Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Reading, lately

I actually read a lot, even though I don't post about it often. I have a pretty haphazard method of picking out books at the library, which is nice because I can find things I've never heard of before, but it also means I read a lot of books that are just so-so and not worth mentioning. Happily, I've gotten quite a few stand outs over the last few weeks, based on nothing other than dumb luck.

Three Junes by Julia Glass definitely sucked me in. It's a family story, with a couple of different viewpoints. I pretty much always love books with some good family tension. Plus, it's fun to read something with a nice shiny medal on the front, isn't it? If you like Scotland, family secrets and frustrations with a nice healthy dose of sibling love/squabbling, I'd recommend it to you.

The World to Come by Dara Horn was one of those books I picked out just because I liked the cover design and font choice. Uh huh, I am weird like that and I actually do this a lot, with mixed results. But guess what? It turned out to be really good, so I'm vindicated. There's a bit of mystery, some spiritualism, some art and some love. If you like Chabon, I think this is a good bet for you.

The Book of Ruth by Jane Hamilton was pretty amazing, but it also turns out to be incredibly depressing. I can't decide whether I would recommend it to you, even though the writing is gorgeous. Apparently, Oprah recommends it. I have to admit, I tend to be a little snobby and try not to carry around books with her seal on them. Does anyone else have this issue? It's nothing against Oprah or her book club, really. The edition I checked out from the library had not yet been stamped with her little O so I was safe.

Are you guys on the lookout for stuff to read? I could always do more frequent posts about books. I read a crazy mix of stuff, mostly novels, short stories and murder mysteries, for when I'm feeling too tired to sink my teeth into something meaningful. I end up going through 4 -5 books a week, on average, which sounds a bit insane, but I take public transit everywhere, which gives me lots of time to read. I'm deep in The Zookeeper's Wife right now, which I embarrassingly and mistakenly believed to be a novel until I got an entire chapter through and realized it was non-fiction/history. The title fooled me, but I'm loving it so it's okay.

Are you reading anything right now that I should know about?


  1. I was just talking to my husband now about how do people have time to read? I feel so overwhelmed with stuff...reading sounds dreamy. Maybe I will make more of an effort before bed(but I get so tired). Which one would be the must read out of these?! I may go get it.

  2. yes, please!
    I am an avid reader & would love to see more posts like this. I am scared to go and just pick out anything at the library because I've had such bad luck in the past. It would be lovely to have your reviews in mind when I go!

    I am reading Jane Eyre right now- which I've always wanted to do because it's a classic & it just seemed right. Anyway, it's very interesting. The antiquated British style of writing adds some hilarious quirks too.

  3. My library method is identical, and I get the same results. Even though I have a looong list of books I'd love to read that I'm constantly adding to, it never seems to make it into the bag I take to the library.

    The book I'm reading now is so-so (but with a lovely cover!). These are a few of my favorites, though: The God of Small Things, Skinny Legs and All, 100 Years of Solitude, Eva Luna, Midnight's Children and Everything is Illuminated. Yay books!

  4. Totally have the snobby Oprah seal problem, but one further: I like to know what Oprah's reading because I won't even read it right away if it's on her list. That and the movie-cover problem. Can't read any books that have a cover that matches the movie.

    And I would have picked that middle one because of its cover too--gorgeous!

  5. i also tend to judge books by their covers and typically end up completely deceived. i guess the saying really does hold up most of the time. i'm currently reading The Glass Castle and really like it...i think more book posts would be great!

  6. How fun!! I too admit to judging literal books by their covers. :) Haha! I even looked at the cover of The World To Come, and said, that looks like a good book! :) haha!

    Thanks for the reviews!

  7. I've read Three Junes and Book of Ruth is one of my favorite!! I also just finished "The Girl with the Dragon Tatoo" and "Serena", and I highly recommend them both!

  8. Thanks, I have to pick a book club read soon, so I may have to direct us to one of these.

  9. I agree with you about Oprah's club. I tried to read 2 of her picks and just hated them! Now I completely steer clear. Have you read The 13th Tale? Also, The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox. Both great reads. I have such a hard time choosing books, I'd love to see more of your posts about them!

  10. i loove to read but do not have nearly enough time to do more leisure reading. i am about through with the alchemist and am loving it.

  11. i love a good book. these may have to make my list of must reads.

  12. this is great, i'm always on the lookout for good book recommendations - i love reading on the subway.

  13. I really enjoy seeing what other people are reading or recommend so I'd love for you to do more posts like this in the future. I'm finishing up the 4th Twilight book right now and then I think I'm going to re-read Jane Austen's Northanger Abbey-it caught my eye on my bookshelf earlier this week.

  14. glad you did this post. i literally just walked in the door from the library and picked out some random books as well. i'll have to try a few you posted..

  15. I enjoy reading. Thanks for sharing.

  16. i looove to read and always appreciate good recomendations :)thanks for these!

  17. I also read Book of Ruth and also hid the fact that it's an Oprah book. So glad to know that I'm not alone in this fact. I like to think I'm original, even if I'm not at that moment.

    Thanks for passing along the suggestions... I usually depend on someone else to point me in the right direction (hence the Oprah pick), unless I can have a Friday evening to myself, wondering through Half Priced books or Borders, reading the blurbs on the cover. Yeah, right.

    I'm reading Best of Friends by Sarah James and Ginger Mauney (I think that's her last name). I'd recommend it!

  18. I asked for The World To Come for my book shower, and it turns out it was written by one of my friends freshman roomate. So of course she brought it for me with great excitment. And I have to say, I really liked it too.

