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What I’m reading: September

August was a wash in terms of finding new books…a cruel twist of fate had me working almost exactly all of the open hours at my local library. But I’m back into the swing of things this month. So far, I’m working on:

  • The Secret Life of Emily Dickinson by Jerome Charyn. The author signed his author’s note “Paris and New York” and that really bugged me–he couldn’t have been in both places, right? But the book is very entertaining and trippy. It’s written from Emily Dickinson’s point of view (a.k.a. lots of &’s and Random Capitalization).
  • A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin. I read a short story with one of my students (“The Sandkings,” which I think should have been called “The Sandqueens”?) that hooked me. I’m 400 pages in and I understand so many more Twitter references now. WINTER IS COMING.
  • Oranges are not the Only Fruit by Jeanette Winterson. Seems more autobiographical than novel-ish so far, but that’s allowed. On the other hand, there’s not a lot of exciting scenes.
  • Death by Landscape by Margaret Atwood. This story is off the hook.
  • More Game of Thrones. Basically all Game of Thrones all the time.
  • The Secret Garden. A re-read, and I forgot how enjoyable and weird it is.
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Book Race 2013

Every summer, more or less, my sister Sonia and I have a book race. I don’t remember who started it, but Sonia can READ, so every year we tally up the pages of books finished and compare. The winner hasn’t been announced yet but I’m feeling good…

  • The Accidental Tourist by Anne Tyler (can’t believe it took me so long to find her!)
  • The Invisible Sex by J.M. Adovasio, Olga Soffer and Jake Page (nonfiction, check out my review on FGR
  • Glory Be by Augusta Scattergood (children’s lit that I read for school–if you are in 4th/5th grade and want to read The Help, this book is a pretty good consolation prize) (also, that name!!!)
  • Big Stone Gap by Adriana Trigiani
  • Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck (glad I read this, kind of.)
  • Pinocchio by Carlo Collodi (another read for school and this book is SO WEIRD)
  • In Search of Ancient North America by Heather Pringle (nonfiction, mostly about cave art, some conspiracy-ish theories thrown in and very fun to read)
  • Maisie Dobbs by Jacqueline Winspear (GIVE ME MORE MAISIE DOBBS!)

Not too bad a run for one summer. Not completed includes: The Monkey Wrench Gang by Edward Abbey, Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett, and A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin. The first two I gave up on; the last one I just couldn’t complete. And in the book race, only finished books count.

In other news, I’ve noticed a plethora of successful writers who are women with the initials J. W. Or, at least three: Jacqueline Winspear, Jeanette Winterson, and Jeanette Walls. What’s up with that?

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What I’m reading: July

Greetings from the West Coast! The pod has been unpacked (almost completely) and our collection of books has taken over our small but classy apartment. Here is what I’m reading (quickly, so that I can beat my sister in our summer book race):

  • The Invisible Sex by J.M. Adovasio, Olga Soffer and Jake Page: a book about prehistoric archaeology and women.
  • Big Stone Gap by Adriana Trigiani: I found Trigiani via Goodreads best historical fiction recommendations, and her writing isn’t the best but her stories are interesting. She lacks the magnificent detail of my idol, Geraldine Brooks, but her characters are human and the plotlines are realistic, if a little mundane. Also, questioning the “historical” category of this fiction, since it takes place in 1978.
  • The Monkey Wrench Gang by Edward Abbey. Man, that guy was ANGRY. I just finished a scene where the gang vandalizes construction equipment and rarely has a scene sounded like so much fun.
  • The Accidental Tourist by Anne Tyler! I read Saint Maybe a little while ago and decided to try this one and it was such a good call! Tyler is like every writer I admire but with more heart and humor. Her writing in the Accidental Tourist is amazingly funny. We love and can’t believe Macon is a real person, but he totally is.
  • Fun House by Alison Bechdel. I’ve been meaning to read this for a long time. Enjoyed it. Did not expect so many literary allusions.
  • Tristan and Iseult, via Librivox (a free audio book site). Weird but interesting to read the originator of Romeo and Juliet and King Arthur. Best in small doses.