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Posts Tagged ‘Traveling Pants’

I tend to go through phases in my reading (though I do read a variety of genres in any given month). My Agatha Christie kick is going strong, thanks in part to the read-along. And I cannot get enough of the Moffats and their antics. But there’s more:

The Thirteen Problems, Agatha Christie
I enjoyed this collection of short stories featuring Miss Marple and her friends – I was amazed again and again at Christie’s skill in rendering plot twists and key details. I’m not a very good amateur sleuth (I never could solve the Encyclopedia Brown mysteries as a kid) – so Miss Marple astonished me (and everyone else) every time.

Sisterhood Everlasting, Ann Brashares
I love the Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants books. LOVE them. So I was both excited and worried about this new chapter in the girls’ lives, right before they all turn 30. And it was more painful and tragic than I ever expected…but it wasn’t all heartbreak. Some wonderful moments of light and joy, too. Not my favorite of the series, but I enjoyed spending some more time with Bee, Carmen, Lena and Tibby (and all the people they love).

A Murder is Announced, Agatha Christie
Miss Marple does it again – playing the sweet-old-spinster shtick to the hilt, while calmly digging up everyone’s secrets right under their very noses. She even confounds the Scotland Yard folks, which makes me love her even more.

Cooking with My Sisters, Adriana Trigiani
A delicious memoir-cookbook, complete with family snapshots and interjections from each sister, as well as lots of yummy-looking recipes. I checked it out from the library, but I may end up buying it – the recipes are that good. (It doesn’t hurt that we love Italian food at our house.)

The Moffats, Eleanor Estes
It’s been ages since I read this book – a fun tale of four siblings in Cranbury, Connecticut in the 1940s. (Similar to the Melendy Quartet, but with a slightly different flavor.) Jane, the third Moffat, narrates most of the fun, and there’s something in every chapter to make me smile.

The Middle Moffat, Eleanor Estes
Jane decides to style herself as the mysterious middle Moffat – and oh, the fun she has being in the middle! Just as charming as The Moffats. Jane is funny, sweet and utterly original – I especially love her friendship with Mr. Buckle, the oldest inhabitant of Cranbury.

Raised Right: How I Untangled My Faith from Politics, Alisa Harris
I’m reviewing this for Shelf Awareness, so more to come – but I will say what I said on Twitter: this is a thoughtful, well-written and witty look at one girl’s journey from uber-conservative homeschooler to a moderate with lots of questions.

The Kitchen Counter Cooking School, Kathleen Flinn
Review in the Shelf to come – but I loved this tale of a Cordon Bleu grad and her class of nine volunteers, gaining confidence by practicing knife skills, making their own vinaigrette and learning how to roast a chicken. A down-to-earth foodie memoir, with delicious-looking recipes.

Poser: My Life in Twenty-three Yoga Poses, Claire Dederer
After reading Lindsey’s gorgeous review, I picked this book up at the library. It’s a hilarious, often sad, poignant exploration of yoga as it relates to life – growing up, becoming a mother, learning how to argue with your spouse, learning to deal with quirky relatives, and coming to terms with the sadness of an unstable childhood. Really well done. (As an ambivalent sometime yogi, I could relate to Dederer’s mixed feelings about the practice.)

Rufus M., Eleanor Estes
The third book about the Moffats – more and more fun, with a dose of wartime travails (chilblains, too little coal, not enough money). The Moffats’ hardships never dampen their spirits for long, though. And the last chapter is purely beautiful.

Viola in the Spotlight, Adriana Trigiani
I find Trigiani’s books compulsively readable, and this second installment in the Viola series was no exception. Viola, teenage filmmaker, has grown up a bit since her first adventure (Viola in Reel Life), and she’s back in Brooklyn, learning to juggle two part-time jobs, figuring out how to be there for her friends and navigating life with a guy BFF who may feel something more. Good stuff.

