On the bookshelf

Since moving to the city I find myself reading up a storm and really loving it. So it seems only right to share some of my good reads and spread the wealth!

“You have to digest life. You have to chew it up and love it all through.”
-Paula McLain, The Paris Wife 

What a book. Written from the perspective of Hadley Hemingway, the first wife of Ernest Hemingway, and set in the years that they lived in Paris, while the characters, places, and events are true, it’s still a fictitious novel. So much of the book is based off of interviews and biographies though that it’s hard not to believe it all and be totally immersed. Which I was. The things that this woman went through, all in the name of marriage and love, are so inspiring. She was quite a lady. And if you know anything about Ernest Hemingway, you know how the story ends, but that doesn’t keep you from wanting things to go differently. You can’t help but root for Hadley and maybe learn a little from her story too. Plus, what girl wouldn’t dream of being swept off her feet to live in Paris?? 

“Know your own happiness. You want nothing but patience; or give it a more fascinating name: call it hope.”
-Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice

An all time classic. Any Jane Austen is really. Would I say that I liked it more than Pride and Prejudice? No. Nothing trumps P&P for me, but this is definitely worth the time to read. You can’t help but fall in love with the men in this book and they’re each so different that there’s someone for everyone. You’ll wish you were growing up in England in the late 1700s….minus the lack of plumbing maybe. Just be prepared from some period language that may be a little hard to interpret. I don’t suggest trying to read this on the subway or right before bed. Chances are you won’t retain much of it and if you do, props to you! You’re a more trained reader than I! It was certainly a book that required a good amount of concentration and focus from me but once I got the rhythm, the storyline will swept me up in romance and kept me invested. It’s simply beautiful. 

“All right… I’m glad it’s a girl. And I hope she’ll be a fool–that’s the best thing a girl can be in this world, a beautiful little fool.”
-F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby

Somehow I never read this book in school so when I started seeing falling in love with previews for the movie I knew I had to read the book first. And I did. Twice. It’s so easy to be engrossed in the love story of Jay and Daisy. You just want them to be together and be happy so badly but, in true Shakespearean fashion, that’s not the case. It’s also easy to start imagining what your own life would have been like as a socialite living on Long Island in the 1930s. It all seems so fabulous and decadent. I like to think that I was a free-wheeling flapper in a past life. Having a short bob hair cut, wearing plenty of fringe, dancing a mean Charleston, drinking champagne, and staying out until all hours of the morning. Seems like a great time to me! So much of New York City reminds me of this time period and there’s something very romantic about it all. This is definitely a book I’ll be reading from time to time.   

“The decisions of our past are the architects of our present.”
 -Dan Brown,
Inferno

Back in high school my boyfriend read this book called The DiVinci Code. He insisted that I read it too along with another book by the same author called Angels and Demons. Needless to stay, Robert Langdon and his intriguing life are still just as interesting to me as they were all those years ago. And this newest book is no different. Set back in Italy, this book is all based around the epic poem by Dante Alighieri which depicts his journey through hell. Once again, the aspects of this book that are real are captivating enough to keep you invested and maybe even help you brush up on your Italian art history. It definitely re-sparked my desire to visit there someday, or maybe even live there for a period of time. I would just love to see all the places that this book takes place in. There’s just so much culture and beauty and pasta…..but I digress. While I was a little unhappy with how this book wrapped things up in the end, it was still worth the time to read. 

“If you are lucky enough to have lived in Paris as a young man, then wherever you go for the rest of your life, it stays with you, for Paris is a moveable feast.”
Ernest Hemingway,
A Moveable Feast

A coworker of mine recommended this book to me after I had read Gatsby and I’m so glad he did. It’s a set of memoirs by Ernest Hemingway that focuses on his life in Paris, struggling to become the writer he would one day be. It chronicles his struggles, his loves, and his ever important relationships with other writers that had also settled in Paris at the time. This book is a really great read but I will advise that you don’t pick it up right after reading Jane Austen like I did. The language of the one book compared to the other requires a period of time to reset your rhythm. I got a quarter of the way through this book before realizing that I hadn’t really read any of it. Once I took some time away from it and started over, it was SO much easier to read and I really enjoyed it. There’s something lovely about Hemingway that makes you love him, regardless of his dastardly behavior.  

I don’t know if it’s this city or what but I’m very much on a 1930s kick it seems. There’s just something very appealing about these people, the lives they were living, the characters they created and the history of it all that I just can’t get enough of. And the book I’m working on now goes right along with that. So I hope you’ll bear with me. If you decide to read any of these books please let me know how you felt about them! I’d love to hear some other opinions. And if you liked them as much as I did, spread the love too. I can’t help but feel that word of mouth is a powerful thing for the written word these days. I also encourage you to maybe skip the E-reader. Let’s keep actual books alive! 

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