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Book Picks for Black Friday: Part 2

Black Friday is officially here! Be sure to check out some of TheReadingRoom’s picks below. From popular Young Adult fiction like Isla and the Happily Ever After to cookbooks like The Skinnytaste Cookbook, everyone will be a be able to curl up with a good book to start the holiday season off right. Add all of our favorites to your bookshelf here!

Don’t forget about our Black Friday Sale! Sign up for TheReadingRoom and use promo code: TRRBF at check out to get 30% OFF and FREE SHIPPING site wide on Friday, November 28! 

killing patton

 

Killing Patton by Bill O’Reilly and Martin Dugard

From Bill O’Reilly, author of Killing Lincoln and more, comes the story of General Patton’s mysterious death in the months following World War II. O’Reilly investigates suspicion that the death may not have been an accident, but an assassination. This is definitely a must-read for war and history fans alike.

 

 

the escape

 

The Escape by David Baldacci

The latest in the John Puller series, David Baldacci tells a new story that not even Puller’s experience and training will prepare him for. Puller’s brother, Robert, has escaped from prison, and it’s up to him to track him down. His brother was convicted of treason and national security crimes—but is there more to the story? This thriller will have you racing through the pages!

 


the andy cohen diariesThe Andy Cohen Diaries
by Andy Cohen

Popular host and producer of Bravo’s Watch What Happens Live, Andy Cohen, takes readers through one year of his life. If you’re a fan of reality television, this name-dropping autobiography is sure to appeal to you! His honest and truly funny book is a great read.

 

 

big little liesBig Little Lies by Liane Moriarty

Big Little Lies follows three mothers six months before the untimely death of a fellow parent. Madeline still resents her daughter’s father who abandoned them fourteen years ago, Celeste is hiding “ugly” secrets, and single mother Jane is often mistaken for the nanny. This Australian novel about secrets and lies is a great work of fiction.

 

 

the paying guestsThe Paying Guests by Sarah Waters

Sarah Waters takes readers back to London in 1922, where ex-servicemen are out of work and frustrated. In a South London villa, life is about to transform for widow and her spinster daughter, Frances, when they are obligated to take in lodgers Lilian and Leonard Barber. This work of historical fiction will keep you entertained as it is part love story, part crime story.

 

 

what ifWhat If? by Randall Munroe

Creator of the xkcd.com webcomic that provides answers to even the most absurd questions now has a book. Questions from “How fast can you hit a speed bump while driving and live?” to “If there was a robot apocalypse, how long would humanity last?” are answered using everything from computer simulations to declassified military research memos. Now, you can get never-before-answered questions all in one place!

 

dad is fatFood: A Love Story by Jim Gaffigan

This hilarious book addresses America’s most treasured foods and Gaffigan’s “culinary” insights. The author of Dad is Fat shares ideas like his opinion that pretzel bread is the third most important invention of humankind (just behind the wheel and the computer) and that coconut water was invented so people would stop drinking coconut water. The comedian’s take on food culture is sure to make anyone laugh out loud.

 

 

flesh and bloodFlesh and Blood by Patricia Cornwell

Patricia Cornwell’s 22nd Scarpetta novel follows Dr. Kay Scarpetta as she investigates a series of deaths by a serial sniper who leaves no evidence except for copper fragments. Having no idea where the sniper might strike next, she follows the killer to South Florida where she finds evidence that implicates her niece, Lucy—her own “flesh and blood”. This is a great addition to the series that all crime and mystery fans will appreciate!

 

The Skinnytaste CookbookThe Skinnytaste Cookbook by Gina Homolka

Although the turkey eating may be over, the holidays have just begun! Eat well and feel less guilty with recipes from The Skinnytaste Cookbook. Homolka’s alternative to Weight Watchers, she created Skinnytaste when trying to lose her baby weight and still eat decadent food. With 150 amazing recipes, there’s something for every palate!

 

islaIsla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins

Stephanie Perkins takes readers to New York City, where Isla runs into Josh—her classmate from the School of America in Paris. After the summer and back in Paris, Josh and Isla confront a challenge many high school seniors do: the possibility of being apart. This Young Adult novel features appearances by other fan-favorites and readers are sure to delight in the conclusion of her series.

 

 

the 14th goldfishThe Fourteenth Goldfish by Jennifer L. Holm

This delightful novel explores science like you probably never have before. When a new boy shows up in eleven-year old Ellie’s class and looks like her grandfather she wonders if it could be him? He is obsessed with immortality like Grandpa Melvin was. Is it possible he finally discovered eternal youth? The world of science and possibility are discovered in this wonderful novel.

 

 

the wild truth

 

The Wild Truth by Carine McCandless

Chris McCandless, who was depicted in John Krakauer’s Into the Wild, didn’t just leave home for Alaska. His sister explains in her new book that there is much more to the story than previously thought. The McCandless’ suffered a violent and dysfunctional family that made Chris give away his money and leave for the wilderness. This is a great story for fans of Into the Wild and McCandless’ story in general.

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Book Picks for Black Friday: Part 1

Start the holiday season off right with some of TheReadingRoom’s picks! From well-known autobiographies like Lena Dunham’s Not That Kind of Girl to the popular thriller Gray Mountain by John Grisham, our list has books that will help you start shopping for the season’s best. Add all of our favorites to your bookshelf here!

Don’t miss out on our Black Friday Sale! Sign up for TheReadingRoom and use promo code: TRRBF at check out to get 30% OFF and FREE SHIPPING site wide on Friday, November 28! 

Not that kind of girlNot That Kind of Girl: A Young Woman Tells You What She’s “Learned” by Lena Dunham

The star of HBO’s Girls writes about her life as a female in Hollywood and what she’s “learned” so far in terms of life, love, body image, and more. The first book from Dunham is very well thought out and written as she shares some amusing anecdotes like: “Take My Virginity (No Really, Take It)”, “Girls and Jerks”, and “Is This  Even Real?”

 

all the light we cannot seeAll the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

Told mostly in flashbacks, Anthony Doerr’s bestselling novel follows a blind, French child Marie-Laure and Werner, who is serving the Thousand Year Reich as a technocratic private. Their paths converge in Saint-Malo, where Marie-Laure’s father is holding the Museum of Natural History’s most valuable and dangerous jewel. This beautiful and well-written story is definitely a must-read.

