Mid-life Without the Crisis

It really isn't the destination, but the journey. May be cliche, but it's true.

Book Recommendations

Judy's Reads:
I have taken to keeping a little notebook with me to write down books that others recommend to me, then noting what I thought of it once (if) I read it.  Here are my top reads from the past year or so.  (Indented quotes are from reviews on Amazon.  Non-indented ones are my own personal reviews.)
Snow Flower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See
See's engrossing novel set in remote 19th-century China details the deeply affecting story of lifelong, intimate friends (laotong, or "old sames") Lily and Snow Flower, their imprisonment by rigid codes of conduct for women and their betrayal by pride and love.  Read more
 Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd
In Sue Monk Kidd's The Secret Life of Bees, 14-year-old Lily Owen, neglected by her father and isolated on their South Carolina peach farm, spends hours imagining a blissful infancy when she was loved and nurtured by her mother, Deborah, whom she barely remembers. These consoling fantasies are her heart's answer to the family story that as a child, in unclear circumstances, Lily accidentally shot and killed her mother.  Read more
The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger
This clever and inventive tale works on three levels: as an intriguing science fiction concept, a realistic character study and a touching love story. Henry De Tamble is a Chicago librarian with "Chrono Displacement" disorder; at random times, he suddenly disappears without warning and finds himself in the past or future, usually at a time or place of importance in his life.  Read more
Friday Night Knitting Club by Kate Jacobs
Between running her Manhattan yarn shop, Walker & Daughter, and raising her 12-year-old biracial daughter, Dakota, Georgia Walker has plenty on her plate in Jacobs's debut novel. But when Dakota's father reappears and a former friend contacts Georgia, Georgia's orderly existence begins to unravel. Read more
Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert
Plagued with despair after a nasty divorce, the author, in her early 30s, divides a year equally among three dissimilar countries, exploring her competing urges for earthly delights and divine transcendence.  Read more
One Vacant Chair by Joe Coomer
...a scattered family reconvenes in Fort Worth for the funeral of its crotchety matriarch. Narrator Sarah, an overweight designer of Christmas ornaments trying to cope with her husband's infidelity, decides to remain there after the funeral with her Aunt Edna a school cafeteria worker, amateur philosopher and a skilled painter of portraits of chairs. Aunt Edna becomes Sarah's guru, advising her on matters of health, love and art as the two women plan to take Grandma Hutton's ashes to Scotland, in keeping with her surprising will.  Read more
In The Woods by Tana French  
Yes, this is a mystery, but it is an amazingly intriguing one. 
When Katy Devlin, a 12-year-old girl from Knocknaree, a Dublin suburb, is found murdered at a local archeological dig, Det. Rob Ryan and his partner, Cassie Maddox, must probe deep into the victim's troubled family history. There are chilling similarities between the Devlin murder and the disappearance 20 years before of two children from the same neighborhood who were Ryan's best friends.  Read more
The Shack by William Young
Mackenzie Allen Philips' youngest daughter, Missy, has been abducted during a family vacation and evidence that she may have been brutally murdered is found in an abandoned shack deep in the Oregon wilderness. Four years later in the midst of his Great Sadness, Mack receives a suspicious note, apparently from God, inviting him back to that shack for a weekend.  Read more
The Road by Cormac McCarthy
This is a post-apocalyptic novel that is bleak and could be potentially very depressing if you're prone to it.  However, I found it to be one of the most realistic in terms of how hard it would be to live in a world like that.  (If you think a shorter version might work for you, there's always the very close-to-the-book movie version.)  Check out more about the book here

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson
A great mystery with two interesting characters whose lives become intertwined.  The first of the 3-part Millennium series by late Swedish author Larsson.  The book is now also a movie.  Find out more here

More to come later on.....