the guernsey literary and potato peel pie society

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There are many answers I give to the question what’s your favorite book, but for the last five years The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows has been the first title on my tongue. It has also been my most-given gift. I’m pretty sure I gave away at least ten copies in the last year alone. Friend’s birthday? You should probably buy them a copy of Guernsey. Mother’s day gift for your grandmother? Guernsey will be perfect. Christmas present for your boss? Guernsey.

I first read Guernsey as a freshman in college. There’s one section in particular that I remember reading for the first time: within the span of two pages, it had me sobbing into my pillow and then laughing so hard that my stomach hurt. In the truest sense, it’s a story about friendship: about the solidity of old friendships, the delight of new ones, the way our friends shape us, the way we shape our friends, how they make any place feel like home… and the impact a single friend can have on her community.

Every time I pick it up, I think I can’t possibly love it any more than I already do. And every time I start reading, I am overwhelmed by how absolutely untrue that is. This book grows more and more dear to me with every read, whether a full read-through or a few letters here and there when I need a quick pick-me-up (admittedly, those quick pick-me-ups do tend towards me finishing the rest of the novel instead of going to bed at a reasonable hour). These characters are old friends I can’t wait to see again. I want to be Juliet, talk about books with Dawsey, cook with Miss Amelia, and (of course) smack Markham V. Reynolds, Jr., with whatever is closest at hand the second he comes onto the page.

This book makes me feel much as Juliet must among her new friends: comforted and welcomed, excited but curiously at ease–surrounded by people who already adore you and are only determined to love you more and make you feel at home in a new place that will soon be familiar. In the world of metaphors, Guernsey is a quiet afternoon on a rainy day, a glass of lemonade after sitting in the sun, an unexpected letter from a friend you haven’t seen in ages. It’s comforting and encouraging and engaging and delightful, and I hope you love it as much as I do.

sinner

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I am a werewolf in L.A.

Telling you that you should read Sinner by Maggie Stiefvater means I am also telling you that you need to read the first three Wolves of Mercy Falls books–Shiver, Linger, andForever—but it’s an endeavor worth undertaking. Sinner is the fourth book in the quartet, and while an argument could be made that it stands alone, there’s more of an emotional payoff to be had from getting to know the characters first as they appear in the other three books. But Sinner is the book I’ve read three times. Sinner is the book on which my hand lingers when I pass by the library shelf where it sits. I cannot definitively say thatSinner is my favorite of the four books, but it is the one that has stuck with me the most, and I think, in the end, that’s the more important thing.

All of the Wolves of Mercy Falls books are written with a lyrical sort of prose. It’s like music, which when you actually read the books, makes a lot of sense. Music plays a large part in the characters’ lives and also in Stiefvater’s. But there is something slightlydifferent about the musical quality of Sinner. It’s more eclectic, it’s louder, but it’s no less poetic and no less beautiful for it. If I were to describe the books in a color scheme, I would say that their covers are pretty apt–the first three books are muted: white and ivory and pale blues and grays and greens. Sinner is another beast entirely–it is orange and yellow and loud, loud, loud. Shiver, Linger, and Forever are the books you curl up with in a cabin on a crisp winter morning when you hold a steaming cup of cocoa; Sinner is the book you take to the beach, the book you stay up with into the wee hours of the morning, feverishly turning pages because you can’t stop, you don’t want to stop.

Stiefvater has said before that Sinner is a book about addiction. The book itself is an addiction; it is addicting. It is hot and fast and exhilarating and it is a book I cannot seem to stay away from. I’ve just downloaded it from the library to read on a short flight, even though I have numerous books in my To Read pile that I’ve not even read once. I haven’t bought my own copy yet, because I’m almost afraid that I’ll just keep reading it over and over and never get to anything else. It’s not an exaggeration when I say I could read this book cover-to-cover, then open it right back up again and start from the beginning. I could wax poetic about this book for ages (I’ve done a post over on my Tumblr about it before, which can be found here), but I’m going to control myself and sum it up by saying: read the Wolves of Mercy Falls books. Experience the music. And if you, like me, get addicted to Sinner, maybe we can start an Anonymous group for ourselves–although I’m not sure this is an addiction I’m willing to quit.