The Literary Gift Company

Thursday, March 31, 2011

There is a website called The Literary Gift Company.
Seriously, how awesome is that!

Here's a few of my favorite finds so far:
I Capture the Castle tote bag, a literary map of the UK
and a Virginia Woolf pin.

This could be dangerous to my bank account people.

Photos from the store.

Wordless Wednesday: Crater Lake

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Crater Lake National Park More Wordless Wednesday here.
Photo by moi.


Monday, March 28, 2011

Inkdeath (Book 3)
by Cornelia Funke

** There are NO spoilers of Inkdeath, but I’m assuming you’ve read the first 2 books in the series.

This is the final book in the Inkheart trilogy. This book’s title was particularly fitting because this installments deals with the thin line between life and death within the fictional Inkworld. In the first two novels Meggie and her parents, Resa and Mo (Bluejay) are introduced to and then transported into a book, Inkheart, and must live in the land of Umbra, created by the author, Fenoglio, who is also stranded within the book.

The world their trapped in is a mess. The evil Adderhead and his brother-in-law, the Milksop, are still terrorizing all of Umbra. The local children are in danger and all Resa wants is to return to the “real” world with Mo and Meggie.

Fenoglio has grown leery of his power as an author and refuses to write anything else. Orpheus, on the other hand, is exploiting his writing ability. He is adding to and changing Fenoglio’s world for his own gain.

I really missed Dustfinger in this story. He’s taken away by the white women at the end of Book 2 and his faithful friend Farid is still trying to find a way to bring him back from the dead. I wish we’d had more from the fire eater in this final book.

I loved this trilogy as a whole. It’s not really for kids, but I think it’s appropriate for young adult and older. Funke does a wonderful job exploring the question of fate vs. predestination and reality vs. fiction. Imagine being able to live within the worlds of your favorite books, what an amazing premise! Then imagine the problems that you could cause by disturbing those worlds and how your presence might alter the story lines. There are elements that reminded me of Jasper Fforde’s Thursday Next series.

I would highly recommend Inkheart and then, if you really love that one, read the rest of the trilogy. The final book isn’t the best of the lot, but it gives a satisfying conclusion to the series and gives readers closure for their favorite characters.

Friday Favorites: Half Broke Horses

Friday, March 25, 2011

Half Broke Horses
by Jeannette Walls

The book begins with a flood. Literally, on the first page a flash flood threatens the lives of three young children in Texas. From that second on the book completely hooked me. This addictive read is a “real life novel” from the author of The Glass Castle (which I loved). Her first book chronicled her own unconventional childhood. This book tells her grandma Lily’s story.

It’s a “novel” because she allows Lily’s voice to tell the story and doesn’t question the amazing stories that have been passed down orally in her family. The style is perfect and I think it would have felt stilted and forced if written in any other way. Lily is a spitfire and led one hell of a life. It’s rare for me to feel so completely sucked in to a nonfiction book. I had a hard time putting it down, because there was no end to the trials Lily faced. Her life reads like a movie.

Whenever she decided she wanted something, she just rolled up her sleeves and made it happen. She didn’t shy away from hard work, but she also never became complacent in her life and settled for what she had. Her strong personality was off-putting to many people in her life, but that never stopped her. She stood her ground regardless of public opinion. She was determined, brave and a fierce advocate for her children.

“I realized that you can get so used to certain luxuries that you start to think they’re necessities, but when you have to forgo them, you come to see that you don’t need them after all.”

If you’ve already read The Glass Castle (definitely not a necessary thing to do before reading this) you’ll be interested to learn more about the author’s mother Rosemary. This book explains her upbringing, which sheds a lot of light on why she turned out like she did. It’s not a perfect book, but I loved it. So whether you’re interested in learning more about their family or just want a great story, read this!

The book is packed with too many great one-liners to mention, but here are a few of my favorites…

"The only difference between a traitor and a patriot is your perspective."

“If you want to be reminded of the love of the Lord, Mom always said, just watch the sunrise. And if you want to be reminded of the wrath of the Lord, Dad said, watch a tornado.”

“Some times after I finished a particularly good book, I had the urge to get the library card, find out who else had read the book, and track them down to talk about it.”

