Some of My Favorite Books

Friday, June 28, 2013

Shadow Tag by Louise Erdrich

I finished reading Shadow Tag by Louise Erdrich, and I sort of wondered
if all of her novels are like this one. I want to read another one to see. Have you ever read Erdrich's work? I'd heard of her but hadn't till now. 

I like the book and her writing, but it was just a little bizarre to me. The entire book. The beginning where she tells about having two diaries, one that she "hides" so her husband can find it and read it, and another one that she keeps locked up in a bank safety deposit box. I guess what this book boils down to is mind games. And since I don't like them, I sort of didn't like the book.

If you've read it, I'd love to know what you thought of Shadow Tag.

Book Read:  Shadow Tag
Author:  Louise Erdrich

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Elizabeth Berg's Latest Book, Tapestry of Fortunes, Delivered, As Usual

I finished reading Elizabeth Berg's latest novel Tapestry of Fortunes night before last, but I was still enjoying the characters and the story so put off writing this blog post. I get to live in the book a tad longer that way.

Are you a fan of Elizabeth Berg? She is such a good, organic writer. I've read most of her books and would recommend any to any one. She really can take a simple story and bring out a few salient points that make such good sense. 

In Tapestry of Fortune, I was so happy when I read this passage:

"But from the time I was a little kid, I was a loner:  I never liked recess. My favorite teacher in elementary school let me stay in from it; I always wanted to stay in. It's not that I'm antisocial; it's that I care too much, and so I have a lot of fears. It takes a lot for me to really get close to someone in an honest and undefended way."

Yep, the staying in at recess part rang true for me. I had a teacher who let me stay in many days. She sat at her desk doing whatever she did (enjoying the peace and quiet, I think) and I sat at my desk and usually wrote my mom a letter because I missed her. I was in second grade.

But this book is about so much more, of course. Are you a fan of Berg's writing?

Book Read:  Tapestry of Fortunes
Author:  Elizabeth Berg

Monday, June 17, 2013

Did You Know Maeve Binchy Died?

Okay, I picked up Maeve Binchy's latest (and last) book only to find out, yes, she died soon after she finished writing it! Who knew? Not me. And this was last summer.

I've read several of Maeve Binchy's novels and always liked them. This one was no different, though I have to say, it seemed a bit off in places. I liked the premise (character sketches of people, for the most part, down on the their luck in one way or another) who come together to spend A Week in Winter at a Western Ireland "little big house," as she refers to the private home that is turned into a guest house/small hotel.

I liked how with each new chapter, another character or two were revealed helping piece together the story. But since each chapter dealt with a new character, the story seemed to be a bit disjointed and not as finely tuned as some of her other novels.

I was sad to read the dust jacket about Ms. Binchy's passing:  "...she lived in Dalkey, Ireland, until her death in July 2012 at the age of seventy-two, shortly after finishing this book."

Book Read:  A Week in Winter
Maeve Binchy

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

I Can't Complain: (All Too) Personal Essays by Elinor Lipman

I love Elinor Lipman's books. I've read them all, except for her newest novel, The View From Penthouse B. And I have it on my list.

I just finished I Can't Complain and adored it. Each essay was a snippet of her life and views on such wide-ranging topics like what would happen in the series finale of "Sex and the City" (essay titled Assignment:  What Happens Next?) to accepting invitations to everything from weddings to book club and speaking engagements in the essay No Thank You, I Think. 

This lovely book has three sections:  Meet the Family, On Writing, and Coupling Columns. Except for A Fine Nomance, all of these essays appeared in other publications, magazines like Good Housekeeping, More, the Boston Globe, and the Washington Post, to name just a few.

To make it last, I read one section each evening. I will definitely be reading I Can't Complain again. At least once.

If you aren't familiar with Elinor Lipman, please acquaint yourself. Her writing is smart, witty, and always a pleasure to read. 

If you are familiar with her, what's your favorite book?

Book Read:  I Can't Complain:  (All Too) Personal Essays
Elinor Lipman

Friday, June 7, 2013

All That Is Bitter and Sweet: A Memoir by Ashley Judd

Talk about a painful book to read. This one was in more places than not. 

All That Is Bitter and Sweet really was mostly bitter:  Ashley Judd's upbringing, neglect by both parents, the path she's chosen to take in her work as an advocate with PSI (Population Services International), and more. Of course all of that makes her life now sweet, too. She can appreciate her life as an actress and advocate compared to her childhood when she had little control over her circumstances. 

I found myself drawn to Judd's story about her own life more than to the numerous chapters about her work with PSI. That part is interesting and important but was really hard to read. I know the world is a hard place and she brought the truths to the fore filtered through her experiences. Sad sad sad. 

I'm glad I read this book, but I'm also glad I won't be taking this one to bed with me tonight. It was hard to get some of the images out of my head when trying to fall asleep.

Have you read Ashley Judd's memoir?

Book Read:  All That Is Bitter and Sweet:  A Memoir
Author: Ashley Judd


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