Finding New Books

As I browse the shelves of my local bookstore, I often wonder what the most efficient way is to find new books that I would enjoy. A lot of times, I will admit, I judge the book by its cover. While I’ve gotten better about this with age, I still struggle with finding really reliable sources that consistently provide new book suggestions. While I’m hoping this site will help the readers find new reads, I’m wondering what other resources you use.

I’ve found that Marie Claire magazine often has great suggestions with short descriptions of the book. Nothing about the plot line is given away and the books are often very new. I found “Behind the Beautiful Forevers” in Marie Claire and read it before most people had heard much about it. I really enjoy “discovering” great books and even though I get suggestions from the magazine, I am happy to pass the selection on to others with a bit more information.

So, to my followers or new readers, what sources do you use?

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The Hunger Games (Book 1 of 3)

As I began to read this book I must admit I wasn’t too thrilled. I immediately thought of a short story I had read years earlier entitled “The Lottery” by Shirley Jackson. Although I read it in high school, after some quick research I learned that “The Lottery” was first published in 1948 in The New Yorker. For those of you unfamiliar with this story, “The Lottery” describes one small town’s practice to ensure a good harvest – sacrificing one member of the community by stoning them to death. The story was also (of course) turned into a made-for-TV movie starring Keri Russell and Dan Cortese. Thankfully The Hunger Games had a bit more in store.

The first chapters of The Hunger Games had me worried that I was reading a technologically improved version of the same idea and thought about giving up on it. However, since I had heard such great reviews from friends and the media, I pushed myself to read on. And I must say, I’m so, so happy that I did. The Hunger Games turned out to be a major page-turner!!

While writing this review, I’ve struggled with whether I want to expose details that only those who finished the book would know. I’ve decided against that. I typically read a review to find a book to read – not to read about how the book turned out. But, I do want to encourage anyone considering reading these books to just read it! This book, as well as the trilogy has everything that most readers are looking for: action, romance, violence, friends and family.  And an adventurous, gritty, tough heroinne who serves as the main character.

Although I don’t want to get too far into the plot, I will say that the relationships the characters develop throughout the book were a big reason that I kept reading for so long. I could relate to the bonds that were made and I think that most readers could find at least one relationship they could relate to as well. Additionally, the technology that the author is able to write into the story is absolutely amazing! I know there are some readers who will find just that aspect fascinating.

I realize that keeping the plot secret seems like a strange way to recommend a book but I think it also adds mystery to an already wonderful book. Although I don’t have a lot of posts yet, I do know a good book when I read one – and this is it! Although this series is categorized in the young adult section, I think it should be reserved for the 18+ (or so) crowd. I don’t think it’s something appropriate for junior high students. The violent images seem a bit advanced for the younger group and I don’t think I would feel comfortable recommending it to 12 year olds. However, if you’re an adult looking for a great page-turner, pick up The Hunger Games. And soon, you’ll probably be picking up the sequels!

Until next time, enjoy and keep reading!

Cover of "The Hunger Games"

Cover of The Hunger Games

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One for the Grown-Ups

My next review will cover the book entitled “Behind the Beautiful Forevers: Life, death, and hope in a Mumbai undercity” written by the, in my opinion, great Katherine Boo.

Before I begin my actual review, I would like to start with a quick disclaimer. This book is not for the faint of heart nor for those who believe that all books should conclude with a happy ending tied up with a pretty little bow. If those are the things you’re seeking, you may want to skip this read. However, if you’re interested in the lives of those much, much difference and in many ways, worse than nearly everyone in America or those who have a general interest in different religions and lifestyles around the world, this could be the selection for you.

“Behind the Beautiful Forevers” is the account of journalist Katherine Boo as she spends three years living amongst the poorest in the world. Her work is based in the slums of Mumbai, India; more specifically Annawadi. Annawadi is a makeshift community where the families featured in the book build their homes. Strangely enough, Annawadi is set in the shadows of some of the most luxurious hotels of India and the airport, where the poor citizens watch as the wealthy leave the sadness of Annawadi behind.

As you can imagine, the densely populated slums do not offer much in the way of jobs, housing, food or education. While people living in the slums dream of such luxuries, acquiring them is another story. Unfortunately that story involves greed, corruption and crime. With so few opportunities for so, so many people, competition is fierce in the worse sense of the word. Fights, suicides and murder are common in these communities. As Boo witnessed some of these atrocities first-hand, she is well-educated and brutally honest regarding the horrors of living in Mumbai through her writing.

Boo follows the lives of a few different families during her time in Mumbai. Knowing that this extremely well-written author experienced real life in this rough lifestyle, her writing is all the more believable and frightening. As a writer for The New Yorker, Boo’s book is not for someone looking for a quick read. The book as well as the very real people in the book, deserve the reader’s undivided attention. And frankly without it, you will miss the subtleties that are crucial to trying to understand the complexities of a world most of us will never experience.

Personally, I would recommend this great read to those with an open mind, willing to let that mind go, sometimes, to dark places. If more people read and appreciated books like these, I’d like to believe we’d keep judgments to ourselves and realize that in essence, we are all striving for the same things.

“Behind the Beautiful Forevers” is a new favorite of this writer. I recommend it when friends are looking for something real and raw – a book that speaks of and to humanity. Like I said, don’t expect a happy ending. Instead, prepare for a gritty, honest, straight to the point writing that will leave you more knowledgeable and much, much more appreciative. If this book does not leave you feeling appreciative for what you have, nothing ever will. Embrace this treasure for all that it is.

Until next time, keep reading!

To review and purchase “Behind the Beautiful Forevers: Life, death, and hope in a Mumbai undercity,” use the link below (Amazon.com):
Behind the Beautiful Forevers: Life, death, and hope in a Mumbai undercity