Assassination Vacation

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Assassination Vacation
by Sarah Vowell

I love Vowell’s sense of humor. She’s sarcastic, yet somehow sincere. She’s an unashamed nerd and history buff, which is awesome, because I am too. Assassination is Vowell at her best. She chronicles her travels around New England as she visits spots relevant to Lincoln, Garfield and McKinley’s assassins.

She fills the book with a blend of historical facts, hilarious trivia bits and personal anecdotes. I always feel like I’m learning something while reading her books, but at the same time she cracking me up. She makes presidential assassinations incredibly entertaining.

The audio versions of Vowell’s books are particularly good. Like David Sedaris’ work, she reads her own books and so she provides the perfect pauses and inflections for maximum hilarity. She also manages to get an all-star cast of people to read lines for her supporting characters. Everyone from Dave Eggers to Conon O’Brien to John Stewart chime in for a line or two.

I can’t say enough to recommend her work. Whether she’s talking about being stuck in a flowery Bed & Breakfast with old people or describing her nephew’s name for graveyards (Halloween parks), she nails every scene. If you’ve never read anything she’s written, please check her out. Assassination Vacation is a great place to start.

Here's another review at Unputdownables.

Wordless Wednesday: Budapest Statue

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Sculpture in Budapest, Hungary

More Wordless Wednesday here.

Photo by moi.

The Penultimate Peril

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

** There are no spoilers of Book 12, but this review assumes you’ve read the first 11 books in the series.

The Penultimate Peril (Book 12)
by Lemony Snicket

The word Penultimate is defined as “The second to last in a series or sequence.” What a fantastic word to use in the title of this, the second to last book in the Series of Unfortunate Events.

Kit Snicket (fictional author, Lemony’s sister) takes the Baudelaire orphans, Sunny, Violet and Klaus, to the Hotel Denouement, where the mysterious VFD will be meeting in a few days. The siblings must disguise themselves as concierges to find out more information about the society. Along the way they run into almost every villain or friend they have met along the way in the first 11 books, though the Quagmire triplets were no where to be seen. The hotel is cleverly organized by using the Dewey Decimal system, which I loved.

The series is finally coming together and we are able to see what role the characters have played in the wider saga. Everyone has to pick their final side, good or evil, and a few decisions are surprising.

I am desperately hoping that Snicket can pull off an ending that makes the whole series worth while. I’m sure my expectations are pretty high at this point, but when you leave so many questions unanswered for 12 books, your readers are going to expect you to explain everything I the final book. I know that I’ll be really disappointed if things are left open-ended.

Fingers crossed.


Monday, March 21, 2011

by Sinclair Lewis

George Babbitt is a middle-aged real-estate broker living in the fictional Midwestern town of Zenith in the 1920s. He has done everything “right” in life and lives with his kids and wife in a nice little town. He’s well respected in the community and is successful in business. He loves to think about his superiority over others and “subtly” brag about his material possessions.

When a crisis with his best friend sends him spiraling into a midlife crisis we learn just how unhappy Babbitt truly is. He’s built a perfect world, based on what he’s been told means success, yet he feels empty.

“Every Saturday afternoon he hustled out to his country club and hustled through nine holes of golf, as a rest after the week’s hustle.”

Babbitt reminded me quite a bit of The Corrections, except I hated that book and I didn’t hate this one. It has a similar concept, looking at the average American family and the dysfunction within it, but this one was published about 80 years earlier. I think Babbitt touched on issues that were completely new and hadn’t been discussed yet, like ambition and success vs. family values, the “American Dream” of bigger cars and bigger paychecks vs. happiness.

Even though I liked this book, I struggled to feel attached to it because I disliked the characters so much. There’s not a likeable one in the bunch. Babbitt is a self-important fool, his kids are spoiled brats, and even his wife is a bit of a simpleton. I was impressed with what Lewis said about American society in the early 20th century, before everyone else was saying it, but I didn’t love the book itself.

This was my first experience with Sinclair Lewis (who I have always confused with Upton Sinclair) and I’m looking forward to seeing if some of his other famous books, like Main Street, have the same tone.

“As all converts, whether to a religion, love or gardening, find as by magic that though hitherto these hobbies had not seemed to exist, now the whole world is filled with their fury.”

For Japan With Love

Thursday, March 17, 2011

This is for all of the mothers, fathers, grandparents, children, writers, accountants, farmers, waiters, lovers, friends, etc. caught up in this horrible disaster. It seems so far away from my small world, but truly it's not and I wish I could do more.

