Tuesday, August 30, 2005

What are you reading?

Here are a few of the books I read this summer.
Mountains Beyond Mountains: The Quest of Dr. Paul Farmer, A Man Who Would Cure the World by Tracy Kidder - I strongly recommend this book about Dr. Paul Farmer and his work with infectious diseases in Haiti and other countries. While I'll never be a Paul Farmer, he encouraged me to not give up even if the situation seems insurmountable.

Stones from the River by Ursula Hegi - This novel is over ten years old so you may have read it already. I almost set it down because I didn't want to read about a zwerg (dwarf) in Hitler's Germany, but I'm glad I kept reading as it taught me that everyone needs to figure out how to handle whatever it is that makes us different.

The Pilots Wife by Anita Shreve - Not in the same class as the other two books, but a good page-turner.

I enjoy detective novels. My all time favorite is Nero Wolfe and Archie Goodwin. I've discovered that I like an impertinent but intelligent, wise guy character (Archie). That's part of the reason I also enjoy Nelson DeMille's character John Corey in Plum Island and The Lion's Game. I was looking forward to reading James Patterson as I've heard him favorably mentioned. I read two of his novels this summer, Cat and Mouse and The Big Bad Wolf, and was disappointed in both, probably because they were too graphic and too far-fetched. I was pleasantly surprised by a compendium of mystery stories written by Dorothy Sayers.

Of course, I skated through the last Harry Potter book, but am trudging through The Art of the Commonplace: The Agrarian Essays of Wendell Berry. I agree with a lot and I disagree with a lot of what Berry has to say, but these essays make me think and I like his writing style.
These are the books that were recently recommended to me. If you have read them, would you recommend them?
Blue Virgin by Tracy Chevalier - My friend Mary recommended this book and she rarely steers me wrong. Here's the Amazon description which calls it "clunky," but I enjoyed Chevalier's Girl with a Pearl Earring.

One Thousand White Women: The Journals of May Dodd: A Novel
by Jim Fergus - Another friend that has given me great book tips (Peace Like a River, Girl Meets God) recommends this story. Would this be called alternate-history since a Cheyenne chief really did propose to trade 1000 horse for 1000 white women?

Gilead: A Novel by Marilynne Robinson - I understand that this is an excellent book, especially about fathers and sons, although the premise wouldn't indicate it.

The Color of Water: A Black Man's Tribute to His White Mother by James McBride - I don't know the person who recommended this book (it was through my husband's work at the writing center), so if you have read it, let me know what you think.
As we head into the fall and winter months (prime reading seasons just like spring and summer), do you have any book recommendations for me?


Lucy said...

Its getting to be that time of year again. The Christmas decorations are out at Walmart! (LOL) Which makes me think of John Grisham's Skipping Christmas. It made me and my curmudgeony husband both actually laugh out loud. I laughed 'til I cried. My side hurt reading this fluffy book.

Its a little dark for the holidays, but probably not any darker than thoughts you'd otherwise be having anyway!

My favorite line is on page three. "Things would get worse for Luther."

Believe it or not, it DOES have a happy ending. I don't recommend books with horrid endings. I get enough of that in real life.

On the other hand, if you're in the mood for something serious there's classics like "The Chosen" by Chiam Potok or "Survival In Auschwitz" by Primo Levi. Both of them are fantastically written.

"The Chosen" is about two very different sets of fathers/sons and how the sons grow to be best friends even though they come from two different worlds.

"Survival In Auschwitz" explores the emotional vs. physical process of breaking down minds. Its a serious read, but very enlightening.

Peg said...

You should definitely read "The Color of Water: A Black Man's Tribute to His White Mother." It's a true life story how the human spirit can surmount deplorable situations. I found it interesting from a parenting aspect how she organized her family by setting up a "queen" or "king" system where the oldest had complete authority (and responsibility!) for the younger 11 chidren while she was at work. The younger children were like chattels. It's also instructive how she educated her children by not sending them to the local inner city black school but to a school with many Jewish students.

Earth Girl said...

Lucy, I read Skipping Christmas when my sons read it in the 8th grade. It was hilarious. My book club will be reading "The Chosen" in December and I'm looking forward to it.