#OpenBook August

This blog is getting pretty quiet, isn't it?  I'm close to launching Restless Independent, my new site, and that's draining most of my creative energy.  BUT I haven't decided yet whether I'll keep Our Hearts Are Restless as a separate entity, or possibly switch its identity to more of a books-and-faith focus, or say goodbye to this site altogether.  The life updates and miscellania will all switch over to RI, which is basically a blog about adulting.

Anyway!  The OpenBook linkup is still the highlight of my blogging month, so here's your regular window into my bibliophile world.  This one is slightly delayed, but what the heck.

My mom and I share a love of fiction.  When I asked her for a reading list this summer, because I needed recommendations for new novels, she happily gave me a piece of paper that brought nostalgia and excitement.  As a kid, I knew the season had begun when Mommy gave me my summer reading list.  Always hand-written on lined, usually yellow paper, the reading list held the promise of new adventures.  Mommy always picked books I had never read before, and which broadened my experience or challenged my reading skill.  Some of my all-time favorites came out of the summer reading lists, which she culled (I think) from the Kolbe Academy list and her own childhood book adventures.

This summer, she gave me a list that covers a wide range of genres and subjects.  One title was The Maltese Falcon by Dashiell Hammett - and coincidentally, a few days later, I found an omnibus of Hammett's five novels.  Hammett, particularly with The Maltese Falcon, basically pioneered the "hard-boiled" detective genre with his cynical, tough detective characters.

While Hammett has remarkable skill in plot and story development, I have to admit he's not my favorite author.  I prefer my detectives slightly less hard-boiled as a general rule, and the era of the Twenties is rather bleak after a while.  Perhaps I made a mistake in reading them all at once.

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, by Betty Smith, was a last-minute impulse read.  I'd been given the book a year or two ago, and it sat on my dresser with the rest of my "books I really need to read before they get shelved" collection.  But a four-hour train ride called for a long, but easy to pick up and put down, new read.

Written vignette-style in a gentle voice, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn fit the bill perfectly, and drew me in by the end of the first chapter.  Barring a single chapter (skip chapter 33 if you're under 16-ish or a sensitive reader), this is a fascinating read for teens or adults alike.  It's a gritty, realist picture of a young girl's life in the slums of Brooklyn, and the way her gift of imagination and storytelling opens a window to beauty and purpose in her life.  It's almost a biography rather than a novel, as far as the plot construction is concerned, but Smith has an admirable talent for description, foreshadowing, and character development.  Altogether, this was a charming read, and one I'd highly recommend (for the quotes on the value of fiction if nothing else!)

I'm a bit late, but linking up to Carolyn Astfalk and CatholicMom.com, hosting An Open Book!


  1. I'd love to read A Tree Grows in Brooklyn! And your mom's reading lists? That sounds wonderful! I wish I had someone guiding me through great books when I was young rather than just getting a spotty list of assigned books in high school.

    1. I got pretty lucky, I admit. My poor mother had a hard time making sure I had enough books to keep me satisfied, though!


Post a Comment