To participate in the Bloggers Day of Silence (tomorrow, March 18th), along with so many others, visit here for more information. For more info about Shelter Box go here.

The Girl Who Fell From the Sky

The Girl Who Fell From the Sky
by Heidi W. Durrow

Rachel is a young bi-racial girl with a Danish mother and African-American father. She grew up never being persecuted for her race and never knowing she was “different” from anyone else. At age 11, she’s sent to live with her grandma in Portland, OR after a family tragedy leaves her on her own. Suddenly her race is very important to the people around her and she has to come to terms with that.

This book didn’t work for me. It’s not bad and I’ve heard some rave reviews, but I just couldn’t connect. The rotating narrative was a bit confusing. First Rachel is telling the story, then her old neighbor Brick, then her mother’s friend Laronne, etc. There’s was a lot going on, but there was little resolved. The book is well-written and deals with some important issues, it just felt hollow for me.

Here’s another opinion at Hey Lady! Whatcha Readin’?

Wordless Wednesday: Baltimore Inner Harbor

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

The Inner Harbor in Baltimore.

More Wordless Wednesday here.

Photo by moi.

The Emperor of All Maladies

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

The Emperor of All Maladies

A Biography of Cancer
by Siddhartha Mukherjee

This ambitious, nonfiction book chronicles the history and development of cancer and its treatments. It provides a complete overview of the disease, which people have battled for the past 4,000 years.

I connected with some of the personal cases, but the constant stream on scientific minutia, tests, studies, etc. lost my interest a few times. Mukherjee opens and closes the book with the case of a young kindergarten teacher, Carla Reed, which provides the perfect bookends to the onslaught of info.

I don’t know how much of the detailed info will stick, but it was so interesting. There were certainly some graphic parts, which is to be expected with a medical topic. I couldn’t believe some of the medieval methods used as treatments for years. Bleeding patients, loping off body parts, acid burns, etc. were all acceptable, which is horrific.

I also couldn’t believe how long cancer has been around. There are fossils and mummies with cancerous tumors. There are even texts describing breast cancer in ancient Egypt and a Persian queen.

It’s unbelievable how many advances have been made in the past couple decades. It wasn’t that long ago that many refused to believed smoking cigarettes could in anyway cause cancer.

One of the most disturbing aspects of the book is learning how common cancer is becoming. The author notes that one day soon we may not wonder IF we will get cancer, but instead we’ll wonder WHEN. As someone who has watched both of her parents struggle with different cancers and losing one to Leukemia, I see his observation in a very real way. To me, this book was incredibly meaningful because it was a chance to better educate myself on the topic and I would recommend it to anyone else interested in doing the same.

“Cancer makes some families and breaks some.”

For another view, visit Devourer of Books.

Jude, The Obscure

Monday, March 14, 2011

Jude The Obscure
by Thomas Hardy

As a young boy, Jude Fawley reads everything he can get his hands on and dreams of going to college. He’s an orphan living in the English countryside yearning to move to Christminster (based on Oxford). When he finally gets the opportunity to begin to make his way in the world he meets a saucy milkmaid, Arabella, and is lured away from his goals.

Jude’s true love is his cousin Sue Bridehead, who shares his passion for intellectual pursuits. Unfortunately their timing always seems off. When he’s tied to Arabella, Sue is free and when he’s free, Sue is tied to a school teacher named Phillotson.

Jude is such a tragic character. His every effort to attain a happy life seems to be thwarted by things that are out of his control. The tragedy seems unavoidable even when you’re hoping the characters make different decisions. Without Hardy’s beautiful writing this book would be unreadable because it’s so depressing, but he makes it enthralling.


HOLY DARK TWIST BATMAN! Little Father Time, Jude’s son, had some serious issues and obviously he had a rough childhood, but still, I was not expecting him to murder his half siblings and hang himself. I mean geez! That is some dark, dark stuff.


In some ways it reminded me of a more likeable version of Wuthering Heights. The same premise of two souls made of the same stuff, but both ill-matched in marriages and kept apart. Only in Jude there’s no crazy, selfish character and in Wuthering Heights there’s less religion.

One of the novel’s main themes is marriage. The characters are constantly at odds with the union, which surprised me because it was published in 1895. I’m sure the book caused quite a stir when it first came out.

