Tag Archives: Barbara Kingsolver

The end of the world from a fiction perspective.

19 Dec

I just finished reading Flight Behavior by Barbara Kingsolver, and the basic focus of the novel, the concept of climate change, connects well with the possible end of the world on Friday, according to the Mayans. Here is the synopsis of the novel, according to GoodReads.com:

“Flight Behavior” transfixes from its opening scene, when a young woman’s narrow experience of life is thrown wide with the force of a raging fire. In the lyrical language of her native Appalachia, Barbara Kingsolver bares the rich, tarnished humanity of her novel’s inhabitants and unearths the modern complexities of rural existence. Characters and reader alike are quickly carried beyond familiar territory here, into the unsettled ground of science, faith, and everyday truces between reason and conviction.

Dellarobia Turnbow is a restless farm wife who gave up her own plans when she accidentally became pregnant at seventeen. Now, after a decade of domestic disharmony on a failing farm, she has settled for permanent disappointment but seeks momentary escape through an obsessive flirtation with a younger man. As she hikes up a mountain road behind her house to a secret tryst, she encounters a shocking sight: a silent, forested valley filled with what looks like a lake of fire. She can only understand it as a cautionary miracle, but it sparks a raft of other explanations from scientists, religious leaders, and the media. The bewildering emergency draws rural farmers into unexpected acquaintance with urbane journalists, opportunists, sightseers, and a striking biologist with his own stake in the outcome. As the community lines up to judge the woman and her miracle, Dellarobia confronts her family, her church, her town, and a larger world, in a flight toward truth that could undo all she has ever believed.

“Flight Behavior” takes on one of the most contentious subjects of our time: climate change. With a deft and versatile empathy Kingsolver dissects the motives that drive denial and belief in a precarious world.

Though Flight Behavior wasn’t one of my favorites by Kingsolver and I often felt like I was trudging through most of the novel, it did provide a fictional account of climate change as well as the possible end of the world. Personally, I do not believe the world is going to end on Friday. I know there are many people who either strongly believe the world will end on Friday, strongly don’t or are simply torn on the subject. In my personal opinion, I just don’t feel there is enough concrete evidence to support the end of the world. Yes, people have tried making connections by stretching the importance of certain events, but in my opinion, all of the sporadic events possibly connected to the prospect of the world ending on Friday just don’t add up to a solid reason.

Despite not believing the world is going to end on Friday, Flight Behavior got me thinking about what I would do if I knew the world was going to end within a matter of days, or even hours. My two necessities would be to tell my friends and family how much I love them, and then I’d spend my last few hours of existence sitting at a scenic overlook along the Blue Ridge Parkway. Though I doubt too many people would be able to fully understand the desire to be alone right before the end of existence, I love the mountains and the Blue Ridge Parkway in a way that’s truly hard to describe. I just know that when I am sitting at an overlook on the Blue Ridge Parkway, I am the happiest I have ever been. The mountains have always been my favorite kind of landscape, and when I have the chance to simply sit and enjoy their beauty, nothing can beat that feeling of true contentment that I feel. In those moments, it’s as if all the troubles of the world melt away, and the only thing that matters is the natural beauty that is right in front of me. In my restorative yoga class, we talk a lot about striving to reach inner peace, which is also related to the Buddhist philosophy. Through meditation exercises in my restorative yoga class, I’ve gotten glimpses of that “inner peace.” And truthfully, if the world was going to end within a matter of days, I’d be perched at an overlook along the Parkway allowing the natural beauty of the mountains to help me find the pure happiness that I know resides somewhere within each one of us.

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Goodbye finals, hello reading hibernation!

10 Dec

It’s official! I took my last final this morning, so the fall semester of my junior year of college is officially behind me! Woohoo! It feels amazing to be done, and now I have nothing but good things to look forward to over the next month. This week kicks off a slew of good things: meeting with the Easter Seals program director of the Asheville office tomorrow, going to see The Nutcracker with my mom on Wednesday (which I haven’t seen since I was really young), and leaving for Lynchburg, Virginia on Thursday to spend a week with Kayley and her adorable daughter, Clara. I can’t wait!

However, best of all, I rewarded myself for being done with finals by making a trip to Barnes and Noble. Yes, it was a success. Here were the two treasures I knew I could not live without:

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These two treasures are only the beginning of my month-long reading hibernation I look forward to every year in between the fall semester and spring semester. However, I know they will be perfect reads to start things off. To all of you book lovers out there, are there any books you are looking forward to reading this holiday season? Share your suggestion in a comment below! 🙂

 

 

What keeps you going.

