9.16.2008

Summer book club.

I have quite the substantial library fine. Go get a library card if you don't have one. & to think, I was trying to cut down on my Amazon orders? but, really, their free shipping on orders over $25 [nothing short of fantastic] has really filled my bookshelves.
I thought I'd share some of my recent summer reads... there were many, a friend to the jobless, of course. Our motivations to read are so versatile. You can tell this by the look on your friend's face after book-name-dropping Confessions of a Shopaholic or asking what they thought about The Stoic Philosophy of Seneca ?
I would say I'm 80% a part of the entertainment-escapism-relaxation crowd. & 20% of the more non-fiction, teach me something, lets explore our spirituality crowd. I think the ratio may shift a little as I get further away from the dissuasion of 'required reading' which quickly filled up that 20%.
My books find me near the end of the day - almost always with candles & a warm bath...[I'm certain I won't be able to keep up this tradition forever, but for now, I'll endulge.] ...So, I'm usually looking for a sweet story, a triumph overcome, and always a witty (but with as little pretentious-cynicism as necessary) look at life...

Memory Keeper's Daughter - by Kim Edwards
I have to say, the genetic counselor in me probably initially drew me to the subject. It's a story of a baby born with Down syndrome, and the journey of several families involved in a momentary decision that profoundly affected all of them for the rest of their lives. It demonstrated a joy for these children, and the challenges that families face from any angle. It stirs within those universal feelings and wonder of whether decisions we make are for good or for harm, and how they will effect those we love.
Middlesex - by Jeffrey Eugenides
You know, this also probably stemmed from a genetic counselors curiosity. I really enjoyed this book, and I'd say it comes highly recommended. It a narrative of a boy born a genetic condition resulting in ambiguous gender at birth - and his psychological identity struggle being rasied female...but, really it's even more than that. You'll have to see for yourself. After I finished, I was even more suprised to learn that Jeffrey Eugenides was the author of Virgin Suicides. Loved the movie, but haven't read it.
Bonk - by Mary Roach
a very sexy subject... it's a non-fiction exploration into the science of sex. there's plenty to learn, and plenty that will furrow your eyebrows. She's a fun author to read, a essay/documentary style - this is the third book I've read by her. No, they aren't all on the same subject matter. My favorite is Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers. give it a shot.
On Chesil Beach - by Ian McEwan
I grabbed this one on the sure enjoyment of his other book-turned-movie Atonement. It's a short read - literally, 2 evenings. Kind of left me wanting more, but not in that great-book-that-leaves-you-wanting-more way...more in that, did-the-plot-ever-really-get-going-kind-of way? There were pieces that I enjoyed, but I'd say skip this one.
Running with Scissors - by Augusten Burroughs.

I guess he could be considered my 'headliner' for the summer. I also went through Dry, and Magical Thinking, and Possible Side Effects--all by Augusten Burroughs. I will tell you to check out his series...but some of you probably wont really get into it. This is one of those books that you recommend to some of your friends, and maybe not to others. I, obviously, thoroughly enjoyed his writing. He reads very stream-of-consciousness, personal, day-to-day. The storyline, his story (maybe with a few liberties taken?) is a bit untraditional - a memoir of a boy caught in a disturbing childhood, from leaving the home of his insane mother to moving in with the even crazier family of her psychiatrist and coming to realize he's gay. A bit unorthodox, if you will. The later novels in the series explore his battle with alcoholism and other struggles.
Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine
C'mon, when's the last time you got lost in a fairytale? A fantasy reminder of prince charming and happily ever afters. This one came recommended by Tiffany - were your archives not erased, I would link to your passionate post about this story. Ladies, you know you're interested.
Suite Francaise by Irene Nemirovsky

I've already forgotten the plot line of this book...which doesn't bode well for this one, does it? But you all know I have a terrible memory. I don't really remember much about the Dark Knight movie either, but it sure rocked.

Then we Came to the End by Joshua Ferris

I enjoyed it at first, but it never quite picked up. It's a look into your quintessential work dynamic. It intrigued me as someone compared it to a narrative similar to my favorite TV comedy, The Office. I must heartily disagree, and say it was borderline depressing. or maybe, I don't enjoy the cynical, I'm-smarter-than-you-are writing style as I did in my Chuck Palaniuk days. I didn't finish it...I'm definitely not one of those people who has to finish a book. Why waste all that time?
Behaving Like Adults by Anna Maxted

Chick-lit, I believe is what they call this? She's got a handful of witty lines, and can keep the plot rolling for a while. I'd say it's a easy beach read... but, just that. This is as "new release" as the metropolitan library system gets. I'd pick up another of hers, when I pay my fine.