This was my first foray into Thomas Hardy and from what I’ve heard his other books have similar themes. This one was hard to rate, because though I loved the writing, the story leaves you aching for Jude and wishing you could have made his life better. So it’s not a book I feel like I loved. I will definitely read more of his work, (I’ve got Tess of the D’Ubervilles and Far From the Madding Crowd on my TBR list), but I may have to wait a bit before diving into another heartbreaker.

Here’s another wonderful review at Subtle Melodrama.

I read this review for the Victorian Literature Challenge here.

Hemingway and Bailey's Bartending Guide to Great American Writers

Friday, March 11, 2011

Hemingway and Bailey's Bartending Guide to Great American Writers
by Mark Bailey

Writers like to drink… a lot. I like to read funny stories about what they did or said while drinking, because writers tend to be quite witty. This book fills that desire perfectly. Each author chosen has a two-page spread detailing an incident where they were drinking, a recipe for their drink of choice (or one often associated with them), a line or two about drinking from one of their books

(Making cocktails during the Oscars)

Kerouac, Benchley, Fitzgerald and, of course, Hemingway, all found a place in the book, along with dozens of others. It’s a quick read, but a fun one. I also loved seeing some of the unique drink recipes included. While watching the Oscars, I mixed a few of the cocktails from the books. My favorites were the French 75 and the Tom Collins. I’m a gin girl and apparently many writers were gin drinkers too.

Bottom photo by moi.

Sarah’s Key

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Sarah’s Key
by Taiana De Rosnay

During World War II, the French police in Paris rounded up thousands of Jews and sent them to a Parisian stadium, the Velodrome d'Hiver, where they were held until being sent to Auschwitz for extermination.

This horrific event in history is one that I’d never heard of before reading this book and for that reason alone, I’m glad I read it. The story is written from two points of view. There’s Julia, the present day journalist researching the event, then there is a young girl, Sarah, who experiences the roundup as it happens. We flash back and forth between the two as the story unfolds.

The historical aspect of the plot was fascinating, but I didn’t like the modern day parts. The main character is married to a man that she continuously makes excuses for while he treats her horribly. It’s hard to embrace a character who puts up with someone like that.

The author decided to pair the issue of the Jews extermination in the 1940s with the modern day issue of abortion. I was definitely not expecting that and I felt like it unnecessarily complicated the plot. It’s not that abortion isn’t an important issue, it just felt like a very forced element in the story.

I was really disappointed with this book because there was so much potential. I felt like the emphasis was placed on the wrong things. There was an opportunity for a truly powerful story, but the author ignored it in lieu of talking about Julia’s personal drama. I’m still glad I read it, but in the end it just made me want to learn more about the Vel’ d'Hiv roundup.

Here’s more info on the actual event.

Wordless Wednesday: Central Park

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

The Central Park Mall

More Wordless Wednesday here.

Photo by moi.

Where She Went

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Where She Went
by Gayle Forman

***This book is a sequel to Forman’s novel If I Stay. I won’t spoil anything in Where She Went, but I will assume you’ve read If I Stay.***

In If I Stay, a high school senior, Mia Hall, lost her whole family in a horrible car crash. She almost died, but pulled through at the end of the book when he boyfriend Adam begs her to stay. The whole story is told from her point-of-view as she sees Adam, her friends and extended family visit her in the hospital.

In Where She Went we pick up three years later. We learn that Mia and Adam aren’t together, but we don’t know why. She’s become a famous cellist and attends Julliard, Adam has become a famous rockstar, but his life’s a mess. The story is told from Adam’s perspective, which was a wonderful choice. Each chapter starts with beautiful lyrics Adam wrote and they really spoke to the story instead of feeling like a gimmick.

Honestly I liked this book ever more than If I Stay. The characters became more real to me. They had more depth and more pain. You find yourself rooting for them to find peace, because their struggles are so realistic.

It would be easy to dismiss Adam and Mia's two-year relationship as a high school love that could never last, but there’s more to it. Going through the horrible loss that happened in the first book bonded them together in an irreversible way. No matter what came after that, Mia and Adam became a sort of family for each other.

I loved how Forman decided to switch perspectives and toss us into the story a few years down the road. She explores the way love can destroy us and change us so deeply, for better or worse, that we never quite recover. The people you love become a part of you.

