Reading binge makes for a magical week

Last week was magical. I grumbled into the phone when friends called, and snapped at anyone who dared interrupt me. That’s not the magic part, though. You see, I treated myself to a reading binge and discovered not one, two, or three, but four amazing authors. Most of these  novels are not recent publications, and I’ve had them on my Kindle since last year, but never got around to reading them. Here they are in the order I read them.

1. Kate Morton, The Forgotten Garden. With a little bit of The Secret Garden, a lot of going back and forth between three different time periods, and a delightful dose of original fairy tales, this novel bowled me over. What can be more exciting than a forgotten garden, an old book of original fairy tales, and a family mystery?

From the book description:

“Inheriting a book of dark and intriguing fairytales written by Eliza Makepeace – the Victorian authoress who disappeared mysteriously in the early twentieth century – Cassandra takes her courage in both hands to follow in the footsteps of [her recently dead grandmother] Nell on a quest to find out the truth about their history, their family and their past; little knowing that in the process, she will also discover a new life for herself.”

One of my favorite quotes:

“Ever since Eliza had discovered the book of fairy tales… she’d understood the power of stories. Their magical ability to refill the wounded part of people.”

2. Sue Monk Kidd, The Secret Life of Bees.  I emerged from between the pages of this book half-wishing I was a beekeeper. Maybe I should put that on my list of “things I wish I can do sometime in my life.” This list includes things like becoming a marine biologist and a wildlife photographer for National Geographic.

From the book description:

“When [Lily’s governess] Rosaleen insults three of the deepest racists in town, [teenage misfit] Lily knows it’s time to spring them both free. They take off in the only direction Lily can think of, toward a town called Tiburon, South Carolina – a name she found on the back of a picture amid the few possessions left by her mother.”

One of my favorite quotes:

“I was wishing I had a story like that one to live inside me with so much loudness you could pick it up on a stethoscope, and not the story I did have about ending my mother’s life and sort of ending my own at the same time.”

3. Kathryn Stockett, The Help. Like To Kill a Mockingbird, this novel reminded me of just how deeply entrenched racism was in the (US) South. Told through the voices of one white woman slowly realizing how little she fits in with her childhood friends and hometown, and two black women working as maids in Jackson, Mississippi, this novel traces the stories of black maids working in the American South in the 1960s.

From the book description:

“Seemingly as different from one another as can be, these women will nonetheless come together for a clandestine project that will put them all at risk. And why? Because they are suffocating within the lines that define their town and their times. And sometimes lines are made to be crossed. ”

One of my favorite quotes:

“She gave me a lemony smile.”

4. Barbara Kingsolver, The Poisonwood Bible. Told in five different and distinct voices, Kingsolver tells a powerful tale about family, missionaries, and politics. Her novel follows the fates of the wife and four daughters of an American missionary who sends himself and his family to the Belgian Congo to bring Christianity to a small village. Despite the serious subject matter, Kingsolver surprised me by making me laugh out loud at times, with her characters’ observations on situations that are so horrific or pathetic that they become darkly comic.

From the book description:

“[I]t isn’t long before they discover that the tremendous humidity has rendered the [Betty Crocker cake] mixes unusable, their clothes are unsuitable, and they’ve arrived in the middle of political upheaval as the Congolese seek to wrest independence from Belgium. In addition to poisonous snakes, dangerous animals, and the hostility of the villagers to Nathan’s fiery take-no-prisoners brand of Christianity, there are also rebels in the jungle and the threat of war in the air. Could things get any worse?

In fact they can and they do.”

One of my favorite quotes:

“White men tell us: Vote, bantu! They tell us: You do not all have to agree, ce n’est pas nécessaire! If two men vote yes and one says no, the matter is finished. Á bu, even a child can see how that will end. It takes three stones in the fire to hold up the pot. Take one away, leave the other two, and what? The pot will spill into the fire.”

Lesson to be learned from this latest reading binge: If you call me and I answer the phone in a distracted grumble, that probably means you interrupted me while reading and I was too polite to snap at you.

Have you read any good books lately?



Filed under books, reading, Readings

5 responses to “Reading binge makes for a magical week

  1. Ah! The Help.

    In a London bookstore I held this book in my hands three times and in the end decided to put it back down.

    If only I knew! You’re my no 1 reference on good books!

    • Marwa Elnaggar

      Well, I hadn’t read it then, so don’t be too hard on yourself 😉 I’m sure you can find it in Alef or Diwan or even the AUC bookstore.

  2. Hi there –

    I’m here by way of SheWrites. You’ve chosen some excellent books – I loved Bees and Poisonwood Bible. I haven’t read the other two.

    You might enjoy “Wildwood Dancing” by Juliet Marillier, or “Peace Like a River” by Leif Enger. Those have been two of my favorite reads ever.

  3. Nice book journey you have been on, I just posted about ‘The Secret Garden’ and Barbara Kingsolvers ‘The Lacuna’ if you want to visit and recently read ‘The Secret life of Bees ‘ after an Uncle recommended it and he had read an Orhan Pamuk book I recommended. ‘The Help’ was being passed around, so had to find out what that was all about.

    • Marwa Elnaggar

      I am terribly sorry for not seeing your comment earlier. I’ve been out of sync with my blog since last January (I just blogged about that). I just checked out your blog, and you are quite the reader! I love meeting kindred spirits 🙂 I’m reading Animal Dreams now, as well as Inkheart, and Remarkable Creatures. Which Orhan Pamuk? I loved My Name is Red.

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