 

leaving timeLeaving Time by Jodi Picoult

This novel that explores a mother-daughter relationship should definitely be on your holiday shopping list. Jenna’s mother, Alice, disappeared following a tragedy. Jenna has never believed her mother abandoned her and, along with psychic Serenity Jones and private detective Virgil Stanhope, begins to search for her. Her mother, a scientist who studied grief among elephants, left her journals, which Jenna hopes will offer a clue to where she went. This thrilling and moving novel will leave you wanting more.

the boys in the boatThe Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown

The true story of the nine boys from the University of Washington’s crew team who won the 1936 Olympics in Berlin. Against all odds, they were able to defeat the German team. The book draws from the boy’s journal entries focuses on Joe Rantz, a teenager with no family who rows find his place in the world. This is definitely a must for lovers of non-fiction and historical books.

 

as you wishAs You Wish by Cary Elwes

Actor Cary Elwes, who played Westley in 1987 classic The Princess Bride, gives readers a behind-the-scenes look at the iconic film. It includes new stories and interviews with actors including Robin Wright (Buttercup), Wallace Shawn (Vizzini), Billy Crystal (Miracle Max), Christopher Guest (Count Tyrone Rugen), and Mandy Patinkin (Inigo Montoya). Fans of The Princess Bride will absolutely love this enchanting look at the film and its history.

the book with no picturesThe Book with No Pictures by B.J. Novak

B.J. Novak—you may know him from The Office—created a hilarious book for children…with no pictures. Instead, there are words that sound silly when said out-loud—something people of all ages will enjoy. Examples include BLAGGITY and GLIBBITY GLOBBITY. Kids can’t get enough!

 

diary of a wimpy kidDiary of a Wimpy Kid: The Long Haul by Jeff Kinney

The ninth book in the series follows Greg Heffley as he goes on a family road trip. Lovers of the series will enjoy the newest of the bunch—which includes mishaps involving gas station bathrooms, crazy seagulls, and a lot of family fun!

 

 

revivalRevival by Stephen King

Just released, King’s latest thriller is said to have “the most terrifying conclusion Stephen King has ever written”. We’ll let you be the judge of that! Revival centers on a small New England town, Jamie Morton, and a Reverend who curses God when tragedy strikes his family.  The Reverend and Jamie meet later in life—with Jamie learning revival has many meanings.

 

Make_It_Ahead_A_Barefoot_Contessa_Cookbook_(Ina_Garten)Make it Ahead by Ina Garten

Ina Garten’s latest cook is perfect for the holiday season. What’s better than actually being able to enjoy your own party? Garten’s book contains recipes for party favorites like Summer Rosé Sangria, French Chicken Pot Pies, and Decadent (gluten-free!) Chocolate Cake. Whether you use this cookbook for entertaining or simply to prepare your weekly meals ahead of time—it’s definitely a must-have this holiday season.

unbrokenUnbroken by Laura Hillenbrand

The non-fiction book tells the story of Lieutenant Louis Zamperini’s bomber crash and effort to survive in the Pacific Ocean as he clings to life on a raft. The World War II airman’s tale includes information about his life as an Olympic athlete before the war. Facing numerous challenges that involved thousands of miles of oceans, sharks, and starvation/dehydration, Zamperini’s fight for survival is told wonderfully by Hillenbrand.

 

we were liarsWe Were Liars by E. Lockhart

Three wealthy cousins, who have seemingly perfect lives, and one stranger meet while summering in Martha’s Vineyard. The narrator, Candace, has a tragic accident and is found washed ashore one morning. Try as she might, she can’t seem to figure out what happened to her—and returns two summers later in an attempt to resolve this issue. While it starts out like your typical Young Adult novel, there are many twists and turns that make this a really great read.

gray mountainGray Mountain by John Grisham

This legal thriller takes place in Brady, VA, where former Wall Street lawyer Samantha Kofer discovers the secrets of the small town. After the recession hits 2008, she is let go and given the option to work for legal aid clinic away from New York City. Samantha takes on the dangerous world of coal mining, where the litigation could turn deadly.

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True to the Book? Your Comments About MOCKINGJAY Expectations

Gale (Liam Hemsworth) and Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence) (Courtesy of The Hunger Games Wiki).

Gale (Liam Hemsworth) and Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence) (Courtesy of The Hunger Games Wiki).

 

We asked YOU about the new Mockingjay adaptation. Will it stay true to the books? Does it matter? Here’s what you said! Be sure to tell us what you think after you see the movie–in theaters today.

 

“Honestly I hope that the movies don’t stay true to the book a whole lot because I was not a fan of the way Mockingjay was written and how Katniss was portrayed. So I’m hoping the movies are better.”

-Jennifer H.

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“I’m excited, although Mockingjay was by far my least favorite of the trilogy and was not a fan of how it ended. I also don’t understand why so many books have to be split into more than one movie. I feel this way about The Hobbit as well. For me it says the industry just wants to make more money and this is a way of doing so.”

-Karie V.

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Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence) (Courtesy of Welcome To District 12)

Katniss (Courtesy of Welcome To District 12).

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“I really hope that it stays true to the book! Though there are some parts that I wouldn’t mind too much if they changed, there are parts that can NOT change or I will die. Literally (well, metaphorically, but all the same.)

-Mattie D.

 

 

Peeta (Josh Hutcherson), President Snow (Donald Sutherland), and Joanna (Jena Malone) (Courtesy of Fansided).

Peeta (Josh Hutcherson), President Snow (Donald Sutherland), and Johanna (Jena Malone) (Courtesy of Fansided).

 

 

“Hope they alter Prim’s fate.”

-Catrina A.

 

 

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Katniss, Peeta, and Haymitch (Woody Harrelson) (Courtesy of the New York Times).

Katniss, Peeta, and Haymitch (Woody Harrelson) (Courtesy of the New York Times).

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Although I am a story-line purist myself and would love for it to be done verbatim by the story, I’m interested to see the creativity the directors and actors take it, so I can see it from a different reality than what my mind’s portrayal of the book was.”

-Jolene C.

 

Cressida (Natalie Dormer) (Courtesy of Hunger Games Buzz).

Cressida (Natalie Dormer) (Courtesy of Hunger Games Buzz).

