reading recap.

okay. so here goes. quick write ups and recommendations.


A HEARTBREAKING WORK OF STAGGERING GENIUS
by DAVE EGGERS

i might make a lot of non-friends by saying this, but i didn't like it. i took it to australia with me and it took an interminable amount of time to get through. i think it really is just a question of taste. yes, it was well written, but i lost track of the story being told and felt like i was just moving in circles with a marginal amount of forward movement (interestingly enough, this was the very reason i didn't like WHERE THE WILD THINGS ARE {the film} co-penned by eggers). i will say, all the reviews and critics commented on eggers anger, while i was struck not by anger at all, but a profound sadness--which raises the question how different are the two things, really?

WAIT TILL NEXT YEAR
by DORIS KEARNS GOODWIN

one of the great things about the high school i went to was the caliber and frequency with which we received really unbelievable public speakers. and to this day, doris kearns goodwin (presidential historian) remains the best i've ever seen. this fact, combined with my love of baseball and history made this book a must-read for me (i'm actually surprised it took me so long to get around to it). while goodwin is not an unparalleled writer, her words are simple and clear and the story itself is lovely. i've come to realize there are two types of books i like to read--those that i read in bed in the morning or before sleep, and those that i take on the subway. the books i like to read on the subway tend to be more information based and this was certainly a great subway book. not to mention the love story of her mother and father was particularly moving--i blogged a wee bit about it, here.

THE HELP
by KATHRYN STOCKETT

my mom insisted i read this debut novel by kathryn stockett and i'm really glad i did. it's the perfect in-bed read. stockett does a fantastic job of giving voice to a diverse group of women. set in a segregated mississippi, the novel depicts the relationships between an entitled upper-class and the women who care for them (and in most cases, raise their families).


SOUTH OF BROAD
by PAT CONROY

you know how i love pat conroy. if you don't, well now you do--he's just about my favorite. however, this book was not. while i liked it, conroy seemed to be trying too hard--reaching, a bit. but you should keep in mind, i wasn't that keen on prince of tides (which he seems to have garnered the most praise for). again, let me say, if you are new to this author, you must read beach music and the lords of discipline.


THE GUERNSEY LITERARY AND POTATO PEEL PIE SOCIETY
by MARY ANN SHAFFER and ANNIE BARROWS

i picked this one up on the recommendation of many of you lovely people. and i must say, good choice, ladies. i loved it. i mean, i really, really loved it. i read it quickly--unable to put it down and not since elizabeth bennett in pride and prejudice have i more wanted to be a character than that of the main voice here, juliet. it is the story of a writer and lover of literature as she learns about of the occupation of the channel islands in world war two.

EATING ANIMALS
by JONATHAN SAFRAN FOER

so this is what i'm reading now. i'll write more about it when i finish the book.
you know how i love pat conroy? well, the greatest threat to his status as my favorite author is jonathan safran foer (author of extremely loud and incredibly close {hands down, the best book i've ever read}. this book, eating animals, is about animal agriculture--its effects on the environment and our health, as well as what the animals experience. as someone who's had a tenuous relationship with food for a while now, i figured it was about time to start learning about food in the larger--societal sense--moving the idea from "me" to "us"--because believe it or not the choices we make about what we put in our bodies affect everyone.

for you.



It occurs to me that you all so generously offered up book suggestions and I never gave you anything in return.


This morning I "attempted" to update the Book Club section of the blog. I added all the books suggested in the comments of that post. However, the suggestions scattered throughout comments of different posts have yet to be added...fret not, they will be!

However, here, I will "attempt" (not sure why I'm using quotes, but I am) to offer up my own suggestions.


First, I adore Pat Conroy. I was introduced to his works going into my sophmore year of high-school. I had never, ever come across so many i-need-a-dictionary words all at once. But after fifteen pages of struggling to take it all in, I fell. I fell madly and deeply and desperately in love with his words. 

The Lords of Discipline

and

Beach Music

It doesn't matter which you read first. They are both his. I've read each upwards of three times. And I think I'm due for another run of Beach Music, very soon. 

Others will say Prince of Tides is his best. I would disagree. The two books I listed above are perhaps my favorites of all time.

Though, Jonathan Safran Foer's Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close just gave them a damn-fine run for their money. I'll have a review of this coming soon. This book is the most genius thing I've ever read. Period. Hands down. It may now share the stage with the above two as my favorite.

Another that keeps coming to mind is Anita Shreve's Light on Snow. It's an easy, fast read and undeniably lovely and moving. 

And finally, two books I've written about before, but must, must suggest again: The Time Traveler's Wife and Dancing on Thorns

As for books of poetry: The Forgiveness Parade and The Splinter Factory, both by Jeffrey McDaniel

There you have it. 
If you read any of these (or have read) you must let me know what you think.


photo via visualize.us

"my apartment is basically a couch, an armchair, and about four thousand books." the time traveler's wife



I suppose I should admit I finished this a week ago. Sitting in my favorite cafe, eating organic greens, tears careened down my face. 

The night before, I had cried so hard and tried so valiantly to not disturb the roommate that a high-pitched whistle (much like a tea kettle when it sings) arose from some place deep inside.

