Tag Archives: Truth and Beauty

WWW Wednesday, 13-July-2016

13 Jul

Welcome to WWW Wednesday! This meme was formerly hosted by MizB at A Daily Rhythm and revived here on Taking on a World of Words. Just answer the three questions below and leave a link to your post in the comments for others to look at. No blog? No problem! Just leave a comment with your responses. Please, take some time to visit the other participants and see what others are reading. So, let’s get to it!

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The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

Note: For users of Blogspot blogs, I’m unable to comment on your posts as a WordPress blogger unless you’ve enabled Name/URL comments. This is a known WordPress/Blogspot issue. Please consider enabling this to participate more fully in the community.


WingsCurrently reading: I started keeping my ereader at the kitchen table to read a bit of In the Garden of Beasts by Erik Larson during breakfast. I got to read a bit during lunch at work a few days, too. I’m making a bit of progress and still enjoying this one.
While The Drunken Botanist by Amy Stewart is really interesting, it’s not my favorite audiobook. I talked with a friend of mine on Goodreads about it and he’s reading it like a coffee table book, a bit at a time. I think I’d prefer reading it that way because it’s a lot of information all at once and I wish I could go back and reference some of those cocktail recipes!
I was able to pick up The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd recently. Anything is better than my last physical book but I’m still deciding how I feel about this one. Stay tuned!

DanteRecently finished: I crawled my way through In the Hand of Dante by Nick Tosches and I’m so glad it’s over. I did not like this book much at all. The modern setting was interesting, but the historical settings of Dante were so dense and hard to read that I struggled with it a lot. I don’t plan to read anything by this author again.

I got my review for Truth & Beauty posted on Monday. It was a really pretty book that I enjoyed. However, reading some of the Grealy family’s reactions to the book are giving me second thoughts. Please check out my review and if you have time to read some of the links at the end, let me know how you feel about them!

PeaceBreaksReading Next: For a physical book, I’d like to finally pick up a copy of Peace Breaks Out by John Knowles. I found out about this sequel when I first started with Goodreads and I’ve been wanting to read it ever since. I was a big fan of A Separate Peace in high school and would love to read more from the author.
For an audiobook, I’ll see about snatching up 10% Happier by Dan Harris. This was a Goodreads Award winner in 2014 that intrigued me and I’ve wanted to read Harris’ advice ever since.


Leave a comment with your link and a comment (if you’re so inclined). Take a look at the other participant links in the comments and look at what others are reading.

Have any opinions on these choices?

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

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Book Review: Truth and Beauty by Ann Patchett (4/5)

11 Jul

Again, I forget how this book graced my list. I’ve got to stop this because it’s been a bad trend of reading a book I really enjoy and not having someone to thank for the recommendation after I’ve read it. If you’re out there, thank you, referrer, for gracing me with this beautiful book.

Cover image via Goodreads

Cover image via Goodreads

Truth & Beauty: A Friendship by Ann Patchett

Summary from Goodreads:

What happens when the person who is your family is someone you aren’t bound to by blood? What happens when the person you promise to love and to honor for the rest of your life is not your lover, but your best friend? In Truth & Beauty, her frank and startlingly intimate first work of nonfiction, Ann Patchett shines a fresh, revealing light on the world of women’s friendships and shows us what it means to stand together.

Ann Patchett and Lucy Grealy met in college in 1981, and, after enrolling in the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, began a friendship that would be as defining to both of their lives as their work was. In her critically acclaimed and hugely successful memoir,Autobiography of a Face, Lucy Grealy wrote about losing part of her jaw to childhood cancer, the years of chemotherapy and radiation, and then the endless reconstructive surgeries. In Truth & Beauty, the story isn’t Lucy’s life or Ann’s life, but the parts of their lives they shared. This is a portrait of unwavering commitment that spans twenty years, from the long, cold winters of the Midwest, to surgical wards, to book parties in New York. Through love, fame, drugs, and despair, this book shows us what it means to be part of two lives that are intertwined.

I’ve never read another of Patchett’s books and I’d never heard of Lucy Grealy before starting this book. Now I feel tempted to add both to my growing TBR. Patchett had a great narrative voice for a memoir like this one. She was lyrical enough to write beautiful prose but not so much to make it feel ungrounded. I was amazed by Ann’s unending love for a friend that pushed her to such extremes. I’ve had tough relationships with friends before, but none that have pushed me as much as Lucy pushed Ann. I marveled at her patience and love.

Lucy Grealy Image via Goodreads

Lucy Grealy
Image via Goodreads

Patchett made Lucy jump off the page. I didn’t look up a picture of Lucy until I was writing this review and she looks pretty similar to what I imagined. To be honest, I thought her jaw would look much more notable than it does in this picture (I’m not sure what stage of surgical reconstruction this comes during). Yes, it’s noticeable, but not something that would stop me on the street. I can see how the resulting problems of being unable to eat or completely close her mouth would result from this and I sympathized for Lucy for the majority of the book. I felt sorry for her when her behavior was self-abusive, but for a long time, she seemed redeemable. It seemed like things could work out for her and she could be OK. But when the drugs started, it was hard to sympathize with her and I could tell Ann felt the same way.