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7 Thanksgiving Cookbooks That Will Make You Gobble, Gobble

We are officially one week (and a little less than one day) away from Thanksgiving! Do you know what you’re making yet? If you don’t have a menu set—why not take a page out of some of these classic cookbooks! From traditional favorites like Joy of Cooking and the famous Mastering the Art of French Cooking, to more modern tastes like Vegan with a Vengeance and Danielle Walker’s gluten-free, dairy-free Against All Grain, this Thanksgiving is sure to cater to everyone’s appetite!

Williams-Sonoma-Thanksgiving-EntertainingThanksgiving Entertaining by William-Sonoma and Lou Seibert Pappas

If you want someone to lay out exactly what you should cook for Thanksgiving, then this is the book for you! Williams-Sonoma provides three full regional Thanksgiving menus that will satisfy your taste depending on where you are. The traditional New England Thanksgiving menu features oyster-and-mushroom stuffing, while the West Coast menu incorporates Mediterranean flavors like fresh herbs and garlic. It also offers a Southern buffet menu, which includes honey-port glazed ham. A very classic cookbook—it even tells you how to have a post-Thanksgiving lunch buffet!

vegan-with-a-vengeanceVegan with a Vengeance by Isa Chandra Moskowitz

The Post Punk Kitchen (PPK), a very popular vegan recipe blog, created a book with 150 of your favorite vegan recipes. While not everyone’s taste, there are many delicious meat-free, dairy-free recipes that can be used for Thanksgiving! Perfect for the entire holiday season, this clever cookbook uses natural ingredients along with some you’ve probably never heard of. If you’re looking to start a more natural diet or will be cooking for guests that are limited by their’s, you will surely find something for everyone.

 

empty bottle momentsEmpty Bottle Moments: Cooking with Clive by Clive Berkman

Clive Berkman believes empty bottles are the key to entertaining: “To me, full bottles are full of potential, but they are incomplete. They have a future, but they don’t tell a story yet. An empty bottle, though, tells a story about a fabulous dinner, a joyful celebration, or a night that marked a turning point in someone’s life.” We all know that one of the many aspects of the holidays is drinking. Whether you’re celebrating with friends or trying to make your relatives seem less obnoxious, good food and drink is key. Berkman’s cookbook shows you how to make those moments happen with a collection of wonderful recipes your family will enjoy.

against all grainAgainst All Grain by Danielle Walker

Author Danielle Walker suffers from an autoimmune disease, which encouraged her to make dietary changes that included cutting out dairy, grains, and legumes. Now an avid food blogger and author, Walker created a cookbook to satisfy all special diets this Thanksgiving. In addition to her book, she now has an eBook called Against All Grain: Thankful that provides many yummy Thanksgiving recipes including: Roasted Garlic Mashed Cauliflower, Apple Sausage Stuffing, and No Ingredient Left Behind Soup. This is a great find for those living a gluten-free, dairy-free, vegan, or Paleo lifestyle.

Make_It_Ahead_A_Barefoot_Contessa_Cookbook_(Ina_Garten)Make it Ahead by Ina Garten

Beloved Barefoot Contessa Ina Garten released her new cookbook this year, and people can’t get enough. Perfect for Thanksgiving hosting, Garten lets you know what can be made ahead so you can spend less time in the kitchen and more time enjoying the holiday. Included in her book are recipes, along with tips, to make the prep and cook time easier. Everything from appetizers to cocktails are mentioned—giving you many options for Thanksgiving dinner. This book will be helpful throughout the holiday season—which is an excuse in itself to celebrate!

joy of cookingJoy of Cooking by Irma S. Rombauer, Marion Rombauer Becker, and Ethan Becker

Joy of Cooking is the ultimate cookbook and acts as a staple for all holidays—and life in general. First published in 1931, the Joy of Cooking book is now also an interactive website and app. You can find recipes everywhere—perfect for all occasions. While not a “Thanksgiving specific” cookbook, we included it on this list due to its versatility. Everyone should have a copy to cover the basics!

 

mastering the artMastering the Art of French Cooking, Vol. 1 by Julia Child

Have you read Julie & Julia? The book-now-movie tells the story of how one girl (Julie) mastered the art of French cooking in one year. We think you should try it too. While not a “Thanksgiving” book, Mastering the Art of French Cooking has many recipes that can be used for sides, dessert, and more—you’ve just got to figure out that turkey (which you can find in her book The Way to Cook). Don’t forget to watch Child’s brilliant cooking videos—especially if you’re looking for a laugh!

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7 Books About Dysfunctional Families

7 Books About Dysfunctional Families

Courtesy of someecards

Courtesy of someecards

Thanksgiving is next week, kicking off the holiday season – which means time with family. Whether the family you are seeing is one you were born into or one you made for yourself, let’s face it: the holidays can bring out the crazy in everyone. Check out these wonderfully tragic tales–both fiction and non-fiction–that will make you appreciate your own family this holiday season. Add these books to your shelf here!

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This is Where I Leave You by Jonathan Tropper

The best-selling novel which was recently turned into a movie follows the Foxman family as they gather under the same roof for the first time in years after the death of their father. Lead character Judd Foxman is not only grieving from his father’s death, but also from his wife’s affair with his boss. The expresses what it’s like when adult siblings get together after being apart for so long: utter madness. A truly touching and funny novel, Tropper’s book should definitely be on your holiday reading list.

ice stormThe Ice Storm by Rick Moody

Very appropriate for the upcoming holiday, The Ice Storm takes place over Thanksgiving weekend in 1973 when two families are unexpectedly pushed together due to dangerous weather. It’s the peak of the sexual revolution, and the Williams and Hood families are dealing with social and political issues in their suburban Connecticut neighborhood. The story is told from four family members’ perspectives, while surrounded with issues like adultery, alcoholism, and drug use in the 70s. It’s definitely a “different” but fascinating look at dysfunctional families.

dress your family up in corduroy and denimDress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim by David Sedaris

A collection of David Sedaris’ essays, Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim explores some of the humorous and “absurd” things that society participates in. He discusses our hidden motives and shameful desires—all while bringing in a real perspective from interactions with his boyfriend and family. Many novels about dysfunctional families tell a story of a meet-up or event in their lives. Sedaris really nails many truths about society and gives readers a real look at the struggles families face everyday.

 

the correctionsThe Corrections by Jonathan Franzen

This look at family dynamics comes together in the late-1990s when the Lambert family meets for Christmas to confront their father’s ailing state as he suffers from Parkinson’s disease. The book follows the Midwestern family as the three grown children have fled for the east coast, but managed to make messes out of their own lives. This book is relatable due to its familiar tone of children wanting to escape their parent’s home and make a life for themselves.

