The Most Additive Book Series’s Ever

I have always been able to read a book and block out everything else happening around me. If books didn’t exist, I’m fairly certain I never would have survived any family road trips. I’ve never been more grateful that I could read in the car than when I was sandwiched between my siblings, ignoring their bickering, completely absorbed in the words of Lousia May Alcott or Jane Austen. (Or, let’s be honest, mostly less high brow books like the Baby Sitters Club or Sweet Valley High).

I’m still a consummate reader–I feel unsettled if I don’t have at least 2 books waiting in my reading queue. And because I am such an avid devour-er of books, I am highly susceptible to a book series. Sometimes the best stories are the one that take at least 7, 1,500 page books for you to know the story. I also understand the beauty of writing a novel that leaves people wanting more, questioning what happens next and imagining their own world for the characters.  But I’m also the sort of person that is like, no but really WHAT HAPPENS NEXT? Because these people are real obviously and I must know if they find the last place on earth with electricity or whatever.

The nice thing about a book series is that you rarely have to wonder what happens next. With the one very notable exception being the Game of Thrones books since I’m half convinced we will never see the next book anyway.  That is the one serious downside to a series, if you start it before the author is done writing the whole thing then the waiting really does feel like the worst thing ever.

So, if you are like me and you are a lover of reading an excellent book series, I’m going to share with you the most deliciously addictive ones I’ve read. You’ll notice more than 1 YA series on this list. I totally love YA books and I’m not afraid to say so.

Consider yourself warned: if you start any of these you should probably plan ahead. Make a trip to Trader Joe’s for provisions, wait until it’s so ghastly outside you don’t want to leave the house and hunker down for a weekend of reading.

  1. Outlander: I started reading this series prior to the TV show and the show has only made me fall in love with the books even more. If you like a good love story with a bit of history, this book is for you. Also, sassy lead women. I’m totally a sucker for them. I know I’ve had her books on my previous lists, but seriously they are so good. Even with all the over-the-top sex scenes that kind of make me giggle like a 12 year old. Am I the only person that can’t read a description of a “member” without laughing. just a little bit?
  2. His Dark Materials: I’ve read this series twice and every time I’m struck with the sheer beauty of the writing and the world Phil Pullman creates. Another strong female lead series but one that makes you think about love, life, the meaning of it all and also some physics because, why not?
  3. The Cousin’s War Series:  I totally read these books out of order accidentally and they were still super addictive. I love a good court intrigue story and a bit of history and these books have those in spades. No one can write a strong female historical lead like Phillipa Gregory.
  4. Harry Potter:  No book series list I write would be complete without Harry Potter. I’ve read the series 3 times and I still cry at the end, every.single.time. No matter how old you are, you will love these books and immediately relate to the world that JK Rowling creates. Unless you have no imagination whatsoever and if that is the case, reading must really not be very fun for you.
  5. Song of Ice and Fire: AKA the Game of Thrones Books. Even in spite of my disappointment at maybe never knowing the end of the story, I still loved these books. There are so many characters and story lines there is something for every one here.  And I remember when I was reading them being super addicted to finding out what happens next, the mark of a truly excellent series.

Okay, all 5 of you still reading, what are your favorite book series’s? Share it in the comments!

For the love of the Classics

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It was Mark Twain who once said, “Classic: a book which people praise and don’t read.” For most of my life,  this was mostly absolutely applied to me. Unless it was assigned to me in school, I rarely picked up what could be considered classic literature, instead veering toward new fiction, historical fiction, fantasy or science fiction (usually in that order.) I read for the lovely escapism of a good book and classics felt like too much brain work. But, lately, I’ve decided that part of my reading education should include either re-reading or reading for the first time books that are considered to be classics. 

Though the definition of what is considered a “classic” is debated, I think it’s safe to say in order for a book to be a classic it usually speaks to some ultimate truth that stands the test of time.  Sometimes these truths are very, very long truths, so my first inclination is fear at the thought of tackling War and Peace. (Confession: I bought it months ago and I still haven’t read it yet. Which I know I need to do. In fact, I’m not allowing myself to buy another book (after I finish Thorn Birds and Sputnik Sweetheart) until I finish it). Not buying books is a very hard thing for me to do especially since I discovered a used book store in my town where you can get books for $2. I have 2 book shelves, double stacked with books  on each shelf and loads of books under my bed. And I keep buying more. It’s a disease. 

