Sunday, January 31, 2010

A Friend that Reads is a Friend Indeed . . . Remembering Laura Hivala

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?

28 comments:

  1. I'm so sorry for the loss of your friend. I know you miss her. May she rest in peace.

    My mom and my sister, who I consider my two best friends, are the people I bond with over books. My mom lives a couple blocks away. We go to all the used book sales together and we are always talking about books. My sister lives in Michigan and we usually end up talking mostly about books on the phone...LOL!

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  2. I'm so sorry for your loss. She sounds like a wonderful person with great taste in books.
    I belong to two book groups so I definitely bond with people over books :o) Some of those friendships, though, have really evolved beyond books but our conversations always circle back.
    I'm not a Jodi Picoult fan but The Count of Monte Cristo and Circle of Friends are wonderful stories. I hope you enjoy them as you remember Laura, your friend.

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  3. How very very sad to hear about the loss of your friend. She was so young :( My Deepest condolences.

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  4. What a loving tribute, and my condolences for the those of a friend. Books build bridges and enable us to connect with each other on a variety of levels, and it is very special when you find a kindred spirit with whom you can share your bookish thoughts.

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  5. I came here in response to a comment left on
    The Curious Reader,to find you grieving. Unfortunatly, I know something of grief. My heart is with you, and I share in the sorrow of your loss.

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  6. I'm so sorry to hear about the loss of your friend. Your post was a lovely tribute to her.

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  7. Priceless memories of a wonderous friendship. I'm sorry for your loss dear friend. I can't say I've ever shared my taste in books so closely as you did with Laura with anyone.

    Beautiful tribute. (Hugs)Indigo

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  8. What a beautiful friendship! I'm so sorry for your loss. Sending love and prayers your way...

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  9. I'm tearing up....Laura was such a kind hearted wonderful person - she has left this world much too soon. Thanks for the blog - I didn't know of Laura's love for books. I'll try to read some of the ones from her list too.

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  10. Laura, I am so sorry about the loss of your wonderful friend. A friendship like the one you had with her is a rare and special gift. This is a very touching tribute to Laura Hivala.

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  11. I'm sorry for your loss. Laura sounds like a wonderful person and a special friend.

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  12. I am very sorry that you lost such a good friend, she sounds like a very special person.

    I am sure that she still thinks your blog is wonderful and I know that this post will make her feel special.

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  14. My heart aches for you and all those who have shared and lost a friendship like the one you describe. To find such a friend is surely one of life's greatest blessings, and to lose her, one of its greatest sadnesses. Condolences.

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  15. I'm so sorry to hear about your friend. What a tragedy.

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  16. My heart aches for you at the loss of such a good friend. My father was an avid reader and I got my love for reading from him. We traded books back and forth, and he always had something set aside for me to read when I'd go to visit him. He passed unexpectedly just before Christmas, and it's bittersweet when I get a book I know he would have loved, or when I come across something he wanted me to read, but I hadn't yet.

    You are in my thoughts and prayers. (((((HUGS)))))

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  17. How very sad - I'm so sorry for your loss.

    There couldn't be a better tribute than to read the books your friend recommended. She had great taste: Monte Cristo is a marvellous adventure, and Circle of Friends is one of my all-time favourites. It has a lot to say about female friendship and loyalty.

    I've always resisted Jodi Picoult, but maybe I should think again. Of the two you mention, Salem Falls appeals the most so I've put that on my 'to read' list.

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  18. I'm so sorry about your friend, Laura. My thoughts and prayers are with you and your memories of your friend are priceless and I thank you for sharing them with all of us.

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  19. I'm terribly sorry for the loss of your dear friend. Thank you for sharing her wonderful memory with us. I have a few friends with whom I love talking books. We get heady with excitement whenever we share a favorite read.

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  20. So sorry to hear. Nice to hear about Laura and your relationship with books.

    Most of my book friends are online buddies.

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  21. Thanks for sharing this, Laura. I haven't kept in touch with either of you since college but felt close to our whole environmental engineering group and just when I'm finally getting around to getting back in touch with the ol' gang, it's so sad to hear that Laura H passed away :( I only have positive memories of her. She was both a very focused student and a super kind, loving person at the same time, a rare combination. Fortunately, our happy memories of the time we had with her while she was on this earth will live forever.

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  22. I loved the lists of Laura's books that we could talk about! She also had me read A Prayer for Owen Meany when we were in college! I laughed and cried throughout the entire book and it is now one of my absolute favorites that I can read over and over again. I loved her so much, and will miss her more than words can say. A wonderful post Laura.

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  23. That was a beautiful post, Laura. Very fitting for the beautiful person that Laura was. You both have inspired me to take more time to read -- light-hearted and the meatier stuff. And, I believe the Count of Monte Cristo will end up on my books to read pile very soon!

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  24. My deepest sypathies. She sounds like a great person and I'm sure she'll be missed, but not forgotten.

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  25. I'm so sorry about Laura. What a tragedy fo someone so young. It is hard to believe how many deaths are caused by drug interactions. It's scary.

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  26. I forgot to say in my post that Laura liked the Shopaholic series because of Becky's rationalizations for shopping. Laura thought they were the arguments that a rational engineer would make. :-)

    I also wanted to say that Laura's dream was to be an environmental lawyer. She had taken all of the tests, had been accepted, and had just started classes two weeks before she passed away. Laura was living her dream and I'm sad that the world will never get to see the awesome environmental lawyer I know she would have been.

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  27. What a lovely person and dear friend. I feel like I know her from the books she read. I read the unabridged Count of Mount Cristo this past year, and it is now one of my favorites, too!

    How wonderful to still have her memory in your love of books. What a gift she gave you.

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