Reading Jag

I’ve been reading about a book a day.  Gulping books.  Inhaling them.   Reading until my hands hurt from holding the books, until my eyes are grainy.  A few I’ve enjoyed, in no particular order:

The Jane Austen Book Club, by Karen Joy Fowler, which had such a non-descript cover on the originalJaneaustenbookclub that
I just didn’t know why I’d read it.  An ARC with the new cover showed up on my doorstep and I put it on my desk to read next.  Shallow of me, I’m sure, to judge a book by its cover, but there it is.  I’m human.  And I now apologize, because this book is a delight–many of the conventions of group stories, following divorces and love affairs and deaths and dogs, and of course, Austen.  It is elevated by Fowler’s bold tenderness for reading and readers, why we read and how seriously we take it, and how much pleasure we derive from it, and how silly it is to be snobby.

Local Girls, by Alice Hoffman, who is always one of my favorites. She has never written a book I didn’t love madly. And it’s all here in this loosely connected group of stories about Gretel Samuelson and her friends and family in a suburban neighborhood on Long Island–Hoffman’s silvery magic, the lure of our longings, the darkness of lost lives and wrong turns balanced with the promise that magic and faith are–eventually–rewarded, that karma does out (even if it is in the form of a ghostly grandmother taking revenge on a cheating man by pouring butter into his food), and there is something powerful in moonlight.   

The Great Man by Kate Christensen is a witty, earthy, fast-paced novel about the women who lovGreatmaned a
famous painter in mid-century Manhattan.  The pleasure in this novel, for me, was in the great richness of these women’s lives, all of them past 70–still juicy, still ripe with surprises and friendships at an age when women (and men) are mostly invisible in fiction.  I’ve not read Christensen before, but now I think I must go find some backlist. Her use of the language is playful, rich, and never self-conscious. 

The only trouble is, I’ve now peeled through the pile I’d stacked up for plane reading.  So what’s a reader to do?  I guess I’ll have to just go buy more books! I have lots on my list, but of course, I’m always open to suggestions, too.

Last Modified on December 29, 2015
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7 thoughts on “Reading Jag

  1. Mel

    Hmmm, Barbara type books. I think you’d like Ysabel by GGK, set in modern Italy with photography and redemption and reincarnation of a sort. Or his Tigana or Lions of Al Rassan (fantasy worlds but european history analogs). Or Bujold’s Sharing Knife books. Not that I’m pimping fantasy or anything : )

    Or His Majesty’s Dragon. Or I really like Agnes and the Hitman but you’ve probably got that already!

  2. I did just read Agnes and the Hitman, and it was a wicked delight. I haven’t read GGK, and it would be cool to read about Italy.

  3. Anonymous

    I’d like to recommend a book, if you haven’t already read it, by this Indian author; his debut novel in fact, set in 1920s India. It’s called The Last Song of Dusk, by Siddharth Dhanvant Shanghvi. Some beautiful beauiful prose, and a lovely take on relationships in general.

  4. oh, Barbara, you do NOT know what you’ve let yourself in for here. I could suggest books DAY and NIGHT until most probably the end of time.
    so, deep breath, here goes.
    First the Barbara Kingsolver I mentioned in the organic post comments, Animal, Vegetable, Miracle. I KNOW you’ll love that one.
    Next, Stephenie Meyer has 2 sequels to Twilight out, Eclipse juust came out.
    I just reread Swapping Lives by Jane Green and Goodbye, Jimmy Choo, by Annie Sanders (actually 2 authors writing one book which shocked me, their collaboration was SEAMLESS).
    gods in Alabama and Between, Georgia (really good on audiotape, the author was an actress) by Joshilyn Jackson.
    anything by Sara Lewis, but particularly Second Draft of My Life.
    ditto Sharon Shinn, but Summers at Castle Auburn is probably my favorite. Starts slow but the most wonderful and poignant happy ending.
    Patricia McKillip’s The Book of Atrix Wolfe. What that woman can do with words…
    Sunshine by Robin McKinley. And Deerskin too, for anyone who’s a survivor of abuse.
    The Tiara Club by Beverly Brandt.
    And I will finish up with the Kushiel trio by Jacqueline Carey: Kushiel’s Dart, et al.

    Hope you find some stuff you really love! And please let me know what struck a chord with you.

  5. Forgot to mention one of the best books I’ve discovered in a long time: Daughter of the Forest, by Juliet Marillier, a retelling of the legend about the seven swans and their sister, who had to spin them shirts so that they could become human again–a wonderful, wonderful book resonating on many levels.

  6. ANOTHER one I remembered that is so lovely that I had to come back again! I warned you, hehe
    you may have already read this because it was HUGE, Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clark. but if you somehow missed it amid the hoo-ha, so worth picking up (if you can lift it, it’s over a thousand pages) and reading through.

  7. Wow, Elena, thanks for all the recommendations. Some I’ve read, some I’ve not, and will add them to my list.

    Second Draft of My Life is a terrific novel–I really loved it.

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