Good Reads : Beautiful Ruins


I asked him what else I could do. I mean, we were going on a road trip, so, naturally, I’d bring reading material. What he didn’t expect, however, was that I’d read to him through the twists and turn of Northern California, against the green fields of Oregon, and into the Seattle city lights. I’m not sure if my husband even paid attention, but–dang–did it sure satiate my childhood desire to be a librarian and host a read-along.

As we packed up to head back home, JD downloaded a new batch of songs which I’m guessing was his way of saying THANKS BUT NO THANKS to my mobile story hour.

Here are a few of my recent Good Reads

Tell the Wolves I’m Home by Carol Rifka Brunt. I didn’t know what to expect about this book, or even what it was about, but a few pages in and I was smitten. The story centers around the loss of the protagonist’s uncle to AIDS and the struggle to deal with her loss in light of discovering his hidden past. Brunt is an amazing writer and weaves pain, loss, and honesty into a truly moving story.

Life of Pi by Yann Martel. So, okay. Based on the raving reviews this book has received over the years (and it’s upcoming movie adaptation), you’d think I’d like it. But I didn’t. I actually texted a friend and asked her to tell me it was going to get better. The beginning and the end were the strongest parts (and I can admit the ending was beautifully done), but making my way through the mid section left me feeling like reading was a chore….so much so, I probably won’t see the movie.

Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter. I’d been hearing rumblings about this book, but it wasn’t until my friend said I should pick it up that getting my hands on it became my life’s mission. Four bookstores and an entire afternoon later, I finally had it in my hands. And it didn’t disappoint. Walter does such a great job weaving many stories into one and creating idiosyncratic, yet compelling, characters. The fact that he uses the underbelly of Hollywood to paint his story is a mere bonus to how great he is at creating a mix of narratives and a wonderful novel.

City of Thieves by David Benioff. I don’t do well with wars. Like, anything related to violence, pain, and/or suffering just isn’t my cup of tea so I almost closed this book a third of the way into the book. It follows the story of a teenage boy (Benioff’s grandfather) in war torn Russia during Hitler’s invasion. With his life in the balance after being thrown in jail, he’s sent on a mission to find a dozen eggs for a wedding cake, but in the process finds courage, love, and himself. Benioff does such a good job balancing really dark moments with humor and I’m glad I stuck through it all because it’s such a powerful story.

Happy Monday!

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  1. Courtney

    August 27th, 2012 at 4:04 pm

    I am so relieved you didn’t like Life of Pi – I didn’t either! But the reviews and recommendations by friends always made me feel like I was missing something. It’s exactly like you said – a chore in the middle. I couldn’t even finish it. Going to check out Beautiful Ruins instead.

  2. Eileen

    August 27th, 2012 at 4:09 pm

    I just finished "In the Shadow of the Banyan" Such a beautiful and heartbreaking story.

  3. Larrah

    August 27th, 2012 at 4:14 pm

    I’ve also struggled with Life of Pi..made it through the first part about a year ago and haven’t picked it back up but wanted to. Kinda rethinking that now. I’m just now reading The Alchemist, It’s fantastic so far!!

  4. Marie

    August 27th, 2012 at 4:24 pm

    I was so excited to finally see a book on your list that I’ve read and LOVED…then I read your review 🙁 I gave you a pass after I read that Tina Fay book you raved about…attributing the crappy book to a different sense of humor….but now I know you don’t know what you’re talking about. Life of Pi was awesome.

  5. M

    August 27th, 2012 at 4:28 pm

    Ohhhh yeah! And those toes?!?! In the picture?? I aint no photog but I heard there is this thing called the crop tool! 😉

  6. Stephanie

    August 27th, 2012 at 4:52 pm

    I didn’t like Life of Pi either…had to force myself to finish it!

  7. Katrina

    August 27th, 2012 at 6:13 pm

    You NEED to read The Alchemist!! (:

  8. Natasha

    August 27th, 2012 at 6:37 pm

    Love the good read posts. My bookshelves always looks fuller after one of these. Im part way through The Paris Wife. Love x

  9. john parisi

    August 27th, 2012 at 6:43 pm

    you are amazing

  10. Ciiku

    August 27th, 2012 at 7:02 pm

    I agree. Life of Pi really sucked for me. Didn’t and don’t understand the hype!

  11. Kari Jeanne

    August 27th, 2012 at 9:02 pm

    I didn’t like Life of Pi EITHER!!! I forced myself to finish and struggle through it. So glad I’m not the only one!!! Love these posts – gives me some new reads to look out for!

  12. ashley goodwin

    August 27th, 2012 at 9:47 pm

    I AM STILL NOT DONE WITH A BOOK I BROUGHT ALONG ON THE BUS and you have probably whipped through 50 since then. I need to pick up the pace! 😉 Checking some of these out.

  13. Jason Borg

    August 27th, 2012 at 11:32 pm

    I like the life of Pi, good book, I’ll have to check out the others.

  14. Lexie

    August 28th, 2012 at 1:31 am

    I teach pre-k and sure do love having 15 pairs of eyes on me as I read to them. If you ever have the urge to read some stories, you are more than welcome in my class!

  15. Wedding Photographer

    August 28th, 2012 at 3:55 am

    LIFE OF PI!!!! Love that book. Awesome awesome stuff.

  16. abby

    August 29th, 2012 at 5:43 pm

    I thought I was the only one! I’m so glad you felt the same way about Life of Pi. I thought it was overhyped. The story had some good points, but I overall was disappointed. I love your book reviews and I am going to check out the Beautiful Ruins.

  17. Renae

    August 30th, 2012 at 4:38 am

    Hey Jasmine I love your book reviews! I’ve just finished a book that I think you would love called Me Before You by JoJo Moyes. The cover makes it look like standard ChickLit fare but trust me it’s not. I laughed, I cried and I couldn’t put it down. Best book I’ve read in a long time!

  18. viktorija

    September 6th, 2012 at 4:03 pm

    Had to comment–my husband and I just did the EXACT same roadtrip! N. Cali to Oregon (we swerved east and headed to Bend) than up to Seattle. 😉