Tag Archives: Bargain Books

Beyond The Waves by Elizabeth Marek: A Book Review.

6 Jun

During one of my many trips to my favorite used bookstore in Asheville, I came across Beyond The Waves by Elizabeth Marek when looking through the bargain books. After reading the synopsis on the back of the book, it seemed like a book I’d like, but more than that, it seemed like the type of read that I’d pay much more than one dollar for. I’ll take the deals where I can get them though!

Psychologist Abby Cohen is still reeling from the loss of her beloved daughter when another young girl arrives in her life-twelve-year-old Miranda, who appears at Abby’s hospital mute, terrified, and completely alone. In her struggle to connect with this deeply disturbed child and unravel the mystery of her past, Abby must grapple with her own frozen self.

Numbed by grief and on the verge of losing her relationship with both her husband and little boy, Abby finds herself tempted to leave behind what is left of the family she once cherished. But something about Miranda and the bond that has begun to form between them awakens Abby’s capacity to feel, and reminds her of the power-and the limits-of love.

The way the characters of Abby and Miranda came together in order to deal with the demons of their different pasts was moving to me. I was most drawn to the character of Miranda simply because my heart ached for her and the mysterious past that she seemed to be very troubled by. Through much of the book, Miranda was afraid and alone. Though that was heartbreaking for me, it was also a very huge reminder of why I want to be a counselor myself. Psychologist Abby Cohen tries throughout the book to connect to Miranda, despite the fact that Miranda seems very frightened and alone. However, that’s all the more reason that I strive to connect with others. Though my past wasn’t as extreme as it could have been, it wasn’t easy. I spent so many years afraid, in pain, and surrounded by doctors and parents, and yet feeling utterly alone. When I was going through my intense physical therapy and 3 intense surgeries, I wanted someone who understood or at least could be there to remind me that I wasn’t alone through all the pain. Studies show that every person benefits from a strong support system. Though I had support from my parents and other family members, that wasn’t the kind of support I was looking for. Even though at the time there wasn’t a friend who was aching to understand, what I didn’t know at the time was that the support was coming.

My support came during my junior year at Salem Academy when I met my best friend, Skidmore. Skidmore was the very first person I completely opened up to in regards to all the details of my past. Every memory of pain, fear, loneliness….Skidmore knows it. Realizing that I had someone to share everything with was big, but once I began to understand that Skidmore longed to know so that she could understand who I truly was, I practically never stopped talking. I mean, it came out slow (the details of my past), but it felt so good to tell someone. Telling someone about my pain, fear, and loneliness and having them not judge me or feel sorry for me, but just love me….scars and all…that’s what I had been looking for, and I found it. Though I know have other friends who are an equal amount of support, no one knows as much as Skidmore does. Once I said everything single memory in detail once, it seemed like enough. I mean, my other friends know me really well too, but I guess you could say that since Skidmore was the first person who seemed to want to understand me for exactly who I was, that’s what she got: the stories of pain and fear that I carried around for so long without telling anyone. The stories that, though they don’t define me, are the truest form of the difficulties I’ve faced that I can possibly show.

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How To Be Lost by Amanda Eyre Ward.

2 Jun

Since getting into my “pleasure reading mode” of summer, I’ve realized that most of the books that I’ve gathered by frequenting the bargain bins of my favorite used bookstores in Asheville are truly amazing reads! One of these truly amazing reads is How To Be Lost by Amanda Eyre Ward. It was such a wonderful read, so much so that I couldn’t put it down and ended up finishing it in one day! Here’s a synopsis of the book (according to Amazon.com):

To their neighbors in suburban Holt, New York, the Winters family has it all: a grand home, a trio of radiant daughters, and a sense that they are safe in their affluent corner of America. But when five-year-old Ellie disappears, the fault lines within the Winters family are exposed. Joseph, once a successful businessman, succumbs to his demons. Isabelle retreats into memories of her debutante days in Savannah, Georgia. And Ellie’s bereft sisters grow apart: Madeline reluctantly stays home, while Caroline runs away.

Fifteen years later, Caroline, now a New Orleans cocktail waitress, sees a photograph of a woman in People Magazine. Convinced that it is Ellie all grown up, Caroline embarks on a search for her missing sister, armed with Xerox copies of the photograph, an amateur detective guide, and a cooler of Dixie beer. As Caroline travels through the New Mexico desert, the mountains of Colorado, and the smoky underworld of Montana, she devotes herself to salvaging her broken family.

