Things to Read - Summer Reading

The Tiger's Wife
- Last year the Tiger's Wife made its way onto almost every "best of" list for the year, no small feat for a 20-something first time novelist. And while I liked it, I didn't quite love it. Though it's stuck with me more than some books that I have loved, probably because I'm still not sure what to make of it. The book consists of three interconnecting stories - (1) the narrator's own personal history, (2) the story of the deathless man (as told by the the narrator's grandfather) and (3) the story of the tiger's wife. I found the story of the deathless man a little overwritten (as in I started skipping words while reading it) and the narrator's story underwritten (undeveloped characters and situations), but the story of the tiger's wife delicately perches itself on the line between fable and reality and never leaves. As all three stories flow in and out of each other it's hard to gain footing for concepts like right and wrong. And fault. which I suppose is the book's real point.

Just Kids
- Patti Smith's autobiography of her move to NYC and her relationship with Robert Mapplethorpe (the two were a couple for years before Mapplethorpe came out) reads as a love story to a friend, time, and place. Before reading the book, I never listened to Smith's music and now I can't get enough. I think you sort of fall in love with her while reading her story, she's so likable, especially her whole love of "art" as a concept - something to strive for- rather than fame or money. Anyways, it's a really really good read.

The Good Daughter: A Memoir of My Mother's Hidden Life
- Despite the cheesy title, this was a wonderful biography. The book's author tells the story of her mother's life in Iran, which was fascinating - an arranged marriage at 9 (they waited until she reached 13 to wed), a first baby in her early teens with an abusive husband, divorce (in a culture that doesn't really "do" divorce), training in Europe as a midwife, a second marriage to an alcoholic German, and a grueling life in America. I couldn't put it down.

The Amateur Marriage - Years ago, I tried to read every Anne Tyler book I could find. Then I sort of forgot about her for awhile. So I was pretty happy that the library had this book on CD for the long drive to Snowshoe, WV and it didn't disappoint. Tyler always does a wonderful job writing books that are both easy to read and wonderful portraits of family life and the fragile bonds that hold relationships together. The Amateur Marriage tells the story of a mismatched couple who never learned to work well together (Tyler switches the perspective every chapter, so you can relate to both characters). Eventually the couple has three children one of whom, in high school, runs away from home. You spend the rest of the novel wondering if she'll ever return and if she does, what her homecoming will be like. It's all rather heartbreaking, but still wonderful to read.

If Walls Could Talk: An Intimate History of the Home - This book paints an amazingly detailed portrait of how different rooms and habits have evolved over time. Sometimes boring, sometimes fascinating, it truly changed my perspective on how people eat, sleep, and clean. For example, did you know that up until very recently people avoided eating raw fruit and veggies (because of dangers associated with poorly washed greens)? Or that the Tudors had no idea what they looked like as mirror didn't exist? Or that urine was considered a prized stain-remover right into the twentieth century? I could go on and on. Tons of random, quirky facts.

Tracey Emin
- I first encountered Tracey Emin in 2003 when I spent a semester of law school in London. I saw Emin's unmade bed in the Saatchi gallery and, while bold, I never quite "got" it. Her sex-infused work continues to receive praise and media attention, but I still don't quite understand what all the fuss is about. So I decided to read her autobiographical book. The essays go quickly (I finished it in two days) and though intriguing at first Emin's themes became old after awhile - she likes to drink herself into oblivion and have lots of sex and abortions are emotionally draining but she knows she'd be an awful mother - i get it already. or maybe i don't get it. whatever.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for these! I may just read The Good Daughter. I am always happier when I have a good book to go to. Right now I am reading Gone Girl and I can't put it down (and even stayed up past midnight last night reading it - oops!).



Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...