Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Summer Loving Reading

What are you reading?

It’s a benign enough question. We’ve got a little box right over there on the right-hand side of our blog, where Jacquie, Beth and I – all enthusiastic readers – can report what we've got going on.

It took me forever to slog through I-can't-even-remember-the-title, so that title sat there in that little box for ages. Embarrassing, really. But then I tore through 2 books in 2 days – Skeletons at the Feast by Chris Bohjalian and The Cure for Modern Life by Lisa Tucker – and all felt right with the world again. And yesterday I started Eat, Pray, Love. I know! It is, in fact, all it’s cracked up to be. As everyone knows. Lots of times a book will make its rounds among my sisters, mom, friends. Everyone’s reading it. It happened with The Kite Runner, with The Dive from Clausen’s Pier, with Water for Elephants (well, except for Mom, who didn’t like the title, and didn’t like the cover), with A Million Little Pieces (which, despite the fallout, was still a great read). Everyone read Eat, Pray, Love last year, and I missed that particular boat. But now I’m on it. And I love it.

At the risk of wasting a blog post on what should be an email
(which is as bad as wasting an email on what should be a blog post):

(Jacquie sent me that. I love Zits.)

(Oh, speaking of the funny papers, my friend Mark sent me this, “the best cartoon ever”:)

Anyway, at the risk of posting when I should be emailing, or, emailing when, oh, never mind.

I need a summer reading list.

I always have a list going. In the Fort Davis and Alpine TX libraries this past winter, I looked for the books on my list constantly, hoping, well hoping the libraries would actually GET some books in.

Yeah, right.

But somehow those books now seem like yesterday’s news. I need NEW books to put in alphabetical order in my excel file. It’s summertime. I need a stack of library books on my bedside table.

And I need your help.

MB, I remember a recent email when you maybe stopped at a park on your way home, or on your way back to work, to finish a touching or poignant or devastating novel? I saved the email, natch, but didn’t mark it, so will never be able to find it in my jumbled inbox.

Jane, what’s the name of the book you (and Mom) just read, by the guy from La República Dominicana?

The Gathering, by Anne Enright, is high on my list.

And the New York Times gave the most incredibly glowing review to a first novel the other day, The Story of Edgar Sawtelle by David Wroblewski. The review is here, but listen to this excerpt:

That’s a good way for a boy to meet a dog. It’s an even better way to get acquainted with the most enchanting debut novel of the summer. Written over a decade by the heretofore unknown David Wroblewski and arriving as a bolt from the blue, this is a great, big, mesmerizing read, audaciously envisioned as classic Americana. Absent the few dates and pop-cultural references that place the book somewhere in the post-Eisenhower 20th century, its unmannered style, emotional heft and sweeping ambition would keep it timeless.
And this one:
One of Mr. Wroblewski’s most impressive accomplishments here is to exert a strong, seemingly effortless gravitational pull. The reader who has no interest in dogs, boys or Oedipal conflicts of the north woods of Wisconsin will nonetheless find these things irresistible. Pick up this book and expect to feel very, very reluctant to put it down.
I mean really. How can you not put this on hold at the library today?

Patricia, I depend on you for non-fiction titles. And Renee, you always recommend great reads (books already read: another blog post for another day).

So. Recommendations, please.

And now, I've got to go. Liz Gilbert is calling me . . .


Anonymous said...

Ahem, I sent you the Zits cartoon; but I definitely agree that it is nowhere as good as the one from Mark. That one is classic.

And as for embarrassing, well, you probably noticed how long my books stay on the blog's little right-hand side box. I need a book like "Eat, Pray, Love" (which I too loved) to knock me out of my non-reading (AND non-TV-watching) phase.

So here's to hoping you get some great recommendations!

Anonymous said...

I was just going to correct that grievous error, Beth. You get full credit for that one. But I just e-mailed Ellie a comic that I hope she'll add, because it's FUNNY and fitting for this blog.

I have also been reading embarrassingly slowly. And lately I always DON'T have my book when I need it. Like when I'm sitting at karate for 2 freaking hours.

But I digress. My last read was that Amish Jodi Picoult piece of shit. I want to read James Frey's new one. I gave Bill "No Country for Old Men" for Father's Day, I've been wanting to read that. I have The Gathering on my night stand.

I'm psyched for some good recommendations, but bet we'll get more via e-mail than comments! Silly friends of ours.

Great post, El.

Anonymous said...

Oh my gosh. Really? Beth sent it, not Jacquie? Hmmmm. How bizarre.

Jacq, I LOVE the comic. I think it needs a Blog Of Its Own.....

Anonymous said...

I'm done with Jodi Picault.

I've not read "No Country for Old Men", even though the movie was filmed right down the road from Fort Davis in Marfa, Texas. I think "The Road" is one of the best books ever, and I think Cormac McCarthy can do no wrong.

