Blogs Are Stupid

Doesn't anyone believe in Dear Diary anymore? What happened to the joy of putting actual pen to paper? And why does every ordinary Jane and John think they can write well enough to burden the world with their scribblings? It’s a mystery that badly needs solving. My first entry contains my thoughts about blogging and will set your expectations. The rest will probably be stream of consciousness garbage, much like you’ll find on any other blog. Perhaps we will both come away enlightened.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Book Blather

I haven't done a book post in a while, so perhaps that would be something worth blogging about that doesn't require too much abstract thought.

I spent my Barnes&Noble gift certificate the other day. Every penny. In a disconcertingly short period of time. It was a pretty substantial amount, and I know husband thought it would last me a while. But I'm a complete and total book whore. I have no control when it comes to books.

My TBR list is about a mile long and I'm not a good library person. I check out 40 books at a time and then forget to take them back. I rack up huge fines and then have to pay them off in small increments. I think I am responsible for the new furniture in the main lobby.

But I tried to be a savvy shopper. I was thrilled to see several of my choices in the bargain section, which I always make a point to peruse thoroughly. It's amazing what you can find sometimes. It's there that I usually find my non-fiction just because I like the subject matter/pictures books. On this trip I found a book about the Louvre that I had been coveting had been relegated to the bargain bin, and I snatched it up for $15. This is a huge book with tons of beautiful photographs and a very detailed history of the museum. I was totally stoked.

You may have gathered that in addition to being a book whore I am a complete nerd.

I was really pleased to see a new display of noteworthy selections of both classic and contemporary literature. So instead of digging through the entire fiction section searching for those literary gems, I could simply browse the rather sizeable display and be reasonably assured of making a good choice.

Here's what I ended up with:

Cold Sassy Tree; Olive Anne Burns
Cat's Eye; Margaret Atwood
Shoot the Moon; Billy Letts
Mercy; Jodi Picoult
Sophie's World; Jostein Gardner
Wideacre; Phillipa Gregory
Persuasion; Jane Austen
Bleak House; Charles Dickens
Faithless; Karen Slaughter

I always try to choose a nice mix of brain candy and brain broccoli and I think I have accomplished that. I must confess that every single time I go into a book store, I pick up either Fountainhead or Atlas Shrugged and put them down, at least a dozen times. I am incredibly intriqued, but hopelessly intimidated. Depending upon whom you talk to, Ayn Rand was either a genius or a nutcase. Regardless, if I were to find myself incapable of understanding her, I should feel very stupid. It's a feeling I try to avoid. Perhaps someday I will screw up my courage.

If you're looking for some good summer reading, here are my suggestions:

Peace Like a River; Leaf Enger - I absolutely LOVE this book. It is the perfect blend of wit and whimsy, with wonderfully rich characters and a really clever, engaging story. There is a spiritual element to this book, but it is not terribly pervasive, only tentatively...hopeful. This is like candy coated brain broccoli.

Pillars of the Earth; Ken Follett - Another that I could read over and over again. This book is very, very different from the standard Follett spy/intrigue/murder fare. Its a very well researched and incredibly detailed historical novel, set in the 12th century and centered around one man's desire to build a cathedral. I know, it sounds very dry, but it's not. Trust me.

Of Mice And Men; John Steinbeck - This is my very favorite Steinbeck novel. This novel was written in 1937, but I feel like Lennie and George could walk through my door today. Steinbeck is an absolute genius of character development. I've probably read this book fifteen times and I still cry every time.


The Descent; Jeff Long
- This is pure brain candy, but it's a very high quality confection. Like...literary Godiva. It's an anthropological thriller, which is sort of a contradiction in terms, but it's really a quite stunning mix of fantasy and reality that plays upon one of man's darkest fears; subjugation.

Thunderhead; Preston and Child - A page turner in the truest sense. Again, it is a mix of anthropolical fact and mystery thriller. It's slightly less fantastic than The Descent, although no less captivating. If you enjoy reading about other cultures, lost civilizations and the like, then don't miss this one. And really, you can't go wrong with Preston and Child. They deliver wonderfully gripping, deliciously gruesome and cleverly constructed novels time and time again.

Sex With Kings: 500 Years Of Adultery, Power, Rivalry and Revenge; Eleanor Herman - This is a completely absorbing novel about the very complex and precarious existence of the many royal mistresses. It's an amazing glimpse into the power they weilded while still being essentially powerless. The intricacies of royal infidelity are explored in depth from Madame Du Pompadour to Wallace Simpson. Delicious.

Girls of A Tender Age; Mary Anne Tirone Smith - Though one of my favorite genres, the art of memoir is not as easy to affect as one would think. Too often it is self-indulgent, sensationalistic blather (A Million Little Pieces, anyone?). But Tirone-Smith tells the completely engaging story (murder, familial discord and resentment, religious zeal and subsequent disenfranchisement, the dissatisfaction of an unfulfilling 1950's pre-feminist existence) with a straightforward but not unemotional voice that is both refreshing and totally captivating.

The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down; Anne Fadiman - WOW. This book blows me away each and every time I read it. It is the factual account of a doctor who encounters a Hmong family with an epileptic child, and the ensuing difficulty in treating the child due to the yawning chasm of cultural divergence. There is much fascinating insight into the Hmong culture and their beliefs and how they are thoroughly at odds with American medical practices and our own culture as a whole. Don't miss this one.