26 Aug

 

“What keeps you going isn’t some fine destination but just the road you’re on, and the fact that you know how to drive. You keep your eyes open, you see this damned-to-hell world you got born into, and you ask yourself, ‘What life can I live that will let me breathe in & out and love somebody or something and not run off screaming into the woods?” -Barbara Kingsolver

WWW Wednesdays: August 22nd.

22 Aug

I’ve read some good books lately, so I thought I’d participate in a WWW Wednesdays this week. WWW Wednesdays were started by MizB over at Should Be Reading.

To play along, just answer the following three (3) questions…

• What are you currently reading?
• What did you recently finish reading?
• What do you think you’ll read next?

Currently reading: Dark Places by Gillian Flynn. Even though Gone Girl is the book by Gillian Flynn that is currently popular, I came across the synopsis of Dark Places on Amazon and thought it would be a good introduction to Flynn’s writing before reading Gone Girl

Just finished reading: Small Wonder: Essays by Barbara Kingsolver. This book of essays was a nice change from the usual fiction by Kingsolver that I’m naturally drawn to. Plus, since I found out that Kingsolver will be coming to Asheville as part of her book tour in November, I figured that I needed to read some of the other genres that she’s written in. I loved the book of essays though. Despite being essays and not one concise story, I found myself unable to put the book down. 

Reading next: These Things Hidden by Heather Gudenkauf. I loved The Weight of Silence by Gudenkauf that I read last summer, and when I found out that there was another book that she had written, I knew that I had to give it a shot too.

Feel free to comment with your WWW Wednesday. I know how much I love seeing what everyone else is reading, and I could certainly go for some suggestions if any of you have read anything really great lately.

The Beauty of Used Bookstores.

16 Aug

I’ve been back in Asheville for less than two days, and I’ve already high-tailed my butt on over to my favorite used bookstore, Mr. K’s. Despite have the new Nicholas Sparks book that I haven’t read, you can never have too many books, right? Here are the gems I found in the mere 20 minutes I had inside Mr. K’s (I knew if I gave myself much more time then I’d be walking out with an armload full of books):

  • These Things Hidden by Heather Gudenkauf: I read The Weight of Silence by Heather Gudenkauf and absolutely loved it. Therefore, when I saw another book by her (and in the bargain section no less!), I knew that I couldn’t pass it up.

 

[Summary from Goodreads.com]: When teenager Allison Glenn is sent to prison for a heinous crime, she leaves behind her reputation as Linden Falls’ golden girl forever. Her parents deny the existence of their once-perfect child. Her former friends exult her downfall. Her sister, Brynn, faces whispered rumors every day in the hallways of their small Iowa high school. It’s Brynn–shy, quiet Brynn–who carries the burden of what really happened that night. All she wants is to forget Allison and the past that haunts her. But then Allison is released to a halfway house, and is more determined than ever to speak with her estranged sister. Now their legacy of secrets is focused on one little boy. And if the truth is revealed, the consequences will be unimaginable for the adoptive mother who loves him, the girl who tried to protect him and the two sisters who hold the key to all that is hidden.

  • The Lacuna by Barbara Kingsolver: I got in a Barbara Kingsolver kick over the summer, and when I found a few books by her that I haven’t read yet, I just had to get them!

 

[Summary according to Goodreads.com]: In her first novel in nine years, “New York Times”-bestselling author Kingsolver tells the story of Harrison William Shepherd, an unforgettable protagonist whose search for identity takes readers to the heart of the 20th century’s most tumultuous events.

  • Small Wonder: Essays by Barbara Kingsolver

 

[Summary according to Goodreads.com]: In 22 wonderfully articulate essays, the author of “The Poisonwood Bible” raises her voice in praise of nature, family, literature, and the joys of everyday life while examining the genesis of war, violence and poverty in the world.

I can’t wait to start reading these! 🙂

If you could choose any book character to be real, which one would you pick?

7 Aug

Those who know me really well know that Jodi Picoult is my favorite author. Therefore, it’s relatively surprising that it took me this long to finally go out and buy Between The Lines, a YA novel that Picoult co-wrote with her daughter, Samantha Van Leer. Here’s a synopsis of the book written by Picoult herself (from jodipicoult.com):

Between the Lines was Sammy’s idea, and frankly, she’s got a better imagination than I ever did at her age. It’s called Between the Lines, and it’s about what happens when happily ever after…isn’t. Delilah, a loner hates school as much as she loves books—one book in particular. In fact if anyone knew how many times she has read and reread the sweet little fairy tale she found in the library, especially her cooler than cool classmates, she’d be sent to social Siberia . . . forever.To Delilah, though, this fairy tale is more than just words on the page. Sure, there’s a handsome (well, okay, incredibly handsome) prince, and a castle, and an evil villain, but it feels as if there’s something deeper going on. And one day, Delilah finds out there is. Turns out, this Prince Charming is not just a one-dimensional character in a book. He’s real, and a certain fifteen-year-old loner has caught his eye. But they’re from two different worlds, and how can it ever possibly work?

