St Thomas, USVI: Been There, Read That

My husband and I just got back from 7 days in the US Virgin Islands and it was spectacular.  I loved the weather, the views, the time to just relax and unwind.  We both love to beach hop, soak up the sun and read books.

I am a little embarrased to admit that I plowed through 6 books this vacation.  I know, right?  Here is what I read in St. Thomas.

1.  “The 158 Pound Marriage” by John Irving.  Those of you who read my blog know of my fascination with John.  This was his third novel and was published in 1973. It is quite sexual since it revolves around 2 couples and their menage a quatre.  Let’s just say that I enjoyed it, mostly because I love Irving but based on the subject matter it’s really not for everyone.  ABL rating 3.  Ouch, sorry John.

2.  “Breaking Night” by Liz Murray.  One of my book geek friends, Lindsay, recommended this book and it did not disappoint.  It is the memoir of Liz a young woman who was born to loving but drug addicted parents in the Bronx.  She found herself homeless at 15 but rose up from it all to graduate from Harvard.  I loved the tone of this book.  At one point she talks about her parents like this:  “they had no intention to hurt us….they simply did not have it in them to be the parents I wanted them to be.”  I recommend, and give it a 4.

3.   “These Things Hidden” by Heather Gudenkauf and was recommended to me by my friend Stephanie.  This was the perfect beach book about two sisters that hide a secret and what happens when that secret is exposed in their small town.  It has a great page turner format:  short chapters and alternating narrators.  I recommend, it’s perfect for something to keep your attention on a beach day.  I give it a 3.

4.  “The Solitude of Prime Numbers” by Paolo Giordano which was recommended to me by another blogger.  It is about two painfully shy teenagers that are each haunted by a tragedy early in life who become best friends.  The prose is beautiful and while it was painful to read, I enjoyed it.  I would have liked it more except it had a very sad ending.  Not for everyone, I give it a 3.

5.  “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks” by Rebecca Skloot.  My book geek friends and I have talked about this one a lot and it comes up every time on my Amazon recommendation page so I decided to give it a try. This is a book about Henrietta, a black woman who died in 1951 but whose cells have lived on immortally in chemistry labs throughout the country.  My friend, Gary summed it up perfectly:  “it’s a good book, I’m glad I read it but there is too much biology to keep your attention.”  The parts about Henrietta’s family were the most interesting.  In the end I am glad I read it but I wouldn’t recommend it.  ABL rating 3.

And then I ran out of books!  I wandered up to the front desk with a heavy heart, usually the hotel book exchange is full of serial novelists that I don’t read.  (I am a book snob, I know).  I was pleasantly surprised to find James Frey’s memior, “A Million Little Pieces”.  I read it when it first came out in 2003. This is a wonderful memoir about his 6 weeks in Hazelden.  But he made one major mistake.  He didn’t put that little qualifier at the front of the book, the bit most authors write about changing some names and that some events may have been changed slighty.  If you remember Oprah recommended this book and then when her fact checkers found some inconsistencies he went through the Oprah “spanking machine”.  I have only watched the Oprah show one time, when James appeared.  She let him have it.

Anyway, I rarely re-read a book but for this one, I made an exception.  I loved it the second time.  I highly recommend and I give it a 5.



About Anne Loughrey

I am an avid member of several book clubs and a prolific keeper of my books. I love to discuss books and hear what others think of books I have read.
This entry was posted in book clubs, books, breaking night, heather gudenkauf, john irving, liz murray, paolo giordano, reading, rebecca skloot, the 158 pound marriage, the immortal life of henrietta lacks, the solitude of prime numbers, these things hidden. Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to St Thomas, USVI: Been There, Read That

  1. bob says:

    To my new friend, Quite a feat. Your awesome Anne! Sean has a seat “reserved” right next to God. I would have thrown the books off the balcony. Try Suttree, by Cormac McCarthy. It will engage your rather “Let’sspeedreadthroughanotherfrivolouslywrittennovelof124pagesbook” and give you a sense of real story and an almost euphoric sense of accomplishment. Not a tome. But an extraordinarily crafted literary work of genius. Get your dictionary out. I’ve read the prologue, three pages, thirty times alone. McCarthy of course, won the pulitzer for fiction with “The Road” last year. There are drugs for ADHD Anne! Love Bob

  2. Bob, thanks for the comment and the recco…I have been feeling that my reading needs a little overhaul and I will read “Suttree”, although I have to say that “the road” was very depressing. I hung with it because I knew the Prez was reading it, but still. I also have to comment that every once in a while a good page turner, or as you so humorously pointed out a letsspeedthroughit, kind of book is comforting, especially when my dictionary is far away. Thanks for the thoughtful comments!

    • bob says:

      I agree with your assessment of, The Road. C McCarthy is a deep and powerful writer. His earlier works are even more powerful. What makes Suttree so compelling is the storyline and the prose. Cornelius Suttree is a son of a well-to-do Knoxville, TN family who has forsaken his family to live on the river in a houseboat among the cities lower society, gamblers, drunks, poor and destitute, prostitutes, wayward and lost souls in the fifties. A bold statement. Never-the-less, tragically funny and remarkably poignant. One of the great books in American literature. I do understand why you read books and the idea that reading is meant to take us away from life’s hassles briefly. To be entertained quietly. Some books can be work to read. On a lighter note, you might try “Time is a River” which was quite good. Or, “Astrid and Veronika” by Linda Olssen. Bob

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