SheReads: Hello, Booklovers

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Our new monthly series on the books we love and what’s on the nightstands, bookshelves and Kindles of our SheLoves contributors.

By Destiny Loeve

I have that familiar feeling of “commencements” right now. Perhaps you know the feeling: sitting at a newly-assigned desk in early September and preparing to pen the date on the first crisp page of the notebook. Or, turning to the opening page of a new journal. These moments are somehow sacred to me, both daunting and exciting. I have that feeling now, as we begin SheReads, our new monthly adventure of talking about the the books we love.

Let me continue with some introductions. My name is Destiny, and this is my first appearance on SheLoves. For the purposes of this piece let me just describe myself as an avid reader. This particular hobby has been a favorite of mine since childhood. Back in the day, when the tales of Laura Ingalls Wilder had me in their grips, my mother would frequently be pulling me back to reality. Dishes, or something. My “Let me just finish the page!” became a quick read to the end of the chapter or maybe even the next.

Literally, when most other kids would get grounded for punishment, Mom would take away my books.

I have fond memories of perusing Mrs. Wallace’s bookshelves, borrowing stacks of a dozen novels. Janet Oke anyone else? Although my tastes have changed over the years, books have always had a way of holding me completely captive. They still do. These days, however, I have learned the fine art of “when to put the book down,” even though I would like it if the kids, house, responsibilities, etc. would respect my desire to plunk down on the couch and open those pages!

Helen Keller poignantly stated, “Literature is my utopia.” Amen, Helen.

SheReads is going to be a monthly column that highlights the books our SheLoves contributors are reading and raving about. I hope to suggest some reads that are inspiring, captivating, delicious, thought-provoking and (let’s not forget) entertaining. I so believe in reading. In learning. In having our eyes opened. In being aware. In being informed. In words.

Explore

The beauty of this article will be that a myriad of flavors and ideas will be reflected through the various contributors. Myself, I lean towards fiction over non-fiction. But purposeful fiction. No vampires for me, please! I find myself continually gravitating towards a novel that explores lands, peoples, and cultures I have never experienced firsthand, and most often through the perspective of a woman. Although my feet have never touched Afghan soil, through the stories I’ve read, I feel acquainted with the weight and solitude of the burka. Although war has never raged around me, I am aware of the dismal conditions of a refugee camp. Much can be learned about and from our global sisters (and brothers!). My personal book niche is something along the lines of Khaled Hosseini’s “A Thousand Splendid Suns,” or Lawrence Hill’s “The Book of Negroes.”

My most recent couldn’t-put-it-down read was a piece of fiction called “The Book Thief” by Markus Zusak. My librarian mother-in-law introduced me to it, calling it a must-read. The story centered around a teenage girl in Nazi Germany whose family is sheltering a Jew. The narrator: Death. Intriguing choice, not? One thing that stood out most to me in this book, was the protagonist’s relationship with words. She learns to read, learns to steal books, and learns to be profoundly moved by the power of words, not only for herself but her country. I truly appreciated Zusak’s reflections on this theme in the book. “The Book Thief” was definitely one of those that I had a hard time setting down.

This month, I put this question out to a handful of our SheLoves contributors: There are certain books that are almost impossible to put down. What book would you recommend that had you turning the pages at every spare moment?

  • Natasha Files recommends:

Man’s Search for Meaning, by Victor Frankl.
I first opened this book when I was dealing with depression, but have since grown to love it because it humbly encourages the reader to search for something deeper. I love how the author shares his personal story of being a concentration camp prisoner during WW2 while explaining the global experience according to his area of study, psychiatry. He looks beyond the suffering and challenges readers to do as he did, by applying meaning and responsibility to each horrific event.

 

  • Idelette McVicker recommends:

Begging to be Black, by Antjie Krog

When my sister-in-law asked if she could bring me anything back from South Africa when they visited last year, all I wanted was this book. It’s one of those books that had me hold my breath as I held it in my hands, knowing it would move and change me. Krog is a South African poet and a journalist who reported on the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in South Africa. She writes through her identity as Afrikaner and her quest to see the world differently, as if through black eyes‚ and actually becoming more black in her approach to life.