For those of you with your own book lover disease, I have complied a list here of my top 5 favorite classic books. It was really hard for me to narrow down to just 5 but these are the books that I read that make me feel like, aw yeah, I want to read that again. And again.  Books that didn’t make the cut but that deserve an honorable mention: the inspiration for this blog, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith and The Awakening by Kate Chopin. Both books I’ve read multiple times and will do so again. 

Top 5 Favorite Classics

anna karenina book cover vintageAnna Karenina, by Leo Tolstoy. You guys, this book was published in 1875 and I read it for the first time in 2010 and was like, whoa this is exactly what heartbreak feels like. It is so good, sad and true all at once. Being able to write a truth that resonates 200 years later qualifies Tolstoy for genius status in my opinion. At first, it seemed very long and the Russian names are similar so I was always confusing the characters. But, stick with it, you won’t regret it. If you want to cheat, you should totally see the movie that recently came out though Keira Knightly is just way too thin to be Anna and I hate Vronksy’s whispy mustache but  it’s still a beautiful film worth seeing.

les-miserables-hugo-victor-hardcover-cover-artLes Miserables  by Victor Hugo. This is a book that I’m sure many of you have never read since the musical is a work of genius on it’s own. But seriously, you should read the book. It is truly a beautiful example of timeless writing. Especially Jean Valjean, who might be one of my all time favorite characters and who is just a beautiful soul. It is absolutely worth reading and another one that seems super long until you start it and then you’ll devour it in like 2 days like I did.

 

pride-and-prejudice-1946Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austen. I’ve read this book multiple times and every time I remember all over again why I love it. Elizabeth Bennett is one of my all time heroines for many reasons but mostly her sass like her line about her sister being, “the most determined flirt to ever make her family ridiculous.” Best. Plus, this is a book that is unexpectedly hilarious–try reading the scenes with Mr. Collins without laughing, it’s basically impossible.

 

4631A Movable Feast, by Ernest Hemingway. A few years back I went through a serious Hemingway phase where I basically devoured his books back to back and loved all of them. Much like his character in Midnight in Paris says, (one of my fav movies, btw) his writing is very honest and true. I had a hard time choosing one of his books that was my favorite but this one captured the lost generation and my love for 1920’s Paris is strong. I also really loved The Sun Also Rises and For Whom the Bell Tolls. If you haven’t read Mr. Hemingway get on it, like now.

 

51Eyg5IySaL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_Little Women, by Lousia May Alcott. This was the first proper book I ever read at 13 and so it holds a special place in my heart. I suppose this book might be responsible for my lifelong love for reading because after I read it I was hooked. No matter how many times I’ve read it, I still cry and laugh and want to hug my sister when it’s all over. Truly required reading for everyone but especially all my ladies out there.

 

Okay, now that I’ve done the work of narrowing down my classics list, tell me some of yours! What classics could you read over and over again? Do tell. 

When the cry read is too much

Writing has always been a way for me to process the way I feel. I started my first journal at 7 years old and keep one to this day. I wouldn’t say that my journals represent my best writing or anything I would ever want anyone to read but I always feel better after writing.

It’s in that spirit that I decided to write here to tryimages and process through my feelings on the latest book I’ve read because it continues to haunt my thoughts. If you are a reader, there’s a good chance you’ve come across A Little Life, by Hanya Yanagihara, released last year. (Note: I’m going to try my best to not reveal serious spoilers about this book but if you are sensitive to these sorts of things and want to read the book, maybe you should skip this post).

A Little Life was critically well received, being short listed for the Man Booker Prize and a National Book Award Finalist. It’s a story about 4 young men who are close friends and recent college graduates that move to New York City, telling the story of their lives. It’s clear from a quick glance at the back cover  that this book isn’t a typical tale of friendship, it is about trauma and abuse. You go in knowing that you are about to read about a subject that is painful. And yet, even with warning, I wasn’t prepared for how incredibly awful this book made me feel. It is not a short read at over 700 pages and it feels like nearly every bit of it is full of anguish. I cried so many times reading this book I lost count. I know I said before that sometimes cry reads are good but honestly, this one hurt.

