitz in 2000, I really appreciated this different and very personal sibling focus. 

Konar with her Polish Jewish background has researched this era very well, and her writing is exquisite - depicting life in all its horror and beauty. She brilliantly takes us inside the horrors of this death camp without gory over description. Allowing the two voices shows us the different coping strategies that prisoners had and the heartbreak when the twins are separated. Pearl is in charge of the sad, the good, the past. Stasha must care for the funny, the future, the bad. And their attachments to other children such as solo twin Feliks, and gutsy Bruna add moving layers to the story. There is a wonderful assortment of adults as well including Uncle and Doctor Miri, as well as horrible villagers and surprisingly helpful soldiers who make a stronger presence felt in the second half of the book. 

I think one of the clever writing structures that Konar employed was using flash forwards at times to somehow alleviate our tension and / or fears to make the current incidents more palatable - without giving away any real sense of the ending. So many images and phrases stayed with me long after listening to this each day in the car, and I felt sad when I put the last cd on as these lifelike characters had really nuzzled their way into my heart and I wasn't sure how it would all end - given the dangers they were constantly facing both inside and outside the walls of death. In the end, the scenes after the Soviet liberation and returning to Warsaw zoo were equally as dramatic and moving. Don't let the child narrators put you off thinking this is a kids book, it is not, and it has left quite an impression on me and I think it will definitely be in my top 5 come end of the year. Best suited to fans of All the Light You Cannot See and The Book Thief - and that is plenty of you I know! 

Plus the bonus on listening to it on audio was a bonus interview with the author at the end (including the extra tidbit that originally she had written with two boy twins but changed it after the first draft.).

3. Wonder By RJ Palacio

Are you ready to meet Auggie Pullman? As if this WONDERful book couldn’t get any bigger or more popular! This film, released on November 30th 2017, is going to be HUGE and will broaden the readership further into ‘crossover’ territory; it will be the book that every child (aged 9+) AND adult will be reading over the summer holidays. Take a moment to view the movie trailer. ‘Why blend in when you were born to stand out’.  Movie staring Julia Roberts and Owen Wilson.

I read this book with my son James a few years ago and it was in my top 10 books for the year.  We both found the book totally moving and full of little hidden messages we can all learn from.

4. Atomic Weight Of Love By Elizabeth Church

In her sweeping debut novel, Elizabeth J. Church takes us from the World War II years in Chicago to the vast sun-parched canyons of New Mexico in the 1970s as we follow the journey of a driven, spirited young woman, Meridian Wallace, whose scientific ambitions are subverted by the expectations of her era.

In 1941, at seventeen years old, Meridian begins her ornithology studies at the University of Chicago. She is soon drawn to Alden Whetstone, a brilliant, complicated physics professor who opens her eyes to the fundamentals and poetry of his field, the beauty of motion, space and time, the delicate balance of force and energy that allows a bird to fly. (read more here).

So much love for Elizabeth Church's Atomic Weight of Love (HarperCollins Books Australia).  At Pageturners bookclub, everyone felt emotionally involved in Meridian's story and her marriage to Professor Alden. Some were hooked from the first chapter, whilst others found the start a slow burn but all agreed the dynamic switch halfway through really got us all invested. This was a book that made you feel for the plight of women financially, emotionally and intellectually in the 1940s and 50s as well as for the importance of female friendship, independence and crow families (some even shedding a tear at particular scenes). Some loved the collective nouns that headed each chapter, others not so much - but all agreed the writing was beautifully elegant and never overdone. All of us loved the ending; her battle and final decisions just as it should be. Not one that a few of us would have picked up ordinarily but all agreed this was a wonderful bookclub discussion with many themes and issues to discuss - especially about the complexity of life, marriage, and the different paths one's own life takes when important decisions are made or not made.

I would never have picked this book up from the shelf to read but because of book club (which makes me read an assortment of different books) I read it and loved it - Caz.

5. Faithful By Alice Hoffman

From the New York Times bestselling author of The Marriage of Opposites and The Dovekeepers comes a soul-searching story about a young woman struggling to redefine herself and the power of love, family, and fate.

Growing up on Long Island, Shelby Richmond is an ordinary girl until one night an extraordinary tragedy changes her fate. Her best friend’s future is destroyed in an accident, while Shelby walks away with the burden of guilt. (Read more here).

Fiction Fanatics bookclub thought it superb, Shelby was flawed but her mother never gave up hope.  We all can really relate to her. The book took them all on a realistic journey with Shelby that I wouldn't wish on anyone. I felt the range of emotions with her. Loads of wise advice for young girls. What about the hospital rape? I kept expecting justice! So many tragedies for one young girl to bear. Loved it like they all loved her other novel The Dovekeepers. Great story telling and strong characters. 

Book bonding is one of our 7 top Independent Book Stores in Melbourne..  Read here.

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