Like most readers, I have a definite “comfort zone” of book types that I choose from. History and historical fiction, feel-good novels, family sagas, and some random books that just sound interesting are my standard reading fare. Since the advent of reading challenges though, I’ve tried to read at least one book per year that is outside my comfort zone. That has resulted in a few pleasant surprises.
I don’t enjoy being frightened or anxious. I’ve never voluntarily watched a horror movie. But, I really enjoyed Frankenstein. There was an actual plot! Not just the monster that has been so often shown in cartoons. The writing was excellent–I could sense or feel the atmosphere. Frankenstein by Mary Shelley.
#2 Cold Comfort Farm
I tried this one in my twenties, but I wasn’t “mature” enough in British culture to understand it. When I listened to it in 2017 I howled with laughter and absolutely loved it. Cold Comfort Farm by Stella Gibbons. My review is here.
#3 Perks of Being a Wallflower
I was in my 50s, the mom of two young adults, when I read this. I thought it would be stupid. Instead it was an epiphany. You can read about my experience here. The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky.
#4 A Wrinkle in Time
Nothing could have made me read this one as a kid. As an adult it took quite a while, but I finally got over the “sci fi” label and read it. Wow! I loved it. It isn’t a sci fi story–it’s a family story. Had someone told me that in 5th grade…. A Wrinkle in Time by Madeline L’Engle.
#5 The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks
I really wasn’t sure a book with so much science involved would hold my attention. Was I wrong! The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot.
Here is my review from my old blog:
The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks is a fascinating biography and science story all rolled into one. I know almost zip about science, but found myself sitting in the car listening to “just a little more” each day. A cell culture taken from a low-income African American woman turned out to be the golden-egg-laying-goose for science. That’s the simple part. The more intriguing part is the story of how Mrs. Lacks family dealt with this. Mrs. Lacks grew up in an isolated, impoverished area of Virginia that was kept cut-off from mainstream society by first slavery, then reconstruction and finally Jim Crow. Even in her current-day descendents there is a surreal innocence about science so much so that listening to it brought to mind not contemporary conversation, but a journal of Margaret Mead written on some forgotten island. It’s the harsh reality of what was done (and is still done) to African Americans in this country that makes this story so riveting. The Lacks family has endured some of the worst treatment this country can dole out. Henrietta, her elder daughter and consequently her younger daughter have suffered in ways that no middle class white woman like myself can even comprehend. This story will continue to beckon to Book Clubs for generations. Every woman alive should read it and be grateful for the medical advances that came thru Henrietta and to atone for the ill-treatment this family has suffered.
This post was originally published on this blog as a Top 5 Wednesday post.
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