The abuse in this book is revealed slowly through flashbacks to the main characters childhood. There are moments of a normal story of coming of age in New York (something I clearly can relate to) but in the corner are these allusions to abuse, like a big, scary gorilla, waiting to be released. When the abuse is first revealed, I sobbed tears  of outrage, as if there was an idea of “fairness” that wasn’t being followed. Because in my sheltered life experience, all children are precious and protected. It really wasn’t fair. It went beyond fair, it wasn’t fathomable. I wanted to believe that this is something that would not really happen to anyone. And while I sincerely hope it is impossible for that many different kinds of abuse to happen to one person,  I know it depicts abuse that is a reality for children across the world.

By the end of the book, my tears flowed silently, the rage I felt was gone. Much like the character, it seemed to me that the abuse was inescapable. It didn’t matter how accomplished he became, how many friends he had or what kind of support system was around him. None of that could erase the abuse that he experienced and the power it held over him.

And of course, there were times when I was so frustrated with him (and I felt guilty about). Why couldn’t he see that he had people who loved and cared about him now? Why did he let himself believe the things his abusers said while being deaf to the love that was around him? Why didn’t he see that hurting himself hurt others?  Why did he refuse therapy for so long? I don’t know.  But, the thing is, I really don’t have any context for relating to him. The atrocities he experienced are the kind that you don’t want to understand because the only way you  could would be through experience.

The Texan watched me read this book and at times questioned why I kept going if it was making me so sad. I think it helped that I was reading it with my best friend. I honestly don’t know if I could have read this book alone. At the very least it helped to get texts from her that reflected the same feelings I had: oh this book. It’s so sad. How do we even talk about it? I think what makes this book extra sad is there really isn’t any hope. The author isn’t following the script we are all used to where things eventually get better. The hits just keep coming.

When I finished it, he asked me if it was a good book. I said yes, but also no. It is an incredibly well-written book. So much of it is just beautiful writing. It is also so painful, I’m not sure I would subject myself to it again. But, maybe everyone should read it, just once. Maybe instead of turning away from this sort of thing we should try to understand because maybe it’s not about us. Maybe it’s for them. For who they represent, for the pain that is all too real for too many. And maybe not all books are to be read for the escapism they provide, maybe some books are meant to provoke, to haunt you, to make you think differently about the world. Days later, I can’t stop thinking about it and I also don’t want to think about it. Maybe that’s a sign that it is a worthwhile read after all.

 

For the history nerds who love books

I believe it was Napoleon who once said, “History is a set of lies agreed upon.” That dude was full of some choice quotes, like this one. Jerk. But, as much as it pains me to say it, I’m inclined to agree (in part) with the tiny man responsible for the unhelpful complexes heaped on all short men (sorry dad).  I would, however, amend it to say that history is a set of stories agreed upon. Because really, I don’t think people set out to lie. Sometimes when you are telling a story about what happened way back when, its way more fun if it has a little pizzazz. Plus, people will probably be more likely to remember the story if it has a little drama and that’s really the goal.

As I’ve previously established, there is nothing I love more than a good story. Even if it is slightly exaggerated. (Don’t fret, dear reader, I never do this. All my stories are 100% true accounts, promise). And, thanks to a sassy Brit who taught me European history in high school (and knew how to tell a good story) I absolutely love history. Especially European History. Because, sorry America, but our history, (with the exception of  the civil war and the founding) is kinda boring and short.  European history is way longer and has all the royal family drama and religious upheavals and did I mention royal drama? Because it’s the best.

So, what is a history nerd with a love of books to do in order to continue her education ? Why, of course, turn to this lovely thing called historical fiction, books based in history but usually involving a lot more drama (and sex, because, duh).

I really wish I would have discovered that books like this existed in my teen years because I would have totally got the Tudors . The Texan is also a history nerd but he is a purist that would never read my novels which I’m pretty sure he sees as historical Us Weekly. However, I like learning and I also like being entertained and these books are like putting those two things into one.  I’m all for books that add a little excitement to the story but I really hate stories that completely change history. The movie, Elizabeth, for example, was award winning but so historically inaccurate I spent the last half of the movie shvitzing and shouting at the TV, come on! Walsingham totally didn’t do that! (Told you, I’m nerdy for this stuff).

So, for those of you who love books and history, here is a list of my 5 favorite historical novels I’ve read (so far)… Have you read any historical novels that you loved? Please oh please share them in the comments, I’m always down to read more!! 

