Reading Material

Tuesday, August 4, 2009 the requests for a non-parenting book list have me feeling a bit ambivalent. Can I put magazines on here? Because other than that, I've done very little to stay current in the last 6 months or so and that makes me sad. But I've been busy with so many wonderful things, so that makes me happy. A real quandary is what I'm in.

If I can put magazines on the list, then I highly recommend It is perfect for those of us who would like to do the least amount of work possible to stay current and not sound like a total idiot when polite conversation turns to politics or world news. It is the cheater cheater's guide to the news. It covers all sides (it draws from multiple sources of news coverage) and does so in short, easy to digest chunks, so if you only have a few minutes to read, you can know what's going on in Nigeria and Iraq and save Bolivia and Madagascar for another time. It's brilliant. It's all-encompassing. It's a little bit expensive. But it's worth it.

As far as books...I read and loved The Story of Edgar Sawtelle: A Novel, although I wouldn't necessarily issue a blanket recommendation without knowing who's asking and why. Is it a pool-side book you read with tasty beverage in hand? Absolutely not. This is literature. It is a beautifully written yet dense piece of art. This is the kind of book I recommend when you're at a place in your life where you can sit down, curl up, and escape without distraction.

If you're at all considering watching this movie, The Time Traveler's Wife, I highly suggest you read the book first. Yes, the book is always better. And while I'm sure it'll make for a great movie, because um, Eric Bana is hot, it made for such a good book. I enjoy a good love story, and this one was truly unique. It is not your typical love story. And it's so much more than just a love story.

If you've been living under a rock (or have a really good excuse - who am I to judge?) and you haven't read A Thousand Splendid Suns: A Novel, this is on my top, oh I don't know, 20 favorite books of all time. I read it shortly after Evan was born and I have to say that being a mother added a new dimension to it that I would have been missing a few months prior - although that was just bonus. Whether or not you're a parent will have no bearing on your enjoyment of this book. It is a beautifully written and captivating story. Written by Khaled Hosseini, the author of The Kite Runner, another amazing story, this book will capture your heart and stay with you for a long, long time.

The Glass Castle: A Memoir is not literature, but is an incredible autobiography. This book changed my life - there is a scene where Walls describes wearing her new glasses and feeling a mix of joy and anger. Joy because she could finally see everything and anger because she suddenly realized that she'd been missing out on so much. When I was about 11, my dad took me to get my first pair of glasses and I cried when I walked out of the shop and back out into the mall. It had been years since I'd been able to see. It had been so long that I didn't even remember being able to see. As we drove home, I looked over at my dad with incredulity. I could see the blades of grass on the side of the road. I didn't know everyone else had been able to see blades of grass. I felt so very robbed. And while my life was very different from Walls, there are an unsettling number of parallels, making the impact this book had on me that much more profound. Regardless of your childhood and upbringing, this story is a wonderful testament to the power of one individual to control their own destiny. Inspiring, if nothing else.

Winner of the 2007 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, The Road is one of those books that I had a really hard time with. I loved it, yet I didn't quite like least not all of it. Which I really respect. Don't patronize me. Don't make everyone happy or tie up loose ends. I hate when authors feel compelled to make things all pretty. Please. "The Road" is unlike any other book I've ever read and it was one of those stories that kind of sticks in your side and makes you think. And for that, I love it.

And while I'm at it, if you haven't read any of the other Pulitzer Prize winners from the last 10 years or so, you should. Middlesex: A Novel - unique, entertaining, and eye-opening.

Empire Falls - a good adult-themed novel. Well-written, good story, complex, well-developed characters, etc.

Then there's The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay I loved this book - and it wasn't a book I would have normally picked up and read. I don't really care about comic books or little boys who read them, but this book is about so much more than that.

There are a handful of other Prize winners that I'd recommend (except for Gilead: A Novel, which I thought sucked.) But the last one I'll mention here is The Poisonwood Bible: A Novel. It took me two tries to read this book. The first time, I couldn't get into it. The second time, I powered through the first handful of chapters and then all of a sudden, I couldn't stop reading. And I've considered rereading it now that I'm a mother.

I can't believe I forgot these two...Saturday and Atonement by Ian McEwan. Both of these books are incredible - a perfect symmetry of literature and suspenseful, suck-you-in-and-won't-let-you-go writing.

I, like most of you and everyone else on this freakin' planet, read The Twilight Saga Collection Did I enjoy reading them? Yes. Did I stay up till all hours of the night with a book light and shame in my heart? Yes. Am I better person for having read them? Good god, no. Would I do it again? Absolutely. This series is junk food for the soul.

What else? I really enjoyed Water for Elephants: A Novel. Ultimately a love story, but to quote a good friend, not a cheesy "Bridges of Madison County" kind of love story. A good life story that happens to be about two people in love.

That's it for now. I can't promise that I'll get around to reading anything more current in the next, oh, 15 years or so, but if I do, I'll certainly post it. And if there's a book I've missed, I'll add it to the list. Please let me know if you end up reading any of these books - I would love to hear your opinion and am always looking for feedback.

2 comments to Reading Material:

Anonymous said...

Middlesex was an excellent book!

Stephanie Leach said...

So funny, I have read 5 from your list already, and have Twilight coming to my door :)

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