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Story Time
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Story Time

Wintertime (well, every time, really…) brings the dilemma of whether I snuggle up with a book, or with my knitting.    I try to keep it balanced, but as my knitting production went down in the latter part of the year, my reading increased.  Go figure.

My young adult / nonfiction “kick” is still going strong.  Here’s what I have been reading lately… all reviews link back to my full GoodReads reviews.

Young Adult

Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson -

Riveting and heart-breaking story of Lia, an 18-year old high school student with anorexia, who also cuts herself. In the opening pages of the book, her life is irrevocably changed when her best friend dies (due in part to this “game” they have about who can be the skinniest girl in the school). The book is told in first-person narrative with some stream of consciousness passages – the language is so vivid and so heart-wrenchingly descriptive. Very memorable piece of work – Anderson’s book left a mark.  (GoodReads)


Speakby Laurie Halse Anderson -  I need to come up with a more descriptive word than “powerful” for Halse Anderson’s books. The word just doesn’t get to the heart of it. This one was great.  Although this book is several years old, it is still getting quite a bit of press… the controversial/banned book kind. Makes me all the happier that I read it.  (GoodReads)


The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian – by Sherman Alexie – Great book in so many ways. I really liked Junior’s voice and first-person narrative. I loved the humorous drawings interspersed throughout the pages. Coming-of-age tale, social commentary, sports drama… the book spoke volumes in less than 200 pages.

Junior, as a character, reminded me of the main character in a book I read and enjoyed last year: Oscar Wao in *The Brief and Wonderous Life of Oscar Wao*. Perhaps there are some major similarities or there are just too few teenage males in fiction that is is inevitable for the reader to be reminded of the handful of others.  (GoodReads)


The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacksby Rebecca Skloot – Compelling and fascinating page turner that weaves the unique and groundbreaking story behind the HeLa cells that have revolutionized medical science in the last century. Skloot puts a name, a face, and a rich family history around the cells of Henrietta Lacks, who the “immortal” cells were essentially stolen from in the 1950s after she started treatment for severe cervical cancer. Medical records, archival research, and oral history paint a vivid picture of the Lacks’ family’s struggles in 1950s Baltimore. (Full review at GoodReads)


The Tiger: A True Story of Vengeance and Survival – by John Vaillant – It’s one of those books that you get so absorbed in and you learn all of these interesting facts that you want to share with people… At the core of the story is the investigation of a unique mauling in the remote forests in coastal Siberia in the mid-1990s. The team that is dispatched to look into the killing is very similar to a forensics team at a crime scene; they read the snow, see how the attack took place, follow the tiger’s entrance and exit paths, and begin to formulate ideas based on what they find. (Full review at GoodReads)

What are you reading this winter?

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34 Responses

  1. Lara

    I struggled with the knit vs. read dilemma – and then started getting audio books from the library. They don’t have everything, but it decreases how often I’m torn between the two.

    Thanks for the reviews – you’ve given me some books to look for!

  2. tuolivia

    I loved the The Brief and Wonderous Life of Oscar Wao! I’ll certainly need to look into the Sherman Alexie book. I find myself listening to a lot of audio books while knitting, or podcasts like the Classic Tales podcast. I did have to put down my knitting for Julia Stuart’s The Tower, the Zoo and the Tortoise. It grabbed me from the get go.

  3. Amy

    I received a Kindle for Christmas, and have rediscovered my love of reading. I’m glad you posted some reviews, as I’m looking for more to read this year. Thanks, Lolly, for keeping your readership informed!

  4. Seanna Lea

    Sadly, I’m still reading Master Your Metabolism. I wouldn’t say it is a quality book, but I refuse to be beaten by it. After that, I will probably start reading my Christmas book: Born to Bark, which I got from my dog, Victor.

    I have been very interested in the Laurie Halse Anderson books. I will have to see if they have them at my local library.

  5. Kelly

    Several of these sound appealing. I wish I had a Kindle, it would make the knitting vs. reading battle so much easier!

  6. mick

    Right now I’m working on exam prep, so I’m reading lots of criticism and late 19th/early 20th century American fiction. This isn’t nearly as much fun as it sounds, and I can’t wait to finish and read for fun for a bit.