It’s an absolutely STUNNING book – with the coolest illustrations that remind of Arthur Rackham’s work from the turn of the century and silhouettes that take my breath away — in other words, it’s a book you want to keep on your shelves and just look at because it’s so pretty. But it’s also sweet, and funny, and charming, and it was a delight to have the experience of writing it with my own daughter! I’m incredibly excited for its publication and we’ll be on tour this summer to promote it!

Even though I just started the book, I can already tell I’m going to love it. I mean, the basic plot involves a girl who finds out that the Prince Charming of the fairy tale that she’s read cover to cover multiple times isn’t just a character inside of a book. This simple idea got me thinking…if I could live inside of a book or if I could choose characters in a book to be real…which book/characters would I pick?

Though normally this question would take quite a bit of thought from me, I know without a doubt which character and book I would choose to be real: Augustus Waters from The Fault In Our Stars by John Green. It’s the best book I’ve read this summer and probably one of my favorite books now (not counting older literature like Crime and Punishment by Dostoyevsky and other popular fiction like any book by Barbara Kingsolver). Augustus Waters from The Fault In Our Stars is my fictional dream guy. He’s intelligent, he reads a lot, he tells things how they are without sugar-coating them (but it’s an attractive quality and not something that’s ever hurtful to the girl in the story, Hazel), and he’s romantic without being overly mushy-gushy. As I was reading The Fault In Our Stars, on practically every page I’d think to myself: Why can’t Augustus Waters be real? I think at one time or another, everyone has imagined the possibility of their favorite fictional character being real. For me, at the moment, it’s Augustus Waters. However, a year ago it could have been a completely different character, such as Mr. Darcy from Pride and Prejudice. Come on though, what woman doesn’t want Mr. Darcy to be real? I know that I definitely went through a Mr. Darcy lovesick phase myself.

So, now it’s your turn, if you could choose any character from any book to be real, which one would you pick and why?

Prodigal Summer by Barbara Kingsolver.

30 May

In continuing with my “Barbara Kingsolver kick,” I read Prodigal Summer. It was a bit different from the other Kingsolver novels that I have read because of its strong focus on nature and the natural world that surrounds us, but I think that is one of the reasons that I really loved it (since I am a mountain/nature girl at heart). Here’s the synopsis according to Amazon.com:

Barbara Kingsolver’s fifth novel is a hymn to wildness that celebrates the prodigal spirit of human nature, and of nature itself. It weaves together three stories of human love within a larger tapestry of lives amid the mountains and farms of southern Appalachia. Over the course of one humid summer, this novel’s intriguing protagonists face disparate predicaments but find connections to one another and to the flora and fauna with which they necessarily share a place.

Of the three “stories” that made up the novel (Mr. Garrett, Lusa, and Deanna), I was most drawn to the character of Deanna. She is a wildlife biologist that lives alone in the southern Appalachian mountains who observes coyotes that live in the surrounding wilderness that she calls her home. I think I was most drawn to Deanna because of her satisfaction with living alone and isolated from the world, content to live among nature rather than humans. That is not to say that I would isolate myself that severely with no contact with the outside world. However, I understand the fact that Deanna is content with living among the wilderness. In that sense, she is not alone. She’s surrounded by woods and creatures that she has a strong connection with than she does with humans. Don’t get me wrong. I’m social. However, I love the mountains. Numerous times this past semester, I left campus and headed for the Blue Ridge Parkway (only about a 7 minute drive from campus). I’d bring along my camera and a book, and I’d be perfectly content. There were times when I did bring along a friend or two, and that was fun. However, I was most content when I went alone. I think that is because when it was just me, my camera, and a book, I was able to move at my own pace, stop at whatever overlook I wanted, and sit gazing out at the Blue Ridge mountains for as long as I wanted. I could just sit and appreciate the beauty around me, and most of the time, I left the Parkway with a clearer head and a stronger love for the Blue Ridge Mountains that I am so happy to call home.

Therefore, if you love nature, I highly recommend this book. It’s amazing!