Thursday, September 20, 2012

Off the Shelf: The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

My husband and I own hundreds of books. We started collecting them in high school, and we just keep adding more. We find it extremely difficult to weed any of them out. Because, you know, that hardcover Chaucer book from university is going to come in handy one day. Well, it cost me (my parents actually) $75.80. So, it's staying.

Having kids around isn't generally conducive to reading. That's my excuse anyway. I'm sure watching the entire eight seasons of Weed over a three-month period doesn't help either. 

The point of my story is, I have decided to do a semi-regular "Off the Shelf" post here on the blog in order to inspire me to read some of these books on my shelves.

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

I have started with The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. It actually didn't come from my bookshelves, so I'm kind of cheating. My sister-in-law, who is a high school English teacher, and knows a good book when she finds it, suggested (actually campaigned) that I read this book.

And I'm glad she did. "Reading good books ruins you for enjoying bad books," writes Guernsey Literary Society member Isola Pribby. Perhaps that's why I couldn't read the 50 Shades book my friend loaned me.

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society celebrates reading and books and the power of the arts to bring people comfort and companionship during difficult times. It is written as a series of letters, a fact which I actually thought would make it annoying. But it works.

Most of the letters are to and from writer Juliet Ashton, who in 1946 receives a letter from 
a stranger, a founding member of the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. Through letters from society members, Juliet pieces together a remarkable story about a group of lovable folks living on the British island of Guernsey during the German occupation in World War II. This small group of disparate characters accidentally launches a book club and each one of them learns to love literature in his or her own way.

Did you even realize the Germans had occupied part of England? If you did, you know more than me. 

The tale is charming, romantic, tragic and nostalgic. As my sister-in-law promised, it's one of those books you just don't want to end. It's not Chaucer, but still it's pretty good.

What have you been reading (and hopefully enjoying) lately?

Free Books for the taking

Speaking of books, have you heard this cool idea?

People are apparently building birdhouse-like structures to house free on-street libraries in their own neighbourhoods. Everyone is encouraged to donate books that they are ready to pass along and pick up any that interest them. Kids books too. The entire neighbourhood can benefit from the sense of community. What a great idea! Read more here


  1. The free on street library idea is amazing. I wish I lived in that kind of neighbourhood!:(

    Thanks for the book recomendation. I'm always on the hunt for new and interesting book fodder x

    1. I am not sure if it would work in my neighbourhood. You kind of wonder if people would destroy them...I guess it couldn't hurt to try.

  2. To each his own I guess - I didn't care for this book, I got through it but didn't catch my attention at all....Carla loved it though....

    I recently read-A Secret Kept by Tatiana De Rosnay, she also wrote Sarah's Key, which was so good and made into a movie which I want to see, it's a can't put down book, which are the very best kind!! The Story of Beautiful Girl was another great one I read in the past few months...

    1. It's so true, Jill. You really don't know what someone else will like. Reading is so personal. It's like movies, I find. I watch them even if people say they didn't like them, and sometimes I like them myself.

      Thanks for the book suggestions. Not that I need more books.;)

  3. We have a million books too... And I was always such a big reader but sadly haven't read much beyond blogs or magazines since having the kid. Great idea to motivate you to read more!

    1. Your little guy is small still. Virtually impossible to read. I can at least sneak in a few moments.

  4. Ha Ha Had to laugh when you mentioned Weeds there ;D
    I am also in need of motivating myself to read more....
    I got Aleph by Pablo Coelho for my b-day and only went through 5 sentences at the playground. But it WAS the playground and I had to prioritize to watch the kid. No, reading life is not the same once you have a kid ;D
    Wishing you a lovely weekend.

    1. Did you catch the final episode of Weeds?

      Yes, it's hard to read at the playground. I read a bit this week while waiting outside my daughter's dance class, but other people were talking so it was hard to focus.

      Have a great weekend!

  5. There is one of those free book exchanges near my place! I think that's an awesome idea.

    I am currently on Book 3 of the Game of Thrones series. I saw the first season of the tv show and then started reading the books. They are each close to 1000 pages but they are AWESOME. I really didn't think I'd get this into a fantasy series!

    1. That's cool Laurie. Maybe you can take a picture of the book exchange and show us one day. :) I have not seen or read Game of Thrones, but I have heard it is addictive!

  6. I'm in a total reading slump right now, so thanks for the suggestion...I'll have to check it out!

    1. This is a good one to get you out of a slump, because it's not too challenging, but still enjoyable.


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