I've been reading pretty voraciously the past few weeks, or at least trying to--as an English teacher, I found myself reading mostly what my students were reading, but now that I am out of the classroom this year, I have a lot more time and freedom to check out some really great books. I also have an awesome wedding client, Gretchen, who keeps me up to date on her latest reads and we share ideas on great literature---some of these are her suggestions, which I super appreciate! What are you reading lately? Anything I need to check out? Leave a comment below with suggestions!
THE GOLDFINCH by Donna Tart
My mom gave this to me last week and I am ADDICTED. The author, Donna Tart, also wrote another book I loved called The Secret History so I was excited to see this book--so far it's just fabulous. It's like a wonderful mixture of Dead Poets Society, Gossip Girl and a modernized Fitzgerald tale--a young boy's mother is killed in a bombing (this isn't giving anything away, it says so on the book jacket), and it's the story of his future adjusting to this new life. It's a little dark, sort of funny at times and just amazingly well crafted. I so look forward to reading it every night.
BREATH by Martha Mason
I finished this book about 2 months ago when we were on the road trip, but I am still thinking about it. I am a huge fan of memoirs, biographies and autobiographies, plus I'm absolutely fascinated by iron lungs (I mean, really, who isn't?). Martha Mason, who passed away in 2003, was one of the last and oldest polio survivors living in an iron lung and she wrote this memoir about her (absoulutely amazing) life. She was diagnosed with polio at age 12 (2 days after her brother died of the illness) and was told she wouldn't live for more than a year--her parents should make her comfortable and prepare for her passing. Well...she lived an additional 50 years and had a totally full and completely inspiring life, even graduating from college suma cum laude and becoming a journalist, all while confined to the iron lung. Honestly, this book was wonderful and it reminded me just how lucky I am as well as how to maintain a positive outlook about anything in life--Ms. Mason is truly inspiring. HIGHLY recommended.
LAST TRAIN TO MEMPHIS by Peter Guralnick
When we visited Graceland this past Fall, I realized that as much as I love Elvis Presely, I don't really know enough about him. So I did a little bit of research and learned that Guralnick's 2 books on Elvis, Last Train to Memphis and Careless Love are regarded as the best and most comprehensive biographies of the King. This book, thus far (I'm about 1/2 way through it), is really great. Again, I'm a big biography fan, so I love knowing all the little details of what made Elvis Elvis. Guralnickwas on Wait Wait Don't Tell Me this past weekend on NPR and I think, had I been a regular listener, not already reading this book, I would have written him off as boring and out of touch--he did very poorly in the quiz and couldn't guess who Carl Castle was in "Who is Carl This Time?", but the book is great--perhaps he's a more charismatic author than he is speaker. Looking forward to finishing this and moving onto his next book.
TWO IS ENOUGH by Laura Scott
I've said it so many times before--thank god for A Practical Wedding. Otherwise I wouldn't know about this book (or Gretchen, who recommended it to me). This book is exactly what I need right now. I am childless by choice and I've found myself, more and more often lately, questioning what that means--both for me as a wife, for me as a woman and for me as a professional. Without going into too many details, I simply do not want children. I really never have and I am not sure I ever will. Luckily, I married a man who feels pretty similarly to me about kids--and that's been great. But we are also becoming the only people our age without children, and it's a lot of pressure. This book is totally rocking my socks. It's reminding me that it is totally 100% fine not to have children and that though that might not be the societal norm, there is nothing wrong with choosing not to birth children. Thanks SO much Gretchen for sending along this suggestion--it is fabulous.
THE COMPLETE SHORT STORIES OF ERNEST HEMINGWAY by Ernest Hemingway
I have long held an obsession with all things Hemingway. I love the man. I love the totally gorgeous styling of his writing, I could spend all day talking about his use of lexicon and syntax. Moreover, I love his life--as messy and terribly screwed up as it was--I love the tragic story of his son Gregory who died in a women's prison from a heart condition after living the latter half of his life as a woman. I love talking to students about Hemingway and giving them Hills Like White Elephants and watching them grapple with the meaning of the text. Hemingway, simply, is the cat's pajamas in my opinion. So, I've spent the winter brushing up on my EH and it's been great. Say what you want about his personal life, the man was a literary genius of the greatest regard.
THE LAST RESORT by Douglas Rogers
Did I already write about this book? I can't remember--I can remember, though, that is is fantastic. In addition to biographies, I am also semi-obsessed with colonial Africa and the results of colonization in the continent. This memoir by Rogers, whose parent's own(ed) one of the last tourist/backpacker resorts in Zimbabwe is truly riveting. It's this amazing story of his parents trying to hold onto their life and their "African-ness" while living as white colonizers in a country verging on civil war and rebel takeover. What is most interesting is the mindset his parents live by--the truly consider themselves African, despite that they are natively from England. His mother has only been to England 1 time in her life, his father 3 times--and yet they are, obviously, no longer welcome in Africa or in Zimbawbe as colonizers. They are without a place and without a spot to call home...you feel sympathy, but it's all under a mindset too that these are technically colonizers and therefore oppressors in many sense. It's super interesting, if only to read about the African/English mindset and how it's changed in the past 50 years.
BOOTSTRAPPER by Mardi Jo Link
The subtitle alone should be enough of a clue as to why this is on my Kindle now--Bad ass on a Northern Michigan farm? Done and done. Link's memoir about her divorce and susequent struggles to make it in Northern Michigan with her kids in the middle of the winter is a lot more entertaining than it might sound. She is a pretty big bad ass, too. I mean...not like the biggest one, I actually think I'm slightly more of a badass, but she has an ax on the cover of her book, so that's a good thing. At any rate, Link pretty much rocks and this is a definite pro-woman, go power, growl and be strong kind of read. I'm not finished yet, but so far, it's great.
So, that's just briefly what I've been reading--full disclosure, I'm also reading John Grisham's new book Sycamore Row, and while slightly cliche, I am enjoying it. Again, any suggestions are greatly appreciated!