With dark humor and gorgeous prose, Amanda Eyre Ward brings us a spellbinding novel about the stories we are given, and the stories we embrace.

How To Be Lost is not the first novel I’ve read about a family member that goes missing. Other books in this category that I’ve read are Magic Hour by Kristin Hannah and The Weight of Silence by Heather Gudenkauf (both of which were absolutely amazing reads!). Since I apparently am drawn to novels that portray a missing child, How To Be Lost didn’t disappoint.

I was drawn to the character of Caroline because of her drive and determination to search for a sister that she believed to still be alive, even though fifteen years have passed. Even though Caroline’s determination stemmed from the fact that Ellie was her sister and finding her would mean having her family “put back together” in a sense, her drive to find a sister that the rest of her family believed to be dead already is something that I really admired. I think it remains me of the advice to never give up when it comes to something that we truly believe to be true, even if there is no one standing beside us that holds the same view. It reminds me of a quote that I read once:

Stand up for what you believe in, even if you’re standing alone.

I think the reminder of standing up for what we believe in, even if we’re standing alone is something that each one of us needs to hear from time to time, and How To Be Lost was just that reminder. That being said, I highly recommend this book, as well as Magic Hour by Kristin Hannah and The Weight of Silence by Heather Gudenkauf. They are all just SO amazing! Go read them!

The Bookshelf Chronicles: Part Two.

3 May

This past March, at the beginning of my Spring Break, my dad and I embarked on a trip to Ikea to purchase a wall of Billy Bookcases for my room. I realized yesterday that I never did a follow-up post to The Bookshelf Chronicles. Yes, we (or more precisely, my dad) got the wall of bookshelves up, and boy are they pretty!

I put my books in alphabetical order and put 2 letters to a shelf, meaning that A and B are on the first shelf, C and D are on the second shelf, and the third half while be used as spaced to put pictures or other knickknacks. Also, Jodi Picoult and Nicholas Sparks each have their own shelf since I have so many of their books. Anyway, with each of the three bookcases, there will be at least one shelf that will be for something besides books (to give it more of an artsy feel).

As of right now, my bookshelves look relatively empty (and this picture doesn’t include the 20 or so books that I still have to shelve since I acquired so many more used books when at college in Asheville). However, I love all of the space because it just means that I have room for more books. Also, breaking up the shelves by each 2 letters will definitely help since I won’t have to shift my books around every time I have to add a new book to my collection.

Since it’s now summer vacation for me, that means more time for pleasure reading. The first book of summer was Finding Daddy Cox by Mike Cox (one of my writing mentors that I mentioned in yesterday’s post, How Do You Deal With Criticism, Writer’s Block and Burnout? Anyway, I’ve been meaning to review Mike’s book, but I guess I just haven’t quite gotten around to it. Maybe that’ll be a post I write in a few days. Anyway, yesterday I was sitting in front of my bookshelves trying to decide what I was going to read next. I ended up choosing three different books in case I couldn’t seem to get interested in one of them: The Life All Around Me By Ellen Foster by Kaye Gibsons (Yes, Kaye Gibbons is the author. It’s a rather confusing title.), Saving Max by Antoinette van Heugten, and A Moveable Feast by Ernest Hemingway. The Kaye Gibbons novel is one that follows one of her previous novels, which was simply titled Ellen Foster. I loved reading the previous novel many years ago (and I highly recommend it if you haven’t read it), but I’m anxious to read this follow-up novel by Kaye Gibbons because it portrays Ellen Foster’s struggles as a teen, as opposed to the abusive father that she struggled with in the first novel. A Moveable Feast is a book I’ve been wanting to read ever since I heard it quoted in City of Angels, a romance movie starring Nicholas Cage and Meg Ryan. Saving Max is one of the novels that I found when rummaging through the bargain books section at my favorite used bookstore in Asheville, Mr. K’s. It looked like an interesting read, so I decided to give it a try.

Alright, well all these great books I have yet to read are calling my name, as is the comfy couch. However, I’d love to know how pleasure reading has been for all of you recently?

What are you currently reading? What is a book that you’ve read recently that you’d recommend and why? And lastly, what’s your favorite book? (Because I’m sure we’d all love some more recommendations, as if we all don’t have continuously growing “to-be-read” piles!) 

