Saturday, May 29, 2010

The Road by Cormac McCarthy

I don’t like books that don’t use quotation marks. It makes me feel a little crazy, like there are no boundaries marking what is what.

I mentioned this in a previous post. A friend from college responded and asked, “Does this mean that you don’t read Cormac McCarthy?”

I try to be open-minded and so I agreed to read at least 50 pages of whichever Cormac McCarthy book my friend recommended. He directed me to The Road, and so I checked it out from the library.

I noticed resistance in reading it, but whenever I did pick it up, I would get hooked and read much more than I was intending to.

This is a bleak book with glimmers of hope. I can’t say that I loved it, but I can appreciate the work.

I might even be open to reading more by the same author.

The Hole We're In by Gabrielle Zevin

Last Friday, I was desperate for fiction. After work I knew that I only had enough energy to either go to the library or to the grocery store for food.

I chose the library.

Nothing really caught my eye so I randomly picked up some books from the New Fiction section and this book was one of them.

I read it in about two days. It's about the average (?) American family in all of its dysfunctional, debt-filled glory.

I liked this book so much - I am sitting at the library as I write this, having just found the other three books that the author has written.

Oh, and for dinner last Friday, since I chose books over fresh food, I ate frozen pizza. Loads of fiction and pizza is really not a bad combination for a Friday night.

Hotel Iris by Yoko Ogawa

This is quite possibly the most disturbing book I have ever read. And you know me, loyal readers, I do not exaggerate.

Please do not read this book.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Cooking for Mr. Latte by Amanda Hesser

This is written by a New York Times food reviewer. It’s the story of how she met her now-husband and their courtship. The chapters are short and witty and very well written. She includes recipes at the end of every chapter, but they were too advanced for this tuna-casserole reader. I did like the story, though, and enjoyed the writing.

Little Stranger by Sarah Waters

This is a weird, slow book about a haunted house. I enjoyed it enough but mostly because it was the only book I brought on a trip that consisted of many hours of layovers in the Salt Lake City airport.

The writing was impeccable but the book was about 150 pages too long.

The Mighty Queens of Freeville by Amy Dickinson

This is the second book in the last couple weeks I’ve read about divorce. The author’s husband leaves when her daughter is still a baby and they’re living in London. She moves back to Freeville, New York where she grew up. The book is about how she picks up the pieces of her life and moves forward as a single mom. It’s about the importance of home, knowing where you belong and having a safe place to fall.

Tender, wise, funny, and hopeful. A nice read.

Father Fiction: Chapters for a Fatherless Generation by Donald Miller

This is by the same author of the popular Christian book Blue Like Jazz. This book is for anyone who grew up with a physically or emotionally absent father. Which, depending on how you look at it, means this book might be for all of us.

Read it.

Kitchen Chinese: A Novel About Food, Family and Finding Yourself by Ann Mah

I wrote previously that I don’t tend to like books written by Asian-Americans about the immigrant experience. However, I found myself picking up yet another one while I was sat the library last week. I picked this one up because it looked like it was about the Asian-American author’s journey of going back to live in China, which is something that I also did. I thought this book would help me process my own experience.

As I started reading the book though, I found out it was fiction, not a memoir.
This is the story of Isabelle Lee who, after being fired from her New York job as a magazine fact-finder, moves in with her sister in Beijing. She finds a job reviewing restaurants for an ex-pat magazine and throughout the year comes to fulfill some of her own dreams.

I sped through this book. I could tell that the author really did live in China and many of her descriptions about the confusion surrounding a Chinese-American identity hit home for me. This isn’t just pop fiction. There’s a lot of heart here.

A quote from the book: “I may think of myself as American, but that is an identity that a whole city, a country, my friends, cannot accept. I may think of myself as American, but it is my race, my Chinese-ness, that is the only part of me people understand.”

Monday, May 10, 2010

Falling Apart in One Piece by Stacy Morrison

The subtitle of this book is: One Optimist's Journey Through the Hell of Divorce.

Morrison is the editor-in-chief of Redbook magazine and this book is about her divorce.

Why am I reading a book about divorce when you could still call me a newlywed? A lot of my work right now is with couples going through divorces and so divorce and the relational dynamics involved before and after are on my mind quite a bit.

I found this book to be surprisingly engrossing. I can't say that I'd recommend this to everyone, but if you're open to hearing someone's story and how they dealt with divorce, it's good reading.