Wednesday, August 1, 2012

what I've read lately {wordy wednesday post}

It's been quite a while since I've posted about what I'm reading. Here's a quick recap.

(click image for source)

The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls -- liked, but didn't love, this book. The writing is amazing and the story is powerful (to survive, and thrive, a childhood of such horrific neglect and upheaval is mindblowing), but it's just not "my kind of read." I have a hard time with voyeuristic memoirs and a really hard time reading about parents who are so unfit, especially now that I have a daughter of my own. And lest you want to argue with me that Jeannette's parents loved her and did their best, I'd have to counter by saying that loving your kids means getting a job even if you don't want to and protecting your children from child molesters even if they are related to you. Really.

Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver -- definitely an inspiring and eye-opening way to think about food. I love the idea of eating what's local and in-season (we do it as often as we can), and I love that Kingsolver and her family were willing to dig their heels in and actually walk the walk by growing it all themselves and journaling their experiences. I think at times it gets just the tiniest bit sanctimonious -- those of us who live significantly north of the Mason-Dixon line will have a very hard time living by their principles, and I think it's okay to do the best we can and not go through the produce section with a cloud of guilt over our heads. I also think it's important to note, as a little cruelty-free plug, that eating vegan one day a week has the same environmental impact as eating only locally-grown/produced food 100% of the time (read about it in a Carnegie-Mellon study described here).

Elephants Can Remember by Agatha Christie -- the last mystery novel she ever wrote (the last one published was her final Poirot, but she had written it years earlier); her Alzheimer's/dementia is obvious through the change in her writing style and the subject matter, which is all about forgetfulness and the power of the past.

A House and Its Head by Ivy Compton-Burnett -- Struggling with this one, but determined to finish it because I want to read "real" literature along with the other bestsellers, mysteries, and "fluff" reads on my list. It's about the relationships in a family not dissimilar from the one showcased on Downton Abbey with some serious skeletons in the closet.

The Snowman by Jo Nesbo -- A page-turning thriller by yet another Scandinavian mystery writer. Finding myself skimming through the scary/gory parts because I don't have the stomach for them at the moment (warning: this one is about a serial killer targeting mothers, so you might want to skip it if you have a too-vivid fantasy life). Can't wait for Wallander to return to PBS, btw.

Room by Emma Donoghue -- I picked this one up recently because I'm using it to create something for a friend's blessingway and didn't intend to read it, due to the Jaycee Duggard-esque content. But flipping through it I couldn't help but get swept up into the narrative. I'm reading it in fits and spurts when I feel in the mood.

Major Pettigrew's Last Stand by Helen Simonson -- a good palate cleanser (and spirit lifter) when The Snowman and Room become too intense for me. Really enjoying the relationship forming between the two main characters, and especially enjoying the book after reading a piece by the author in last month's Real Simple.

The Uninvited Guests by Sadie Jones -- a dinner party gone awry due to a derailed train and a desperate group of survivors needing a place to spend the night in the English countryside...

Waiting for Birdy by Catherine Newman -- a memoir about a mother's second pregnancy while raising her quirky, curious, and energetic toddler.

What are you reading? What else should I add to my bedside table (and/or goodreads shelf -- if we're not friends yet, we totally should be!)?


  1. Thanks for posting this! I just ran out of books and was trying to decide what to read next. I'll have to check these out!

  2. I read Elephants Can Remember and I really liked it. It was different but good. I just got another one of her books from the library to reread, The Body in the Library.

  3. I used to teach "The Glass Castle" to my 9th grade honors students. I'm sooo with you regarding Jeannette's parents. Selfish doesn't begin to describe them.

    I'm a little late to the party, but I'm reading "Little Bee" right now. It's pretty amazing!

  4. How are you enjoying Room? It is quite disturbing, but the charm of reading it from a 5 year old's perspective makes it a bit easier to swallow.

  5. I've been reading, and reading, and reading Blonde by Joyce Carol Oates. Incredible, but dense. After nearly 24 weeks of having it in my house (seriously, I've checked it out from the library twice and maxed out my twelve-week check-out each time), I'm within 100 pages of the end. Hope to finish it before our Ireland trip because I have three new books ready to line up to my Kindle: In the Woods by Tana French; The Lacuna by Barbara Kingsolver; and Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn. Lots of good reading in the next month!

  6. Glass Castle is one of my favorites! I'm interested in Waiting for Birdy too. I'm re-reading Anna Karenina currently and loving it just as much this time as when I first read it. I've got a huge list though so I better get to reading!