Category Archives: Memoir

Other Beach and Poolside Reads…because it’s summer!

Mindy & Lemoncello

As soon as summer vacation rolls around, my reading list drastically increases — and it’s awesome! One of my favorite pastimes involves reading by any body of water… basically, if my toes are in the sand, there’s sure to be a book in my hand. (Did I mean to rhyme? Maybe… maybe not… but it’s true!)

And so that brings me to my beach and poolside reads while vacationing with family and friends on a lovely cruise to Bermuda:

* Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns) by Mindy Kaling. Let me start by saying that Mindy is hilarious! She is a funny, accomplished woman who is also quite different from the typical Hollywood gal — and I love that she embraces it and celebrates it and that she felt her musings and struggles and selfies were the makings of a book… because I found it all very entertaining! There are funny anecdotes (and pictures) of her childhood, explanations of her struggles to make it into the comedy industry, and a whole lot about how much she loves her friends. I giggled, laughed, and connected with many ways. It’s a great summer read. (I am looking forward to her upcoming book this fall!)

* Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library by Chris Grabenstein. Now, I’ve been seeing this title on the New York Times best seller list for a while, and so I figure, let’s see what all the fuss is about… but I didn’t actually know what the book was about. (I like to just pick up a book and start reading). So, I thought this was a book about some crazed Mr. Lemoncello who trapped children in his evil library and they had to escape to save their lives! … That is NOT what this book about. It is actually about an eccentric billionaire game-maker, Mr. Lemoncello (who just so happens to be very “Willy Wonka-like”). He is from a small (and imaginary… it’s not a real place, kids!) town in Ohio, called Alexandriaville. When Mr. Lemoncello was young, he found the town’s library to be a safe haven for his thoughts and learning. Thus, when the library was closed down, the decided to rebuild it in style! This takes a very long time — and so the children of the town (12 year-olds, to be exact) have never known a library. For a grand opening, Mr. Lemoncello chooses 12 twelve year-olds to partake in a sleepover game at the new and improved library. It’s full of puzzles, riddles, and games! It’s a whole lot of fun… for those who are really into working with others and enjoying the discovery of knowledge… for those who a selfish, egotistical jerks, not so much! The objective: be the first to escape from the library… without using the entrance through which you came in. It’s a really fun read!

And now… off to find some new books! (Unfortunately, I don’t think many more will be read with my toes in the sand). Thus, I will also be looking for some great spots to do my reading. Stay tuned!

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Filed under Book Review, Memoir, Middle Grade Fiction, New York Times Best Seller, Summer Reads

Live! (to tell the tale…)

vivir para contarla

Gabriel Garcia Marquez was born in Columbia in 1927 and passed away just last year, on the 17th of April (2014). He was one of the most significant and inspiring Latin American authors of the 20th century, and was even awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1982. I finally got around to reading his autobiography Vivir Para Contarla (or in English, Living to Tell the Tale). It goes without saying, the man had a way with words…

His autobiography tells a lot not only about his upbringing, his family, and his friends… but also a lot about his way of looking at life — admitting that there is a fine line between fact and fiction, as “life is not what you live, but what you remember and how you remember it.” In other words, life is just a story we tell ourselves, and our memories are often altered by figments of our imagination.

Nonetheless, what strikes me most about his life as a writer is how deeply he was influenced by his thirst for books, and his well-read friends. They discussed authors, they discussed literature, they lived to talk about story-telling, and they were constantly striving to acquire more books they could share amongst themselves. Mr. Garcia Marquez indeed kept excellent company, in this sense. He even read the dictionary! … a gift from his grandfather — a man who loved words and loved learning about them — Garcia Marquez admits he read this dictionary as one reads a novel: in alphabetical order and barely understanding any of it. The man was a lover of words and stories in any shape or form: novels, news articles, tales among friends, movies … life. He claimed he knew he would be a writer even before learning how to write! He knew because of this irresistible urge to write so as not to die.

Garcia Marquez did not live a life of privilege. He was often destitute and broke, barely getting by with his ease for making new acquaintances despite his shyness (such as police officers who once found him sleeping on a park bench), or simply due to his friends’ kindness. Even when he was making some money, he was so immersed in his work that his only concern with it was making sure to send financial aid to his large family so as ensure they could make ends meet. He lived to party, to sing, to write, to read, to soak up as much of his surroundings as possible… the good, the bad, the painful, the beautiful, the ugly, and the devastating.

I was struck by his words, “The terror of writing can be as unbearable as that of not writing.” The need to write is strong… the fear of it being worthless is strong, too. Yet every story that demands to be told will take whatever form it may need… but in the end, it must make its way into the light. Fortunately, Garcia Marquez’s works live on despite his passing… and through his memoirs, he encourages us to live, so that one day we too can tell our tales.

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Filed under Book Review, Memoir