  1. 41eRe72tKtL._SX327_BO1,204,203,200_The Historian, by Elizbeth Kostova: Okay, I know what you are thinking, Dracula totally doesn’t count as history. But seriously, I think he might. This book is great, it’s scary in a good way and includes a lot of real (and horrifiying) historical events. Even though at times I wanted to put it in the freezer, I read it in a few days and loved every minute.
  2. The Paris Wife, by Paula McLain: I went 51rHDATyEkL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_through a significant Hemingway/1920’s phase (okay, I’m still in this phase, it might be life long) where I was obsessed with reading about the so-called “lost generation.” This book totally satisfies those curiosities from the perspective of Hemingway’s first wife who was amazing and he was completely unworthy of her. Great read.
  3. The Saxon Chronicles, by Bernard Cornwell:
    I’m kind of 51b5YG6Y1rL._SX330_BO1,204,203,200_ashamed to admit this but I got into these books first by watching the TV show, The Last Kingdom, on BBC America. The show is fantastic and I really wanted to learn more of the story so the Texan and I started reading the books together.  Great writing and interesting history to learn about. Plus, lots of battles if you’re into that sort of thing.
  4.  The Memoirs of Cleopatra, by Margaret George: 51i-t6z5WVL._SX300_BO1,204,203,200_I am absolutely fascinated by Cleopatra  who was a total boss. Her story is totally awesome and also tragically sad. I love reading about Queens, especially ones like Cleopatra who was so sassy she chose death by snake rather than being Rome’s puppet.
  5. Outlander, by Diane Gabaldon: I have already 51UFuek-6WL._SX297_BO1,204,203,200_established how much I like the TV show but the books are like a million times better. There are so many settings its almost overwhelming to think about how much research the author had to do. The series takes you to  1940’s Britain, 18th century Scotland, the West Indies and early America and where else, I don’t know yet as I am actively avoiding spoilers of any kind. I totally devour these books and am on the 5th one. I have to force myself to read something else since the dang library waiting list is  a million people long. Worst.

On Defying Judgement and Compulsive Reads

You know how people say, “don’t judge a book by it’s cover? This totally sounds like a good idea but I’ve discovered it’s very difficult to do. For example, I totally judge books  that have been made into a movie and somehow the book companies think that means the actors deserve to be on the cover of a book.  I get that this probably sells more books (to people who usually never read books since an actor is making them buy it) but it’s awful.  I would rather never eat chocolate again (a fate worse than death) or even more terrible, only eat Hershey’s chocolate (which is basically soap) than buy a book with movie images on the front. Because seriously, the book came first! Don’t movies get enough attention?

When I’m searching for a new book a good cover can definitely draw me in. I’ve never really put much thought into this until I came across this article a few years back about a book cover designer. (Who, it turns out, is the husband of a former colleague of mine in New York, the world is weirdly small sometimes). And, I realized, oh my goodness this man is directly responsible for my purchasing Crime and Punishment (and my subsequent depression from reading it) and also The Girl with a Dragon Tattoo (and my subsequent bad dreams from the rape scenes in that book). All this time I thought I was willingly subjecting myself to depressing reads but it turns out, I just really liked the art.

Defying my track record of judging a book by it’s cover, I recently read indexMy Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante.  I mean, seriously, that cover? It is the worst. It looks like a really boring 90’s wedding that I would have probably (definitely) fallen asleep at.

But, seriously, saying I read this book is a gross understatement. I totally inhaled this book. It was given to me by a friend on Thursday and I had finished it by Sunday. (Granted, there was a lot of sports watching in my house that weekend I was happy to ignore). But, this is a compulsively readable book . I probably would have read equally as fast even if there wasn’t soccer or rugby or college basketball on for an entire weekend.

And days later, I still can’t completely explain what made me read this book so fast. It is not a mystery or a suspenseful book, the kind I usually tear through because I am desperate to find out the ending. There isn’t a lot of sex in it (the kind of book I tear through for an entirely different reason). It’s a simple story, set in Italy in the 1950’s  about two girls who grow up together. I am not personally invested in Italy beyond spending most of my life believing (wrongly, according to DNA tests) that I am Italian when in fact I’m Portuguese (but mostly German, explaining my lifelong love for beer gardens. Prost forever!) With apologies to members of my family who are reading this and didn’t know we are not Italian. I’m sorry you had to find out this way.

And yet, I was totally drawn into this little neighborhood in Naples and all of the personalities therein. It’s a translation (obviously) and I think that also makes the writing a lot more direct which I enjoy immensely. Give me clear, honest writing any day. This explains my strong preference for Hemingway and my extreme hatred for anything written by Nathaniel Hawthorne. (The Scarlet Letter should totally be re-named, the most overly descriptive slut shaming book ever written).