 

seating arrangementsSeating Arrangements by Maggie Shipstead

Shipstead’s debut novel follows the Van Meter’s, a WASP-y New England family, as they prepare for the marriage of their very pregnant daughter to an appropriate suitor. However, the father of the bride Winn Van Meter is not having a good time, and after being shunned from his country club and feeling like a stranger in his own house, he reflects on this. An interesting read that pokes fun at preppy lovers of colorful shorts, it gives readers an interesting take on “forced reunions”.

 

running with scissorsRunning with Scissors by Augusten Burroughs

A truly dysfunctional family—considering all the characters are not related, but yet live in the same household—Running with Scissors is a memoir that follows Augusten from age 12, through his parent’s divorce, and his eventual need to live with his mother’s psychiatrist. This is a very intense book, and Augusten deals with numerous adult situations. Although considered a bizarre memoir—it really represents the ultimate family dysfunction.

 

winter streetWinter Street by Elin Hilderbrand

Winter Street will get you in the mood for some Christmas drama. Kelley Quinn is a father of four and owner of the Winter Street Inn located in Nantucket. Although he is looking forward to spending the holidays with his family, they might have another idea when he walks in on his second wife Mitzi kissing “Santa Claus” (anyone feeling a song coming on?). From there the usual family drama unfolds—but it’s a touching novel about being home for the holidays.

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Plot Flaws and Inconsistencies in Popular Fiction

In Season 7 of The Big Bang Theory, Sheldon faces a rude awakening when Amy explains a major plot hole in Indiana Jones: Raiders of the Lost Ark. She argues that the same outcome would have happened regardless of Harrison Ford’s presence. That was a movie, and we all know movies have many story flaws. But what about your favorite books? We found ten books that have major plot holes that are sure to make you as angry as Sheldon!

harry potterHarry Potter Series by J.K. Rowling

Where to begin? While we love the Harry Potter series, it is riddled with plot holes. Let’s just pick a few like: why wasn’t everyone given Veritaserum (it makes you tell the truth) from the beginning? Why could Harry not see Thestrals until book five (even though he had seen his parents die)? Why didn’t they just use a time turner and kill Voldemort before he murdered Harry’s parents? Why don’t wands change allegiance every time someone uses Expelliarmus on them? The list goes on and on. Regardless of the plot holes, Harry Potter is still a wonderful read.

 

lotr-coverLord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien

Anyone who writes that many lengthy books is going to make mistakes. The biggest plot hole seems to be that of the eagle. Why didn’t they get the eagles to fly the ring to Mount Doom? That would have saved a lot of time and effort. While that’s definitely the biggest one, there are others that stem from characters (who is the eldest being in Middle-earth, Tom or Treebeard?) to chronology.

 

angels and demonsAngels & Demons by Dan Brown

Besides the fact that Dan Brown starts his novels with “FACT: References to all works of art, tombs, tunnels, and architecture in Rome are entirely factual (as are their exact locations). They can still be seen today. The brotherhood of the Illuminati is also factual”, there are several translation issues, geography issues, and pure common sense issues that occur in Angels & Demons. For instance, it is said that Vittoria can’t get a dial tone on her cell because they are underground. I’m not sure anyone can get a dial tone on their cell phone…

 

huck finnThe Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain

There are many major errors Mark Twain made with character development in Huckleberry Finn– to a point in which readers are not certain whether or not Tom Sawyer is the character in Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn. However, one of the biggest problems comes not from Mark Twain himself, but from whomever decided to remove “The Raftsman Passage” chapter from later editions of the book. This chapter gives Huck knowledge about where their raft is on the river—which he uses in the next chapter. Without “The Raftsman Passage” it seems like he picked it up telepathically.

divergentDivergent by Veronica Roth

There are several plot holes in the entire series that are just never answered. It seems that someone apart from Tris would have figured out sooner that you don’t have to pick a faction and that some people aren’t going to fit into just one. Looking at the series as a whole, without Allegiant (the third in the series) there would have been far less holes in the timeline. Isn’t it odd that no one questioned anything until Tris came along?

 

twilightTwilight by Stephenie Meyer

While everyone now seems embarrassed to read the Twilight series, at one point everyone was reading it. There were some serious flaws amongst plot and characters. For example, why did no one notice they never aged (especially “teenagers” in high school)? And while the whole imprinting business in the fourth novel was a mess, there is also the fact that the plot of the entire second book was based on a paper cut. We understand that Edward did not trust his family to be around Bella for fear she might get hurt—but haven’t they been around blood before? They do go to school…

Hunger_gamesThe Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

The Hunger Games is a great series—full of action, love, and suspense. However, with every series like this, there comes plot holes and inconsistencies. First off—in the first novel, why did the Careers not kill Peeta after the found Katniss? It seems like he would have served his purpose. Also, if there are so many modern conveniences of Panem—why are people still going down into mines? Yes, we know that their district is the “mining district”, but they could find a better way of doing this.

 

i am pilgrimI Am Pilgrim by Terry Hayes

While this is a fairly new and popular novel, there were some issues with the storytelling aspect. The story is told from the point of view of Pilgrim—even though readers don’t know that until later in the novel. He says he gets his information from transcripts, but mostly he talks about dialogue he could have no way of knowing. While a thrilling tale, there are just some inconsistencies we could do without.

 

 

gone girlGone Girl by Gillian Flynn

The beginning of this book starts off very clever—what happened to Amy? Did Nick kill her? Was she taken? But then, it begins to unravel a bit. (Spoiler’s if you’re planning on reading the book/seeing the movie!) Why didn’t they examine Amy more thoroughly to find out she didn’t have a head wound? Why wouldn’t they see that Desi overdosed on sleeping pills in his tox screen? Also- the whole pregnancy thing at the end (while being just simply creepy) was never clearly tied up.

 

Fifty-Shades-of-GreyFifty Shades of Grey Series by E.L. James

Apart from the terrible grammar issues in these novels, there are some consistency issues as well. There really is no story—with most of it seeming like it was made up on the spot. While that’s fine, there are other issues. From foot fetishes that are never developed, to Christian’s childhood mysteries—there is a lot that never comes full circle.

 

 

What’s your favorite (or least favorite) plot hole? Comment below and let us know! 

