for those who are in or around sane

Tuesday, February 5

january books

january is a good month for reading. lots of snowy, cold days with nothing to do but curl up and plow through a book. this january i spent a week traveling for work, which gave me many idle hours that i filled with some pretty good stuff.

the audiobook
long way down, by nick hornby
i've always loved nick hornby's self-effacing characters and how they relate to the world around them. this one follows four english folks of different backgrounds (and yet, all still middle class and white) who by chance meet on top of a building as each are about to jump to his or her death. they agree to meet again, and again, and each new encounter gives us more backstory, more momentum for that jump - but... it never actually happens, in the physical sense. each character has a long way to go to figure him or herself out.

yeah, it's kind of a downer book, and nothing terribly exciting happens. some of the characters are more 3-dimensional than others, and the ending is sort of predictable. not the best hornby book, by far, but if you like his style, you wont be disappointed.

the book club book
eat, pray, love by elizabeth gilbert
yes, yes, i received my mandatory copy of "epl" this past holiday season... in fact, i gave the book to two people, so it's fitting that i, in turn, received it. it also happened to be the book club book for janurary (which got pushed into february b/c of travel). i started reading with skepticism, which is not how i should approach a book - ever.

let me preface by saying that my favorite female author is anne lamott. she's got a fabulous writing style that unabashedly encompasses humility, humor, faith, miracles, trials and... well... honesty. i fell in love with her rosie and crooked little heart fiction books... i ate up her memoirs in operating instructions and plan b... i scrutinized bird by bird and still try to use what i've learned from her in my own writing. anne blurbed "epl" and so i gave it a chance, skeptical as i was.

epl is the story of the author's self-recovery - literally: recovering herself after being lost for many years. she indulges us with her journey through italy... she gently explains her faith and devotion as she meditates in india... and she shares with us her recovered and newfound passions in indonesia. its cute, its smart and it's self-indulgent.... sure that last one is a knock to her writing style, which at times was too flowery and over-explanatory, but i enjoyed her journey and i learned a few things on the way. she's close to anne lamott, but not close enough to move my loyalty.

ironically, tonite is the book club meeting (if it doesnt snow...). i may give an update about how it fairs as a book club book. but i have a good idea that it will fair very well.

the recommendation
the gathering, by anne enright
i checked out the micawber's website before i left on my trip and got a couple of book recommendations. this one was the store's best seller for december, so i checked it out of the library. if you are looking for a different take on "family realization" stories, i would recommend this one. it's a modern-day irish story about a family of 11 children. the main character is one of the middle children and she brings her older brother's dead body back to the family house for his funeral. it's more about her sorting out family truths and bonds and how she's grieving her lost brother (her best sibling) than about the actual journey or funeral.

as a paradox, i had a very hard time deciphering some of the irish phrases (which were either irish words or simply just colloquialisms), but i enjoyed her languid style of writing. we follow the main character's thoughts as if they were actually happening at that moment - disjointed, full of hypotheses and jealousies and seemingly immaterial tangents. so, once i got over the language barrier, i was able to enjoy her prose which is smart and insightful without being all "dr phil." tackle this one with care and patience.

the indulgence
the subtle knife, by philip pullman
2nd in the "his dark materials" series. ok, i know i said that i didnt see the religious undertones in the golden compass, because apparently, they start here. yowsa! this guy is tackling some hard topics!

i really enjoyed this book, and i hear that #3 is even better (i'm next in line at the library). lyra meets will, who comes from our world. they meet in a 3rd world, having escaped from their own for life threatening reasons. i really dont want to give too much away here... its a story about how they find out what they need to do next... what is the next chapter... which could possibly be destroying god or helping to destroy god or perhaps destroying the people who want to destroy god... it's all a bit confusing at this point, but i'm in love with the concept because it's so well written.

and so i've entered february - with grandiose ideals of how many books i can read in one month... so far... so good. we'll see if all of these inadvertent snow days will allow me to curl up and READ as much as i'd love to!



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