I’m planning on reading the next book in the series and am hoping it holds the same hook that the first one did. Isn’t there something totally satisfying about reading a book that you just can’t put down? Have you read any major page turners lately? Throw some down in the comments, I would LOVE to read them (and March Madness doesn’t end for awhile yet so please, give me something good!)

If you could go back, would you?

It’s obvious from just a quick glance at this blog that I truly love a good story. Truthfully, I’m kind of shoddy at telling stories in person because I get too excited to get to the good bit and end up skipping over some of the details thereby neglecting the build up. As with many things between me and my mate, the Texan is the opposite.  He can tell a story like only a true Southerner can; slow and detailed, with a few funny bits, building up the anticipation so that by the end you are hanging on his every drawl (though maybe that’s just me).

51M2R32Z5AL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_This love for a good story explains my passion for books. One of my favorite short story collections, We Are the Stories We Tell, is a great example of some incredible stories by women that I can read over and over again. But, good stories aren’t limited to books.

And, in my opinion, few people on earth can tell a story like Ira Glass.  If you are one of the few people reading this who hasn’t yet discovered the sheer joy that is This American Life, you can thank me now. It’s so good that I’ve willingly sat in my car after braving hours of traffic just so I can hear the end of the podcast. This morning, at the gym, I ended up listening to an old episode The Leap which asked a question that I’m still thinking about. If you could travel back in time, would you?

I would remiss if I didn’t mention books that wrestle with this very question. The Time Travelers Wife, (which was mentioned by a commenter), is one of my favorite books. It’s not giving much away to say that the time traveler meets his wife when she is a little girl. Just think about that, what an interesting and kind of surreal experience that would imagesbe. Though honestly from some of the shenanigans I’ve heard about my husbands childhood, I wonder how I would feel having been there when he knocked over the port-a-potty with a boy still in it.  Another great series on time travel that I’m slowly working my way through is the Outlander series. In this series, the main character travels back in history 200 years and wonders whether her actions can change the past. Its good fun and also a bit of historical fiction which I’ve been utterly obsessed with lately. Nothing like learning through a good story.

So, the question remains, if you could travel back in time, would you? I think younger Caro would have quickly answered yes, if nothing else than for the excitement of going back and seeing things again with the knowledge I have now. But now? I don’t think I would do it. I’ve never been one for going back. Just ask my ex-boyfriends (ha). No, but seriously, once it’s done, I’m done.  About a year before I got engaged, I had an ex reach out to me. This was a man boy who I truly was obsessed with in my early 20’s that treated me like dirt. He was always hot and cold, a situation one puts up with when they are young and stupidly unaware of the power and awesomeness they possess. He said he regretted not going to an event with me and that he did care for me a lot more than he let on. And I felt? Nothing. I guess my 24 year old self was vindicated but she isn’t around anymore to do a happy dance. He isn’t alone in men who have said something along these lines to me well after our affair is over. And I kind of hate them for it. Because seriously, how easy is it to idealize the past? We can pick and choose the memories we believe about our history and the people we once knew. But re-living it means you also have to re-live being broke and living in a 5th floor walk up in a bedroom the size of your bed and no laundry machine. And, honestly, no one really wants to go back to that.

So, dearest readers, would you travel back in time if you could? What would you do different if you could? I would love to know.

The Mental Benefits of Exercise

So, I know I literally just said I wasn’t going to blog about exercise because it’s super boring (in a post about knitting, the irony is not lost on me) but you’re at my party, so I’m allowed to contradict myself a bit.

A serious question for you, dear reader; when you start enjoying exercise, nay even looking forward to it, does that mean you’ve officially reached maturity? Because something happened to me, around like 26, I started to crave exercise.  I would get grumpy, not from being hungry, but from not running. It was a strange feeling. And, one of the best parts of my current accidental housewife-dom is that I exercise for about an hour every day. It’s the best. (I kind of hate myself for writing that but there it is).

To be clear,  I am by no means an expert at exercise.I’m pretty sure I look like a complete spaz when I exercise but I don’t care. I just do what I like. I don’t believe in investing in work out clothes (seriously, you just get them sweaty, who cares) so I embarrassingly still wear my high school gym shorts. And, I get nervous sometimes when I get on the treadmill that I am going to trip, fly off and kill myself.  My only rule about exercise is that you aretwo-cats-on-treadmill there to exercise, not chat. These 2 women come to my gym everyday to have intense conversations while walking on the treadmill. I fantasize about knocking them out with a kettle bell. (Consider yourself warned in case one day I do it and need you to bail me out of jail).