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn; Betty Smith - Since I first read this book at 13, Francie and Neelie have been much, much more than characters in a book to me. This book is simply stunning. It's like...Angela's Ashes but with more heart, more pain, more everything. You want Francie and Neelie to make it, to overcome. And you are left feeling that somehow, they will.

Obviously, I could go on, and on, and on with book recommendations, but I will stop for now. If you'd like to leave some of your own recommendations in my comments please do so. I'm always looking for something new and wonderful to read.

Happy Reading!

17 Comments:

  • At 7:44 AM, Blogger Kirdy said…

    If I can comprehend Ayn Rand, you definitely could. I found her books to be quite fascinating, and I kicked myself for waiting so long to read them.

     
  • At 7:59 AM, Blogger bubandpie said…

    I don't know if you consider Persuasion candy or broccoli, but it doesn't get much sweeter than that! Enjoy.

     
  • At 8:20 AM, Blogger Oh, The Joys said…

    Those are great choices. I am COMPELLED to recommend,

    "The History of Love" by Nicole Krausse.

    I haven't read a book that good in a long, long, time.

     
  • At 8:24 AM, Blogger Avalon said…

    The Spirit Catches You--------I agree, simply fantastic. having worked in medicine for over 20 years, it was a real eye opener to relaize how little we Armericans value and/or truly understand the interplay of cultural differences. Of Mice----still a favorite.

     
  • At 8:40 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I have read Mercy by Jodi Picoult. While it was not one of my favorites by her, it's still a fantastic read, stunning in its honesty. You won't be regretting those hours spent reading it.

    Recs: can't help but recommend She's Come Undone by Wally Lamb. It's the first book in a long time where the characters have left me thinking about them long after I've finished the book.

    I haven't read but am excited to read The Road by Cormac McCarthy. I'm told this book will haunt me long after I'm done. I'll let you know what I think, if you'd like.

    Andrea

    Comments in Blogger aren't working very well for me, thus the linkage.

     
  • At 9:47 AM, Blogger Natalie said…

    Although I haven't yet read Atlas Shrugged, The Fountainhead is one of my all time favorites. I highly recommend it. Even though it is long, it is a quick read. Ayn Rand was both a genius and a nutcase so I would agree with those sentiments. GET IT!!!

     
  • At 11:43 AM, Blogger margalit said…

    Go and get your copy of The Descent. I'll wait..... OK, you got it? Now look at the picture of Jeff Long. HAWT, eh? Very very manly, right?

    Well, that manly man was my college "roomate" for several years. And he is ONE INTERESTING fellow. The stories I could tell you! If you haven't read his other books, you must. He's completely bizarro, but in an "interesting' way. Email me for more info!

     
  • At 5:56 AM, Blogger Code Yellow Mom said…

    Cold Sassy Tree is one I read about once a year. Laugh and cry every time. And Persuasion really is quite sweet.

    If you haven't read, "Bird by Bird" by Anne Lamott, add it to your TBR list. It's advice on writing and life, and I actually thought of you a couple times when reading it, and again when I read your post about editing your contest submission. It's humorous and real...

    And your Louvre book sounds fabulous.

     
  • At 8:56 AM, Blogger jen said…

    you realize, right, that now we'll be putting in our orders. you know, when you are done reading.

     
  • At 10:08 AM, Blogger Simon said…

    It's nice to find another who lives in L-Space.

    Enjoy your books and, when you've finished reading them, please package carefully and post them to me.

    You want to keep them? Spoilsport!

     
  • At 2:53 PM, Blogger Mrs. Chicky said…

    First, I can't wait for Chicky to get to the age when I can buy her her own copy of A Tree Grows in Brooklyn!

    Second, I've been working on Atlas Shrugged for about five years now and I'm still not done. I don't expect I'll ever be.

    Third, thank you for the other recommendations. I was just whining to my sister that I needed some summer books and didn't know what to get.

     
  • At 9:15 PM, Blogger Fairly Odd Mother said…

    I gave A Tree Grows in Brooklyn to the tween next door for Christmas. I haven't read it though but I will now!

    Thanks for the recommendations!

     
  • At 10:16 PM, Blogger mamatulip said…

    I say this all the time: Fall on Your Knees. It blew me away.

     
  • At 3:19 PM, Blogger luckyzmom said…

    Shogun and The Journeyer would enthrall you as I have come to know about you through your blog. And I will be taking a list of recommendations from your blog and commments to the library.

     
  • At 7:15 AM, Blogger Rock the Cradle said…

    Book intimidation...for me it comes with the contemplation of tackling "Ulysses". The husband is of the opinion that without a graduate course in James Joyce, no one can actually read this and understand everything. I'm inclined to agree...but does that mean I must give up hope of ever cracking this book to see for myself?

    The forbidden fruit seems all the sweeter...

    But of course, at the moment, it looks like all I'll be reading is "Professor Wormbog in Search of the Zipperump-a-zoo"

     
  • At 5:01 PM, Blogger Tracysan said…

    Thanks for the recommendations...Pillars of the Earth is one of my all time favorites...glad to see it on your list! I also encourage you to tackle The Fountainhead...it's a great book!

     
  • At 9:08 AM, Blogger Ruth Dynamite said…

    I'm definitely going to check out your choices. Thank you!

     

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