"You can never get a cup of tea large enough or a book long enough to suit me."

-C.S. Lewis

What we read has such an impact on us, and I am always on the lookout for something that will inspire me to be a better person. Here is a sampling of books that have been in the teetering stack sitting on top of what is rumored to be my bedside table.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Lost, by Jacqueline Davies

I picked this book up because of my interest in the 1911 Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire.  I'm not sure what I was expecting - probably something along the lines of the movie Titanic (which I actually didn't like, oddly enough).

What I found was a well-told story of a teenage girl living in a Jewish neighborhood in New York's East Side.  An employee at the Triangle factory, she is also dealing with a recent tragedy in her own life.  While she tries to escape the depression of her home, she befriends a coworker who has a mysterious past. Together, the two girls struggle to make a way in their new world - a way to escape the feeling of being lost.

This is so much more than a story of an infamous tragedy.  It is a powerful story of life as so many of us know it - a story of hopes and dreams, fears and losses, and the struggle to find a place in the world. 

Oh, yeah, and there's enough shades of a love story to keep the thing from becoming too serious.

I highly recommend this book to anyone who is interested in this bit of history, and especially to high school students who are studying US history.  The author does an extremely good job of bringing history to life in a way that school textbooks can't.  The Triangle girls had lives outside that factory, and I think it's easy to forget that when we only think of them in the context of the fire.

Five out of Five Stars

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Heart of Gold, by Robin Lee Hatcher

Heart of Gold, by Robin Lee Hatcher, is the story of a young woman who moves with her minister father from the Confederate South to Idaho. Her southern sympathies are challenged as she meets people with differing viewpoints. She finds that she must better know her own mind as she makes a place for herself in her new world.

            I was expecting a simple romance when I picked this book up, and certainly it is a light read. However, the issues of racism and brother-vs.-brother give the plot more depth than a run-of-the-mill romance. It is also a coming of age story, as the heroine learns to question the ideals that she has always thought to be right.  The readers journeys with Shannon as she learns to guide her decisions with thought and prayer instead of emotion.
            And, of course, there is the romantic aspect of the book. Will Shannon choose the dashing stage-coach driver who frustrates her with his lack of emotion about the war?  Or will she pick the gentlemanly fellow Southerner with whom she has more in common? 

            Either way, it's an enjoyable read that won't leave you disappointed if you like period romances.

            Three out of five stars

            Disclaimer:  I was provided a copy of this book by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.