Saturday, July 7, 2012

Book reviews: lemons, happiness and cancer

I am thoroughly enjoying this summer for a lot of reasons, the 70 degree sunny days, the time with my niece and nephew and the fact that I am finally crossing a bunch of books off my list. 

The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin

I have been interested in this book since I started reading the blog a few years ago and I bought the book off of Amazon months ago but have been saving it to read. Rubin spends one year of her life focusing on her "Happiness Project." She researches happiness and decided to spend one month of the year focusing on a particular subject (marriage, kids, money, career, etc.) and works on certain goals to make herself happier. There are so many interesting things she does in writing this book from becoming a "treasure house of happy memories" to starting a young adult book club and beginning the blog based on the premise of the book. While I don't agree with everything she does (she isn't a Christian so I'm still wrestling with the "me" emphasis of the project) and don't have a year of my life to simply dedicate to doing things to making myself happier I definitely took a lot away from this book. I could write a whole post just about this book and if I end up doing my own mini project you'll hear about it. 

The Lemon Tree: An Arab, a Jew and The Heart of the Middle East by Sandy Tolan

A friend of mine recommended this book over a year ago and I'd been looking forward to finally reading it. But it was very different from what I anticipated. In my mind I would dive in to a flowery story about two people that meet and have a lovely friendship despite religious differences. What I got was that intertwined with a history of the conflict in Palestine. Bashir is a Palestinian man who goes to the home he was forced from as a young boy and meets Dalia, a Jewish woman, who ended up living in the same house. From there their unlikely relationship begins and develops over decades. Honestly, I knew very very little about the Palestinian conflict prior to reading the book (I still don't know much) and, at first, found it challenging to really embrace. It took me a little while to get through but I slowly became engrossed with the story. Because the conflict still exists there the book just seems to drop off without much resolution, but that's the way it goes. I would definitely recommend it if you have any passing interest about the Middle East. 

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

Where do I even begin? First, I would like to thank Entertainment Weekly for the recommendation :) John Green is a young adult author who tackles the heartbreaking subject of pediatric cancer. He writes about Hazel, a 16 year old with terminal cancer held at bay by a new drug. Hazel ends up meeting Augustus Waters and guess what happens? But really, this book gave me a new appreciation for YA lit, despite the cheese and the fact that teenagers do not really talk like that. It also made me cry on a plane, which is just embarrassing. I really was so so good. 


Liene Stevens said...

Love hearing your perspective on the book and glad you read it! One of the reasons I loved The Lemon Tree so much was for its silent reminder on every page that we are called to love people whole-heartedly, just as they are, and that it's a very messy endeavor.

I could not handle The Happiness Project. I wanted to like it, and I believe in taking care of ourselves as a part of stewardship, but to me she took it to a whole new level of narcissism. There are probably a lot of good ideas in there that I missed simply because I couldn't get past my annoyance.

Unknown said...

Yes, the reminder to love people is so potent in that book. I really appreciated how their friendship grows even through their disagreements.

And I did kind of just have to look past the me only focus she has in the book. It would be so interesting to do a project focusing only on what you could do for others.

I just put in a request at the library for the Brene Brown book!

Anonymous said...

My reading/blogging partner read "The Fault in our Stars" and loved it. I'm reading it next! I understand what you mean about the teenage dialogue but we have to consider the alternative: I checked out Lauren Conrad's "LA Candy" because I was curious about what her fiction writing style would be like and couldn't make it past the first chapter because the characters used "like" in every sentence! It's really hard to get YA right. I read his other book "Looking For Alaska" and didn't like it all, I seriously gave it 1 star on Goodreads.

"The Lemon Tree" sounds really interesting, I'm definitely adding it to my "to read" list. I, too, know little about Middle Eastern politics but I'd like to know more and it sounds like a great read.

I love your book posts!

-Amanda Liston

Angela said...

Glad you like them, Amanda. I don't know how you do a whole blog of them! I admire you. let me know what you think of the Fault in our Stars.