Books, Everyday

The Little Paris Bookshop

The Little Paris Bookshop by:  Nina George

  • Fiction
  • © 2015
  • 392 pages with Readers Guide and other extras
  • Personal rating 3.5/5 stars

Jean Perdu owns a floating bookstore called the “Literary Apothecary” where he “prescribes” people the books he thinks they need instead of the fly by night “smut” that they want to read.  His great advice on life is always found in-between the pages of the books he sells and stands by.

Despite the great advice  Jean offers to other, he comes faced to face with his own demons when a women moves into his build across the hall from him.  She discovers a letter that Jean had not known about for 20 years and soon Jean finds himself faced with the woman from his past and possibly the woman of his future.  Too confused and consumed by the emotional tug of war going on in his brain, he makes a bold move and lifts anchor to sets out on a journey that will force him to face all of his emotions.  He will be joined by an aspiring young author, two cats, and some other new friends they pick up along the way.

This book tells the story of one man’s passage through the stages of grief and loss of love.  Jean comes full circle in a twenty year time span, as he tells the story of a love that he thought he could never feel again.  Even though at times the book seems a little drawn out, I really enjoyed reading it.  There were lots of references to other great literary pieces of work (some of which I purchased and will be reading next) and it paints a beautiful picture of all the little places down stream of Paris as they float along.

Some of my favorite quotes from the book:

“When the stars imploded billions of years ago, iron and silver, gold and carbon came raining down.  And the iron from that stardust is in us today — in our mitochondria.  Mothers pass on the stars and their iron to their children.  Who knows, Jean, you and I might be made of the dust from one and the same star, and maybe we recognized each other by its light.  We were searching for each other. We are star seekers.”  – Manon to Jean Perdu, page 136

“Women tell you about the world.  Men only tell you about themselves.”  Cuneo page 193

“To carry them within us – that is our task.  We carry them all inside us, all our dead and shattered loves.  Only they make us whole.  If we begin to forget or cast aside those we’ve lost then… then we are no longer present either.”…….”All the love, all the dead, all the people we’ve known.  They are the rivers that feed our sea of souls.  If we refuse to remember them, that sea will dry up too.”  thoughts of Cuneo and Jean, page 226-227

“Do we only decide in retrospect that we’ve been happy?  Don’t we notice when we’re happy, or do we realize only much later that we were?”  Jean to Samy, page 252

“Perdu chuckled.  It’ amazing how close you are to your essential self as a kid, he thought and how far from it you drift the more you strive to be loved.”  Jean pondering something Samy had shared with him, page 254

 

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Books, Everyday

29 Gifts

29 Gifts:  How a Month of Giving can Change your Life by Cami Walker

  • Self help/Memoir
  • © 2009
  • 226 pages
  • Personal rating 4/5 stars
  • Website for 29 gifts challenge

Cami Walker’s book will make you want to get up and find someone to share a gift with.  This was the feeling I got when I was only on day 4 of the 29 days of giving.  I literally had tears in my eyes and my heart opened up to the idea of joining this wonderful challenge myself.

Cami starts off the book in a rather desperate state of mind.  Only in her mid-30s, she has been battling with MS for some time now and it has taken a turn for the worst.  She is in pain all the time.  She depends on her newly married husband for almost everything and is depressed that she doesn’t feel like a part of society any longer because she doesn’t have the strength to work like she used to.  But all that starts to change when she has a meeting with her spiritual guide Mbali Creazzo.  Mbali is originally from South Africa, moved to England when she was a child and now resides in Oakland, CA and works as a spiritual healer.  She was Cami’s next-door neighbor and wound up being her lifesaver.  When Mbali prescribed the 29 Gifts challenge (an African ritual) to Cami a whole new way of life opened up before her.

The 29 Gifts challenge was simply giving a gift, selflessly and effortlessly, for a 29 day span.  If you forgot a day or if you had to put too much thought into what to give or to whom, you had to start over at day 1.  The gifts did not have to be physical objects but did have to come from a place of love and kindness.  Also in order to deepen the connection, the giver is to journal about each day’s gifts and experiences.