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An Interview with Author Richard Stratton

Writer and filmmaker Richard Stratton has released the first two chapters of his new book Smuggler’s Blues. The book will be e-released through Quiet Lunch bi-weekly for the next 11 chapters. Richard Stratton served eight years in prison for drug smuggling. His new book gives the reader an in-depth look at what his life was like during that time. During the interview, TheReadingRoom was able to get more detail on Stratton as a person and a writer.

When did you first try cannabis, and what made you want to support it so passionately?

In 1964, my senior year in high school, I smoked pot for the first time.  It was an eye-opener, it opened the third eye of the mind. After the attempted brainwashing of the “reefer madness” era, I found that marijuana was nothing like the “weed with roots in hell” as depicted by the rabid anti-pot prohibitionists. This gave me the courage to question everything my government was telling me—about the war in Vietnam, who killed the Kennedys, Civil Rights, American consumerism—and to rethink who I wanted to be. That consciousness-changing event—getting high for the first time—is described in “One Toke Over the Line,” the prologue of Smuggler’s Blues.

You have done so much in your lifetime, what led you to wanting to write and publish a book now?

I believe everything in life is about timing.  I have been working on the book off and on for more than twenty years, actually since I was locked up in the ‘80s.  Smuggler’s Blues is the first in a trilogy I call “Remembrance of the War On Plants,” with a nod to Marcel Proust. The second volume, Gulag America: The Prison Years is also complete. Volume Three, In the World, about my release from prison and my struggle to reinvent myself as a writer and filmmaker, is a work in progress. Now, with changing laws and perceptions concerning cannabis, it seemed to me the time was right for the release of Smuggler’s Blues.

Are there any stories you wanted to put in the book, but decided to leave out? If so, what were they and why did you leave them out?

No, I put it all in, including the regrets, the shame I feel for the way I sometimes acted—so full of hubris.  And for the people my actions hurt—some deep regrets. But I wanted this to be as emotionally honest a book as I could write given that it is about an illegal activity that very often resulted in someone going to prison or even dying in the government’s harsh war on plants.  To quote Bob Dylan, “To live outside the law you must be honest.”

When were you Editor-in-Chief of High Times? What was it like being head of a counter-culture magazine during that time?

It was at times frustrating. I have always argued against the stupid stoner stereotype so often portrayed in the media, and I found that it was difficult to overcome the perception of who marijuana consumers are.  Many are industrious, creative and conscientious citizens.  I see marijuana as a metaphor for a deeper truth about who we should aspire to be as free Americans in pursuit of life, liberty and happiness.  High Times was not taken as seriously as I would have liked.  Now, however, with the magazine in its 40th continuous year of publication, I think we have shown that the loser pothead stereotype is bogus.

How has “weed-culture” changed in the last thirty years?

The changes have been dramatic.  In the first place, marijuana is now nearly all grown domestically.  The era of the so-called “hippie mafia” smugglers importing cannabis from abroad has changed to the widespread cultivation of American homegrown.  And of course, the recognition of the medicinal value of cannabis, with over 20 states now recognizing that marijuana is beneficial for a whole host of physical ailments and with marijuana available over the counter in those states, the change has been welcome at long last.  My regret is that there are still way too many people locked up for pot with serving sentences as extreme as life without parole for trafficking in this mysterious plant.

What was the most difficult part about writing your book?

Writers struggle to find time and peace of mind to do their work.  Making a living, supporting one’s family: it is hard for writers and artists to pursue their craft in this extraordinarily materialistic society.  I faced all those challenges.  I found that only by getting up very early in the morning and writing before the regular workday began was I able to finish the book.

If you wouldn’t have been imprisoned, what would you have liked to have done instead during that time?

I would have wanted to go to law school, to become a lawyer, and litigate against the war on plants.

Do you think people should accept weed as the “friend of mankind”? If so, why?

I do believe that cannabis is a friend of mankind.  But I also believe that as with any friendship, it is a relationship, and relationships require respect.  Cannabis is a mysterious plant and the effect on the mind is profound.  It is not to be abused. As in any healthy relationship one should pay attention to the give and take. 

What do you have to say about the progress that legalization of marijuana is making across the United States?

The change in America’s attitudes and laws concerning cannabis is long over-due.  The war on drugs is an insult to the intelligence of the American people and it undermines the concept of a free society our founding fathers envisioned.  The war on plants has created much more harm than the plants/drugs themselves.  Education, not incarceration, is the solution to drug-abuse.  Solve the abuse problem and you end the need for a war.  Unfortunately, the vast majority of office-holders in this country chose war over intelligent, compassionate care.

What impact do you hope your book makes?

Smuggler’s Blues is to some degree a cautionary tale.  I hope the book moves people—that they come to see the absurdity of our government trying to legislate morality, particularly when it comes to outlawing a plant anyone can grow in their backyard or their attic.  I hope that my book can contribute in some way toward a final peace in the harmful war on plants.  But I also hope that young readers will take away the lesson that there are consequences to the choices we make.  I spent eight years in prison to pay for my experience in the marijuana underground.

Why should people read your book over another book?

Smuggler’s Blues is also an adventure story.  It will take readers on a wild ride to places they might never go—the Bekaa Valley in Lebanon, Beirut during the civil war, the Sierra Madre del Sur in Mexico—and there to experience the adrenaline rush of life-threatening and harrowing experiences without having to leave their living room.  It is also quite funny in parts.  People should read Smuggler’s Blues over other books because it is about a timely, important issue told in a thoroughly entertaining way.

What is the coolest thing you have ever done?

I don’t know if I would call it the coolest thing I have ever done, but I will say it was the most challenging and ultimately the most rewarding thing I have ever done.  After I was arrested, huge pressure was put on me by the government to “cooperate” and become a snitch, an informer, a government witness, a rat, and to implicate others and testify against them.  The world-renowned novelist Norman Mailer was at the top of the government’s list of targets they wanted me to help them convict and send to prison.  Mailer was a dear friend and mentor.  He was not involved in my pot trafficking enterprise.  But we were very close, we owned property together, he had what the government has termed “guilty knowledge” of how I made my living.  Had I wanted to make a deal and implicate Mailer, I could have walked free or done very little time in prison. I chose not to cooperate against Mailer or anyone else.  As a result, I was given a lengthy prison sentence: 25 years and six months with no possibility of parole.  However, I was ultimately able to have that sentence vacated and was resentenced to ten years because I proved to an appellate court that the sentence was enhanced based of my refusal to cooperate, which is illegal.  Courts can impose less time for cooperating with the government, but they cannot by law enhance a sentence for refusing to implicate others.  God bless the law.  All this government shenanigans and my two federal trials is the subject of my second book, Gulag America.

