Saturday, February 28, 2015

Books!

1.  Everything I Never Told You, Celeste Ng - Heartbreaking and beautiful, all at the same time.  Ng's book was on many, many best of 2014 lists, which is what prompted me to put it on hold at the library.  It's the story of the death of the favorite child of a biracial couple in the 70's.  Yes, it's a terribly sad sort of book...but there was redemption in the end.  Amazing.  As I was reading through it, I really and truly didn't expect to like the end...or to feel so uplifted. 

2.  The Children Act, Ian McEwan - It was checked out.  The waiting list had been long.  I had to finish it. So here's the thing...I'm very conflicted about McEwan.  On the one hand, he writes some of the most beautiful prose I've ever written, and his characters are amazingly drawn portraits.  On the other hand, I kind of feel like jumping off of a bridge after I finish every book.  Does the man ev.er write about anything happy?  Would a small touch of redemption or hope be too much to ask?  Sigh.

3.  An Unnecessary Woman, Rabih Alameddine - I love, love, love this book. I contacted three of my most bookish friends to tell them they needed to read it asap...and so do you.  It's about an elderly woman in Beirut, who has spent her life living mostly alone amongst books.  It's a book that must be read slowly...preferably with a device nearby with which to do some research on the many, many references found within Alliyah's reflections.  I'm in love with this character, I'm in love with this writer, and I'm in love with this book.

4.  Havisham, Ronald Frame - A BOTNS recommendation, this is the story of Dicken's Miss Havisham from Great Expectations.  Everyone knows about Miss Havisham and about how crazy she was.  It was a lot of fun to take a closer look at the character.  Curiously enough, Frame really didn't make her any more sympathetic.  He managed to build a story to explain the crazy, but he didn't feel it necessary to actually make the reader like her or truly sorrow for her.  I have to say, I admire that. 

5.  Girlchild, Tupelo Hassman - This is also a BOTNS recommendation, one that I've heard them speak of multiple times.  My, oh my, I understand why now.  It's a brilliant novel...heartbreaking, funny, eye-opening, and so, so very well written.  This is an example of the type of novel that teaches compassion....and for me, that makes it a special novel indeed.

6.  Animal dreams, Barbara Kingsolver - I'd picked up several of Kingsolver's books on sale over the years, and then they sat and sat and sat on my to-read shelf in iBooks.  Who knows why I finally decided to read it, but I'm glad I did!  I was very pleasantly surprised with how invested I quickly became with the characters and the storyline. 

7.  Kitchen Confidential, Anthony Bourdain (audio, read by author) - I'd been intrigued by this book for a while.  Food writing is something I tend to enjoy but don't read (if that makes sense at all).  I'm a fan of Bourdain's tv shows, although they are not something I seek out to watch.  Mostly, I stumbled on this while browsing the library's online catalog in search of a book that was a bit - ahem - lighter in overall tone than everything else I've been reading.  I loved it.  Bourdain is not to everyone's taste, and his language and writing style is very much on the "salty" side, but his passion comes through so clearly.  I was particularly hooked by his opinion of craftsman v. artist, and I loved hearing his thoughts on that subject as it's something I think about a lot with my own handwork. 

CraftLit:

I pay for a premium subscription because this is a podcast I have loved for years, and because it makes me happy to be able to support Heather Ordover in even a small way.  Having caught up 100% on my podcasts, I decided it was time to catch up on my Craftlit books.

1. Herland, Charlotte Perkins Gilman - It's interesting, but I got tired of it.  I truly appreciated the extra commentary that Ordover provides because that commentary kept me listening when I otherwise would have given up.  (Regular podcast)  There's still some to go, but I'm including it in this month because that's when I listened to the bulk of it. 

2. A Study in Scarlet, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle - I love Sherlock, especially in audio form.  It's been a really long while, though, since I listened to anything from the canon so it was a real treat to revisit this short novel, which is Sherlock's introduction to the world.  (subscription extra)

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