Yep, I cried through much of the book, but I’ll share this paragraph, where Krog writes from Berlin while on a research fellowship:

“I can’t remember when last I felt so safe, cared for, and WANTED despite being white. I know we live a highly privileged life in South Africa, but I hadn’t realized how harsh my life in reality had become. It is not because one can walk alone through Hasensprung at one o’clock in the morning without the slightest notion of fear, but because one is shielded from people who are poor, hungry and cold. I am protected in my flat from the poor. I see them only on a poster at a station. In Cape Town they are on my doorstep three or four times a day, at traffic lights, on the streets, on television, in the post, next to highways, near the office. The poor mark the most breathtaking vistas and the most desolate horizons in South Africa. Here, where I live in Berlin, the poor is a theory.”

  • Helen Burns recommends:

A Thousand Splendid Suns, by Khaled Hosseini

I love a story that takes me into the life, the history, the culture and experiences of people who I am unfamiliar with. It is one of my very favourite ways of learning and growing.

“A Thousand Splendid Suns” is heartrending as it tells the story, the challenging experiences and emotions of two Afghan women whose lives become entangled with the history of recent wars in their country. Though at times it is rather bleak, their story offers the promise of hope and happiness in a land ravaged by warfare, gender conflict, and abject poverty.

I enjoyed every page of this beautifully written book.

  • Ashley Mandanici recommends:

A Million Miles in a Thousand Years, by Donald Miller

I already have a soft spot for Donald Miller because of his first book “Blue Like Jazz.” I picked up “A Million Miles in a Thousand Years” kind of out of default. However in the process of reading this book, I completely fell in love with it. In short, the book is the true story about Miller editing through his life’s story, and what he learned in the process. He digs into the question, What makes a good story? Or even more importantly, What makes our lives a good story? It’s a fantastic book, read it. Disclaimer: beware of reading this book in public. I read it on a flight home from holidays, and I’m certain that the elderly gentleman sitting next to me was truly concerned about my mental stability. Insane laughter+ quiet sobs= nervous Air Canada passengers.

  • Angela Doell recommends:

The Help, by Kathryn Stockett

This one’s beside my bed right now and I am thoroughly enjoying it. It’s set in Mississippi during the civil rights movement and is full of strong, warm, gutsy female voices. I can’t tell you how it ends – yet- but I have loved carrying this story with me for the last few days!

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Excellent recommendations, ladies. Happy reading, fellow book lovers. ‘Til next month …

About Destiny

Destiny Loeve treasures most her roles as wife to one daring husband & mommy to three sunshiny children. She loves to see things grow in her garden, read great books, hang out at her church, meet all kinds of people & sit in her living room with friends. When not on maternity leave, she works as a pediatric nurse, and finds as many opportunities to volunteer in the community as possible.

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Idelette McVicker
I like soggy cereal and I would like to go to every spot on the map of the earth to meet our world’s women. I dream of a world where no women or girls are for sale. I dream of a world where women and men are partners in doing the work that brings down a new Heaven on earth. My word last year was “roar” and I learned it’s not about my voice rising as much as it is about our collective voices rising in unison to bring down walls of injustice. This year, my own word is “soar.” I have three children and this place–right here, called shelovesmagazine.com–is my fourth baby. I am African, although my skin colour doesn’t tell you that story. I am also a little bit Chinese, because my heart lives there amongst the tall skyscrapers of Taipei and the mountains of Chiufen. Give me sweet chai and I think I’m in heaven. I live in Vancouver, Canada and I pledged my heart to Scott 11 years ago. I believe in kindness and calling out the song in each other’s hearts. I also believe that Love covers–my gaps, my mistakes and the distances between us. I blog at idelette.com and tweet @idelette.
Idelette McVicker

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