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  • Heidi Fiedler 5:00 pm on 2015/05/28 Permalink
    Tags: , annie barrows, , , , helen fielding, , , , , mary ann shaffer, , , , sun and sand, the poisonwood bible   

    The Summer Beach Read IQ Test 

    The best beach reads feel like a cross between a drowsy nap after a champagne brunch with your girlfriends, and a galloping cross-continental bullet-train ride you don’t want to get off. A compelling plot and delicious details are the perfect treat to devour during a summer weekend, whether you’re away at the beach or taking a staycation in your backyard. But how much do you remember after reading these literary popcicles? Test your beach-read basics by identifying the quotes below. (Hint: They were all written by women!) If you get more than five right, you’re a sun goddess. While away another afternoon by the waves. Fewer than five? For shame! Skinny dipping awaits! (Wait, is that a penalty?)

    1. “Listen. Slide the weight from your shoulders and move forward. You are afraid you might forget, but you never will. You will forgive and remember.”

    2. “It is a truth universally acknowledged that when one part of your life starts going okay, another falls spectacularly to pieces.”

    3. “This is why you must love life: one day you’re offering up your social security number to the Russian Mafia; two weeks later you’re using the word calve as a verb.”

    4. “I’m beginning to think that maybe it’s not just how much you love someone. Maybe what matters is who you are when you’re with them.”

    5. “Perhaps there is some secret sort of homing instinct in books that brings them to their perfect readers. How delightful if that were true.”

    6. “I suppose at one time in my life I might have had any number of stories, but now there is no other. This is the only story I will ever be able to tell.”

    7. “I’ve learned that some broken things stay broken, and I’ve learned that you can get through bad times and keep looking for better ones, as long as you have people who love you.”

    8. “Not everything has to have a point. Some things just are. ”

    9. “‘I can bear pain, myself,’ he said softly, ‘but I couldna bear yours. That would take more strength than I have.'”

    10. “It was good, and nothing good is truly lost. It stays part of a person, becomes part of their character. So part of you goes everywhere with me. And part of me is yours, forever.”

     

    Answers:

    1. The Poisonwood Bible, by Barbara Kingsolver

    2. Bridget Jones’s Diary, by Helen Fielding

    3. Where’d You Go, Bernadette?, by Maria Semple

    4. The Accidental Tourist, by Anne Tyler

    5. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows

    6. The Secret History, by Donna Tartt

    7. Good in Bed, by Jennifer Weiner

    8. Summer Sisters, by Judy Blume

    9. Outlander, by Diana Gabaldon

    10. The Shell Seekers, by Rosamunde Pilcher

    How many did you get?

     
  • Jeff Somers 3:00 pm on 2014/12/31 Permalink
    Tags: a long way down, amor towles, , George Eliot, , helen fielding, , middlemarch, , rules of civility, , white teeth,   

    Our Favorite Books Set on New Year’s Eve (and Day) 

    Amor Towles' The Rules of CivilityHumans are a funny lot; we invent a totally random way of keeping track of our existence, then assign special significance to certain days, and proceed to do things like go to war over disagreements on which days are especially significant. For most people, New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day are natural moments for contemplation and resolution—or nursing hangovers—which is why they are also great days to read books. When trying to decide what goals to set for yourself in the coming year, a good book can give you examples of what to do—or what not to do, depending on the book.

    Here then, are five books set on and around New Year’s eve that just might have something to teach you—but will definitely entertain you.

    Middlemarch, by George Eliot

    Only a small portion of this classic piece of literature takes place on New Year’s—but any excuse to pick up this amazing novel is a good excuse. The New Year’s Day portion is a great scene filled with Eliot’s typically sharp observations of her fellow human beings. The party thrown by the Vincys is superficially cheerful and jolly, but tensions roil just underneath the surface, as observed by the smart and good-hearted vicar Mr. Farebrother. This is a great scene to read in preparation for heading out to a New Year’s bash.

    White Teeth, by Zadie Smith

    Smith’s insanely creative book begins on New Year’s Day and explores, among many other finely woven themes, how chance affects our lives. When Archie Jones changes his mind about an attempted suicide and finds his way to the dregs of a New Year’s Eve party, where he meets his future wife, it’s just the first of many ways the book celebrates how our decisions conspire to surprise us—and the story circles around to a later New Year’s to underscore the point. Read this book before making your resolutions, to remind yourself that you never know what 2015 might throw at you.

    Rules of Civilty, by Amor Towles

    This under-appreciated first novel is a brilliant, energetic story set in a Manhattan that no longer exists. With a strong female character at its center, Rules of Civilty presents a mystery that starts at a New Year’s celebration between the end of 1937 and the beginning of 1938, but it’s really a celebration of the energy of New York and the thrill of suddenly seeing someone or something you haven’t seen in decades, bringing back a flood of memories. It also contains the world-beating line, “That’s the problem with being born in New York…you’ve got no New York to run away to.” Read this book if you’re feeling a bit settled and wonder if you could use an adventure in the New Year.

    Bridget Jones’s Diary, by Helen Fielding

    Let’s not dismiss this book—it’s a modern classic of its genre, and it’s easy to forget what a phenomenon it was back in the late 1990s and early 2000s. It’s also a book that begins on New Year’s Day and dives enthusiastically into one of the great inner monologues of modern literature, as Bridget worries, records, and contemplates the proper method of making and keeping resolutions almost from the book’s very first moment. Read it if you’re worried about breaking your New Year’s resolutions—it will remind that ultimately it probably doesn’t matter, as long as you enjoy the debacle.

    A Long Way Down, by Nick Hornby

    Any book that opens with its four main characters accidentally choosing the same roof to jump from on New Year’s Eve is a book that really ought to be read every New Year’s Eve, possibly out loud as a new kind of holiday tradition. And since it’s a book by Nick Hornby, it’s also hilarious and satisfyingly plotted, as these people decide to postpone their suicide and the story unfolds unexpectedly from there. Read this any time you think your New Year’s experience is subpar; you’ll feel better.

    What’s your favorite book to read at the end (or start) of the year?

     
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