Saturday, December 5, 2009

Inman Hijacked My Weekend. Yey!

Did you trim your tree this weekend?
My tannenbaum has been crouching naked in my living room since Thanksgiving, and I had such lovely visions of circling the tree with my family on Saturday, hot cocoa in hand, warm in the glow of the Christmas lights and the memories.
Unfortunately, it didn't happen. Yet. (I still have hope.)
But something glorious did happen, something completely selfish, though my family didn't seem to notice or mind (except at dinner time.) The something made me feel rested and satisfied and ready for Christmas: a book took over Decorating Day.

The book is Cold Mountain. Yes, the one that came out way back before Sam was even born, the book that sent Todd over the moon. He begged me to read it and promised that I'd love it so much that I'd want to name the child in my womb Ava or Inman.
I was unmoved. I have this problem that whenever books get lots of hype, I can't make myself read them, no matter how glowing the reviews. I always give in after the hoopla has died down, once nobody wants to gush about them anymore. I don't know why I'm like that.

Anyway, I noticed it on a bookshelf on Friday afternoon, and finished reading the last page around 11 pm Saturday night. The tree was still naked, the laundry piles had grown, and my family was in serious need of vitamins, but I felt completely elevated, improved, just by reading the words, by knowing the characters and their story.

Maybe I'm just basking in the afterglow, but Cold Mountain gave me all that great writing can offer: an opportunity to deepen my experience with courage and honor, hope and pride, compassion and pity and sacrifice. (William Faulkner's words, not mine. :) ) After loving the book so much, I'm not sure I want to see the movie. Did you see it? What did you think? The trailer is beautiful, but it makes the story out to be all about the Civil War, which it's really not. Though this clip has got to be the most romantic scene of all time. (Have a cold washcloth handy if you dare to watch it. It will make you swoon.)

Cold Mountain made me think of two other novels that recently moved me deeply, that also depict broken people trying to survive, to make the best of life that they can, to find beauty and truth and love. You probably read them long ago but I'll share them just the same, along with a few non fiction books I've enjoyed this year. Won't you tell me your latest faves? Now that I'm all rested, I'm ready to go shopping. Books make the perfect gift!
First, the two novels:

You must read this beautiful book. It's set in Crosby, Maine, and the thirteen short stories are linked together through the character of Olive Kitteridge. If I didn't know she was a fictional character, I'd swear she must be a distant cousin to grumpy Madame Mallet, from the pages of my French life. I've already read this book twice and have started on a third time. Hopefully I can hold off until after Christmas, or I may never get my cards sent out!

This is a horrifying, amazing book. It will stun and disgust you, but I don't know that I've ever any depiction more beautiful of the love a father has for his son.

So those are my three favorite works of fiction I've read this year.
But there are works of non fiction that I've loved as well, all memoir. (Surprise, surprise. My favorite genre.)

When Timothy Tyson was ten years old, a young black man was murdered in Timothy's hometown of Oxford, North Carolina. This is the story of his quest to understand what happened. I'll never be able to forget this book, nor would I want to.

I found this book in my church library, took it home and promptly fell in love with it. It's #1 on my Christmas list. (Listening, Santa?) It's all about finding the sacred in everyday life, my favorite topic in the whole wide world.

I finished this book a few weeks ago, one woman's collection of stories of grace, discovered all over the world.

And lastly, this sweet one.

The cover and title are PERFECT! It's the memoir of a Southern Baptist preacher's kid, and it's hilarious and touching and I loved every minute.

Won't you share your favorite books of the year with me?
Have a wonder-full Monday, y'all!
Love, Becky
PS. If you've got a teen girl on your list or just enjoy young adult fiction, you've got to look at the Miracle Girl series. I LOVED Anne and May's chic lit books, so I knew they'd be good. I've only read the first one so far, but I found it smart, witty, and true to life. (And having teens in my house, I should know.) Plus they're friends of mine and lovely people. Go Anne and May!
And go Cold Mountain! Better late than never!


Emily said...

I enjoyed your book about your family's adventures in France, and I've read your blog ever since. I found your comments about these books very moving -- thanks for the suggestions and good luck with those cards!

Rebecca Ramsey said...

Emily, you made my day! Give yourself a big hug from me!

CC said...

thanks for all these great suggestions!!! The only one I've read is Cold Mountain. But now I have have some others to talk about at book club next week. :)

Green Girl in Wisconsin said...

Great recommendations! Thanks!
My book club meets Thursday and I'll be mentioning these. I did enjoy both the Cold Mountain movie & Book--to my surprise.
I spent my weekend finishing The Girl who Played with Fire. Whew.

Kaylen said...

These sound good-I'm adding some to my list. :)
I really enjoyed The Unlikely Disciple, by Kevin Roose (he enrolls in one of the most religious colleges in the US and writes about his experience)
Ravens by George Dawes Green was good too! (blackmailing a lotto winner)
oh - and Without A Backward Glance by Kate Veitch (about a mom who walked away from her family)
Good reads!

LW said...

I made the mistake of seeing the movie Cold Mountain before reading the book.
I now need to get the movie out of my head before I read this book, it has sat on my
shelf for years. The movie was very good.
On another note the movie was filmed in Romania to save money.
I guess Nicole Kidman came with a big price tag, So it was off to Romania..


Rebecca Ramsey said...

Boy oh boy Louise, have I heard about the film site for Cold Mtn. A great injustice, according to my husband. He has long said it looks way too rugged to be the real cold mountain (in NC,) and now I agree.

You should definitely read the book. Todd said that the movie watered down the story, that the book is much more deliciously complex.

Thanks for the recommendations, GG and Kaylen. I'll check those out!

Gina2424 said...

Hi Becky, Thanks for visiting, and thanks for sharing. Will think a bit on my fave books this year, and really will report back. My fave silly escape books I just found are by Kimberly Raye- her Dead End Dating series- fabulously hip fashionista vampire running a dating service.

Susan said...

I read Cold Mountain before seeing the movie and I was quite disappointed in the movie. The casting was all wrong for me, except Jack White. Great book, though.

Kelly H-Y said...

I'm that way with books too! How funny. Great suggestions. I really want to read Cold Mountain now. Happy tree decorating! :-)

Chantile said...

I needed a few book ideas! Thanks! :)
And "Cold Mountain"... Oh. That one moves me. It's one of those that will always stay in my head.

Silicon Valley Diva said...

I also read olive kitteridge and The Road. Those would be on my list. I would also add Water for Elephants. I LOVED it.

I agree with Emily. I loved your book too! I liked the fact that you and your family lived not in Paris, but a small rural village in France. It was refreshingly different. Everyone writes about Paris. I read your book last year, on Christmas Eve though. Does that count lol?

sanjeet said...

thanks for the suggestions and good luck with those cards!

Work from home India

Anonymous said...

You will also LOVE Thirteen Moons, also by this author. You will like it even better than Cold Mountain. I read it; then I went to the great smokey mountains on a trip, and, even though it was my second trip there in two years, it meant SO much more that time.
Definitely read it!!