I believe whole heartedly that exercise is like therapy (except better because it doesn’t leave you with an emotional hangover and no answers.) And, as it turns out, there is actual research to back this up. I love it when that happens.

My favorite part of exercise, especially running, is that it clears my mind in a way that nothing else can. All I think about is moving my legs, breathing and not falling down. Those who know me can attest that I’m fairly uncoordinated as my embarrassing (and mercifully short lived) high school cheer leading career demonstrated. Thank goodness this was before Youtube or my hilarious attempts at toe touches would have gone viral in like .2 seconds.

I am by no means a fast runner. I follow the “lets take this slow and go as long as my legs will allow” rule. At some point my brain51Pa+b5UEIL._SX324_BO1,204,203,200_ will say, “Hey, we are really tired, can we stop?” and my legs will say, “We’re pretending you don’t exist right now, so bugger off” (my legs are British in my mind) and then I turn up Madonna (The Immaculate Collection is excellent running music) and run a little more until my brain finally wins. If you are like me and enjoy running and reading, I highly recommend checking out Haruki Murakami’s book, What I Talk About When I talk about Running. He is also big on the slow, long run although his are insanely long. I strongly admire marathon runners but I also really like living on earth and I feel like running a marathon might jeopardize that.

For those of you who are reading this and thinking, is she bloody serious, running? Sod off! (I realize the chances any of you are thinking British is like 2% but go with it) I have the perfect work out for you and you don’t even need to leave your house for it. You could even watch TV doing it, (because duh, TV makes most things better). I found this work out on Pinterest and the first time I did it I was sore for 3 days afterwards. But, sore in the best way ever. Also, for the record, I think that burpees were invented by an evil villain with the goal of making us all hate our lives but I still attempt to do them. Do you have any great work outs to share? Or, a more important question, any work out music that you love? Share in the comments, please!

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On Friendship and books

I’ve always been the kind of person who makes friends easily. Unsurprisingly, I was also the kid that always got “talks too much in class” on her report card. My high school choir teacher once complained to my mother that it didn’t matter who he sat me next to because I talked to everyone. He really liked me (not).

This talent I have to make friends has certainly come in handy on my travels and in the many places I’ve lived. But, one of the sad parts about making loads of friends (and moving all the time) is that no one (not even chatty Caro) can actually maintain all those friendships. I sometimes get really sad to think about all the people I used to know that I don’t any more. (Being “friends” on Facebook doesn’t count). It’s not like we had some big blow out fight that caused a rift forever, we just fell out of touch. In many ways, it would be more satisfying if there was a reason that we stopped being friends. But, its just common place stuff: people move, get married, get busy, start families and you lose touch.

159e55d7-466b-4770-b454-946b99ca1337So, why is it that some friends remain in your life while others drift off? My 4 college friends have remained my very best friends through all manner of change in our lives. We’ve been friends for 14 years now, a whole teenager life worth of friendship (crazy!).  And not just casual friends, real friends, the kind who can tell from how you say hello on the phone if you’re hiding how sad you are. The kind of friends that feel like sisters (except nicer). (JK sissy)(kind of)  I am thankful for each and every one of these women and am so glad our friendship has endured but I often wonder why. Maybe because we met at a time in our lives when we were able to form real friendships? Maybe it’s because we got friendship tattoos and named our group? Or maybe some friendships are one in a million.

I read this article on the challenge of making friends as an adult 4 years ago and it stuck with me because so much of it rings true. As he points out, there are basically “three conditions that sociologists since the 1950’s have considered crucial to making close friends: proximity; repeated, unplanned interactions; and a setting that encourages people to let their guard down and confide in each other.” So, basically, college. Because having friends who are close by, with free time to hang out whenever and be vulnerable? Haven’t experienced that in many years.

And then there is the challenge of actually getting together. This New Yorker article demonstrates hilariously (and sadly close to reality) the challenges of getting together as an adult. If it takes a whole month to find a time you can get together how close can you get?