Living And Breathing For Books.

4 Apr

Last night I watched You’ve Got Mail, a romantic comedy starring Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks that’s actually quite old. Anyway, the movie is about 2 bookshop owners who are essentially at war. One bookstore is small and has been around forever, and the other bookstore is a huge mega bookstore that ends up putting the small, quaint bookstore out of business. Of course, this isn’t all of the story. There’s love too. But I want this post to focus on books.

Somewhere in the back of my mind, I’ve dreamed of owning a bookstore one day. The thought of waking up early and walking/driving to a store filled with books….books that wouldn’t be able to “light up” until I came to turn on the lights. A store full of all sorts of books: fiction, nonfiction, local authors, poetry, classics…and not to mention a bargain section. Books for only one dollar….ah, who could not love that? Of course, the bookstore would need to have super comfy chairs. Not the stiff ones, but the kind of chairs that you just seem to sink into. I’d love to have chairs like that littered around, as well as some smaller rooms in the bookstore. Smaller rooms full of all kinds of reading nooks that could fit any kind of reader. Reading nooks with comfy cushions, reading nooks looking out behind the bookstore to see a view of mountains. Just thinking about it makes me want to see it, but not just in my mind.

Then again, I love discovering all kinds of bookstores. Used bookstores…the bookstores packed with so many books that you can almost smell the pages aging as you sit there reading. It’s the fun part about being a lover of books. Enjoying the hunt of finding the perfect place to get a cup of coffee, sink into a comfy chair and lose yourself in the world of words. Nothing sounds more perfect to me. I live and breathe for all the emotions that books evoke within me. And though it is sad when a book ends, the great joy is knowing that there are so so many more to be read.

  • We read to know we are not alone.-CS Lewis
  • It is what you read when you don’t have to that determines what you will be when you can’t help it.-Oscar Wilde
  • Books are the quietest and most constant of friends; they are the most accessible and wisest of counselors, and the most patient of teachers.-Charles William Elliot
  • In the case of good books, the point is not to see how many of them you can get through, but rather how many can get through to you.-Mortimer Jerome Adler
  • Reading is the sole means by which we slip, involuntarily, often helplessly, into another’s skin, another’s voice, another’s soul.-Joyce Carol Oates
  • You think your pain and your heartbreak are unprecedented in the history of the world, but then you read. It was books that taught me that the things that tormented me most were the very things that connected me with all the people who were alive, or who had ever been alive.-James Baldwin
  • The best moments in reading are when you come across something – a thought, a feeling, a way of looking at things – which you had thought special and particular to you. And now, here it is, set down by someone else, a person you have never met, someone even who is long dead. And it is as if a hand has come out, and taken yours.-Alan Bennett
  • For some of us, books are as important as almost anything else on earth. What a miracle it is that out of these small, flat, rigid squares of paper unfolds world after world after world, worlds that sing to you, comfort and quiet or excite you. Books help us understand who we are and how we are to behave. They show us what community and friendship mean; they show us how to live and die.-Anne Lamott

Friday’s Bargain Book Finds.

24 Mar

Yesterday I went to one of my favorite used bookstores here in Asheville, Mr. K’s Used Books. I had three books that I had been wanting to trade, and I also wanted to look around since I had a list of books written down that I had been wanting to read. Though I didn’t find any of the books I had been wanting to read, I found the bargain section in the back of the store, in which each book was only one dollar.

I got 7 books for 7 dollars, which were technically “free” since I got $7.35 in trade credit for the 3 books I had brought in.

  1. Secrets She Left Behind by Diane Chamberlain-I’m excited to read this one in particular because Diane Chamberlain is one of my favorite authors (she’s a psychotherapist turned author), and she pulls in a lot of her psychotherapy concepts into her novels, which I love.
  2. How To Be Lost by Amanda Eyre Ward
  3. More Than You Know by Beth Gutcheon
  4. A Soft Place To Land by Susan Rebecca White
  5. Beyond The Waves by Elizabeth Marek
  6. Saving Max by Antoinette van Heugten
  7. Lying On The Couch by Irvin D. Yalom

The last 6 listed are novels that sounded interesting when I read the back cover. I can’t wait to dive into them!

Have you come across any great bargain books or just great books recently that you can’t wait to read?