I hope Ann didn’t make herself too different in this book because I really liked her. She was caring and smart and seemed to make logical decisions so I could see myself being like her. I wanted to be like her. She was hard-working and really believed she could be a writer and make a living doing that. Or maybe she seemed so level-headed next to Lucy. Who knows but I still liked her.

I have a good friend in an MFA program and the things she’s told me about the journey seemed very similar to the time Lucy and Ann spent in Iowa. There’s grading and being a TA and writing and workshopping and success and failures and cold. It seems MFA programs are never anywhere warm, always in the Midwest or New England. The residencies they were always competing for seemed really fun and like a writer’s dream. I wish it didn’t’ seem an MFA was the key to getting in.

Ann Patchett Image via the Chicago Tribune

Ann Patchett
Image via the Chicago Tribune

I liked their time in Iowa and that immediately after, when they were both struggling to write and be heard. It reminded me of being right out of college, living in a small dingy apartment and wondering what to do next. I think many people go through that part of their life and choose not to look back on it, but Patchett addressed it perfectly as a painful but necessary step to get to where you are.

Hearing about Lucy’s drug addiction was really hard for me. She seemed to have so much going for her and I couldn’t understand why she would do those things to herself. Nothing was ever enough for her and she pushed so much to change her situation but couldn’t control it. I didn’t see how drugs made her feel more in control. I felt bad for her at her at first, but it didn’t seem like she had any desire to change her situation.

Patchett narrated the audiobook herself and I thought that was a lovely touch. She didn’t get overly emotional, but it was clear that she had a deep love for Lucy and she made their nicknames for each other seem effortless and fun. I think another reader could have done it well, but Patchett did it best.

I question now how far I would go for a friend and how far a friend would go for me. Is it different from what I would do for a relative or my husband? Why? Why does blood matter when someone is so important to us? I loved what Patchett had to say about friendships, they are more powerful than family sometimes and that’s something I need reminding of from time to time.

Writer’s Takeaway: Patchett had a great way of making a narrative poetic. Some authors are too flowery for my tastes, but Patchett did it well. She would tie in metaphors and some imagery when I wasn’t expecting it but never too much to take me out of the story. I enjoyed that and I think it made the story stronger.

An enjoyable memoir, to be sure, that says a lot about the value of friendships. Four out of Five Stars.

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

Related Posts: 
Truth and Beauty by Ann Patchett | Taking it to the Streets
My Ann Patchett project: Truth and Beauty | AlenasLife
Sullen Grealy, sister of author Lucy Grealy, is Hijacked by Grief | Books on the Brain
Ann Patchett’s Truth and Beauty: A Mixed Bag | Lily Iona Mackenzie

WWW Wednesday, 6-July-2016

6 Jul

Welcome to WWW Wednesday! This meme was formerly hosted by MizB at A Daily Rhythm and revived here on Taking on a World of Words. Just answer the three questions below and leave a link to your post in the comments for others to look at. No blog? No problem! Just leave a comment with your responses. Please, take some time to visit the other participants and see what others are reading. So, let’s get to it!

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The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

Note: For users of Blogspot blogs, I’m unable to comment on your posts as a WordPress blogger unless you’ve enabled Name/URL comments. This is a known WordPress/Blogspot issue. Please consider enabling this to participate more fully in the community.


Stewart_DB_USA_POB_03_28_13.inddCurrently reading: I used my new eReader and got through a chapter or two of In the Garden of Beasts by Erik Larson. It helps that I’m struggling with my current book a lot and needed something to break the monotony so I gave this title a little more attention than I would have otherwise. I’m about 1/3 of the way done with it.
Though there’s more of a plot of In the Hand of Dante by Nick Tosches, there are still annoyingly long chapters about a religious theory that I hope will tie into the plot, but I’m not sure how. I’m getting tired of it and I really do not like this book. I’ll push through to the end because the modern plot line is interesting, but expect a low rating of this one!
My newest audiobook is The Drunken Botanist by Amy Stewart. Steward did a virtual talk at my library over a year ago and I’ve been looking for a way to read her book since then. The ebook was a pain because the pages were PDFs and they didn’t come out well on my phone, so audiobook it is!

TruthBeautyRecently finished: I finished Truth and Beauty by Ann Patchett over the weekend and really loved it. My review will be up next week but I have to say I’m not tempted to read some other Patchett novels and Lucy Grealy’s books because I feel like I’d have a deeper insight to all of them having read this book. I recommend this one to anyone who loves a good memoir.

No reviews this week because I’ve only finished this one book and took Monday ‘off’ from blogging to celebrate the 4th of July. Stay tuned for next week!