Don’t Sing at the Table: Life Lessons from My Grandmothers, Adriana Trigiani
Because I’ve read all of Trigiani’s novels and Cooking with My Sisters (see above), I knew the basic outlines of Trigiani’s family history. But oh, there were so many delicious details about Viola and Lucy, the grandmothers, and so many great lessons, from fashion tips to relationship advice to smart business sense. They were two powerhouse women, and their granddaughter writes about them with such love.

Time for the perennial question: What are you reading these days?

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As of last night, I have another convert. Not, perhaps, in the traditional southern evangelical sense, but in the sense that I’ve introduced someone to something I love, and they love it. There’s nothing I love more than turning people on to good books. And I’m thrilled that it’s happened again.

Last night, I came home and found my roommate Leigh Ann watching Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, which is a wonderful chick flick based on one of my favorite series of books. Since she was only about 20 minutes into it, I sat down and watched it with her, and afterward we got to chatting about life and friends and boys and summers and who knows what all. I mentioned at one point that there’s a trio of books in the Traveling Pants series, with at least one more to come (we hope), and that she was free to borrow them any time she liked. Perforce, she came into my room and took not just one, but all three of them. She stayed up till “well past two” (her words) reading the first one last night. And as I walked through the living room just now, she gave a sheepish smile and confessed, “I’m well into Book Two [The Second Summer of the Sisterhood] already.”

The Pants books have a history in my own life – you see, I’m a convert too. Two years ago August, I was helping Kyle and Jenny Carter move into their first house, and they gave me the job of unpacking and shelving books (always a dangerous thing). I asked Jenny about lots of books as I unpacked, and when I got to Traveling Pants, she practically made me borrow it. “Katie, it’s so good. You’re going to love it. It’s such a good story…” So I took it home. Before long, both my roommates and I had read the book and its sequel, and were anxiously awaiting the release of the third, Girls in Pants.

While we waited, we converted our other friends: Charity, Val, Tori, Julie, Kisha, Stephanie and Dani. Jenny’s well-worn copy of the first book traveled to many Abilene houses before it came back to her. Bethany and I went to see the movie last summer, and Krissi and I both read the first two books again in Hawaii. The story is simple: four best friends find a pair of jeans at a thrift store that mysteriously fit them all perfectly (they have four very different body types and senses of style). During their first summer apart, they share the jeans, mailing them back and forth each week, from Greece to Charleston to Baja California to Bethesda, Maryland. And the pants bear witness to lots and lots of changes: falling in love, first jobs, new blended families, travel over land and ocean, even death. And through it all they bear witness to something that doesn’t change: friendship that began before birth and will last until after death.

The second book follows the next summer in their lives, which is deeply affected by the events of the summer before. That one breaks my heart right in half when I read it – but I love it, especially because of the redemption at the end. I haven’t read the third book as many times, but it captures all the fear and excitement of graduating from high school. And sprinkled throughout all three books are pages featuring a pair of jeans and fun quotes, by everyone from Shakespeare to John Keats to Jack Handy.

Perhaps it’s fitting that the girls I’ve “converted” to Traveling Pants have all played, or do play, some important role in my life. Tori and I have been friends since our first week at ACU. Charity and I have shared Oxford, weddings, funerals, countless songs of the choral and praise/worship type, and so much more. Val, Julie, Dani and Kisha made up House 9 – our Oxford headquarters for two years after we came back, and each of them enriches my life in a special and shining way. Stephanie brightens all our lives with her sweet smile and heart of service. And Bethany, my sweet little roommate, has made my last two years SO much happier.

Leigh Ann and I are relatively new friends – although we’ve known each other since we were six, when her mom was Betsy’s first-grade teacher, we just met again last August, when she transferred to ACU. (We actually met again through Jeremiah, who had met Leigh Ann and a bunch of her friends at church camp in high school.) We’re only roommates for the summer, but we’ve already shared some good bonding time over movies and stories and fun pictures and such. And I’m glad that yet another one of the important women in my life is picking up this story I love so much.

To quote from the end of the movie: “To the Pants. And the summer. And this moment. And the rest of our lives.”

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