Who are your role models?

Well, Mailer, of course. He was a great writer and a great, passionate and courageous man who was not afraid to speak out against government oppression. Abraham Lincoln certainly, perhaps the greatest American who ever lived.  Fyodor Dostoyevsky who, in my opinion, was the greatest novelist who ever lived and a man who went to prison for his beliefs. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. for his courage, eloquence and devotion to civil rights.  Muhammad Ali for his grace, his style and his wit—to say nothing of the courage of his convictions and the power of his punch.  Ali came to the prison I was in and spoke to the prisoners, a scene I describe in Gulag America.

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everlastingfriendship

10 Novels About Everlasting Friendship

Friendship comes in all shapes and sizes, and sometimes the best friends are those who are least expected. We’ve compiled a list of ten novels about everlasting friendship that are sure to pull at your heart strings. From childhood friends Jesse and Leslie in Bridge to Terabithia to a group of more “mature” adults in The Group, there’s a novel for everyone.

Perksofbeingwallflower1The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky

Published in 1999, the “coming of age” novel follows introverted freshman Charlie as he enters high school with no friends. Two seniors and step-siblings, Sam and Patrick, befriend Charlie and encourage him to experience life instead of watching it happen. Patrick is very attracted to Sam, who has a boyfriend, while Patrick is secretly dating Brad—who has not come out yet. Charlie has a traumatic past that includes the death of his Aunt Helen and the suicide of his middle school friend, Michael. The story is told through letters that Charlie writes to an anonymous pen pal and is a great read about growing up and the friends who help you do that.

the girls from corona del marThe Girls from Corona del Mar by Rufi Thorpe

Mia and Lorrie Ann are best friends growing up in the beach city of Corona del Mar, California in the nineties. Both beautiful, smart, and loyal friends, Mia suffers from family struggles while Lorrie Ann doesn’t seem to make mistakes. That all changes after Mia gets a scholarship to Yale and Lorrie Ann gets pregnant and decides to marry the father. This novel explores the real life issue of what happens to friendships when they are no longer convenient. When two friends are at different ends of the world (Mia eventually goes to study in Istanbul), it confronts the question of whether or not friendship can survive. The book explores pregnancy, abortion, marriage, success, self-abuse, and enduring friendship.

the-group1The Group by Mary McCarthy

The original Sex and the City, The Group follows the lives of eight friends after they graduate from Vassar College in 1933. Most of the group is privileged, while some families suffered from the Great Depression. The novel’s eight characters come together at Kay’s wedding and the novel follows them until its end in 1940 at one of the group’s funerals. The book was very controversial after its release in 1963. While made the New York Times Best Seller list and remained there for two years, it was banned in Australia. The book deals with issues that had not fully been addressed at that time, like contraception, same-sex relationships, psychoanalysis, socialism, and abuse. It’s a great read about friendship that explores factors that bring women together.

winnie the poohWinnie-the-Pooh Series by A.A. Milne

The beloved bear, also known as Pooh Bear, was first introduced in 1926 in a collection of stories titled Winnie-the-Pooh. Winnie-the-Pooh and friends like Christopher-Robin, Piglet, Tigger, Kanga, Roo, Eeyore, Rabbit, and Owl represent a dynamic friendship that children all over the world have loved for years. Christopher-Robin and Pooh Bear were inspired by Milne’s son and his stuffed bear. While Winnie-the-Pooh may not be the first thing that comes to mind when discussing books about friendship, the stories in the series really demonstrate life lessons and caring for others—giving it a spot on our list!

A_Separate_Peace_coverA Separate Peace by John Knowles

A Separate Peace explores a different side of friendship than we are used to seeing. Gene and Finny are best friends, with Gene being more reserved and quiet, and Finny being outgoing, smart, and athletic. However, when their rivalry gets to be too much for Gene, he unexpectedly is the cause of an accident that prevents Finny from playing sports ever again. Gene and Finny go through many ups and downs during the novel, with Gene never really knowing if what he did was an accident or on purpose. The book examines many literary devices, like the doppleganger. While Gene does not have a physical doppleganger, emotionally he is not quite sure if it was him that caused Finny to fall or something else. Friendship is a key theme in this book, as friendship can sometime make you do crazy things.

BridgeTerabithia6Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson

The wonderful story of Jesse and Leslie is one that many read in their youth. Jesse and Leslie are fifth graders who form a friendship after he loses a foot race to her. Leslie is an outgoing tomboy who Jesse grows fond of and causes him to let his anger and frustration go. They create their own magical land they can get to by swinging over a creek. They rule the land they call Terabithia and their friendship grows over time. Although this novel has a rather tragic end, it is about children’s imagination and how those you would least suspect to be your friends can turn into ones.

 

FANGIRL_CoverDec2012Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

The young adult novel written in 2013 takes a look at what happens when identical twins Cather and Wren go to college. The girls’ biggest passion are the Simon Snow novels (which are like Harry Potter, if Harry Potter went to magician’s school). However, Wren does not want to room with Cath at the University of Nebraska—and instead create her own identity. While the story is about discovering college, boys, and learning to let things go, it is also a story about sisterhood between Cath and Wren. Although they are very different people, they come together and remember what’s important.

summer-sistersSummer Sisters by Judy Blume

One of Judy Blume’s adult novels, Summer Sisters follows the lives of Caitlin and Victoria (Vix) who spend every summer together as teenagers. Their friendship is strong from the time they meet in sixth grade through high school, but deteriorates when they go to college. Boys, family, and life in general get in the way. Judy Blume is known for her books about growing up—and this one is no different. People choose different paths in life, and they can either choose to come back to each other or not. This is a great read about young friendships and love, and how that translates into adult life.

