so, whatcha reading?

I finished The Street of a Thousand Blossoms by Gail Tsukiyama, and it was GREAT. Kind of a family/historical saga about Japan during and after World War II (spoiler alert: it was NO FUN much of the time). The best part, though, was getting some insights into sumo. Previously I knew nothing whatsoever about sumo, other than it seemed to involve enormous Japanese men grunting and gripping each other and trying to push the other down, with a lot of posturing and staring. I still am nothing near a sumo expert, BUT have a newfound appreciation for it and wouldn’t mind catching a bit of a match sometime.

I’m currently into Angela’s Ashes by Frank McCourt, which is awesome and shocking and wonderful to read. ALSO quite the downer at times. Were this not a memoir and I KNOW the author makes it out of the desperate poverty of his childhood, I might put it down for something a bit more upbeat. It’s riveting, though, and will make you hugely grateful for the simple luxuries of feeding your children well and living with them in a safe, clean home. And it’s making me want to learn more about the Catholic saints. I just looked up St. Christina, whose demise (according to this site) is slightly different than McCourt describes it in his book, but still just astonishingly lurid.

I’m a big fan of taking the big boys to the bookstore and letting them pick out a book for a treat, and then perusing the aisles for whatever strikes my fancy, and I’d love to hear about any books you’ve read that you’ve loved.

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16 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Karen Witkin Swidler
    Nov 10, 2009 @ 02:55:12

    I love anything by Joyce Carol Oates and Barbara Kingsolver. Kingsolver writes both fiction and nonfiction, but I prefer her fictional novels (particularly “Prodigal Summer”).

  2. Leah
    Nov 10, 2009 @ 03:35:56

    I’m reading “The Shack” And it’s been really good thus far.

  3. elizabeth
    Nov 10, 2009 @ 14:58:47

    I just finished reading The Hour I First Believed by Wally Lamb. AMAZING. Now I’m reading Snow Flower and the Secret Fan. I’m learning a lot about the practice of foot binding (sometimes more than I want to know…)

  4. Megan DuBois
    Nov 10, 2009 @ 15:02:59

    Kingsolver has a new book out that looks good. The gift of an Ordinary Day ( a mother’s memoir) by Katrina Kenison was just what I needed to get through my own transition of moving and sending oldest boys to boarding school and Dan Brown’s new book(The Lost Symbol) is engrossing. I had lunch with Gail Tsukiyama when I lived in Wisconsin. She is a lovely and very interesting woman.

  5. Debra
    Nov 10, 2009 @ 15:02:59

    John Steinbeck’s East of Eden is hard to put down.

    I, also, loved Angela’s Ashes. As depressing as it is, McCourt showed great courage and initiative as a youth. It’s a powerful story about perseverence and survival.

  6. thisbumpyjourney
    Nov 10, 2009 @ 23:16:36

    Oooooh, my sneaky plan is WORKING! mwah ha haaaaa… I am so excited about having all these great book suggestions. YESSS!!

    I think probably next I’m going to have to order ‘Tis, which is the sequel to Angela’s Ashes (I think – it’s McCourt’s second book, at any rate) just to see how the next part of his life pans out. But I’m looking forward to exploring all of your suggestions – they sound GREAT.

    Never heard of Barbara Kingsolver, Karen, and I don’t know if I’ve actually read anything by Joyce Carol Oates – thanks so much for the leads.

    I read The Shack a year or so ago and I really liked it. I’m trying to remember what it was that I didn’t agree with in it, and I can’t… hmmm… I may reread it just to find out. I remember really liking the way he dealt with the Trinity and his approach to understanding it. There was one scene I loved – SLIGHT SPOILER ALERT!! – when they are baking something in the kitchen and things go awry, and they (the people the narrator is with) just laugh and say that even though this wasn’t what we planned for, it’s still a good thing. Yeah, I may just go back and read that chapter again tonight.

