Books for Chaos and Order

Here are some book recommendations for these cold winter nights.

Books for Your Inner Fears

Margaret Atwood is one of my favorite authors. She is unapologetically disturbing. bookshandmadeThe first book I read by her was called The Handmaid’s Tale. She shines a light on a dystopian society formerly known as the United States, where the population has become infertile, making many women who can have children slaves to the wealthy who cannot. Offred, the main character, is enslaved to a commander and his wife. It is very dark and very disturbing in the most glorious way. It’s so good, in fact, that Hulu is about to produce The Handmaid’s Tale as a TV series this spring. In addition to this book, Atwood has written The Blind Assassin and Oryx and Crake. booksoryxBoth are worth your time and upend what you think you know about literature.

The Winner by David Baldacci is one of the best suspense novels of all time. Luanne Tyler is dirt poor and struggling to survive. She is given the opportunity of a lifetime, when she is offered a $100 million dollar lottery winning. All she has to do is change her identity. It’s not as easy as all of that, and her world is put into a terrifying tailspin for taking the bait that was given to her. Just when you think you have figured out the killer, Baldacci twists what you think you know, and side swipes you with a different reality for his characters. David Baldacci is an incredible author, and any book of his will have you engrossed in the outcome. booksbald

Books for Your Inner Feminist

Z A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald by Therese Ann Fowler, The Paris Wife by Paula McLain, and Mrs. Poe by Lynn Cullen

I grew up enjoying books written by Edgar Allen Poe, Ernest Hemingway, and F. Scott Fitzgerald. Okay, I secretly hated Hemingway as a teenager, as his work didn’t fit into my idealistic world, but I sure do appreciate his literary excellence now. As much as I loved these famed writers, the backstories of their wives and the roles they played are almost as enjoyable as The Great Gatsby, The Movable Feast, and The Tell-Tale Heart

bookszeldaZ A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald gives readers a strong perspective of the chaos that was the 1920s. You learn of her role as the muse, but you also get a glimpse inside of her position in Scott’s writing. She had a husband with an incredible ego and a bigger drinking problem. In that life, there was little room for her writing skill, and no room for any fame besides her husband’s. This book takes you through the lives of two train wrecks, but it is clear Zelda’s oppression may have made her crazy, not the other way around. It was a refreshing realization for me, and I enjoyed getting a bigger picture of the writer behind This Side of Paradise lives. Shame on you, F. Scott.

The Paris Wife is written in the voice of Ernest Hemingway’s wife, Hadley. It is so well written, and it really shines a light on what it was like to be the wife of a struggling author. This gorgeous book shows Ernest and Hadley’s early life as full of young love and struggle. It follows them from America to Paris. Within the book, readers gain insight into how free the lovers could be in Paris, and how much that community gave to many authors during that time. Hemingway’s dislike of Zelda Fitzgerald, his love of Gertrude Stein, and Hadley’s dislike of the extra marital affairs are expressed through genius writing. booksparisAlthough I loved the tale of the Fitzgeralds, I enjoyed this book about the Hemingways even more. It is a great read, and it will make you want to visit Paris.

Finally, Mrs. Poe may be the most haunting of all three novel recommendations. All three books are historical fiction, but they center around very real events during the time of these authors. Mrs. Poe’s main character is Frances, who falls in love with Poe and falls victim to the hateful attention of Poe’s frail wife. This book focuses on the famous love triangle and is excellent fiction. bookspoeI can’t wait to read her new book, Twain’s End discussing Mark Twain and Isabel Lyon.

If you are on a feminist kick and feel like some classic and beautiful literature, I’d also have to recommend The Awakening by Kate Chopin and The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath. Both women bring to light the ridiculous expectations of women, only they did this much earlier than most.

Books for Your Inner Peace

Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom is an oldie but a goodie. This book was recommended to me by a student and is one of my favorite books to date. Mitch goes back to his mentor, Morrie, and asks him his advice about living while he is ironically passing away. It is as peaceful and reflective as we all wish we were. It had me re-thinking my choices in life and considering the different ways I could be a better person.  bookmorrieAlbom has so many books about living right. Five People You Meet in Heaven, For One More Day, and Time Keeper are all good novels that follow the same vein as Tuesdays with Morrie.

Similarly, Brave Enough by Cheryl Strayed is a great short read. This book is a compilation of some of the best quotes by Cheryl Strayed, author of Wild. The quotes range from helping you pick yourself up when you’re down, to making sure you are proud of who you are. It is as edgy as it is a kick in the pants for anyone searching for inspiration. Both books grab you by the face and make you take a look in the mirror. I got mine from the library and was so inspired, I sticky noted the whole thing up before realizing it wasn’t actually mine.

What books have inspired you this season? Please share. Our readers can never get enough literature in their hands. In addition, if any of these books sound interesting to you, click on the link and purchase the book through Amazon. You’ll get your book and support Family Footnote all at the same time. Thank you for reading.

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