***I received this advanced reader copy from the publisher**

**On a side note, there's a scene where Adam borrows someone's iPod without knowing exactly what music will be on it. He needs the music to help him find some peace. It reminded me of strange night in Ireland when a friend loaned me her iPod. I flew to Dublin from London with some friends and my eardrum burst on the plane ride over. After 8 hours in a shady ER and then four days touring the country, I couldn't fly back with everyone else. The doctors had told me that flying was off the table until my ear healed. So I took a bus/ferry/bus back to London by myself, while they flew home.

My friend left her iPod with me (this was before I had one) and it was one of the kindest things she could have possibly done. Sitting on a dirty floor in a Dublin bus station, then on a crowded overnight bus for hours and hours, the music gave me comfort. I didn't know what bands I would find as I scrolled through the artists, but soon songs from Iron and Wine, the Beatles, the Postal Service, the Shins (along with a battered copy of Mansfield Park), were keeping me company. Music is such a powerful thing and Where She Went spoke about that so beautifully.

The Yellow Wallpaper

Monday, March 7, 2011

The Yellow Wallpaper
by Charlotte Perkins Gilman

Short and über creepy, this story is told from the point-of-view of a woman staying in the country with her husband. She’s recovering from an unnamed illness (possibly post-partum depression) and her husband has set her up in a room by herself. The walls are covered with an ugly yellow wallpaper and as the story progresses she becomes obsessed with it.

She begins to believe she can see a woman lurking behind the designs in the wallpaper. The longer she remains confined to the room the deeper she descends into her madness, taking the reader along for the ride.

The story was published in 1892 and is often called one of the first pieces of feminist literature. It’s a chilling look at the “treatment” women were often given and the lack of freedom they were permitted in these situations. It’s also just a great scary story, so there’s something for everyone.

For another review see Sandy’s great comments at You’ve Gotta Read This!

The Invisible Man

Friday, March 4, 2011

The Invisible Man
By H.G. Wells

A young scientist finds a way to make himself invisible, but his success leaves him outcast from society. The Invisible Man is the story of a person who loses his humanity while pursuing an illusive scientific experiment.

This famous book is really more of a cautionary tale than a scary story. The main character, Griffin, is not a likeable guy. He’s rude and often cruel. Every choice he makes is driven by his underlying desire to further his own goals and his selfishness leaves him oblivious to the wellbeing of others.

The narrative itself is a bit stiff, but that’s to be expected in most Victorian literature. We see the outside world’s view of Griffin long before we learn how this happened to him. By the time he lets his side unfold it’s difficult to connect with his character.

It was much more tragic than I expected. It reminded me of The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. The author blends science with morality to highlight the importance of considering both elements in your life. What is the power to make yourself invisible worth if you lose your soul by doing it?

Read for the Victorian Literature Challenge hosted here.

Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy
by Eric Metaxas

I can’t imagine being a German, staunchly opposed to Hitler’s regime, during WWII. I frequently hear people wonder why no Germans stood up against him when he was ordering such horrific acts to be committed, but in reality, some did, and they were persecuted because of it.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s life was a fascinating one. He’s one of the few people I’ve ever read about who truly lived by example. Friends, family and colleagues unanimously agreed on that point. He was kind, generous and incredibly talented as both a minister and musician. He took his beliefs seriously and lived his life according to what he preached.

This biography gives an in-depth (seriously, more than 600 pages) look at the man behind the book “The Cost of Discipleship.” I had no idea Bonhoeffer was involved in a plot to assassinate Hitler. I also didn’t realize he was engaged while imprisoned. He and his fiancée corresponded through letters when they weren’t able to see each other.

If Bonhoeffer has ever sparked your interest or you’re a WWII junkie like me, then definitely read this one. If you’ve never heard of him and you’re sick of reading about the 1940s in Europe, then skip it.

“In a world where success is the measure and justification of all things, the figure of Him who was sentenced and crucified remains a stranger and is at best the object of pity.” -Bonhoeffer

“A human beings moral integrity begins when he is prepared to sacrifice his life for his convictions.”

Meet Oliver

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Meet Ollie. He is our brand new puppy and the main reason why finishing up War & Peace by the end of February was so tough. He's possibly the sweetest dog in history.

We named him Oliver in part as a nod to Dickens. Even though Oliver Twist isn't my favorite character or book of his, Oliver makes a much better dog name than Murdstone or Havisham. I was tempted to name him Atticus or Leo, but in the end Oliver was the best fit.

