The Hypnotist’s Love Story by Liane Moriarty

It is the first hot day of the season. It was still winter a few weeks ago (like, Mother’s Day weekend) and now it’s full on summer. Needless to say, today was kind of a wash.

Ellen O’Farrell is a professional hypnotherapist who works out of the eccentric beachfront home she inherited from her grandparents. It’s a nice life, except for her tumultuous relationship history. She’s stoic about it, but at this point, Ellen wouldn’t mind a lasting one. When she meets Patrick, she’s optimistic. He’s attractive, single, employed, and best of all, he seems to like her back.

Then comes that dreaded moment: He thinks they should have a talk. Braced for the worst, Ellen is pleasantly surprised. It turns out that Patrick’s ex-girlfriend is stalking him. Ellen thinks, Actually, that’s kind of interesting. She’s dating someone worth stalking. She’s intrigued by the woman’s motives. In fact, she’d even love to meet her.

Ellen doesn’t know it, but she already has.

I read the paperback edition of this, courtesy of Black Tree Books from Oneonta, NY.

I have read almost all of Liane Moriarty’s novels, (The Last Anniversary was a DNF), and she’s one of my go to authors. I’ve read enough of her books that whenever I come across a new title, I can safely assume that I am going to enjoy it. This title was no different. I was a bit hesitant as I had images of this being full of woo but it was very much down to earth and actually made me reconsider hypnosis just a tiny bit.

I liked Ellen but I really loved reading the chapters in the POV of Saskia, the stalker. Of all the characters in this book-she was the one I felt I understood the most. I’m not sure what that says about me, but I truly felt that she was more deserving of sympathy then anyone else.

Not the best Moriarty book, but not the worst either. I found it easier to follow then some of her other books that switch POV a lot, and I actually felt as though the romance aspect of this was a lot more realistic then most books.

Rating: Four stars

“Perhaps all grown-ups were just children carefully putting on their grown-up disguises each day and then acting accordingly.”

― Liane Moriarty, The Hypnotist’s Love Story

“North Korea invites parody. We laugh at the excesses of the propaganda and the gullibility of the people. But consider that their indoctrination began in infancy, during the fourteen-hour days spent in factory day-care centers; that for the subsequent fifty years, every song, film, newspaper article, and billboard was designed to deify Kim Il-sung; that the country was hermetically sealed to keep out anything that might cast doubt on Kim Il-sung’s divinity. Who could possibly resist?”

― Barbara Demick, Nothing to Envy: Ordinary Lives in North Korea

The Library Book by Susan Orlean

Memorial Day. Aside from when I was on maternity leave, I can’t remember ever having the day off work. But here we are and of course stay at home orders are still in effect. It was still a good day, we had a picnic in the backyard.

40019010. sy475
On the morning of April 29, 1986, a fire alarm sounded in the Los Angeles Public Library. As the moments passed, the patrons and staff who had been cleared out of the building realized this was not the usual fire alarm. As one fireman recounted, “Once that first stack got going, it was ‘Goodbye, Charlie.’” The fire was disastrous: it reached 2000 degrees and burned for more than seven hours. By the time it was extinguished, it had consumed four hundred thousand books and damaged seven hundred thousand more. Investigators descended on the scene, but more than thirty years later, the mystery remains: Did someone purposefully set fire to the library—and if so, who?

Weaving her lifelong love of books and reading into an investigation of the fire, award-winning New Yorker reporter and New York Times bestselling author Susan Orlean delivers a mesmerizing and uniquely compelling book that manages to tell the broader story of libraries and librarians in a way that has never been done before.

In The Library Book, Orlean chronicles the LAPL fire and its aftermath to showcase the larger, crucial role that libraries play in our lives; delves into the evolution of libraries across the country and around the world, from their humble beginnings as a metropolitan charitable initiative to their current status as a cornerstone of national identity; brings each department of the library to vivid life through on-the-ground reporting; studies arson and attempts to burn a copy of a book herself; reflects on her own experiences in libraries; and reexamines the case of Harry Peak, the blond-haired actor long suspected of setting fire to the LAPL more than thirty years ago.

