On My Nightstand and in My Nook

For Meg at We Be Brave

I mentioned before that I love to read and consume books like some women eat ice cream. When Meg asked me what I’ve been reading lately I decided it could be a post all on it’s own. I have to admit, I find reading new authors challenging because I don’t know what to pick so I hope you will lavish recommendations on me! I’m also notoriously cheap and get most of my books at the thrift store. I rely on the classic and modern classic authors for depth, and  turn to fantasy fiction and contemporary page-turners for casual appraisal.

Don’t get freaked out by the word fantasy. I’m a proud a nerd but have yet to cosplay with my cats dressed as knights and fair maidens.

Here is a list of my most recent rotation and a brief comment on each.

The Heart is a Lonely Hunter by Carson McCullers

This slim book is so spare and descriptive and beautiful. A story of numerous characters set in a small town in the American South circa 1939. I hate spoilers so I won’t even describe the myriad of social and emotional issues touched on in this novel.  It left me buzzing with creative energy, struck through with crystal hard shards of self realization. I will enjoy this book and it’s fragile elegance many times to come.

The Millennium Trilogy: The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest by Stieg Larsson

If you haven’t heard of the Millennium Trilogy, as the three books in this series are called, you might be living under a rock or completely absorbed in cuneiform tablets. I didn’t know much about the series when I started to read it as part of a book club with some good friends. We cheekily called our book club Books That Are Movies and we would all attempt to finish a book before getting together at someone’s house to eat dinner, drink wine and watch the movie based on the book.  Most of us were so enthralled with this story that we were well into the second novel by the time we met up at my place to glug some glogg and watch the original film in Swedish.

The first book The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo starts out so mind-crushingly slow, in my opinion and the general consensus of my friends. Just give it at least 50 pages and the story will coast along at a frantic pace from there. It’s not elegant writing but it’s fun, the characters are far more real and flawed than in the usual thriller schlock and I love Lisbeth Salander, the main character. I feel that Stieg Larsson has a more realistic handle on post-feminist/feminist challenges as they apply to women in modern countries. It’s lovely to see his feminism in a literary style that is usually overladen with chauvinist tendencies. The book does contain significant violence and sexual abuse, yet they don’t detract from the story, they somehow add to it. I just picked up the last novel on my own, and read it in a few days.

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë

I know this is the image from the most recent film adaption, which I haven’t yet seen, but I like the imagery much better than any of the covers I could find. I love this book, it is my hands down favorite of the Brontë sisters canon. I was given this book as a gift when I was fairly young and I’ve read it over and over again as the years go on. The story is so daring for it’s era and for the position of it’s author. Dealing with huge issues like existentialism, proto-feminsm, child neglect, the morality of love and marriage, madness,  bastards in the manor house, and upward mobility in the cloying confines of English country society.  it always feels relevant to me and so far ahead of it’s time. I recently read it again so I could enjoy the film with a critical eye, but I have yet to watch it. I must confess, I’m really not good at watching television or movies because sitting down for the allocated amount of time makes me feel like I should be doing something else with my time. If you haven’t read this book, please do! I just linked the title to Amazon and it’s free for the Kindle right now!

Song of Ice and Fire by George R. R. Martin

This series is EPIC! I have to actually pace myself or I will read the entire series and have to wait years for the next one.  This is not a dainty lady story. It is very similar to the Lord of the Rings The Two Towers with lots of battles, intrigues and murder. The author is ruthless in the handling of the story, nothing turns out the way you expect it to. Get yourself some nerd cred and pick these up.

Bringing Up Bebe

This book may very well change my life. I was at a dinner party a few weeks ago where this book was discussed, I hadn’t heard about but soon discovered it was causing quite a stir.  Reading the vitriolic comments on Amazon ensured that I purchased it in a heartbeat.  People who haven’t even read the book hate it! This woman must be saying something radical right?

Ok, so I don’t have kids but it’s an idea on the horizon. I read this book start to finish in three days flat, so engrossing! It was a revelation:

-French parents are not total slaves to their children.

-French parents still enjoy some privacy and a career without feeling guilty.

-French children go to bed and stay there, and even more amazingly French babies sleep through the night at 4 months old (!)

-French children eat a variety of foods at a very young age including vegetables, fish, and cheeses, and eat calmly in restaurants and don’t throw food.

This book helped me feel like I could be a good mother. I’ve never wanted to be a stay at home parent, but always felt guilty about it, which has probably influenced my delay tactics on motherhood. The only bad thing about this book is that it makes you feel so awful that you don’t live in France and have access to the amazing childcare options and baguettes. All the more reason to move…

So there is a brief roundup of the books I’ve read in past 2 months. What are you reading? I really would love to know whose writing you enjoy and what I should try!


One thought on “On My Nightstand and in My Nook

  1. A post of my very own! I don’t ever feel like I truly know a person until I get a peek at their nightstand. It’s the most intimate kind of knowledge, for me.

    I think you might have tipped the scales on Game of Thrones. I try and resist fads, but I also have a serious weakness for an epic. I actually just started Wolf Hall, by Hilary Mantel – fiercely juicy historical fiction. It sort of jolts the genre, I think. I’ve finally mastered the art of reading on the subway, so I’ve been tearing through my reading list lately: The Known World (Edward P. Jones) was a recent highlight. Perfectly composed and incredibly smart while also heartbreaking. Swamplandia! was also delicious. And while I tend to resist re-reading (there’s SO MUCH OUT THERE!), I think I might go back to Cloud Atlas for round 2 in preparation for the film adaptation. David Mitchell might be my favourite contemporary author. He’s a whiz. He does things with the English language that I didn’t know were possible.

    Thank you for sharing.

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