I don't have much to say about the book. It was pure poetry. Brilliantly written. 

It was difficult to get into because I wanted to understand the logistics of the time travel. And other times I had a hard time falling into the images because another part of my brain was going, my god--that turn of phrase--how did she just do that?

It was heart-wrenching in all the right ways. And it got me thinking about time and life and our different ages: sometimes I feel like I'm failing my eight year old self--the little girl who has yet to get to this point--the little girl who is still out there in the world (back in 1993). I want to be better for her. 

Yes, it may be hard to get into. But it's worth it. 

Want to know the moment I fell into the book--the exact moment I fell in love:

pages 70-71:

After an interval of tickling and thrashing around, we lie on the ground with our hands clasped across our middles and Clare asks, "Is your wife a time traveler too?"
"Nope. Thank God."
"Why 'thank God'? I think that would be fun. You could go places together."
"One time traveler per family is more than enough. It's dangerous Clare."
"Does she worry abut you?"
"Yes," I say softly. "She does." I wonder what Clare is doing now in 1999. Maybe she's still asleep. Maybe she won't know I'm gone.
"Do you love her?"
"Very much, " I whisper. We lie silently side by side, watching the swaying trees, the birds, the sky. I hear a muffled sniffling noise and glancing at Clare I am astonished to see that tears are streaming across her face toward her ears. I sit up and lean over her. "What's wrong, Clare?" She just shakes her head back and forth and presses her lips together. I smooth her hair, and pull her into a sitting position, wrap my arms around her. She's a child, and then again she isn't. "What's wrong?"
It comes out so quietly that I have to ask her to repeat it: "It's just that I thought maybe you were married to me."



Now I'm onto The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri. The woman I babysit for said it's one of the best things she's read in years. It was sitting on her shelf. We're doing a book trade. She gets The Time Traveler's Wife for a while and I get The Namesake (one has to figure out ways to save money you know). I'll be sure to let you know what I think.

Keep the suggestions coming. My list is growing long and I'm loving that. And my pile of books on the windowsill is climbing. I will update the post on books soon enough to include all your fantastic suggestions.


image via ffffound

dog-eared pages and coffee stains: a book club of sorts









This post led to many a marvelous suggestion about books that I should read. And this list is lighting a fire under my oh-so-lovely-behind to get crackin'...a book club to form and books, books, books to read (25 before the big birthday). So... all this got me thinking. I'm adding this little collage above to my sidebar. One click on it will lead you here to this post (this ever-evolving, constantly in need of edits post). The idea is that this is a place where you (yes, you!) can leave suggestions or book reviews. It's (in a sense) a little online book club. I'll let you know what I'm reading and publish reviews as I check off those 25 books. And I'll pass on my all time favorites. So, here we go...


25 books before
25th Birthday:

1. Happens Every Day by Isabel Gillies
2. The Emporer's Children by Claire Messud
3. Dancing on Thorns by Rebecca Horsfall
4. The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger
5. The Namesake
6. Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer
7. A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius by Dave Eggers







THE READERS SPEAK...THEIR SUGGESTIONS:






The Hero and the Crown
by Robin Mckinley

suggested by Sarah-Lucy




The Heartbreaking Work of a Staggering Genius
by David Eggers

suggested by Red




The Opposite of Fate: Memories of a Writing Life

suggested by Sarah-Lucy




A Tree Grows in Brooklyn
by Betty Smith

suggested by Megan




The Poison Wood Bible
by Barbara Kingslover

suggested by Katie




Suite Francaise
by Irene Nemirovsky

suggested by Katie




Water for Elephants
by Sara Gruen

suggested by Katie and by Red




The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle
by Haruki Maurakami

suggested by Katie




The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao
by Junot Diaz

suggested by Katie




The Sex Lives of Cannibals
by Maarten Troust

suggested by Christie (she said it was quite possibly the funniest book she's ever read)




The Unwanted
by Kien Nguyen

suggested by Christie




Observatory Mansions
by Edward Carey

suggested by Christie



The Shadow of the Wind
by Carlos Ruiz Zafon

suggested by Mariah




The Historian
by Elizabeth Lostova

suggested by Mariah 




The Bone Man of Benares 

by Terry Tarnoff

suggested by Tina Tarnoff









The Feast of Love
by Charles Baxter

suggested by Thao














The Time Traveler's Wife   (NOW READING)

by Audrey Niffengger

suggested by Micaela 














The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time
by Mark Haddon

suggested by Krysta











The Dud Avocado 
by Elaine Dundy

suggested by iheartkiwi














Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close
by Jonathan Safran Foer

suggested by Krysta














Animal, Vegetable, Miracle
by Barbara Kingsolver

suggested by MMW













The God of Animals
by Aryn Kyle

suggested by Lauren














The History of Love
by Nicole Krauss

suggested by JulieD











The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society
by Mary Ann Schaffer and Annie Barrows

suggested by Tina Tarnoff












On Beauty
by Zadie Smith

suggested by hay













The Blind Assassin
by Margaret Atwood

suggested by Gabby












photo credits (clockwise): 
kate spade ad, yellowbird on flickr, 
(need your help on this one),