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vagansmom

What are you reading this winter?

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LOL, that's what I do too. My family teases me for that because I have a habit of latching hold of a good author, disappearing behind her/his books, and not coming up for air till I've read everything in print.

I will look for "The Nautical Chart" at my library tomorrow. Thanks for such a quick reply. :wub:

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I know this is a little "after the fact," but I thought I would add my opinion anyway. I was deeply moved by "Life of Pi." I enjoyed the symbolism (although blatant) and all of the life questions it raised. It made me deeply uncomfortable more than once (and even angry, I suppose), but I was forced to think and feel. I appreciate that. I am a vegetarian for ethical reasons. I felt as though the author was humanizing the animals by the personalization of the violent animal scenes. I thought it was brilliant.

I just finished "The Corrections." I found it hilarious and tragic and the same time. The author's verbally superfluous and indirect style served to make many of his points. On one level the book is an inictment of the American life style. Defining one's worth by occupation, house size, number of children, money, etc... is a path to unhappiness. The author makes no direct value judgements on these people. He only shows that in their effort to create all of the currently accepted trappings of success, a whole family of people finds itself each with his/her own miserable life. On another level, these very people make their way through some major life "corrections," and find at least some peace in their lives. I recommend it.

I just reread "Cry The Beloved Country" by Alan Paton. It is one of my all time favorite books. Beautiful, ethical - without being polemic, and thought provoking. The story follows one man as he searches for his son in Johannesburg, South Africa during the height of Apartheid. I read it in school in 8th grade. Loved it then. Still love it.

OK, I also just read the "Illiad" by Homer. I just hadn't read it, and felt like it was a good idea. I have to admit it wasn't bad. Long and full of confusing names. VIOLENT!!! I had to skim through the middle third of the book, but overall found it to be less difficult than I had anticipated.

I am about to read "A Confederacy of Dunces" and "Mrs. Kimble." (A college friend of mine - Jeniffer Haigh - wrote it. Has anyone heard of it?) I am also in the middle of reading a non-fiction book called "When Religion Becomes Evil" by Charles Kimball. It deals with extremeism that leads to violence and other evils. I have a need to read more than one thing at a time unless I am reading something so magnetic that I cannot put it down.

I am so glad that this forum is available on this board. I love to read. And it's so interesting to read others' opinions of books. Thank you.

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I know this sounds traitorous to the area I'm from, but I never could get through "Confederacy of Dunces," because I see too many of them in everyday life and it just isn't amusing when you have to live it. Incidentally, there's an annual dance concert (modern) given every year here entitled "A Confederacy of Dances."

I can't believe I finally just read my first Ethan Canin book, "The Emperor's Club" -- yes, the movie of the same name is based on the book. It seems from some of the research I've done that people feel very strongly for or against Canin's writing. I, personally, have to admire someone who penned bestsellers while attending medical school. (He's since given up medicine and gone back full time to writing, also teaching on the staff of Iowa's proram).

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FunnyFace, I'll have to let you know about how "Confederacy of Dunces" goes for me. I've heard good and bad things about it.

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I have been reading Nigel Hamilton's biography of Bill Clinton--"An American Journey". I do have some reservations about the book; there is too much psychoanalyzing of his subject and he has far too many quotes from Emmett Tyrrell of 'American Spectator". This aside, I was delighted to learn that our very own Paul Parish was a Rhodes Scholar with Clinton during that time. B)

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I was very disappointed by the Hamilton book on Clinton, especially since his book on Kennedy ("JFK: Reckless Youth") was/is excellent, with much new and interesting information. This time he seemed to rely too much on secondary sources and seemed to have little insight into his subject, despite all the groping around in Clinton's psychosexual innards. I missed the reference to Paul, so thank you for pointing it out!

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Okay, here's the deal. I have to read so much 'heavy' material for school that the only way I often can wind down at night is to indulge in the lighter weight fare. So, one of my favorite 'light weights' is Phyllis Whitney, who is still writing into her 90s -- mysteries that have more to do with the human psyche, often delving into the paranormal. Right now, I'm balancing Ms. Whitney with my readings on medieval Russian art and architecture. Does anyone else have that experience of having to read such light fare to balance out the requisite stuff?

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I'm reading "Kitchen Confidential" right now. Frightening and funny at the same time. It may have cured me of ever wanting to open a restaurant.

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Just finished E. L. Doctorow's small, new book, "Reporting the Universe," an extremely stimulating and provocative collection of related essays.