Moving to a new state and being newly married has made making friends a challenge. This is a temporary stop off, the Texan thinks we’ll be moving before next year. So, knowing the effort it takes to make friends as an adult and how much we enjoy just hanging out with each other, I’ve had a hard time mustering up the energy to make loads of friends.  So, like the true cool girl that I am, I often turn to books for comfort. Here are my top 5 favorite friendships in books–am I missing any? Which friends in books have you loved?  

  1. LittleWomen6Little Women I love this book so much. I read it first when I was 13 and have re-read it loads of times. I love the friendship the sisters have and the friendship between Jo and Laurie and basically just all of it. Timeless tale.
  2. Pride and Prejudice Yes, this book is totally about a great love story. I toPride+and+Prejudice+by+Jane+Austentally married my Mr. Darcy and I love it. But, this is also a story about friendship. Elizabeth and Charlotte have an incredible friendship, it even survives her marrying the most hilariously boring man ever.
  3.  Harry Potter I don’t know that I have ever sorce_stoneloved any story as much as I love Harry Potter. I could re-read it over and over again. It’s a wonderful world of wizards and magic but at
    it’s heart it is a story of enduring friendship. Just think about how quickly Harry would have failed had it not been for Ron and Hermione.DivineSecretsOfTheYaYaSisterhood
  4. The Divine Secrets of the Ya Ya Sisterhood Sure, you can mock me on this one because I know it sounds super cheesy. But seriously, it’s a lovely story about enduring friendship through a lot of hurt that binds them forever.
  5. downloadThe Girls from Ames This is a tale of real, lifelong friends told by a journalist. Many of the women have known each other since birth and stay friends their whole lives. It’s a great, very true read about the power of friendship.

 

On Audiobooks and Cry Reads

I have been a serious and devoted book lover my entire life. As nerdy as this is to admit, I started my first book club in 1st grade so that I could trade indexBaby Sitters Club books with my friends. When I moved out of New York the only things I didn’t sell were my books (and also my Kitchen Aid mixer, because, duh). And the great thing about being an accidental housewife is I get to read more than I have in the past 5 years. Compared to my former life where I was running a phone bank nearly every night, coming home exhausted and crying myself to sleep, it is a welcome change. I’m pretty much always reading at least 3 books at a time because depending on my mood I may want something fictional and fun or classic and brilliant or scary and suspenseful.

That being said, I’m a book purist. I like reading a real book, nothing on any sort of electronic devise will do. I make an exception, however, for audio books which I find essential distraction for driving through loads of traffic. A few years ago, the Texan and I had this genius idea to live on the beach in LA which was great except for the hour and a half drive to work every day. In LA traffic. An experience that will turn even the calmest of drivers into a screaming, vein bulging lunatic. So, suffice it to say, I needed a distraction and fortunately for the citizens of Los Angeles I discovered Audible. 

I have a few rules for a good audio book. First, they are almost always better when the person reading it has an accent, preferably a British one. It’s just more pleasant to hear than us Yanks drawling on. Although, I might listen to the Texan read a book because his drawl is just so adorable (barf, I know). Second, it should be a plot driven, quick moving story (anything by Gillian Flynn falls into this category). Overly descriptive books get a little mundane to listen to (it took me about 4 months to listen to The Orchardist, a good book but probably better not on audiobook). Third, (and this is a warning based on experience) avoid books with a lot of racy scenes.  It is likely while sitting in traffic another driver (with children in the car) will hear it and think listening to porn on your morning commute. This might be entertaining if you didn’t think you were scarring young children. (Note to the wise, avoid listening to This is Where I Leave You).

So, while searching for good Brit lit that fit these rules, I discovered Jojo Moyes. The first book thI listened to by Ms. Moyes was The Girl You Left Behind. And it is a great read–a little history and a fantastic female lead. Highly recommend it. But, the book that I listened to that made me laugh and also sob so uncontrollably I had to pull the car over was Me Before You.

This book–wow, let me tell you. It’s the story of a quirky lady lead who ends up caring for a disabled man and how they both help each other (and fall in love because duh, of course they do). Seriously, this book brings out all the feelings. And, it’s going to be a movie! With Finnick from the Hunger  Games and Daenerys from Game of Thrones! I almost cried again seeing the trailer–I’m actually scared to watch it because I don’t know if I can handle seeing it in real movie life. But, then again, it is kind of a great feeling, I mean don’t you just love a good cry read? Have you ever read something that made you cry but also made you happy to be crying? Please tell me I’m not alone here.