Tuesday, November 22, 2016

My take on: The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend

A book about books for book lovers, a book that talks at length about other books, and mix in a small town full of quirky characters = SIGN ME UP!

The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend by Katarina Bivald has been on my TBR pile for months.

Book-crazy Sara has come all the way from Sweden to the small town of Broken Wheel, Iowa. She's come to see Amy, her equally book-crazy pen pal. But unfortunately Amy dies just before Sara arrives. The busybodies of Broken Wheel, Iowa, rally around Sara. They treat Sara as Amy would treat her. Grace, owner of the local diner, is quick to shove a burger and fries in front of Sara. George, a lonely but charming man, is thrust into the role of chauffeur and tour guide. Jen writes the town newsletter, taking on the responsibility of making Broken Wheel more appealing and charming than Hope, a larger neighboring town. Jen also makes it her business to play matchmaker with Sara and Tom, Amy's nephew. She could care less that Sara and Tom don't really want a relationship.

The only real relationship Sara has ever had has been with books. She can easily get lost in a story, in a character. She can easily lose hours of time in a book. Life can pass her by. She can find more intrigue and mystery in a book than in real life.

"What was so great about reality? Amy was dead, and Sara was stuck here in a car with a man who clearly disliked her. With books, she could be whoever she wanted , wherever she wanted. She could be tough, beautiful, charming; she could come up with the perfect line at the perfect moment, and she could . . . experience things. Real things. Things that happened to real people." -- Pg. 49 

I can totally relate to that quote. Sometimes, especially after this election, reality can really suck. Just a couple of hours with a book and you can easily forget about bills, work, and . . . . . just about everything.

With Amy gone, Sara begins to question her role in this town. Everyone is going out of their way to make her feel welcome. No one will let her pay for anything. How can Sara give back? How can Sara show how much she appreciates the generosity? Well,  it all comes back to the books. Amy's home is filled with books. Filled with the stories Amy and Sara used to write to each other about. Books were a joy they could share, and Sara is convinced she can share that joy with the town.

Using Amy's vast collection, Sara opens a bookstore. The town, a.k.a. the future readers of Broken Wheel, don't  really know what to think? What purpose does a bookstore have in a town that barely reads? But Sara's charm and vast knowledge of books begins to win people over. Slowly, Sara brings a brightness to the town that was sorely missing. People begin to see the joy in not just books but in each other. People begin opening themselves up to people, experiences, friendships, and relationships -- all because Sara exposed them to books.

What will the town of Broken Wheel do without Sara? She's not a citizen and her tourist visa will run out eventually. Of course in a town like this, people are quick to rally around Sara. Jen and the rest of the town come up with a rather wacky and illegal plan. But they do what they have to to save Sara. Overall, this was a cute story. I saw a lot of myself in Sara. My room is drowning in books! Many times this story was a bit predictable, especially the happy ending, which kept this from being a total home run for me. I'm not against happy endings, but I knew how it was going to end before I got there. But it was a fun journey, and a book worth reading.

Rating: Give it a try

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

My take on: Unlocking Worlds

"....what matters is the experience of a book, whether that book blossoms in our imaginations, whether we connect with the characters, whether the events in the story resonate, inspiring us to think and feel." --Pg. xix

This quote from Unlocking Worlds by Sally Allen, got me thinking about why I read.

I work in book publishing, so I read everyday as part of my job. But even if it wasn't part of job, I would still be reading. I read for enjoyment. I read for an escape from the daily grind. I read because it's often better than watching television. I read because I love it.

Unlocking Worlds: A Reading Companion for Book Lovers is made for people who love books. For people who love the journey books can take them.

"Being a reader is about taking the time to have a conversation with a book, to give it my devoted time and attention, to value the efforts of its creator, to seek connection with others who have engaged in this same conversation" --Pg. 193.

Yes, to this a thousand times. As a reader, I know a lot of thought and work is put into every book that I read. Subconsciously, that's probably why it's always so hard for me to walk away from a book. I go into every book believing I will love it, but obviously that's not always the case.

In the case of Unlocking Worlds, I did enjoy the book. The book is broken into several sections, including Novels that Play with Time and Space, Novels About Connection, Community and Family, and of course Books for Book Lovers. Reading about the author's own experiences reading certain books made me a bit nostalgic. I feel like I need to read Charlotte's Web by E.B. White again. I'm quite certain I read it in second grade, and there's no way I was having deep thoughts about it back then. All I remember is that it's about a pig and a spider. Obviously, it's about more than that but I feel like I would appreciate a book about friendship much more as an adult than as a child. I loved Kindred by Octavia Butler for it's storyline. In that book, a woman in an interracial marriage time travels back to slavery. I read Kindred over the course of a 10-hour car trip. I wasn't reading it from a sci-fi perspective, but I'm thinking maybe I should re-read it. There are so many things one can miss the first time around, sometimes it's worth it to read books a second time.

Definitely read this book if you're looking for your next read. Definitely read this book if you love books about books. Definitely read this book if you just love reading. It's short and sweet.

Rating: Superb

Note: I received a copy of the boom from Smith Publicity in exchange for an honest review.