There is a special kind of friend that shares the love of reading with you and shares your exact tastes in reading. This is the kind of friend that you talk to and all conversations drift towards talk of books. What books you’ve read, loved, and hated. When you read any of the books this friend recommends, you know you’ll love them. There are only a handful of people that I have met in my life that meet such a description.
Laura Hivala was a good friend that was definitely one of them. I met Laura as a freshman at Michigan Tech in Houghton. Laura and I were both working toward a degree in an environmental engineering. Together with our friend Laura Neumeier (also in the same environmental engineering class), we were often referred to as “the Lauras” if people saw us together. Laura was a happy person who was nice to everyone. She was also very active and good at everything. She played the piano and French horn, had spent summers as a lifeguard, played tennis, was the president of the student Michigan Water Environment Federation, and much more.
We spent a lot of time in class and working on engineering homework, but we also had a good time talking about books. Laura’s Grandma owned a bookstore in Escanaba, a fact that I always thought was fantastic, and also may have made me slightly jealous. Her last semester, I had started grad school. With our senior design project out of the way, we had a lot more time for social fun and it was a blast.
Laura gave me A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving for Christmas one year as she was distressed that I had never read a John Irving novel. This was one of her favorite books of all time. We also discovered Anita Shreve and Sue Miller around the same time and love reading their books and discussing. After we graduated from Michigan Tech, Laura was always great about calling so we could talk about life, friends, and books. She has books for all occasions. She introduced me to the Shopaholic series for something lighthearted and funny. For a bit deeper reading she loved The Count of Monte Cristo, her favorite book. I have bought it from her recommendation and have it sitting in my TBR pile. She told me about My Sister’s Keeper by Jodi Picoult, a book I loved, and I used as a book club pick. And there was so much more good books and movies that she recommended.
Laura always was trying to convince me to listen to audiobooks, and I finally gave in last summer and learned I loved them too. She also had me sign up to Visual Bookshelf on Facebook so we could keep track of what each other were reading and make comments.
Laura suffered from severe migraines starting when we were seniors in college. Laura passed away unexpectedly on January 22nd in her sleep at age 32 from complications of her headache medicine and an antiobiotic she was on for an illness.
I will always miss Laura Hivala. She was a great person, a great friend, and a great reader. I have so many great memories of her through the years. I just wanted to discuss her and her love of books on this a blog for book reviews. She used to read this blog and joke with me about it. Laura will always be with me in my thoughts and prayers.
This year I still need to read the following books that Laura recommended and are either on my pile or list of books to read:
The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexander Dumas
Circle of Friends by Maeve Binchy
Salem Falls by Jodi Picoult
Plain Truth by Jodi Picoult
Do you have friends that you bond with over books?