Saturday, July 5, 2008

Obsession. Voraciousness. Gluttony. Part II

Since you asked, here is what is on my bookshelf/side tables/bedside. I should preface this by saying that yes, I am a complete and utter trollop - a slut, really - when it comes to books. I have many books that I've started and I have absolutely no shame when it comes to cheating on a current book with any shiny new thing that comes along. That said, most of the time I do go back and finish the poor cuckolded book. Somehow they never seem to mind my absence, extended or otherwise.

Also, it is not necessarily the book itself that draws me in, but instead the mere act of reading - of cradling a book in my hand, of turning the pages, of running my eyes up and down the page.

So here you have it, a sampling of what is keeping me busy these days.

* Petite Anglaise - Catherine Sanderson
Written by the (infamous) blogger, the book explores Sanderson's life after moving to Paris and starting her blog, and the chain of events that followed. Intriguing, but not without its issues. A full review will follow.

* ! Mister Pip - Lloyd Jones
During a civil war on a small island set in the South Pacific, one white man remains. He takes it upon himself to educate the children of the small village by reading to them from Great Expectations, which starts a series of events with consequences no one could have imagined. Absolutely fascinating and highly recommended.

* Divisadero - Michael Ondaatje
This is really two intertwined stores in one book. The first is the story of two sisters and the adopted boy/ranch hand who lives with them, and how the events of one day divide them and set them on their individual paths. The second story follows writer Lucien Segura as his life unfolds and his various relationships during turn-of-the-century France. I found the second story to be the stronger part of the novel. This book isn't an easy read - while the language is sparse it seems to be jammed full of meaning. A second read would probably elicit more meaning.

* ! On Chesil Beach - Ian McEwan
Edward and Florence have just married and are on their honeymoon. Set in the early 60s, just prior to the sexual revolution, the story explores their first night together and their expectations and disappointments. It's an absolutely fascinating character study, and a study in the morals and mindset of a time long gone.

* Remember Me? - Sophie Kinsella
Lexi Smart wakes up one day in the hospital to discover that she doesn't remember the last three years of her life - three years during which she has transformed herself into a gorgeous woman complete with high powered career with a wealthy and sexy husband yet has lost all her friends. Pure fluff and entirely unbelievable, and not necessarily as good as Kinsella's previous novels, but still a delightful bit of summer beach reading.

* ! Under Pressure - Carl Honore
Honore's most recent book examines the increasing pressure that parents are facing in raising their children. From tutoring to homework, university admissions to after school programs, daycare to team sports, he reveals how much pressure our children are under and how people are fighting back. 

Set in the aftermath of the dot-com bubble, Then We Came to the End is the study of the employees of an advertising agency weathering massive layoffs. Written in the first-person "we", this is book that is an often funny (in the manner of The Office) occasionally heartbreaking and always real glimpse at the work environment and the people we live and work beside each day. For anyone who has ever worked in an office environment, complete with cubicles, water cooler gossip and company events, this book will strike a chord.

! Blood of Flowers - Anita Amirrezvani
Set in seventeenth-century Persia, the unnamed narrator is a young girl who's hopes for a good marriage are dashed by the untimely death of her father. She and her mother move in with her uncle, a wealthy rug maker. Without a dowry, the girl is left with a few options. Literature light, but a good story and interesting setting and topic make this a great beach read.
A terrific examination of the physiology of women, drawing from medical, historical, mythological, artistic and literary sources. Easily accessible, Angier has raised many interesting ideas and theories. A terrific, must-read for all women.

Love In The Time of Cholera - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
Marquez's modern classic tale of love denied. A dense and intricate read, it is, nonetheless, a terrific tale of almost every type of love story. 

High Noon - Nora Roberts
A typical Roberts romantic thriller, the story finds Lt Phoebe McNamara, the police department's chief hostage negotiator, finding love while fighting off a stalker who means her harm. Incredibly fluffy beach reading, this is still a fun story for summer with a strong heroine and an interesting love interest.

The Last Lecture - Randy Pausch
Based on, and an extension of, the YouTube video sensation, Pausch (who is dying of pancreatic cancer) writes about achieving your childhood dreams and being a good person. Best digested in small bits, as it can be sentimental at times.

Brick Lane - Monica Ali
Nazneed, a young Bangladeshi woman, moves to London to live with her husband, a much older man, in an arranged marriage but starts an affair with a young radical. 

* The Tenth Gift - Jane Johnson
Johnson's (a U.K. publishing exec) first novel is both a contemporary and historical tale, set in Morocco.

Obama's personal thoughts on faith and values, democracy and the political process. 

Tthe subtitle says it all.

What the Body Remembers - Shauna Singh Baldwin
The story of family and relationships and power struggles between Satya, Sardarji's current and barren wife, and Roop, his new, younger second wife, during the time of partition of India.

The Book of Negroes - Lawrence Hill
This award-winning novel is the epic story of Aminata Diaoll, who is kidnapped from her home in West Africa and sold into slavery to her eventual freedom. 

Gore's follow up to an Inconvenient Truth is both an examination of the current state of American politics and a scathing critique of Bush's White House.

Gladwell's study of the power of snap judgments.

Roma - Steven Saylor
A hefty traditional historical epic covering five centuries of Rome through the eyes of several founding families.

* The Toss of a Lemon - Padma Viswanathan
The story of one woman's life. Married at ten and widowed at eighteen, Sivakami is extremely devout, and her actions have consequences for her children and her grandchildren's lives.

* Full review coming
! Highly recommended


kittenpie said...

Goodness. I am with books as with lovers, a one-at-a-time girl. But of course, my grownup reading is much sparser than most people's, as I read so much kids and teen material for work. A few of these have been on my list or wait on my shelf for their turn, though.

crazymumma said...

you flitsome thing.

so many books so many words. No wonder your head is too crowded to write.

but thank goodness you are.

Julie said...

I LOVED Mister Pip.

I've been trying to decide if I should read Under Pressure--I'll give it a shot.

motherbumper said...

I've added On Chesil Beach and Then We Came to the End to my list - thank you thank you (you are my new book resource, I hope you know ;)


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