 

harry potterHarry Potter Series by J.K. Rowling

Perhaps this one does not need an introduction, but let’s give it one anyways. Harry Potter follows a young boy from when he finds out he is a wizard when he is 11, through his quest to defeat the Dark Lord Voldemort until he is 17. Along the way he makes great friends, Ron and Hermione, who help him through all his adventures. They all go to Hogwarts together, and while they mostly focus on defeating Lord Voldemort, they also form a strong bond—that even turns into a romantic relationship between Ron and Hermione. We’re not sure how someone could form a deeper bond than willing to risk their lives for their friends every day. While all friendships have their ups and downs, these friends stay true through the very end.

tom sawyerThe Adventures of Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain

These two novels follow Tom Sawyer, a boy growing up along the Mississippi River in the late 1800s, and his friend, Huckleberry Fin. The Adventures of Tom Sawyer are told from Tom’s point of view, while The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn are told from Huck’s. The adventures follow Tom and Huck as they search for gold and Tom tries to woo Becky Thatcher. Though they are constantly scheming and getting into trouble, the boys’ friendship is enduring and makes it one to definitely read.

What’s your favorite book about friendship? Comment below and share your thoughts!

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mrdarcy

Jane Austen Spinoffs to Fill Your Void of Mr. Darcy

While we all wish that Jane Austen’s stories went on forever and ever, that is unfortunately not possible. Luckily, many brave authors have attempted to create sequels, spinoffs, and prequels to provide the additional plots Austen fans are craving. While most of these are from spinoffs of Pride and Prejudice, we do mention a great story based on Persuasion and an anthology of short stories related to all Jane Austen novels. We know reading even more about Mr. Darcy is exciting, but try not to get too flustered!

pemberley manorPemberley Manor by Kathryn Nelson

With a subtitle “Darcy and Elizabeth, for better or for worse”, readers can predict that this story will be about the Darcy’s early married life. Picking up right where Pride and Prejudice leaves off, Pemberley Manor is one of the better “sequels” to Austen’s most popular novel. As Elizabeth moves to Pemberley, she learns more of Darcy’s rather dark past and discovers why he was so closed off to others. Changing perspectives from Darcy to Elizabeth, there is also a look into Georgiana Darcy’s life which is refreshing.

 

searching for captain wentworthSearching for Captain Wentworth by Jane Odiwe

A spinoff of Persuasion, modern day aspiring writer Sophie Elliot goes to stay at her family’s home in Bath—right next door to where Jane Austen lived. After meeting a peculiar neighbor, Sophie is transported back in time to Regency Bath. There she must deal with this odd line between two realities, and perhaps meet her own Captain Wentworth. While not a direct sequel to Persuasion in any way, this is a great novel that really confronts the decisions you might make when faced with something many readers have always wanted—to live in Jane Austen’s time.

 

death comes to pemberleyDeath Comes to Pemberley by P.D. James

An interesting, but very popular, take on Pride and Prejudice spinoffs, Death Comes to Pemberley picks up six years after Darcy and Elizabeth’s marriage. They have lived a happy and peaceful life in the company of Jane, Bingley, and Georgiana. However, on the eve of their autumn ball, the disgraced Lydia Bennett arrives screaming that Wickham has been murdered in the woods. A scandal then breaks out and it’s up to members of Pemberley to determine what is going on. As a bonus, the thrilling spinoff also just premiered as two part series on PBS!

 

jane austen made me do itJane Austen Made Me Do It edited by Laurel Ann Nattress

This delightful collection of stories contains twenty-four authors’ take on Jane Austen’s classic tales. From Lauren Willig’s “A Night at Northanger” about a girl who doesn’t believe in ghosts, to Janet Mullany’s “Jane Austen, Yeah, Yeah, Yeah!” in which a school teacher gets her students to understand Sense and Sensibility with help from The Beatle’s songs, there is something for every Austen lovers taste.

 

 

the pemberley chroniclesThe Pemberley Chronicles by Rebecca Ann Collins

Like many sequels, The Pemberley Chronicles picks up where Austen left off. Rebecca Ann Collins adds to the series by including the social and political history of the nineteenth century into the lives of those at Pemberley. While Austen did not do anything like this in her novels, it creates a more realistic nineteenth century England. Don’t get us wrong, nothing will ever beat the wonder that is Jane Austen—but it is also good to understand the historical events that would have been happening at that time. It’s the first in a series of many by Collins, so be sure to check them all out!

 

an assembly such as thisAn Assembly Such as This: A Novel of Fitzwilliam Darcy, Gentleman by Pamela Aiden

Have you ever wanted to know what Darcy was actually thinking? Of course you have. Although this might not be what he was actually thinking–it’s sadly not written by Austen–Pamela Aiden takes a pretty good stab at it. Darcy’s hidden perspective throughout Pride and Prejudice is revealed as his unwilling attraction to Elizabeth grows, he tries to fend off Miss Bingley’s advances, and he experiences concern for the relationship between Elizabeth and Wickham. This eye-opening read is part of the Fitzwilliam Darcy, Gentleman trilogy. The second book reveals Darcy’s “private struggle” in the Pride and Prejudice in which he is away from Elizabeth, and the third book completes the story after Darcy is rejected by Elizabeth and after some soul-searching becomes the kind of man he’s always wanted to be. Needless to say, readers will absolutely go crazy for this.

mr. darcy's daughtersMr. Darcy’s Daughters by Elizabeth Aston

If you’re interested in knowing how the Darcy children turn out—here’s your chance! Picking up twenty years after Pride and Prejudice left off, Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth now have five daughters. The books follows the daughter’s escapades as they leave Pemberley and travel to London when Elizabeth and Darcy go to Constantinople. An older Miss Bingley (now married!), Aunt Lydia (can you imagine?), and the Gardiners also make appearances.

 

 

wickham's diaryWickham’s Diary by Amanda Grange

We were just as skeptical of this choice as you are. However, Amanda Grange’s series of diaries, which include characters like Mr. Darcy, Colonel Brandon, and Captain Wentworth, provide and interesting view of the men featured in Austen’s novels. While most consider Wickham to be a villain, this novel shows more aspects to the character than we first saw in Pride and Prejudice. Don’t worry—Wickham does not come off as innocent, but it does help explain why he became the way he was.

 

a season of courtshipDarcy and Elizabeth: A Season of Courtship by Sharon Lathan

Described as the “prequel to the sequel”, this book fills in the gaps during Darcy and Elizabeth’s initial engagement before being wed. Her first book in The Darcy Saga starts on the happy couple’s wedding day, so this “prequel” catches readers up on everything that was missed. Questions surrounding their engagement are answered by the creative author, and character’s loose ends are tied up. This is definitely one you’ll want to check out if you’re wondering how Darcy and Elizabeth got to the alter.