Each chapter in the book covers a new day.  As more days of giving go by, Cami starts to understand why such a challenge was presented to her.  Things begin to change in her life.  Her health, her relationship with others and just her overall wellbeing begins to transform.

I really enjoyed this book and immediately wanted to learn more about the challenge through Cami’s website.  It’s contents make you look at life and the people you share everyday with (strangers or loved ones) in a different light.  And it goes a little deeper into the idea that the universe with provide for you if you open up to it and embrace it selflessly.  I highly recommend it to everyone and anyone.  Of course a person facing a difficult time in their life would seem like the ideal reader but honestly we all could learn something from simple, random acts of kindness.

 

 

 

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You are a Badass

You are a Badass:  How to stop doubting your greatness and start living an awesome life by Jen Sincero

  • Self help
  • © 2013
  • 254 pages
  • Personal rating 3.5/5 stars

To be honest I can’t remember where or how I found this book.  It might have been suggested to me based off of other books I had purchased or it may have been cited in another book I read.  I have read a lot of self-help books over the years.  Not because I am a hot mess, but let’s face it, we could all use a little help when it comes to growing into the best known version of ourselves.  Many of us walk around with fear and self-doubt, day in and day out.  Plus I have always been fascinated with the mind and psychology in general.

I think the thing that did grab me most about the book was the title itself.  It made me think, “well this Jen Sincero person talks like someone I could relate to”.  And Jen does a great job of being just that all throughout the book.  She takes the psychology out of self-help and talks to the reader at a level that they will respect, understand and sometimes laugh out loud at.  She refers to the Ego as the “Big Snooze or BS” and spirituality as the “Source Energy”.  Jen does refer to the “Universe” in away that reminds me of the book The Secret by Rhonda Byrne but in a rough around the edges sort of way.

Basically we are all in control of our own lives and our own destinies but it is also up to us to get off our asses and get ahold of our subconscious mind because it’s what truly runs the show called our life.  She reminds the reader that we are all human and that as humans we all want to strive to be the best we can be and that what we have learned in our childhoods may not be who we really want to be.  Not that your parents and peers meant you any harm, but that they too were raised and experienced life with unrealistic thoughts full of fear, self-centeredness, and BS.

Jen has the book broken down into 5 parts and each one goes over very important roles and steps that need to take place in order to reach our full, badass, potential.  She explains how we became the way we currently are and how to deal with and defeat fear and self loathing thoughts and actions.  At the beginning of each chapter she has a line or two from a famous person, leader, or guru and she lists what they are known for and how she, herself, perceives them.

Jen provides steps and exercises to learn and practice in everyday life.  She also highlights some of the key ideas to grasp from each chapter.  Here is an example of one of the exercises I found assuming and very easy to grasp:

“Right now, look around wherever you are and count the number of things you see that are red.  Take about a minute and count them all.  Now stop, look back at this page without taking your eyes off of it, and try to think of everything around you that’s yellow.  There’s probably a ton of yellow, but you didn’t see it because you were looking for red.” page 136-137

Jen also reminds the reader, that above anything else that you could read or learn from her book is, to always love yourself.  She closes almost every chapter with that reminder and a little passage that relates back to the chapter you just finished.

I gave the book 3.5 stars because it was one of the better self-help books I have read, but it did go over a lot of the things that I have already read.  I would recommend it to a first time, self-help reader as oppose to someone who has taken any classes, been to any seminars or read a good deal about it before.  It would also be a good read for someone looking for guidance but not in a “fluffy bunny, it’s going to be a bright sunny day” way.

 

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My grandmother asked me to tell you she’s sorry

My grandmother asked me to tell you she’s sorry By Fredrik Blackman

  • Fiction
  • © 2015
  • 372 pages
  • Includes reader club questions at the end (Would be a great selection for a book club.)
  • Personal rating 3.5/5

This is the second book from the author who wrote A Man Called Ove and Blackman doesn’t disappoint here either!  I absolutely love his writing style and really hope that he continues to produce such wonderful fiction!