(Me and my pup on the night we got him)

More Wordless Wednesday here.

Photos by moi and the Huz.

War and Peace Readalong: Vol. 4 (aka Victory!)

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

This is my fourth and final post (here's the first, second and third) for the War and Peace read-along hosted by A Literary Odyssey.

The final volume of War & Peace covers a lot of ground. We get to know Petya Rostov a bit more. He’s a kind, sweet young man, but unfortunately he’s killed in action. Prince Andrei’s wounds worsen and he ends up with the Rostovs in his final days. His sister Marya travels to be with him and through this time she grows close with Natasha. Andrei’s death scene was one of my favorite sections in the book. It’s such a powerful look at a man in the final moments of his life.

Natasha’s character reaches maturity as she cares for Andrei, until his death, and then her mother after they hear news of Petya’s death. She’s completely lost in her grief for Andrei and really only survives and grows strong again because her mother needs her. There was something beautiful in the salvation she finds in that selfless action. Natasha is left so changed by her loss that Pierre literally doesn’t recognize her (p. 1112)

“But the same wound that half killed the countess, this new wound called Natasha to life… A wound in the soul, like a physical would, can be healed only by the force of life pushing up from inside.” p.1080

Nikolai, on the other hand, seemed to become less matured as the novel progressed. It was disappointing that he was so easily swayed when people told him what he wanted to hear (p. 950). I was disappointed in his character across the board. It seemed like he did what he wanted and though he did make sacrifices for others, he also made some incredibly selfish decisions.

Sonya’s life was one of the worst fates I could imagine. I know she was able to remain with the family that took her in, but she’s used badly by them. She’s forced to sacrifice her love for the good of the family and in the end she lives a quiet life caring for the Countess (who made her give up Nikolai) and having to watch the man she loved with his wife everyday. All the while, the people around her say she is a “sterile blossom” and compare her to a cat with little feeling. I can’t imagine that’s true and my heart broke for her.

In the first half of the book I was worried Pierre would never grow up and get a backbone. I was thrilled that this proved not to be the case. I loved how his story unfolded. He found his courage in the midst of his worst trials. He witnesses some terrible things, like an execution, but he grew through those experiences and became a better man for them. He realizes that he doesn’t need all of the silly social things he thought he needed and they were in fact making him deeply unhappy. In the end he ends up with the love of his life and he finds contentment. (p. 1013).

In one strange section, Tolstoy extols the virtues of women who aren’t intelligent (p. 1117). He talks about how “real” women aren’t intelligent and how wonderful it is to talk to “real” women because they listen instead of giving intelligent responses to what you say. What an awful way to view the other sex! I can’t believe that he (through his characters) would rather have a mindless nodding ditz than someone he could actually discuss things with.

A few final thoughts on the book:

I could have done without about 300 pages of battle scenes and strategizing in the book. I know they’re important, but to me they just distracted from the main plot that I wanted to follow.

There are elements of War & Peace that remind me of Gone with the Wind. The characters are so carefree in the beginning of the story. They attend balls and there’s a constant stream of proposals as everyone falls in and out of love. By the end of the book they have been changed by the horrors of war and they mature because of the strain they’re under. They are worn down and brokenhearted because they have lost so many loved ones. Yet there’s still hope and new life that keeps the story moving.

“When man finds himself in motion, he always thinks up a goal for that motion. In order to walk a thousand miles, a man needs to think that there is something good at the end of those thousand miles. One needs a vision of the promised land in order to have the strength to move.” (p. 1028)

In the end, reading War & Peace isn’t like reading your average novel. It reminded me of reading Les Miserable, The Odyssey and Atlas Shrugged in the way that it is completely engrossing. You may not love every second of it, but you become completely immersed in the world created by the author. You feel as though you know the characters and you’ve known them for years. It’s not just a book; it’s an experience, a journey that you undertake with the author and not one I’m soon to forget.

"Once we're thrown off our habitual paths, we think all is lost; but it's only here that the new and the good begins. As long as there's life, there's happiness. There's much, much still to come."

p.s. A huge thanks to Allie for hosting this readalong. I’m sure I would have read this eventually, but it was so much better to read with a group and be able to discuss the things we loved and struggled with. This was an intense two-month adventure and I’m so glad I did it!