And I found the MB book title! Here 'tis:

I sat in the sun in Madison Square Park at lunchtime and it was SO nice. Read my heartbreaking book, This Human Season by Louise Dean. About the Troubles in Northern Island (Belfast, the Maze Prison). Ach.

Anonymous said...

I'm a book whore. I read like I'm a cannibal having his inlaws over for lunch.

That is why I use ALIBRIS.COM. You can actually get a new, hardcover book for anywhere from $2 on up. The shipping and handling can kill ya, unless you can get several books from the same bookseller. See whatcha think about the place.

newduck said...

I'm so impressed with Dana Wyzard's comment that I'm going to hop on over to her blog and see what it's about. Hopefully it's not, like, some crazy shit.

Anyway, I'm also a cannibal reader and I also like Alibris, except for the fact that they send you waaay too many e-mails if you ever buy anything from them. For summer reading, I just got "Best Friends" by Martha Moody. Seems trite, but she's such a good writer it was a page-turner for me. I also recently read "I Feel Bad About My Neck" (or something like that) by Nora Ephron and I LOVED it. Super easy reading, but fun. And great for the beach.

On a side note, I'm what you'd call a "library villian" and am permanently banned from using the library in three different cities due to the fact that once I check a book out I believe it belongs to me and would not give it back for hell or high water.

Unknown said...

Hmmm, I usually don't have current novels to recommend because I have a knee-jerk reaction to do the exact opposite of the "popular" thing.

On a non-fiction note, however, I highly recommend Eleanor Herman's "Sex with Kings" and "Sex With the Queen". It's like, historical gossip! Light, fluffy, and highly entertaining. And it's technically non-fiction, so you can claim educational points when you look back on your summer!

Rita said...

I loved No Country For Old Men. Read it before you see the movie, because the movie is good, but it's like the Cliff Notes version of the book.

More recommendations (but I don't know your taste, so I'll recommend things in different styles)

The BEST thing I read recently, I mean, loved it so much I could marry it was Lullabies for Little Criminals by Heather O'Neill

I really enjoyed Aftermath by Brian Shawver (really engrossing storyline and interesting look at morals and amorality from different perspectives, the ending literally sent shivers down my spine that I still haven't been able to shake).

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak is something everyone should read, it's so original and beautiful for such a heart-wrenching story.

Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn was unforgettably creepy about a horrifying family.

Year of Wonders by Geraldine Brooks was one of my all time favorites. It has a delicious twist at the end that just spins you on your ear. But, it's not a really happy book, being about the plague and all.

And, that's a bunch!

Anonymous said...

May I recommend a literary journal called "US Weekly?" and a consumerist publication called "Lucky?" I can't remember the last time I got to read a real book. But I am going to shoot for Jodi Picoult's 19 minutes on my vacation, heard that is a good one.

JS said...

I re-read Annie Proulx books and short stories over and over and over. And anything by Cormac McCarthy is super-wonderful. If you can get your library or coke dealer or somebody to get a copy of "In the Autumn Wind" by Dorothy Stroup (out of print, I'm afraid), you'll be very glad you did. It's a fantastic novel about a the way a family coped with the aftermath of the atomic bombing of Japan. It's a story told on god it's a fabulous book!

Anonymous said...

Wow. You people ROCK. Thank you. I'm going to amass quite a list, and quite a pile.

(AKA: I LOVE Annie Proulx. I love Brokeback Mountain.)

Me, You, or Ellie said...

My coworker just told me about PaperBackSwap:

Ever heard of it? I've not used it before, but apparently you let users know which books you're ready to part with as well as which books you're looking for. All you end up paying for is postage (which I know costs more than the library, but still).

Anonymous said...

I did not know that. And, yes, I *am* a stickler for the library, since although I, too, am a cannibalistic reader (by my in-laws? Ew), I can't afford my habit. And this is Connecticut. The libraries are full of good books. New books. "Red-Hot Read" (no holds, no renews) books.

And I am the opposite of a library villian. We, too, have library cards in 3 different towns in CT (and 2 in TX. Ha!), and I am still welcome -- nay, embraced -- in all of them. Because -- get this -- I give the books back! Hee hee.

Anonymous said...

Okay, here are recommendation from my (apparently blog-shy) friend Crystal, in Florida:

The Inheritance of Loss - Kiran Desai

The Death of Vishnu - Manil Suri

Antonia Saw the Onyx First - Maria Thomas

Anywhere But Here - Mona Simpson

The Short History of a Prince - Jane Hamilton

A Virtuous Woman - Kaye Gibbons

(and you're right, Crystal, I HAVE read those last three).

Anonymous said...

My friend Steven yesterday recommended "At Swim, Two Boys" by Jamie O'Neill. On my list.

Anonymous said...

And either Owen recommended, or I saw a review for, "Garden of Last Days" by Andre Dubus III