Along the way, Orlean introduces us to an unforgettable cast of characters from libraries past and present—from Mary Foy, who in 1880 at eighteen years old was named the head of the Los Angeles Public Library at a time when men still dominated the role, to Dr. C.J.K. Jones, a pastor, citrus farmer, and polymath known as “The Human Encyclopedia” who roamed the library dispensing information; from Charles Lummis, a wildly eccentric journalist and adventurer who was determined to make the L.A. library one of the best in the world, to the current staff, who do heroic work every day to ensure that their institution remains a vital part of the city it serves.

Brimming with her signature wit, insight, compassion, and talent for deep research, The Library Book is Susan Orlean’s thrilling journey through the stacks that reveals how these beloved institutions provide much more than just books

Every few years I have fantasies about getting a job in a library. The idea of being surrounded by books is amazing. But unfortunately that dream doesn’t seem like a viable plan.

This book though was just a little taste of the life I sometimes fantasize about. Part history, part social commentary and part homage to the old burned down LA public library, it was a fantastic escape and I loved every minute of it.

Rating: five stars

“In Senegal, the polite expression for saying someone died is to say his or her library has burned. When I first heard the phrase, I didn’t understand it, but over time I came to realize it was perfect. Our minds and souls contain volumes inscribed by our experiences and emotions; each individual’s consciousness is a collection of memories we’ve cataloged and stored inside us, a private library of a life lived.”

― Susan Orlean, The Library Book

“Close your eyes, real tight, and then count to three hundred. That’s all you have to do. You just count to three hundred, and when you open your eyes, five minutes will have passed. And even if it hurts or things are shitty or you don’t know what to do, you just made it through five whole minutes. And when it feels like you can’t go on, you just close your eyes and do it again. That’s all you need. Just five minutes at a time.”
― Emma Mills, First & Then

After the Fire: A True Story of Friendship and Survival by Robin Gaby Fisher

Sunday’s are my day to relax…I slept in, hung out with Kiddo and read. I am reading Lilac Girls and Midnight in Chernobyl and holy shit are they both good. They are both fairly long too, so it might be a few days to get through them. Not that I’m complaining though.


After the Fire

On January 19, 2000, a fire raged through Seton Hall University's freshman dormitory, killing three students and injuring 58 others. Among the victims were Shawn Simons and Alvaro Llanos, roommates from poor neighborhoods who made their families proud by getting into college. They managed to escape, but both were burned terribly.

After the Fire is the story of these young men and their courageous fight to recover from the worst damage the burn unit at Saint Barnabas hospital had ever seen. It is the story of the extraordinary doctors and nurses who work with the burned. It is the story of mothers and fathers, of faith and family and the invisible ties that bind us to each other. It is the story of the search for the arsonists - and the elaborate cover-up that nearly obscured the truth. And it is the story of the women who came to love these men, who knew that real beauty is a thing not seen in mirrors.

I listened to the audiobook version of this, narrated by Richard Powers.

I hadn’t heard of this book before, but when I read the summary I knew that I had to listen to it. See, I was in high school when the Seton Hall fire happened and I found myself at the viewing of one of the victims who had graduated the year before and was a member of the marching band (I was in the color guard). It wasn’t the first time I had someone my age group die, but it was the first viewing I had gone to. I had barely known him, but it didn’t matter. Twenty years later, I still vividly remember that day.

Listening to this book was hard. It was graphic, Robin Gaby Fisher went into meticulous detail about the fire and the aftermath of the medical treatment that these two young men endured. I am already paranoid about fire and burns and it was just so difficult to listen to this. The second part was a little easier, and it was inspiring to see the young men overcome their catastropic injuries with their friendship intact.

I listened to this book in a single listening session. It was five or six hours long, and initially I started listening while working on putting laundry away but then I didn’t want to turn it off because I suspected that if I did, I wouldn’t want to return to it and I felt it was important to finish this. I’m glad I did listen to this, I just wish that this had never happened.

Rating: Five stars