  19. I would love your book recommendations! I have such little time for leisure reading, and I somehow always find myself sucked into the non-fiction section, but I know that I would sincerely benefit from being transported into the world of stories.

  20. I too have similar issues, aesthetic cover, nice font, even down to the publisher...I have a stack next to my bed, which reminds me to read and to post about my random reads. Our library is under construction, t'is open, but a mess so I have gotten off track with my weekly trips.
    Thanks for sharing your books-

  21. I love your blog and I can't believe I've never commented before! I'm a big reader as well. I got a kick out of Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert this year, and some of my other favorites are Everything Is Illuminated by Jonathan Safran Foer and The Time-Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger. Good luck finding more good reads!

  22. The thing about O's book club isn't so much that I don't like her, but more that it makes you look like a total sheep if you decide to go along with it. Also, books are such a personal thing and when you find a favorite that everyone latches on to, I get possessive. When everyone in American started walking around with a copy of East of Eden I wanted to cry.

  23. i LOVE book recommendations! a friend of mine suggested three junes to me a few years ago, but i'd never gotten around to it. i'll have to put it back on my must-read list!

    most of my books on it recently are a lot of non-fiction, including the omnivores dilemma (current read, by michael pollan), next up is 'in defense of food' (ditto author), and then 'stuffed and starved' by raj patel.

    re: the not-a-paper-cup-cup... i could always go back to the store where i saw it in person, and give it a toss on the floor as an experiment. i'll report back to you. stay tuned. ;)

  24. OH and re: snobby oprah book seal problem.. i'm the same way. i used to work in a bookstore and we'd all shake our heads about the instant jump in next-day sales after oprah released her most recent book club recommendation.

    weirdly enough, though, i'm the same way when i'm reading a book that's been made into a movie, i dont want to have the cover splashed all over with "Now A Major Motion Picture Starring Natalie Portman!"

    {cough cough, the other boleyn girl.) horrible movie, awesome book.

  25. 4-5 books per week? I'm SO jealous! I love to read but lately I'm lucky if I finish one every two weeks...

    these look like amazing picks. i'll add them to my ever-growing list!

    ever since I saw 'slumdog millionaire' i'm totally into the vibrancy and complexity of indian culture, so right now I'm reading 'a fine balance'. 'the namesake' is next on the list...

  26. I have a secret bias against Oprah's book club books as well! And the UK equivalent which is called Richard and Judy's bookclub. I am in an all girls bookclub and the best books we have read this year by general consensus have been

    1. What is the What, by Dave Eggers
    2. The Time Travellers Wife by Audrey Niffingger
    3. On Chesil Beach by Ian McKewan

  27. I just read julia glass's new book (the name eacapes me) and it was good , a sister story.

  28. I love the reading suggestions. Here's a few lovely ones...
    -"The Reader" by Bernhard Schlink, which is unfortunately both a Oprah book and now a movie, but I didn't know that when I read it.
    -"Seedfolks" by Paul Fleischman, which is a short, sweet story about community.
    -"Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close" by Jonathan Safran Foer, the best 9/11 fiction I have read so far.
    -"The Book Thief" by Markus Zusak, one of the best books I've ever read.
    -"The Diving Bell and the Butterfly" by Jean-Dominique Bauby, a nonfiction memoir by the former editor-in-cheif of the French magazine Elle. Amazing story!
    -"Travels With Charley" by John Steinbeck, wonderful travel writing.
    -"Unaccustomed Earth" by Jhumpa Lahiri, 2008's best collection of short stories.
    Just a few good books.

  29. Sorry, I just left the Anonymous, my account wasn't working. Anyway, hello.

  30. I found your blog through another, and when I saw this post, I just had to comment.

    I read this book a few years ago and I tell you, I thought I had a truck full of wet cement on top of me, the story was a heavy read...but a great book. IMHO, all of Jane Hamilton's book are heavy.

    I don't know if you have read it but, "The Time Traveler's Wife" is wonderful!!! I recommend it.

  31. hi
    i'm new to your blog too - can't remember how i linked in but these are a few of my favorite books over the last year or 2:
    "Bel Canto" by Ann Patchett,
    "Balzac & the Little Chinese Seamstress" by Dai Sijie,
    "Water for Elephants" by Sarah Green, and "The History of Love" by Nicole Krauss (married to Jonathan Safran Foer)

    (and ditto on the Time Traveler's Wife per other comments & to City Sage - I LOVED "A Fine Balance")
    thanks for listening...I could talk books all day!

    Karmen in MN

  32. I would love more book recommendations! I'm always on the lookout for great finds!

    I have the same prejudice against Oprah books. They;re not bad books, but I'm a bit discouraged when when millions and millions of people start reading a book. Just because she recommends it.

    But I truly loved Pillars of the Earth, which she recommends as well. And its sequel. I can also second blue12rain's recommendation of the Book Thief.

    I'm thinking of featuring book reviews on my blog as well and I'm starting a book club with some friends this summer. Yay!

  33. Hello! Just found you through The City Sage and I love your blog--especially the crafy tutorials.

    I love reading food non-fiction, and since you seem to luurve cooking, you might like what I just finished, "The Sharper Your Knife, the Less You Cry" by Kathleen Flinn--a woman's adventures studying at Le Cordon Bleu in Paris.

    I also love young adult and children's fiction--somewhat of a guilty pleasure when everyone else is reading Steinbeck and Austen, but fairy tales like "Stardust" by Neil Gaiman and the new "Demi-God" series by Rick Riordan are just hard to put down! Enjoy!


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