Basically the book is about the relationship that a 7-year-old (almost 8) little girl named Elsa, has with her crazy Grandmother that everyone refers to as “Granny”.  They share a very special bond and even have their own special world called “The Land of All Most Awake” with its own secret language and everything.  This is where Elsa and Granny go when things in life just don’t seem fair.

Elsa is an extremely intelligent and perceptive little girl, which makes her “different” among her peers and we all know how mean kids can be when you are “different”.  But her Granny always reminds her (in her own crazy way) to embrace who she is and to always stay unique!  Throughout the book Elsa is faced with some pretty grown up scenarios but she gets through them all with a little help from the charters in the Land of All Most Awake.

The more you read about the characters, the more you will discover about the people who Elsa shares her life with.   When I very first starting reading the book I had a hard time keeping everything straight in Granny’s and Elsa’s secret world.  The stories that Granny would tell her reminded me of something from the Never-ending Story and sometimes it was hard to remember who everyone was.  As I kept reading, somethings stuck and made sense and somethings didn’t.  I would urge any other reader that may face these same struggles to keep reading because it will all start to make sense in the end.  And when it does, you will realize what a wonderful Grandmother Elsa actually has and how many people she has touched throughout her life.

The only reason this book did not get a 4/5 is because it was hard for me to follow at times. I’m sure there are other readers out there that will have no problems at all with it and if that is you, then it defiantly deserves that extra half point!  Blackman has one more book published called:  “Britt-Marie Was Here“.  Britt-Marie was a character in “My Grandmother asked….” and I am assuming this book will be a spin-off about her life.  I am defiantly looking forward to reading it as well!

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Un Amico Italiano* Eat, Pray, Love in Rome

Un Amico Italiano (An Italian Friend) Eat, Pray Love in Rome By Luca Spaghetti

  • Memoir
  • © 2010
  • 238 pages
  • Personal Rating: 4/5 stars

“Luca Spaghetti is not only one of my favorite people in the world, but also a natural-born storyteller.” says Elizabeth Gilbert and she couldn’t be more right.

As Luca Spaghetti introduces the book and promises to his readers that he is actually a “real person” with the real surname of Spaghetti, he makes me hungry all at once.  I’m sure that’s not something he is proud of per say, but I had no idea there were so many different types of noodles!  And having the last name Spaghetti as a child makes me realize that some people have it worse than you.  (Even though I heard “Dennis the Menise” (my last name is Dennis) growing up, I cannot even imagine having a name after a tiny, thin, noodle, living in the capital of Italy!)  Kids can be so mean and things that happen in childhood can seem to haunt you through adulthood if you let them.

This book was split into three parts.  In part one, Luca tells the reader all about himself and growing up in Rome.  From his love of soccer and music, to describing the beauty and history behind Rome like only a Romain could do; he paints a picture of himself from age 7 through his 20’s.  Then in part two he tells about his travels to America and his coast to coast, Jack Keroruc style, pilgrimage.  Along the way finding a new love for American fast food and soaking in as much classic rock and country music that he can find on the radio.  And in the third part, Luca is back in Rome and this time he is the tour guide for the lovely Elizabeth Gilbert.  At first he is wondering how he ever agreed to show around a blonde, American, female, writer but over time he discovers that Liz is like no one he as ever met before and a wonderful, deep friendship is formed.

Luca makes his readers want to come and visit, or even revisit, Rome within the first couple chapters.  He tells about “secret places” that he likes to share with his friends from other countries that even some Roman’s are not familiar with.  I had to google a couple of them, such as the Piazza di Trevi and The Church of Sant’Ignazio di Loyola.  And I would love to have the chance to take a photograph “peaking through” the keyhole at the Piazza dei Cavalieri di Malta (don’t worry, it’s nothing dirty)!  Plus if you are a lover of Liz’s book, (which was my number one reason for reading this book) then it will be a great reminder of what made her trip to Rome so special.  I really enjoyed it and it was nice “behind the scenes” look into such an important character from Eat, Pray, Love.

 

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The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry

The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin

  • Fiction
  • © 2014
  • 258 pages
  • Includes a reader discussion section at the end (would be great for a book club)
  • Personal Rating:  4/5 stars

This book popped up as suggested reading by Amazon for people who also bought A Man Called Ove (you can read my review here).  Honestly, I probably wouldn’t have come across this book any other way, because I have a ton of fiction books on my “needs to be read” shelves at home.  So, even though I wasn’t really looking for it, I was glad that it found me.