    Foot binding is weirdly fascinating, isn’t it? There was a book I read a little while back (can’t remember the title, it’s driving me crazy) where travellers go to another planet and one of the practices in the upper class of the aliens is to surgically modify their hands so the fingers are long and super-thin and completely useless. I just thought about that in relation to foot-binding, and it’s just such a horrifying thing to do – modifying one’s body (especially children’s) so that it’s permanently less usable. I’ll look into The Hour I First Believed, too, elisabeth.

    Wow, Megan, you have boys in boarding school? Man, that *is* a transition. Cool that you found a book that helped with that. Dan Brown books are totally engrossing, aren’t they? I haven’t read The Lost Symbol yet. And how great that you got to have lunch with Gail Tsukiyama.

    And I’m not sure I’ve actually read East of Eden either, Debra. Hm. Angela’s Ashes was great. I thought it was impressive how he didn’t apologize or gloss over things he did, and I loved how humanity would surface even in their awful conditions.

  7. Karen Witkin Swidler
    Nov 11, 2009 @ 03:06:36

    Ohhh! I thought of another one — this was the BEST book that I read over the summer:

    “Elegance of the Hedgehog” by Muriel Barbery

  8. CA Mama
    Nov 11, 2009 @ 04:50:21

    Definitely Kingsolver. You may enjoy starting with The Bean Trees, her first. It has a major adoption theme from the get go.

  9. Debra
    Nov 11, 2009 @ 14:16:38

    I like Bean Trees.

    I also really like “Tracks” by Louise Erdrich.

  10. elizabeth
    Nov 11, 2009 @ 15:56:01

    Oh, I love EVERYTHING by Barbara Kingsolver. My favorite is Animal Dreams. But I recently read Animal, Vegetable, Mineral and learned so much.

  11. Megan DuBois
    Nov 12, 2009 @ 12:39:27

    I think you would like Kingsolver’s nonfiction book, Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, too.

  12. thisbumpyjourney
    Nov 12, 2009 @ 13:48:14

    Well, I am all fired up about Barbara Kingsolver now. She will definitely be in the shopping cart. And I love it when people have a super favorite book, so thanks Karen for “Elegance of the Hedgehog”, and thanks to Debra for your recs. Can’t wait to do some Amazonning. I’m going shopping with my mom today and we may swing by Barnes and Noble, and I am taking a list with me in case we have time.

    I started Rockinrolla’s book “The Airman,” which is by the author of the Artemis Foul books, but seems a bit more mature. It’s really entertaining so far, but it will be great to read a deeper, grown-up book next.

    My most recent super favorite was “Peace Like a River.” It was so moving, and I loved the cowboy poetry it was sprinkled with. The sequel, “So Brave, Young, and Handsome,” was okay, but just nowhere near the first book.

  13. Wendy
    Nov 12, 2009 @ 15:07:41

    Barbara Kingsolver is good.

    I’m about 2/3 of the way through “Almost Moon” by Alice Sebold. It isn’t as good as “The Lovely Bones” (which I read in one sitting) but is pretty compellling.

    I may have to re-read “A Walk in the Woods” by Bill Bryson or “Bird by Bird” by Anne Lamott, two of my non-fiction faves.

  14. Liz
    Nov 13, 2009 @ 22:10:46

    Must say I do not care for Barbara Kingsolver. Part of that is watching 2 kids read one of her books (I think it was Poisonwood Bible) for summer reading and both just hated it!). I just started listening to an Annie Darling mystery book on CD (don’t ask me the name; I flat out don’t remember…). I’m finishing the latest Nora Roberts in the wedding/four friends series (again, title is utterly forgettable), and for my spiritual side, a book on how to decode life’s spiritual messages. That one is nearby, so I can TELL you the title, which is a long one: “Decoding the Spiritual Messages of Everyday Life,” by Dr. Paul DeBell. The book is aimed at teaching people to decode the spiritual feedback in their own lives — it helps you describe your experiences in everyday language and then use them for help and guidance to solve everyday problems. I like it because it’s so practical, and it both spiritual and commonsense/science-based.

  15. Liz
    Nov 13, 2009 @ 22:11:10

    I forgot to add — I lOVED the”Lovely Bones.” Just thinking about it can make me cry…

  16. Trackback: book order « love, loss, and rainbows

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