Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Two books you should read

I've been saying in comment responses for a little bit now that I'm going to post some book reviews soon. I'd been procrastinating because other things have come up that I've wanted to share, but today's the day. I've got two books to share with you that I enjoyed quite a lot. I'll review them in the order I read them.
Emma Donaghue's Room is written on a fairly disturbing premise, but it is told from the perspective of the five year old son, which adds naivety and lightness to otherwise heavy content. At 19 years old, Jack's mom was kidnapped and taken hostage to a room in a man's home. She is held there with no windows and no outside access, and during that time she conceives Jack. In a world that must have been incredibly depressing for her, she creates an environment for Jack that is fun, educational, and physically active. He tells tales of games she creates to get their exercises, birthday cakes she bakes for him with their "Sunday treat", creative tales they devise of bath time and bed time. It is only on the rare occasion you as a reader remember the premise of the book. At night, Jack sleeps in a wardrobe, because the man comes in to visit his mother. Again, because of the perspective it is not nearly as depressing as it sounds. 

After Jack's fifth birthday, he and his mom start devising a plan to escape Room (Jack refers to things as proper nouns, such as Bed, Window, etc.). What happens next is a story of hope and individuality, as Jack learns that his mom is more than just that. It also teaches the reader the importance of perspective in a story, as I finished what seems to be a heavy story without a sense grief or sadness about the situation. 

I would recommend this book to anyone, really. It takes a bit to get into it, as I was tired of hearing descriptions of Room by 20% (I read on a Kindle and it tells me %'s instead of page numbers). But once the storyline picks up, it's hard to put down. I gave it 4/5 stars on Goodreads.
Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand is a true story of Louis Zamperini, an Olympic runner who grows up always in trouble and finds his strides in running. After almost graduating from USC, he joins the Army Air Force Corps during World War II and becomes a bombardier in the Pacific theatre of the war. After several successful bombing missions, Louie's plane goes down while out on a rescue mission. He and several other men on board survive the horrific crash and then spend over 40 days on a raft in the middle of Pacific Ocean while rescue planes and eventually Japanese fly overhead. Louie is then taken as an undeclared POW by the Japanese, and much of the book is spent addressing the struggles he endures in the internment camps and dealing with different officers along the way. 

Laura Hillenbrand is without question a literary genius. As I was reading and came across incredible foreshadowing and nuances throughout the book, I was bowled over. She spent seven years researching for this book, and she ties together all of her interviews and reading with an invisible stitch. I honestly felt like I was sitting on Louie's shoulder as everything was happening, and at some times I wished that I wasn't. His story is one of courage, military honor, and extreme bravery. I don't understand how someone could endure so much and still have the will to survive.

And because I'm a history teacher and was a history major in college, I also appreciated learning about the Japanese atrocities and the Pacific theatre in the war. I never realized the extent of that part of the war, as Hitler's attempt for world domination and the horrific Holocaust that occurred in Europe tends to be what is taught in schools and focused on during college courses.

One last note, then I'll cut my long review to a close. I was in tears at the end of war; they weren't ladylike tears but ugly crying tears. But after the war there is still quite a bit left. That part lasted a bit longer than I thought it needed to, but it did give me a completely new and whole-hearted appreciation for military veterans who come back to normal life and are expected to function as though they haven't experienced the atrocities of war. 

For so many reasons, I would heavily encourage you to read this book. It is one that will not long be forgotten and will continue to sit at the top of my list of favorite books (along with The Count of Monte Cristo).

Next up, as you saw yesterday, I'm reading Mindy Kaling's autobiography. I needed a light read that wouldn't have me in stitches throughout its pages and tears in the end.

Have you read any of these books? What did you think?
What is your favorite book?
What other books would you suggest couldn't be missed as I have time this summer to read?

Read my other book reviews for ideas.



Danielle (elleinadspir) said...

I loved Room and Unbroken is on my list. Mindy's book was good, not great. Bossypants was great.

Katie said...

I haven't heard of Unbroken before, but it sounds right up my alley. And I just picked up Room from the library! Can't wait to start it.

still being [molly] said...

yes! i've been looking for some new books to read:) and i can't wait to hear how mindy kaling's book is - i've been wanting to check it out!

still being [molly]

Meg said...

My book club read both of those books last year and I really enjoyed both of them even though they fell a little outside my comfort zone. "Room" had such a unique - though uncomfortable - plot. I liked "Unbroken," though I didn't realize it was nonfiction until after I started reading it. The fact that running was laced into the novel surprised me!

Kelly said...

LOOOOOOOVED Room. I'm not quite done, maybe 100 pages left, but I could not put it down last weekend. It is so good!!

Jen said...

Everytime I'm at Target (so like 5 times a week) I see Room and think I should get it! Now I will!

Becca Christensen said...

Sweet! I'm always looking for good recommendations. I have 52 books to read yet this year.

Raven said...

I loved your reviews! Definitely loved Room, and now I'm gonna have to add Unbroken to my list!!

Claire Kiefer said...

I have heard a lot about Room and will definitely put it on my list. The second book sounds intense and deeply historical, which is sometimes not my cup of tea, but your review is really convincing. Good writing is so important . . . and I say that having recently finished 50 Shades of Grey. UGH.

smk053078 said...

I heard the Room is so good, but a little disturbing. After I read all three 50 Shades, I am taking a reading break...well except for blog reading! ;)

Cait said...


Ashley said...

ok unbroken sounds REALLY good. i'm not a reader but i might have to look into this one!

Leeann @ Join the Gossip said...

I've been looking for books to read! Thanks for the suggestions, adding them to my reading list now.

Jen said...

Unbroken was fabulous! I'm reading Born to Run, which I am finding fascinating, by the way. Definitely bought barefoot running shoes and am working to transition into them now. Have you read Born to Run? I feel like you might find it interesting. And 50 Shades is next on the list

Michelle said...

I joined a girls only bookclub a year ago and Room was the first book we read, it was sad but a really good story I enjoyed it as it made me think like a kid and see things as a child would. I could see it being turned into a movie too.
My favourite book is The Book Thief followed closely by The Bronze Horseman :)

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