There are so many books that I love and because I don't read while I am writing, I have a long reading list to catch up on. Although there is nothing like holding the actual book in your hands, I might break down and invest in a Kindle soon. It's such a space saver. Anyway, on to my four picks.
1. Like Water for Chocolate, by Laura Esquivel.
About the book: A sumptuous feast of a novel, it relates the bizarre history of the all-female De La Garza family. Tita, the youngest daughter of the house, has been forbidden to marry, condemned by Mexican tradition to look after her mother until she dies. But Tita falls in love with Pedro, and he is seduced by the magical food she cooks. In desperation, Pedro marries her sister Rosaura so that he can stay close to her. For the next twenty-two years, Tita and Pedro are forced to circle each other in unconsummated passion. Only a freakish chain of tragedies, bad luck and fate finally reunite them against all the odds.
I fell in love with this book while I was in high school. There are only a handful of books that I've read repeatedly. This is one of them. I don't even know how many times I've read it.
I love this story of forbidden love and the passion that remains alive between Tita and the man she loves even though they are not allowed to be together. I love the food and the recipes; and the magic Tita discovers which allows her to express her feelings through her cooking. I'm a sucker for when the underdog has a bit of good fortune, so even though her mom tried to squash all hopes of her love, the spirits or the universe gave her hope in a hopeless situation. I'll be looking forward to reading Like Water for Chocolate again soon.
2. Red Leaves, by Paullina Simons.
About the book: Everyone at Dartmoth College knows Kristina Kim, Conni Tobias, Albert Maplethorpe and Jim Shaw. Attractive, intelligent and poised for brilliant futures, they are campus elite, and ever since freshman years, they've been inseparable--almost like family. Led by the beautiful, spirited and enigmatic Kristina, they share an intimacy others envy.But it is more than camaraderie that unites the friends. Dark and seductive secrets bind the four to one another--intense passions and simmering tensions that have been building for years. When those passions finally explode the dead of a bitter cold night, a brutal act will be committed--one that will reveal shocking truths about each of them.
This mysterious novel isn't for everyone, but I couldn't put it down. This book was introduced to me by my friend J. Torres in a short lived book club we were members of before we all became busy and the book club fell apart. If it wasn't for the book club, I wouldn't know about this book. First, I love the artwork and the colors on the cover. This sexual, mystery kept me captivated until the very end. I can't say too much, because I feel like I might give something away. But there is sex, lies, money and murrrderrr. I loved it!
3. Rose Madder, by Stephen King.
About the book: After 14 years of being beaten, Rose Daniels wakes up one morning and leaves her (police officer) husband -- but she keeps looking over her shoulder, because Norman has the instincts of a predator. And what is the strange work of art that has Rose in a kind of spell? In this brilliant dark-hued fable of the gender wars, Stephen King has fashioned yet another suspense thriller to keep readers right on the edge.
I read this book (which was recommended by Gia) about 8 years ago and I'm still waiting for the details to leave my mind so that I can read it again. It was such a great book!
I had the great fortune of finding a copy, with the original cover artwork, in a thrift shop for one dollar. Woohoo! I will definitely read it again someday now that I have it on my bookshelf.
I was totally drawn into this novel. There is a painting that has a certain significance throughout this book and my friend's mom had a painting on her living room wall that fit the description of the painting in the Rose Madder. While I was reading this book, I'd stop and stare at that painting every time I passed it because (crazy enough) the painting mad me connect with the main character. I could kinda see what she saw. And although I wasn't the one being chased by an abusive husband, I was on edge for the character the entire time as she found strength in her escape and made a much better life for herself. I was just waiting for the moment when she would be leaving the grocery store and there, in the parking lot, would be the abusive husband with a smug 'you thought you got away' smirk on his face. This magical mystery is a must read.
4. Random family: Love, Drugs, Trouble, and Coming of Age in the Bronx by Adrian Nicole Leblanc.
About the book: Two romances thread through Random Family: the sexually charismatic nineteen-year-old Jessica's dizzying infatuation with a hugely successful young heroin dealer, Boy George, and fourteen-year-old Coco's first love with Jessica's little brother, Cesar, an aspiring thug. Fleeing from family problems, the young couples try to outrun their destinies. Chauffeurs whisk them to getaways in the Poconos and to nightclubs. They cruise the streets in Lamborghinis and customized James Bond cars. Jessica and Boy George ride the wild adventure between riches and ruin, while Coco and Cesar stick closer to the street, all four caught in a precarious dance between life and death. Friends get murdered; the DEA and FBI investigate Boy George's business activities; Cesar becomes a fugitive; Jessica and Coco endure homelessness, betrayal, the heartbreaking separation of prison, and throughout it all, the insidious damage of poverty. Together, then apart, the teenagers make family where they find it. Girls look for excitement and find trouble; boys, searching for adventure, join crews and prison gangs. Coco moves upstate to dodge the hazards of the Bronx; Jessica seeks solace in romance. Both find that love is the only place to go.
This book was also recommended to me by Gia. The most amazing thing about this book is that it is a true story. It's amazing to me because although this story takes place in the Bronx, I didn't grow up like this and I don't know anyone who lives this type of life. Neither Gia nor I can get over this story. This is another book sitting on my bookshelf just waiting for a re-read. The author spent ten years in the company of the main characters in her book. Without her doing this, the story she tells wouldn't be as raw and real. I have to give Adrian Nicole Leblanc mad props for putting herself in a less than safe environment in order to deliver this story of ghetto glamour and the consequences that follow. The story she tells sociologically displays how the environment you are exposed to effects and limits the choices that you make about your life. It was truly an amazing story and if you are from the Bronx and are familiar with certain areas, the story becomes more alive in your mind as you'll be able to picture where certain events take place. Definitely get yourself a copy of this book!