WingsReading Next: The plan is still The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd. I should be picking it up soon and it will be a welcome read after I finish Tosches. I hope it’s like being held by my mom after a bad swim meet. Fingers crossed.


Leave a comment with your link and a comment (if you’re so inclined). Take a look at the other participant links in the comments and look at what others are reading.

Have any opinions on these choices?

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

WWW Wednesday, 29-June-2016

29 Jun

Welcome to WWW Wednesday! This meme was formerly hosted by MizB at A Daily Rhythm and revived here on Taking on a World of Words. Just answer the three questions below and leave a link to your post in the comments for others to look at. No blog? No problem! Just leave a comment with your responses. Please, take some time to visit the other participants and see what others are reading. So, let’s get to it!

IMG_1384-0

The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

Note: For users of Blogspot blogs, I’m unable to comment on your posts as a WordPress blogger unless you’ve enabled Name/URL comments. This is a known WordPress/Blogspot issue. Please consider enabling this to participate more fully in the community.


TruthBeautyCurrently reading: I think I got through four pages of In the Garden of Beasts by Erik Larson. I had been doing a lot of this reading in my phone during my lunch breaks but I had to read for my class a lot in the past weeks. Well, big news here is that MY CLASS IS OVER! I turned my final paper in on Monday and I’m free until August. I can’t tell you all how excited I am about this. I hope I can pick up reading Larson some more during lunch because I really enjoy his writing.
I’m still not a fan of In the Hand of Dante by Nick Tosches. Almost 100 pages in and there’s been a total of 3 pages devoted to the plot I thought I was going to find and about 25 pages devoted to Tosches talking about why he’s a great writer and what’s wrong in the publishing world. I don’t know how much more of this I can take.
I began a new audiobook, Truth and Beauty by Ann Patchett. I think this one was recommended to me, but it’s hard to remember who or when. I love memoirs and I haven’t read Patchett yet which I think helps because I come in with no preconceived ideas of what her writing will be like.

IceCreamRecently finished: My ceaseless cravings for ice cream will hopefully stop soon because I finished The Ice Cream Queen of Orchard Street by Susan Jane Gilman. I adored this audiobook and the character. I really recommend it to anyone with an interest in historical fiction or business. Gilman touches on both well and it was a great combination. I kept laughing during my runs and making my husband question my sanity.

I posted my review on Monday so please go check it out! This was a 5 Star read for me.

WingsReading Next: The book club met Monday and our next selection is The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd. I’m tempted to put down Tosches to pick this up and read it first, but with the free time from my class being over, I’m trying to be optimistic about powering through it fast(ish). We’ll see how it goes.


Leave a comment with your link and a comment (if you’re so inclined). Take a look at the other participant links in the comments and look at what others are reading.

Have any opinions on these choices?

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

WWW Wednesday, 13-January-2016

13 Jan

Welcome to WWW Wednesday! This meme was formerly hosted by MizB at Should be Reading and revived here on Taking on a World of Words. Just answer the three questions below and leave a link to your post in the comments for others to look at. No blog? No problem! Just leave a comment with your responses. Please, take some time to visit the other participants and see what others are reading. So, let’s get to it!

IMG_1384-0

The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?


A Darker Shade final for IreneCurrently reading:  I haven’t had much time for A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab but I’m still enjoying the story. The main action is just starting and Kell and Lila just got to Red London together. I can tell it’s about to pick up quickly.
Again, small progress One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez. I’m not really getting into this one which is unfortunate because it’s keeping me from the books I want to read after it. I just need to power through but then I have to find the time! Ugh.
Decent progress with Dead Wake: The Last Crossing of the Lusitania by Erik Larson due to errands and going out with my girlfriends a few times this week. I can feel the attack coming and I’m super anxious about it. I don’t know as much about this wreck as I do others so I’m not completely sure how devastating it will be.

MalalaRecently finished: I was able to finish I Am Malala by Malala Yousafzai faster than I thought. The last 40 pages were a reader’s guide and some pictures which I skipped and flew through respectfully. I liked Malala’s words to describe the situation in Pakistan. I gave it 4 out of 5 stars. Look for a review early next week.

I posted a review for David Mitchell’s Cloud Atlas last Thursday. I’m glad that one is finally over! It’s been hanging over my head for months.

TruthBeautyReading Next: Still  Harry Potter y el misterio del príncipe (Half-Blood Prince) by J.K. Rowling. As soon as I get through Marquez, I can’t wait to pick this up. I feel like I’m losing my Spanish a bit so reading it will help me with that. I hope.
I need a new ebook now that I’m done with Malala. I put holds on a few titles but I’m hoping the one that comes up next is Truth and Beauty by Anne Patchett. Someone recommended this title to me when I was talking about how much I love writer memoirs so I’m excited to read it.


Leave a comment with your link and a comment (if you’re so inclined). Take a look at the other participant links in the comments and look at what others are reading.

Have any opinions on these choices?

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!