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Outside Reading

Yay, it's finally spring around here! And one of my favorite things to do when the weather is nice is slow down a bit, mix up a cool drink, and sit outside with a book. So with that in mind, I thought I'd offer a few suggestions straight from my patio...

Mennonite in a Little Black Dress, by Rhoda Janzen
This is a fun, breezy memoir with some surprisingly poignant topics - religion, family, heartbreak and redemption. Rhoda tells the story of her failed marriage (her abusive husband runs off with a man he meets on and her return to her Mennonite family home for recovery. Tales of her childhood in the fold of her religious community are told with love and brash humor. The chapters are related but not sequential, so it's a great book to pick up and put down as the wind blows...

Behind the Beautiful Forevers, by Katherine Boo
We can all admit that it is sometimes difficult to find the will to read non-fiction about the hard, troubling injustices of the world. Books like this might not seem like patio-friendly reading, but this one is different. Boo treats the subject of life in a Mumbai, India slum with the care and character development of a fictional telling. Facts, theories and statistics about the slum are included in the book, but the real heart and focus is the characters - families living in the slum (the only home they've ever known), children working to survive on their own (mostly by collecting trash or recyclables from the nearby dump), all constantly striving to better their lives in sharp contrast to the luxury hotels they watch grow and multiply nearby. The key element to this book is its ability to make you identify with the slum-dwellers, to see them as people entirely similar to yourself, and not just as statistics.

The Passage, by Justin Cronin
Need a little thrill in your spring? This page turner will keep you reading long after the moths and fireflies join you outside. Although technically a "vampire" novel, this book is more apocalyptic than your average paranormal romance. Telling the story, from various points and points of view, of a virus that consumes the United States, Cronin creates a highly-believable history of a world collapsing. Part 1 follows the downward spiral of a nation in crisis. Part II revisits the country, years later, when only pockets of human life survive. It's engrossing, I tell you. The sequel, The Twelve, is slightly less successful, but you'll want to keep reading to find out how this world progresses. Read now and you'll be ahead of the movie, which is reportedly in the works.

Oh, and for what I'm reading the rest of the spring and summer?

Right now, I'm a few pages into The Night Circus - and very intrigues.
And I hope to get to:
Bastard Out of Carolina, by Dorothy Allison
The Real Jane Austen: A Life in Small Things, by Paula Byrne
These is My Words: The Diary of Sarah Agnes Prine, by Nancy Turner

I hope you enjoy one or all of these books! What are you reading now that it's spring?

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