    I really like Sherman Alexie, and I’m glad you did, too. Have you read any Barbara Erdrich? Tracks/Love Medicine/Bingo Palace are pretty incredible.

  7. Meg

    Thanks for all the great recommendations. We have very similar tastes in books! I have not read any of the Laurie Andersen Hale, even though I feel I *should.*

    I’m excited about the Sherman Alexie book! I love Junot Diaz. His character of Junior is a common thread in all of his work. Check out his book of short stories called Drown. I think Junior is fascinating… if I were still active in English literature, I would spend many a happy paper analyzing Junior.

    I’m also excited to add the two non-fiction to my list. There is an episode of RadioLab that deals with the HeLa cells and piqued my interest.

    I have not read many books lately that I feel I can recommend but yesterday I serendipitously found on the library shelves and read in its entirety 84 Charing Cross Road by Helene Hanff. It is a book of letters between the author, a freelance writer in New York, and a used book dealer in London. Short, fun, and full of personality.

  8. Rasa

    I was one of the many lucky ones to receive a Kindle for Christmas. I look forward to much more reading this year. Last year I read the popular Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. I bought the second book for my Kindle and am now on book 3. Thanks for the book reviews!

  9. Kristin

    Agreeing with Lara on the knit/read dilemma – audiobooks! Love to knit and listen to a book, so very absorbing that the time just flys by.

    In addition, great for car/plane rides, commutes, and if job permits, “reading” a book at work really helps the day go by.

  10. Wanett

    I would like to read The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks and I have The Great and Terrible Beauty series to pick up from the library. I haven’t been having much luck with my book choices lately, so I’m hoping that I like this series.

  11. misa

    That’s a nice broad range of reading there! I’ve read the Sherman Alexie, but not the other ones. I’m loving Freedom by Franzen right now.

  12. whitney

    I’m hoping to read more “for fun” this year (I’ve gotten WAY out of the habit during grad school), and these books all sound like stuff I’d enjoy! Thanks for sharing the list, Lolly!

  13. Sarah-Mae


  14. Jen

    I’m currently reading an Advance Readers’ Copy of a book I won on LibraryThing’s Early Reviewer program called “If Wishes Were Horses”. The genre is supposed to be that of Nicholas Sparks. So far, so good.

    I bought myself a couple of books for Christmas from Borders. I’d read the first two of Steig Larsson’s Girl Trilogy and had ordered the final one, “The Girl that Kicked the Hornet’s Nest”.

    I’m *dying* to read this book but, I have a few more that I need to read and review before I’ll allow myself this guilty pleasure.

  15. Jenna

    Yay, I love reading Lolly’s book recommendations. You always have really good, interesting suggestions to lengthen my goodreads list :)

    Lately, my reading time has been consumed with the first draft of a friend’s novel. It’s been super-engaging so far and I hope it’s published soon!

  16. Jenna

    Oh yeah, and you need to read some more Sherman Alexie, he’s totally brilliant. If you ever get a chance to see him read, GO! It’s a performance more than anything.

  17. Jenn

    I just finished “Catching Fire” and have started “Mockingjay,” the real challenge is trying not to read it before bed. It’s hard to sleep when you are reading.

  18. Linda

    Happy new year Lolly! I have been reading for a change but not so many as you. I would love a Kindle.

  19. Anne

    Thanks, Lolly, for the recommendations!

    For what it’s worth, I read “Henrietta” a few months ago and could not put it down. I think Rebecca Skloot has raised the bar on science writing with that one to someplace above the ionosphere. She’s amazing — and very kind too. She taught at a conference I attended, and her patience was nearly endless with us early writers.

  20. Vera

    I came across a program on Sherman Alexie and he is very good. Last month, I read “Lying Awake” by Marl Salzman. It’s about a cloistered nun who realizes her visions are the result of a tumor, and what she decides to do about it. It’s exquisitely written, and to read in an evening or two.

