A little over a month ago I discovered a used book store called
(It’s my book, movie, vinyl, game, amazing people paradise.)
I love books and I love discounts, so present me with discounted books and I’m ecstatic! And since I want to add to my book collection while keeping my spending under control, this was an opportunity I couldn’t resist. These books are some I absolutely NEED in my personal library. And these books are recent discoveries too, which is always exciting.
First, Stealing Buddha’s Dinner by Bich Minh Nguyen. This memoir encapsulates Bich’s father, grandmother, older sister and a few uncles leaving Vietnam in 1975, exactly when Saigon fell to the Communists. Bich was only eight months old. The family settled in Grand Rapids, Michigan where Bich grew up obsessed with food, both Vietnamese and American, believing that American food would make her more American. Issues of isolation, ideas of what is foreign, what makes an individual the culture they are born into versus the culture in which they live, are all aspects that Bich explores. This is a very quick, easy read with a lot of depth and symbolism, and food! Food lovers, story lovers, please read this and devour it!
French Milk by Lucy Knisley. Hmm, I seem to like food-focused books. This book I stumbled upon by accident, knowing nothing of author or the book itself. I immediately liked the cover and title. When I realized it was about Lucy traveling to Paris with her mother to celebrate the latter’s 50th birthday and Lucy turning 22 as well as recently graduating college, I was intrigued.
Plus, this travel memoir is a graphic novel, with pictures and drawings of food, people, clothes and events. It’s an extremely simple memoir that did not dig as deep as I would have liked but considering Lucy kept a journal during her 6-week Paris trip (this is the result of that journal) and she was in a time of chaotic transition, the lack of emotional detail in her memoir does not surprise me. Lucy accurately captures the jet-lagged emotions and fears of a young, budding adult, physically and emotionally traveling into the unknown.
The History of Love by Nicole Krauss is one of the best books I’ve ever read. I cannot express enough how amazing and emotional and beautiful this book is. The final scene nearly brought me to tears. An impressive feat because I don’t cry when reading books, even if it’s the death scene of a favorite character. But just to clarify, the final scene of The History of Love is not a death scene. The story follows Alma Singer trying to learn survival skills while her little brother Bird tries to save humanity and Zvi does what he can to keep his friend alive. Also, it’s about Leo Gursky, who is attempting to come to terms with his life and it is about the book within the book (also called The History of Love) that draws them all together, affecting every one of them. It is epic.
Where’d You Go Bernadette? by Maria Semple first caught my eye because of the cover. I assumed the cartoon lady was Bernadette and I wanted to know more about her, especially where she went. Reviews showed a warm and eager reception for the story too so I was sold on it. After a quick request through my local library, I read this in less than a week. It contains bright, bizarre characters, their weaknesses and how things are not always what they appear. Bernadette is fascinating to me and her daughter Bee, who is our guide through the plot, is her mother’s equal in imagination, smarts, privacy and stubbornness and spontaneity.
I have never read Night by Elie Wiesel but it has been recommended to me by numerous people, particularly my friend Alyssa. I have been warned it is extremely disturbing and sad and I am definitely going to brace myself before reading, and keep tissues close by for my sobs. As I said before, I don’t typically cry when reading but this book may break me.
Also, I learned from a bookstore coworker that there was a mini scandal/mystery with the author. Some people theorize Wiesel did not actually experience the events of Night, because he lacks the serial number tattoo on his forearm, and they think he may be acting as a ghost writer for the actual Auschwitz survivor. I have no idea what’s the truth but I’m glad this book is on my shelf and I look forward to reading it.
These are the books from my latest book haul. I’m very please with each addition and I have the urge to get my family and friends to read these wonderful works. We’ll see if anyone joins my literary giddiness.