Tag Archives: Elizabeth Gilbert

Bookshelf: The Alchemist, The Crying Tree, Alice I Have Been

28 Mar

Anyone who knows me knows that I love to read – and that I love to read a wide variety of genres. I was always an advanced reader growing up and have been a bookworm for as long as I can remember. I’m currently reading Elizabeth’s Gilbert’s, “Committed” and Nicholas Sparks’ “The Last Song” (with “The Shack” by William P. Young and “L.A. Candy” by Lauren Conrad on reserve.)


However, I have recently finished some of the most amazing books I’ve read in a while, and I simply MUST share!

“The Crying Tree” by Naseem Rakha:

This novel started off a little slow for me but turned into such a good tale about the pastoral life, the criminal justice system, family, and forgiveness. Set in rural Oregon, it is one of those books that is simultaneously gut-wrenching and intriguing – a story that is sad but….”good” at the same time. (Much like “Precious” or “the Lovely Bones.”)

The author writes with such a strong voice that the pain and heartbreak that the family deals with when coping with young son Shep’s murder is almost tangible. There are twists and turns along the way, and if you can get through some of the drudging parts, it will surely be worth your time. Follow Shep’s brother, Bliss, as he cares for his parents as they age and struggle with what their lives became….and as they all await the death sentence for Shep’s accused murderer. Once it gets going, you won’t want to put it down.

“Alice I Have Been” by Melanie Benjamin

Let me preface this by saying I had no idea when I began reading this that it was based on fact. Of course, I’d heard the story of Alice in Wonderland (and am still dying to see the new movie in 3-D) but I never knew that Alice was, in fact, a “real” person, or that the story and all of its eccentric characters were actually based on real living, breathing, people.

The amount of research that Benjamin must have put into this work of historical fiction is astounding but had to have been a fun and exciting treasure hunt all the while. She weaves fact and fiction together so beautifully that you’d never know the difference.

Alice I Have Been tells the story of Alice Liddell, whom the beloved fairy tale “Alice in Wonderland” is based upon. She talks about her upbringing, her relationship with her family and the author, and speaks about her struggles with identifying herself as an individual vs. Alice the character.

The story is an absolutely lovely take on Victorian England (I adore this era!) and is a unique and complex love story full of bad timing and misunderstandings.

You won’t meet any Cheshire Cats or Mad Hatters in this well-written, well-researched, and “grown-up” book, but you will meet the people upon whom Lewis Carroll based these infamous characters.

Alice I Have Been is one of the most intriguing novels that I have read in quite some time.

Saving the best for last … (in my humble opinion!)

“The Alchemist” by Paulo Coelho

As an English major and lover-of-the-literary, I’d read excerpts of “the Alchemist” in college. I am now beating myself up for not reading the entire book MUCH SOONER.

With a swift ease, it has become one of my all-time favorite books, and reminded me why I want to someday write a novel.

Inspiring, magical, and just … well-done … it is a book that I would literally recommend to just about anyone. I’m glad that I ordered it without reading the description. A sherpard’s journey? Pyramids? Alchemy? No thanks….I would have been turned off before even turning the first page if I’d, as they say, judged this book by its cover.

So, diving into it with no idea what it was about (except for certain passages I’d vageuly recalled from class, years ago) I became engrossed, caught up in this young man’s journey, wanting to follow my dreams and seek out my own personal treasure.

The story is full of mystique, love, and self-evaluation….and it is a beautiful allegory that will have you pulling for Santiago the whole time as he makes his way in life and love. It is a cultural tapestry of words so beautifully written, that I doubt you will be able to put it down.

What could be simply seen as a fable, Coelho has managed to turn into a masterpiece.

Easily a classic. No doubt. It has made me want to read every other one of his books, and he, through this one simple work, has inspired me to keep writing, keep hoping, and keep dreaming.

A must-read!