the tempest cecil collegeHow does reading cause or calm the tempest in your life?  Comment about your favorite “tempest” reads at the end of this post and you could win free tickets to Shakespeare’s “The Tempest” at Cecil College, opening this weekend!

I believe that books hold a powerful sway over our lives, especially for those of us with a serious reading addiction. A good book can be a powerful and cheap form of therapy, providing escape from the woes of life or lending a deeper perspective on a difficult issue.  At the same time, there are a few books that have left me a little unhinged… provoking stormy thoughts and visions I never knew existed.  Here are a few of my favorites from over the years…


The Hiding Place by Corrie ten Boom
The biography of a young Dutch woman and her family who risk their lives to help Jews escape the Nazis.  They are caught and the family is sent to a concentration camp.  Though this read has many tragic scenes, Corrie’s faith and purposed choice to love and forgive makes this my top read when life gets hard.

Recipes for a Perfect Marriage by Morag Prunty
A surprisingly deep read, this book details a marriage on the brink.  Tressa is almost forty, a successful food writer, but so lonely that she jumps into marriage with a man she doesn’t know that well.  When the relationship starts to require compromise, Tressa is ready to bolt.  Through looking back on her family history, she slowly discovers that like any good recipe, a good marriage requires hard work, revision, and willingness to change the ingredients.  This is a great read to make you appreciate the relationships in your life.

The Diving Bell and the Butterfly
After a massive stroke, Jean-Dominique Bauby awakens from a coma to find he can only blink his left eye. The former editor-in-chief of a famous French magazine is left with an active, alert mind, but a useless body. By blinking that one eyelid, Bauby wrote, edited and dictated an entire book to his assistant, distilling words down to their absolute essence because the task was so hard.  While the book may sound depressing, it’s actually incredibly beautiful and affirming of the power of the human spirit to keep going when all seems lost.


The Psychopath Test
Experts estimate that approximately 3% of the population is made up of psychopaths, people with no moral compass.  Investigative journalist Jon Ronson manages to make this topic entertaining with his witty and quirky investigations of mental health in our modern world, but the book also left me wondering about the gray nature of insanity and sanity.

The Sky is Everywhere
Lennie is 17 and trying to heal from the tragic death of her older sister.  Though this book is intensely sad, it’s also lyrical, moving and ultimately hopeful, taking the reader through Lennie’s journey of healing.  I sobbed my way through this book because the author’s depiction of deep grief was so accurate.

The Likeness by Tana French
Detective Cassie Maddox is called to a murder scene to find that the victim looks just like her and has stolen her identity.  The squad hatches a crazy and dangerous plan for Cassie to go undercover as the dead girl, pretending to her friends that she was only in a coma.  When Cassie takes up the dead girl’s life, what ensues is a twisting psychological thriller of constant suspicion and surprise.  French’s books often tackle the theme of identity and if we truly know who our friends and family are, and this book doesn’t disappoint.  It certainly left my mind swirling.

Leave a comment about a favorite read that causes or calms the tempest in your life and you could win! We will pick a winner at random.

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2 Responses

  • Tina Andrews Posted July 15th, 2013

    To calm the tempest in my life, I turn to Science Fiction & Fantasy. I love losing myself in new worlds with alien cultures and creatures. I also love historical fiction with a supernatural or paranormal rewriting. I love when I start a new series and get to learn about the characters over multiethnic books and adventures. Some of my favorites that I go back to when I need comfort or to escape include The Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmerman’s Bradley, The Belgariad by David Eddings, The Dragonriders of Pern by Anne McCaffrey and A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness.

  • Raven Montgomery Posted July 15th, 2013

    I agree that reading can act as a form of therapy or sometimes just some much needed escape. This is sometimes perhaps the same thing.

    For me the idea of what is tempest and what is calming is often very intermingled. If I am not moved or learning something on some level, then I am wasting my time.

    First ‘tempest:’

    “The Celestine Prophecy” While poorly written and overtly fanciful, this book really had something to say to me. I was stirred to really think about certain aspect of my life.

    “The Alchemist” This was a deceptively simple fable about what is important in one’s life and our choices about those things.

    “A New Earth” by Eckhard Tolle. This is a non-fiction book that fits well with the other two. This is probably the strongest example of a book that both stirred and calmed me. It was at once ‘escape’ and pushed me to more fully engage in my own life.

    These have ‘calmed’ me when I have felt overwhelmed. These present full and interesting fantasy but are anchored in real places and woven through with academics disciplines which matter to me. They have also, oddly, touched on geological places which have been of particular interest to me recently. So while the stories present adversity and difficulty, they are meaty enough to fully distract me from whatever it is that I need to take a break from.

    “A Discovery of Witches” trilogy (The last book does not yet appear to be out.) – Harkness.

    “Angelology” – Trussoni (Again, I think this is part of a trilogy but I have only read the first so far.)

    And when my mind has completely needed a break from reading a lot of heavy material, I am somewhat reluctant to admit how much I enjoyed reading and relaxing with the Sookie Stackhouse novels by Harris.