A.J. Fikry is a cranky, depressed, widower, and book store owner in the small town of Alice Island, MA.  He and his late wife used to run the store together but now, after his loss, things are not looking to great.  His store is falling more and more behind because of the lack of tourist in the off seasons and probably a little because of AJ’s very limited taste in what makes a good novel.  AJ is not big on stocking what the newest publishing rep has to offer him and after their meeting, dismisses her rather rudely.  AJ knows what’s good and what isn’t, but the two things are very different from what sells and what doesn’t.

He does have an ace up his sleeve though.  His very rare copy of an early E.A. Poe book, called Tamerlane, could solve all his problems.  Unfortunately, it goes missing sometime during a drunken laps in AJ’s evening and what he finds in his store the next day turns his whole world upside down.  As you read the book, you will follow AJ throughout the next 15 or so years of his life and it will amazingly enough come back full circle in an “everything happens for a reason” kind of way.

At first, I wasn’t too sure if I was going to enjoy this book or not.  I thought it was going to get too deep into AJ’s views of classic literature and writing.  You know the books that you were forced to read in high school or college?  Well, I was that kid that never liked to read when I was in school.  From having a hard time with reading and spelling in grade school to feeling forced to read things that didn’t interest me in high school and college.  So to read a book about this type of literature scared me a little.  (On a side note, it’s kind of ironic that now I love reading and blogging about the wonderful treasures I have found.  Not to mention I have three plus book shelves in my “wo-man cave”, filled with the novels I’ve loved and ones that I still need to discover.)  Sorry, back to the book!

There were references to many classics at the beginning of each chapter; some I had heard of and some that I hadn’t, but it never interfered with the story, instead just showed the deep love of literature that AJ possessed and was very opinionated about.  It was a very easy read and had all the elements  of a love story, mystery, coming of age and a time of loss, all wrapped up into one.  I would compare it to many of Nicholas Sparks novels, just shorter.  I would recommend reading it but it wasn’t anything too life changing either.  Just a good, clean, fun type of read.

 

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A Man Called Ove

This morning I just finished reading one of the best books I have read in a long time.  It was one of those books that as soon as I was finished, I didn’t want it to be over and I contemplated re-reading it immediately.  I have already insisted that my mother and good friend read it, and have it ready for them to borrow.  It was recommended to me by my best friend, who is an avid reader and is planning on using the book for her local book club in November.  The book is A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman.  Fredrik Backman, is a Swedish blogger, columnist and now writer.  His books, including this one, have been translated in 25 languages and shared world-wide.

To read the synopsis on the back of the cover, I probably wouldn’t have thought twice about reading it.  It didn’t sound good or bad, but it didn’t make me want to pick it up and run home to read it.  But what is the old saying “you can’t judge a book by it’s cover“?  That couldn’t be more true in this case!

A Man Called Ove, without giving too much away, is about a crotchety old man and his daily life, in his little neighborhood, set in Sweden. Ove is a man among men.  He strongly believes in doing what’s right, even if he doesn’t have the best way about expressing himself.  And even though you shouldn’t judge a book by it’s cover, Ove will surely have a word or two to say about you depending on what you drive.  Throughout the book Ove, without even realizing it, becomes a hero in his little neighborhood, when all he really wants is to be left alone to die.  But as more and more people and well…. a cat, come into his life, he slowly realizes he won’t be going anywhere real soon if they have anything to say about it.  The more and more you read about Ove’s daily life, the angrier he seems to get, but in the end he is the neighbor everyone wishes they had.

I highly recommend picking up this book and then sharing it with others because I know you will find it as amazing as I did!  I think we all know someone who is a little like Ove and I know, that sometimes, I can relate to Ove myself!  The book was very well written and defiantly one that will be hard to put down.  I give it 5/5 stars!  I have already ordered Fredrik’s other book called:  “My Grandmother Asked Me To Tell You She’s Sorry” in hopes that it will be as good!

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