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Zen Mama Wannabe » Blog Archive » Late to the Party – Again
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Late to the Party – Again

Two of my favoritesMy kids are not the only ones using the two-weeks off during Winter Break to stretch the structure of our normal routine. Staying up way too late, lounging around in pajamas far too long, enjoying way too many sweets and treats.  School starts back up on Monday and then we’ll be back to the daily grindstone reality.  And while I look forward to the old routine in many ways, I am savoring actually having had the time to make a dent in the stack of books piled up on my nightstand.  Two of those books in particular were outstanding….and yes, I know I’m a little late in saying it, but if by some chance you haven’t read these – you must.

The Help was called the best book of 2009.  Highly acclaimed, a NY Times Bestseller and recommended by practically every bookstore in America. I told everyone about it – just off the buzz I was hearing.  Friends would take my advice and read it, then say, “Oh my gosh – fabulous!”  Still, for me, there it sat.

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society was stacked on my nightstand even longer.  Same story – heard great things about it – wanted to read it, just never seemed to have the time.  No time? my single or childless friends would say, as if questioning my assertion.  True, we all know a feeble excuse when we hear one.  It was just by the time I got the kids to bed (a seemingly huge undertaking in and of itself) the kitchen cleaned up, the laundry done, etc., it was late and I was shot.  If I tried to sit down to read, my eyes would start to shut after only a few pages and the next day I would have no clear memory of what it was I was reading.  Groundhog’s Day all over again.

But over Winter Break, I did it.  I stayed up late (really late).  I read and read – with no worries I wouldn’t be able to function the next day, because what did it matter – it was Winter Break.  Once the hustle and bustle of Christmas was over, I had no real commitments, no obligations – just (finally) some “free time” and for once I took advantage of it.

May I say, if you’re late to the party as well, that both books are BRILLIANT.  I can’t recommend them enough.  All the buzz was right – these are well-written novels that hopefully will get you thinking, without even realizing it.  They flowed effortlessly – it was only with chagrin I would notice it was 1:00 (or later) in the morning and I would FORCE myself to put them down.  Yep – they are books like that.

Interestingly, both were written by FIRST TIME novelists.  I love it when a rookie if you will, hits it out of the park, first time up.  With The Help, author Kathryn Stockett said a question popped in her mind and the book was her way of answering it.  To be able to write like that – with the voices and tone she used – wow!  It is truly a book that deserves all the acolytes it has gotten.

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society back-story is a little bittersweet.  Back in 1976, Mary Ann Shaffer went to England to research another book idea, and stumbled upon Guernsey in the Channel Islands.  It took over 20 years for this book to take shape; sadly once the manuscript was sold but in need of some rewrites, Mrs. Shaffer took ill.  In stepped her niece Annie Barrows, a published author herself (of the Ivy and Bean series – immediately known to anyone with a daughter in elementary school) to finish the task.  Mrs. Shaffer died right before the book came out, and missed seeing it take the number 1 spot on the NY Times Bestsellers list.  Oh the irony, don’t you think?  Still, I love HER words of her hope for the book:

…that my book will illuminate my belief that love of art – be it poetry, storytelling, painting, sculpture, or music – enables people to transcend any barrier man has yet devised.

So, if you’ve somehow missed either of these masterpieces (and this Zen Mama Wannabe would never use that word lightly) be sure to pick up a copy and dive in.  For any would-be writers out there, remember the almost universal tip given by successful, published authors when asked for advice.  The number one thing they always say, “Read, read, read.  Then read some more.” What better advice for the New Year?!

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2 Responses to “Late to the Party – Again”

  1. Glo Says:
    January 4th, 2010 at 6:08 am

    zen….glad that you took your own advice..and found the time for 2 really great reads! Thanks for recommending them to me..and keep the recommendations coming! Now 2 more that you (I think) recommended—which I’ve read—and want to make sure that you do too…’Girl with the Dragon Tatoo’ and ‘Sarah’s Key’. One that I thought was really powerfulas well was ‘The Doctors Wife’
    Happy New Year Zen Mama!!

  2. Zen Mama Wannabe Says:
    January 5th, 2010 at 9:33 am

    OOH – thanks for the book recommendations! Glad to hear you liked them – I had heard good things about them too. The Doctor’s Wife is a new one – I’ll have to check that out.

    You obviously do a LOT of reading — what would YOU say was the best book of 2009 (or were the best bookS – if you can’t pick more than one)?

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