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Posts from — July 2012


4th of July. Somehow, summer has arrived. (my) Kids are busy at camp, a hazy heat has descended on this fair city, and I keep getting asked what I’m reading.

Buckle up! Here’s the MOAM summer reading list for 2012. No 50 Shades Trilogy here. Most of you have either read it, or read enough about it that you can’t be bothered. But here are some other books I’ve enjoyed and think you will, too.

Room – Emma Donoghue.
I resisted reading this for a long time. Award-winning, oft-discussed story of a young boy who has never been outside of the room he’s been locked in by the man who abducted his mother. Sounds horrific, but, as I was told over and over and over again – it’s not what you think. And it’s not. A tender, brilliantly crafted story of resilience and hope, if you’re one of the very few who’ve let this one go, now’s the time to try it.

The Adults – Alison Espach.
14-year-old teen thinks her life sucks. Who didn’t at 14 right? It’s another coming of age novel! I love them.Set in the 90’s, our heroine tries to figure out how to deal with the adults in her life – while becoming one herself. From shocker to suicide to school, first love, friends and freedom, it hits all the right notes in all the right ways….

The Rules of Civility – Amor Towles.
New Year’s Eve in NYC. It’s 1938 and an uncompromising first-gen woman is discovering herself. Yup, another one of those. This one kind of carries on where Edith Wharton and Henry James left off…Similar vibe – only reads as though it could be adapted for the screen. You know when you think back to one night, or one event, that set your life on a different path? That’s what this book does, with an immensely likeable main character and glamorous evocation of Manhattan in a very different, cinematically familiar time.

The Buddha in the Attic – Julie Otsuka.
This novel is pure poetry. Tracing a group of “picture brides” as they are brought from their native Japan to join their unseen Japanese husbands in San Franscisco it begins on the boat over. Through a group of anonymous women, we witness their ever-changing lives – from brides to mothers, Japanese to Americans. Written so sparingly, so brilliantly, this a quick and easy read that will stay with you long after you turn the last page.

The Dovekeepers – Alice Hoffman.
Every once in a while, I need to get into a big ol’ biblical novel. Set about 2000 years ago this is a fictional retelling of the story of Massada. For those who haven’t seen the mini-series or done the hike, it’s a mountain palace built by King Herod where, for many months, a small community of Jews held the Roman army at bay until they chose death over submission. Hoffman tells the story as seen through the independent eyes of four women – all at different ages and stages: an unwanted daughter. A grieving widow. A secret soldier. A magical medicine woman. Pageturner!!!!

The Night Circus – Eric Morgenstern.
Duelling magicians trying to settle a lifelong bet. A group of contortionists, illusionists, lovers and outcasts. Mysterious tents popping up out of nowhere. Atmospheric, beautiful and creepy: it must be the circus! Thoughtful, dark and delicious, the Cirque des Reves is the magnificent backdrop for two brilliant magicians who’ve been trained to battle it out and be the last one standing – until falling in love gets in their way. Dreamy indeed…

Grace Williams Says it Loud – Emma Henderson.
This is sort of Cuckoo’s Nest but with kids. Sounds brutal right? It is – but in a good way. In mid-century England a child is born, severely challenged and is, of course, sent away to a “home”. This is her story, from her point of view. Compelling, heartbreaking and even uplifting, this follows our heroine from her first institutionalized days until the last days of the institution itself.

The Leftovers – Tom Perrotta.
What would happen if millions of people suddenly disappeared from the earth? That’s the premise behind the latest tale of suburban angst and depression by Tom Perrotta. With dark humour and subtle satire, we meet a bunch of ordinary folks living in a bizarrely abnormal world. How do they cope? How would you cope?

The Sense of an Ending – Julian Barnes.
A middle-aged man looks back on his life and the people in it. Sounds simple. Au contraire. While this novella can be read in a day or two, it’ll stick with you as you re-play it in your head. The subject of countless blogs/discussions/arguments, it’s a smarty-pants book (especially if you read it post 50 Shades. It made me feel like a real dolt.) This is a dinner-party book, begging you to answer: what do you think happened? And, really, I’d like to know…

Gone Girl – Gillian Flynn. The “it” book of the moment. Husband moves his New York born ‘n bred wife back to his dreary Missouri hometown. To outside eyes, they’re both fabulous, but they’re hardly perfect. On their 5th anniversary, the wife disappears. Did the husband do it? Who knows? I’m halfway through and loving it!

Finally, two good books by two great writers: Great House: A Novel by Nicole Krauss and
The Marriage Plot by Jeffrey Euginides.

I both enjoyed and was disappointed by each of these books. The predecessors of each (The History of Love and Middlesex) were so brilliant that I suppose I was bound to be disappointed. They were obviously “good books” but showstoppers? Not sure. Worth a look though – what’s “ish” for these writers is still genius…

Enjoy!!!! (and yes, you can click through on these purdy pictures to order…)


July 4, 2012   No Comments