The Raw Sharks Texts by Stephen Hall

This book is....very very different. But, it was quite fun to read. I took a chance on one of the Barnes & Noble "our staff recommends". It's a science fiction story that... well, it's really difficult to adequately summarize. So, hang on, I'm going to copy + paste: "Eric Sanderson is jolted awake one morning to discover that he does not know who he is or where he is. All that he has to cling to is a series of letters and packages—which he is warned not to open—signed “with regret and hope” from the First Eric Sanderson. Attacked in his own home by a force he cannot see and memories he cannot ignore—including those of a perfect love now lost—Eric tears open the parcels and discovers he is being relentlessly pursued by a shark that may exist only in his mind that stalks him through the flows and streams of language and human interaction. Hunting the answers as he is hunted, Eric is led on a journey that will either bring the First Eric Sanderson back to life or destroy both Eric Sandersons forever."
You'll definitely have to read several of the pages more than once. If you take a chance, let me know. I gave it to my brother to explore, it'll be interesting to hear what someone else takes from it.
The Unbearable Lightness of Being by Milan Kundera
A very capturing read, almost a little too heavy for a leisurely bath-time paperback. I enjoyed the historical narratives entwined with existential philosophy. I'm getting tired, so I'm going to 'insert' another little synopsis for you here. Set in 1968 Prague, the novel details the circumstances of life for artists and intellectuals in Communist Czechoslovakia in the wake of the invasion by the USSR. The book centers on the idea that existence is full of unbearable lightness, because each of us has only one life to live: Therefore, each life is, ultimately, insignificant; every decision, ultimately, does not matter. Since decisions do not matter, they are light, they don't make us suffer: they do not bind, yet simultaneously, the insignificance of our decisions — our lives, our being — is unbearably light, hence, the unbearable lightness of being. Because of the subject, some critics labeled this novel modernist, while others see it as a celebratory post-modern explosion of narrative craft... see what I mean?

What's on deck?
I'm just wrapping up Sex God by Rob Bell. A picture of the ties between, you guessed it, Sex and God and Heaven and Relationships, the joys and the wounds, the inseparable seams that connect them all. I'd like to pick up his book Velvet Elvis next.
oh, yes, and I did read Confessions of a Shopaholic. but, I think that's pretty self explanatory, no? ....and, no, The Stoic Philosophy of Seneca is on the bookshelf in our study, but clearly, it belongs to Aaron.
At Tiffany's suggestion, I think I'll give the Twilight series a shot.
but, I'm always looking for something new [to fill up that Amazon cart]...any ideas?

3 comments:

tiffany said...

: ) Needless to say I loved this blog topic. I haven't read any of your summer reads, other than Ella Enchanted of course. You mentioned Confessions of a Shopaholic...have you read the entire series? They're all great (in that sweet indulgence- totally pointless kind of way). If you're on the chic-lit route, Remember Me, Can you Keep a Secret, Cocktails for Three & The Gate Crasher are all good and all by Sophie Kinsella/Madeline Wickham (same woman...first two books sophie, second two madeline).

I also recommend The Time Traveler's Wife (movie coming out in the winter), Atonement if you haven't read it (better than the movie), Redeeming Love & Everyone Worth Knowing and Chasing Harry Winston ( both written by Lauren Weisberger...the author of the Devil Wears Prada).

as you can see, my theme was chic-lit this summer... and between that and GMAT study guides, I wore my library card OUT!

mnk ♥ said...

love, love this post. I have wanted to read the memory keeper's daughter for a while, but I have the EXACT problem you do... my shelf is chock-full of Amazon and B&N purchases, many of them boasting crisp unread pages. I have a few suggestions--mainly fun, entertaining reads! 'everyone worth knowing' - lauren weisberger (last summer read--same genius who scribed 'the devil wears prada'). alexandra robbins is edgier--lots of true life stuff... she wrote 'pledged' (greek life expose), and one I love 'the overachievers.' koren zailckas wrote about being a teenage alcoholic in 'smashed.' I loved natalee holloway's parents' books (especially 'loving natalee' by beth holloway) and laci peterson's mom's book ('for laci' --sharon rocha). I don't know what it is about me and true crime, but I'm all over it... I have a few other suggestions, I'll have to get back with you. I'm not sure where you are politically, but regardless, john mccain's 'why courage matters' is a recent read, and I really loved it... not very political at all, very americana. Let me know what you do!! :) and props to you for so many books tackled in a summer... p.s. one of my best friends highly recommends anything by jodi picoult. have you read her??

jae lindsay + aaron said...

Wow, thank you both! 'Everyone worth knowing' appeared on BOTH of your lists, so I think that'll be first up. :)
I haven't read any more of the shopaholic series, but I think i'd like to follow up! & I think i'll add John McCain's book to my shopping cart too. (Big Fan, just so you know)
Thanks for the ideas!