15 March 2009

Happy Books

I have chosen to acquiesce to Eliana's request to list six books that make me happy, despite the great difficulty of this task, given that (a) many, many, many books make me happy. Just the concept of books makes me happy, so it's hard to narrow down the options. (b) Lots of the books that make me the happiest have already been highlighted on the blog. I'll try to pick books I haven't discussed previously.

Candyfreak by Steve Almond
Almond discusses his candy obsession and travels to candy factories across the country, highlighting vintage treats and lesser-known, regional specialties. I mentioned this book around my niece, who was about 10-years-old at the time, and she expressed an interest in reading it, which would have been a mistake. It's really funny, but it's definitely a book for adults.

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows
I just mentioned this one on the blog in October, but it's so good that I can't leave it off the list. I'm usually wary of the term heart-warming because reviewers always use it to describe schwarmy, emotionally-manipulative books, but this book is genuinely heart-warming. It is a nice story about a group of people who overcome difficult circumstances through their relationships with one another and their developing love of literature. Reading it made me happy.

Graceling by Kristin Cashore
Katsa is graced with an ability to kill and maim, a gift her uncle (the king) exploits to bully and coerce the kingdom's enemies. Katsa attempts to redress the wrongs she commits, leading her on an adventure to find a neighboring prince's kidnapped grandfather. This is a very, very popular young adult fantasy/romance/adventure novel at the moment. I read it and liked it well enough and then several weeks later found myself craving a book exactly like it.

Ex Libris: Confessions of a Common Reader by Anne Fadiman
This is a delightful collection of 18 personal essays about books and reading. Anne Fadiman writes lovely prose, and reading these essays reminds me why I'm a librarian. I believe in books and ideas and reading. Reading is a mechanism for escape and a portal to a broadened perspective and the place where we find commonalities with others and the activity that comforts or excites or confirms or educates. Reading is power, kids.

Little House in the Big Woods by Laura Ingalls Wilder
All the Little House books make me happy. Also the Ramona books. And the Betsy-Tacy books. My mom read them to me when I was a little girl. We used to lie on her bed at night and read. And then I read them all about a thousand times on my own. My sister is currently reading the marmots the Ramona books, which is so appropriate since they're a bit Ramona-y themselves.

These is My Words by Nancy Turner
Based on the author's family history, this is the fictionalized diary of Sarah Agnes Prine who travels from New Mexico to help settle the Arizona Territory in the late 1800s. I resisted reading this book for a long time, because it was so popular with our library book clubs (whose taste in books I fear). Several of my co-workers read it and recommended it, though, so I picked it up this winter and thoroughly enjoyed it. It's quick-paced and populated with lovable characters.

Anybody have recommendations for other books I should be reading?


eliana said...

I just read CANDY FREAK and laughed a lot. All the Laura Ingalls Wilder books make me happy--I have my whole set still. Love your lists, always.

eliana said...

Oh ya, have the Fadiman book and it makes me happy to even see it on my shelf.

CSIowa said...

My favorite Laura Ingalls Wilder is Farmer Boy. Alexander McCall Smith almost always makes me happy (44 Scotland Street and #1 Ladies Detective Agency, not so much Isabel Dalhousie).

Anonymous said...

I keep meaning to read the Guernsey one, but I haven't gotten around to it. Mostly because I'm in a genre fiction class that has forced me to read nothing but terrible, terrible fiction for the past two months. Ugh.

I wasn't too impressed with Graceling, actually. The writing and characterization left me cold. I felt it could have done with another edit/revision.

Sunshine by Robin McKinley always makes me happy. Also Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell by Susanna Clarke. I read both of them at least a few times a year.

Sean @ Alone and Unobserved said...

Um, that last one was me. Stupid Blogger.

MBC said...

Farmer Boy is one of my very favorites of the Little House books, too. I like all the food descriptions!

Yeah, I can see how Graceling could go either way for people. It's not one that goes on my list of outstanding books, but it has a lot going for it and is just right for a particular mood.

Kirsten said...

MBC, I have reserved the Graceling and will hope that it becomes available right in the middle of my paper writing extravaganza and that it saves me from utter doom.

joanna said...

I haven't heard of any of those books except 'These is my words' which I loved!!!

Congrats on traveling to Europe. That is so exciting!! If you are anywhere near Denmark, you should look me up. I'll be on the mainland in the city of Horsens.

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