 

georgiana's diaryGeorgiana Darcy’s Diary by Anna Elliott

Another diary, written by a different author, follows Darcy’s sister Georgiana’s journey. Although Georgiana is happy to live at Pemberley with her brother and his new bride, she also wants to find love for herself. With her overbearing aunt, Lady Catherine de Bourgh, constantly lining up suitors, Georgiana will have to decipher those who seek her fortune from those she could love. This is a great chance to understand a less prominent character from Pride and Prejudice.

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lostandfoundroadtrips (2)

Adventure Never Rests: Books on Road Trips

Sometimes you just have to get up and go. These ten authors certainly are familiar with that feeling. We’ve chosen novels about road trips–some expected, others not. From classics like The Grapes of Wrath and On the Road, to lesser knows like The Last Days of California and Let’s Get Lost, there’s something that will appeal to everyone’s taste. While all of these selects might not describe your typical road trip, all of them are excellent reads and have one common theme: journey.

let's get lostLet’s Get Lost by Adi Alsaid

This Young Adult novel follows four strangers and their only connection—a girl named Leila. The story is told from five points of view from the people Leila meets along the way: Hudson, Bree, Elliot, Sonia, and finally ending with Leila’s story. As she is on her way to Alaska to see the Northern Lights, Leila meets these people and helps them get through a difficult situation. A clever way to describe a road trip, Alsaid’s novel will inspire you to adventure onward!

 


JohnSteinbeck_TheGrapesOfWrathThe Grapes of Wrath
by John Steinbeck

Less of a vacation, and more of a fight for survival, during the Great Depression of the 1930s the Joads family sets out for California in hopes of starting a new life away from the Dust Bowl in Oklahoma. After Tom Joad is released from prison for homicide, he breaks his parole and travels with his family on Route 66. One of the most riveting stories told about hardship, Steinbeck explores peoples’ true character when faced with a grave situation: “There ain’t no sin and there ain’t no virtue. There’s just stuff people do.” This wonderful read that you most likely read in high school is definitely worth another look.

 

on-the-roadOn the Road by Jack Kerouac

This book, published in 1957, depicts Kerouac and friends’ travels across America. What’s interesting about the way this novel was written, is that Kerouac typed it out on a continuous reel of paper—which can occasionally be seen at various museums. The narrative, taking place from 1947-1950 tells the story of Sal Paradise (inspired by Jack Kerouac, himself), and Dean Moriarty (inspired by Neal Cassady) traveling the United States together. From San Francisco to New York, and everywhere in between, the two friends party a lot as they deal with responsibility—or lack thereof—and experience adventure. Named one of Time’s 100 best English-language novels between 1923 and 2005, this definitely needs a place on your bookshelf.

killing yourself to liveKilling Yourself to Live: 85% of a True Story by Chuck Klosterman

Chuck Klosterman’s non-fiction novel depicts his 6,557 mile journey to the burial sites of rock stars. Klosterman wants to know why the greatest career move any rock star can make is to kill themselves. Along the way, Klosterman recounts the four women he has loved, and compares them to the members of KISS. Just as rocker’s careers can rise above all expectations after they’re dead, these four women transcend upon Klosterman in such a way that will make it impossible for other women to compare. While his road trip is a unique one, this book definitely confronts death in a way you probably haven’t explored.

wildWild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail by Cheryl Strayed

While this is a stretch for road trips, we think this book needs to be included due to its epic journey of self-discovery—even if it’s on foot. Cheryl Strayed has lost everything. Starting with her mother’s death when she was 22, her father is disengaged, her brother and sister remain distant, and her heroin addiction led to her divorce all before 30. At 26 and with no prior backpacking experience, Cheryl sets out on a 1,100 mile journey on the Pacific Crest Trail. This popular novel is told in a dynamic way—accounting her emotional and physical struggles that will speak to every reader who has gone through an extreme rough patch.

the savage detectivesThe Savage Detectives by Roberto Bolaño

This novel, though slightly daunting with over forty narrators, is definitely a great pick for travel. The first and third sections are narrated by 17-year old aspiring poet Juan García Madero, who drops out of school to involve himself with a gang of poets called the Visceral Realists. They are seeking the “mother of visceral realism”, Cesarea Tinajero—whom they are not sure exists. The long journey that takes a look at Latin American society is definitely perfect for those of us who always want to believe in something, regardless of how impossible it may seem.

last days CAThe Last Days of California by Mary Miller

Jess’ evangelistic father packs up his family, including Jess’ mother and sister, Elise, fearing the rapture and Second Coming. His goal? Head west and save as many people he can before that happens. While Jess tries to be concerned about the rapture, at fifteen, she has a few other things going on in her mind—including the age old question of whether or not she’ll ever fall in love. Mary Miller adds humor to quite a depressing road trip, exploring all of Jess’ teen angst which, let’s face it, probably isn’t helped by the fact she has to pass out flyers all day.

 

anywhere but hereAnywhere But Here by Mona Simpson

You’ve probably seen the movie starring a very young Natalie Portman and Susan Sarandon, but it’s also a wonderful read—especially for anyone looking for a mother-daughter relationship novel. The book follows Ann and her mother, Adele, who leave Wisconsin in a stolen car and goes out west so Ann can be a child star. Her mother constantly feeds her broken promises and thinks everything can be fixed with ice cream. At age 12, Ann is wise beyond her years and has to learn to grow up without a stable parent. Mostly narrated by Ann, the book follows 20 years of their escapades and makes it a great read about journey and self-discovery.

 

rhode island notebookRhode Island Notebook by Gabriel Gudding

Gabriel Gudding actually wrote this book while “on the road”. It details the break-up of a family, and records the rise of patriotism in American before and during the invasion of Iraq. While not about road trips, it contains poetry written by Gudding as he drove between Illinois and Rhode Island twenty-six times to see his family. While the poems record the road’s features, it is more so a book about loss, hardship, and eventual recovery. If you’ve ever felt lost or alone, Gudding’s emotional recount of his time on the road will definitely resonate with you.

 

blue highwaysBlue Highways by William Least Heat-Moon

The autobiographical novel follows the author as he starts over after getting divorced and losing his teaching job. He goes on a road-trip—but sticks to the “blue highways”, which are out-of-the-way roads that connect rural America. His book depicts his three month, 13,000-mile journey and all the people he meets along the way. This is basically your American road trip guideline for going off the grid and meeting fascinating people along the way.

 

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