It has been a busy week around here starting with a wonderful book group meeting discussing The Weird Sisters, our high school’s big basketball game with all the hoopla of halftime shows and lots of spirit, and the actual reading of three books: The Crime of Julian Wells by Thomas H. Cooke; The Life of Pi by Yann Martel; and Chapter and Hearse and Other Mysteries by Catherine Aird. Finally I wrapped up my week by seeing the movie The Live of Pi followed by one of those great conversations that friends have with each other. One point of discussion was the first book we read for a summer read (for one friend it was Marjorie Morningstar by Herman Wouk and for the other it was Hawaii by James Michener.) I don’t remember any particular summer read – what I do remember was themes. One year I would be obsessed with illness based books, another year was dedicated to the Holocaust. I do remember a brief obsession with American Prisoner of War stories from WWII. And I would often reread Louisa May Alcott as well as dabble in other classics. But a specific book that stands out as my first summer read….alas no such luck.
Here is what caught my interest this week:
Chrisbookarama led me to a post on Book Riot which talks about a Kindle book ($2.99) called Start Here: Read Your Way Into 25 Amazing Authors. Each chapter discusses a single author, why you might want to read them, and recommends 3-4 books from the author’s catalog . The authors range from Jane Austin and Charles Dickens to Stephen King, Zadie Smith, and David Foster Wallace. This might be fun to download and peruse on occasion when you feel stuck and don’t know what to read next.
As I mentioned last week, I saw The Silver Linings Playbook which features a character with bi-polar disease. I have heard that the novel on which the movie is based is much darker. As someone who has battled depression all of my life, I find myself drawn to reading about this particular type of mental illness – it seems so much more dramatic than my own issues. I really liked The Tricking of Freya by Christine Sunley (my review can be found here) and I highly recommend it. And Sophia of Page Plucker brings another book featuring with Bi-Polar Disorder at its center, Too Bright to Hear, Too Loud to See by Juliann Garey. Grayson Todd is a Los Angeles movie executive who is Bi-Polar. He is able to ride his mania to success in an industry that is rife with flamboyant individuals. However, the lows are difficult to negotiate. Todd leaves his family to travel the world, ends up in New York City and eventually undergoes electric shock treatment. I love what the Los Angeles Times said about the book, “A fine, sharp-tongued debut. “Too Bright to Hear Too Loud to See” is a novel deeply wrapped around its subject, but it has its sights on grander themes — namely, how to survive in a world not made for you.” Although a difficult subject matter, this one seems worth checking out.
I love to read essays and I am particularly fond of essays by poets. So I was pleased to read LitLoves review of Findings: Essays on the Natural and Unnatural World by Scottish poet Kathleen Jamie. These are quiet meditations of a woman observing the world, and the interaction of an individual with that world. If you like action, this may not be the book for you. However, if you look for meditations on what an individual observes of the world before her – this may work. I love what Litlove writes about the book:
These are quiet essays, even when the subject is her husband sick in hospital with pneumonia; she eschews the footlights of the stage to take her seat in the stalls and maintain her calm, thoughtful viewpoint. It turns out to be a very illuminating one…But essentially, these essays are about the way we interact with nature, our inevitable thumbprint on its dead and disappearing elements, the amazing beauty and grandeur we can find if we take the time to look, the pleasure it bring us to see ourselves and our habits reflected in the natural world.
Having just finished The Crime of Julian Wells which is, in part, about the Dirty War of Argentina, I found myself rereading Mary Whipple’s review (Seeing the World Through Books) of The She-Devil in the Mirror by Salvadorian author Horacio Castellanos Moya (translated by Katherine Silver). The novel takes place in post-civil war San Salvador and is a nine chapter long monologue given by wealthy divorced Laura Rivera who finds out her friend Olga Maria has been murdered. Laura is self-centered, unaware, and gossipy as she reflects on the investigation and Salvadorian society itself. While not directly a political novel, it seems the author does may some critical statements about El Salvador through Laura’s long commentary.