  21. katebee

    If you like YA fantasy, I just finished Pegasus, by Robin McKinley (I think I’ve suggested her books to you before?) and it was the best book I’ve read in ages. It was the sort of book where you freak out and recommend it to all your friends, so now I recommend it to you. :)

  22. Moni

    I absolutely loved Winergirls and True Diary! both are two of the best y.a. books I’ve read.

    I’m currently reading “One Crazy Summer” which has gotten some positive reviews. It’s about three girls who visit their estranged mom in Oakland for the summer and find out she’s involved in the Black Panther movement. I’m really enjoying it!

    I’m also reading Angle of Repose. It’s also really good but very long. I needed a little Y.A. Fiction break from it :)

  23. Miss Scarlett

    Oooh I’ll have to check Wintergirls and Speak out – thank you.

    I’ve read a number of good books these past few months (working on-call at the Library! too fun). Of course can I think of any of them…

    Well one series I read this past year was the Shopaholic books -I never thought I would read them – but to my surprise I really enjoyed them – they made me laugh.

    In stark contrast to these, I am almost finished The Lampshade: A Holocaust Detective Story from Buchenwald to New Orleans. It is fascinating, though obviously not subject matter for all readers.

    War seems to be a theme at the moment: I reread Rilla of Ingleside, followed by the Postmistress and now the Lampshade.

    I recently joined a book club and they are reading Freedom (tough slogging!) and The Forgotten Garden (don’t have a copy yet).

    What are you reading now?

  24. sUsAn

    I always enjoy your book reviews! I notice on Goodreads (http://www.goodreads.com/user/show/1208999) that we often have marked the same books as “to read” from NPR recommendations. I have been trying to finish up books that folks have loaned me or that I own that have been neglected. That said I’m not sure how I walked out of the library yesterday with four (!) books when I have a stack by my bed that I’m already reading. Anywho, one book I just started is We Took to The Woods http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/637330.We_Took_to_the_Woods which is decades old but the writing is fresh and the story inviting.

  25. Jodi

    I bought ‘Speak’ for my high school daughter. She loved it. All girls should read this – the reality of the subject matter is was an eye opener for her.

  26. Kara

    I loved Speak. You are so right, “powerful.” Thank you for the other recommendations.

  27. susan b anderson

    Hi! Just want to say that I love your blog:) You are an amazing knitter and you are fun! That’s a good combination.
    susan b anderson

  28. alison

    I seriously think someone should invent a way in which we can read and knit. I struggle with the whole trying to prop a book up whilst knitting and then turning pages.
    I like doing both and multi tasking comes naturally.

  29. Alli

    I was just complaining to my co-worker about how hard it is to keep a book open for reading while knitting. I’m still waiting for the perfect solution. Maybe an e-reader with a stand? I’ve never tried one.
    Anyways, I have been reading Ape House by the author of Water for Elephants over the last couple days and I cannot put it down! There was an interview with the author on NPR the other day where she described some of the research she did for the book and it was really fascinating! The book is great too!

  30. PrairiePoppins

    What about reading and knitting at the same time? I know you’ve done it in the past. Best of both worlds!

  31. Margarita

    Hello Lolly! Always nice reading you. How adorable your niece is!! and the beautiful sweater. Thanks for the pictures, lovely as usual.

  32. Susanne

    How is the flooring project coming along? All finished? would love to see some pictures of your completed or in progress project!!

  33. Karen Lohn

    Hello, Lolly,
    I am recording your recommended titles to offer my daughter and granddaughter as well exploring them myself.
    However, this comment is part of my attempt to reach you regarding permission to use an image of Andean women with alpacas from your photostream in a book that I am writing entitled Peace Fibres: Stitching a Soulful World.
    I have emailed your gmail account and also posted a comment on your blog about your time in the Andes.
    I would need a high resolution version of the image and would need to know what fees might be involved.
    Thanks for considering my request. I look forward to your response.
    Karen Lohn

  34. Mary Ann Frontz

    I just found your blog and share your love of knitting and reading.
    Thanks for all the suggested reading. I got a Nook Color for Christmas and
    I love it. Am now reading New York by Edward Rutherford. I have also
    knit six hats for six grandchildren since December…plus a FT Job!

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