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Like vagansmom, if I find an author I really enjoy I due tend to try to read other boosk by them, ASAP. After finishing Bel Canto - which I loved - I picked up The Magician's Assistant by Ann Patchett and liked it quite a bit, as well. I'll spare you my views on the similar themes in two very different stories. :o Just finished The Lovely Bones, by Alice Sebold, two nights ago. Read the first chapter in the chiropractor's waiting room, thinking it was rather appropriate - don't let that first chapter stop you in your tracks...keep going, it's worth it. I'm looking forward to her heaven - for those of you who've read the book.

I love this thread, though I often forget to keep an eye on it. It's a great book list in the making!

Thank you all. :yes:

Edited by BW

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Funny Face wrote:

Tiffany, and others interested in reading stories indigenous to the South, try Ellen Gilchrist's work. A highly acclaimed writer, she pens full length novels and short stories

Couldn't agree more. I first read Gilchrist when I stumbled across "Victory over Japan" many years ago. It is a collection linked short stories and I was completely taken by it. I gave it as a gift to a number of people--my wife's mother was very impressed and has probably read most of what Ellen Gilchrist writes. Well worth pursuing.

Rounding up a few of the usual suspects:

William Faulkner--he created an entire universe in his fictional but oh so real Yoknapatawpha County.

Flannery O'Connor--you can read everything she published in a few weeks. She is known as a "Catholic" writer as well as a "Southern" writer. Pigeonholing creative artists with epithets can be useful in some contexts, but it is also like calling Homer a Greek poet. It is certainly accurate as far as it goes but is woefully incomplete. O'Connors short stories, a total of 32, are terrific.

Carson McCullers--her work is often described as Southern Gothic and is full of the same types of grotesque characters as another "regional" writer, Sherwood Anderson. Three of her novels have been made into movies: "Member of the Wedding", "The Heart is a Lonely Hunter" and "Reflections in a Golden Eye".

Eudora Welty--like Faulker, firmly rooted in Mississippi. She had a real talent for comedy--"Why I Live at the P.O." is an American humor classic. Her four collections of short stories contain some of the best writing in the 20th century in that genre. She also published two books of photographs. "One Writer's Beginnings", a short autobiography, is excellent.

Tennessee Williams--"The Glass Menagerie" "A Streetcar Named Desire" "Summer and Smoke" "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof". Along with Faulkner, he changed the world.

The fugitive poets, especially John Crowe Ransom, Allen Tate and Robert Penn Warren. In their early work the denounced Modernism (and modernity) and looked back nostalgically at the agrarian South.

There is a lot more.

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Another Southern writer, that I happen to love, is Lee Smith. Here's a link to some information about her on Amazon: Lee Smith.

When I was living in West Virginia one year, I went through a serious "Southern" phase - oh yes, and a Civil War phase, as well. We were in the most south eastern part of the state and "Yankees" were still discussed, over breakfast and The General Lewis Inn. :wink:

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I just whipped through "Kate Remembered," the biography of Katharine Hepburn by Scott Berg. It's brain candy but brain candy of a better sort, kind of like the difference between bon-bons from the homemade candy shop in town and the chocolate bar you grab out on the checkout line at the supermarket.

Very genteel writing, remembrances and observations. She was a curious mix of brash and classy, and Berg seemed to capture that. I know there's supposed to be an unauthorized, dirt-digging biography of Hepburn due out soon, but, after a week of enduring Super Bowl halftime-show highlights on TV, this dose of gentility was most welcome.

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I have always had a hard time reading Flannery O'Connor because I find her works terribly depressing. I appreciate her writing style but I still come away depressed.

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What a terrific board! Funny Face, I can relate to your point about "lighter" books....they can provide balance to the sometimes harsh realities of our professional lives. I have certainly found this to be true...not just in my reading, but also in the movies that I choose to see. I also find that I like books about women and relationships (in the broadest sense of the word). Some authors I've read and enjoyed include Barbara Kingsolver(The Bean Trees, Animal Dreams, Pigs in Heaven (a trilogy of sorts) and The Poisonwood Bible), Rosemund Pilcher (Start with the Shell Seekers), Anita Shreve (though I really hated the end of "The Last Time We Met"), Barbara Delinsky (the later stuff...try "The Coast Road"), Kristen Hannah [/b](a mixed bag...), and of course, I read Grisham, Baldacci (I really liked "Wish You Well"...a book not like his others). I LOVED Seabiscuit for those who haven't had the pleasure. Right now I'm reading the Lovely Bones. I agree with you, BW, this is a very special book. Finally, not for all, but I was charmed by the first three books of the Mitford Series by Jan Karon. The first is titled At Home in Mitford.

As I've read your posts, I've made a list of books to read! Thank you!

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Tonight I started "The Pull of the Moon" by Elizabeth Berg. It's yet another book written from the perspective of a 50-ish woman realizing that she's undergoing a loss. Hmm, do I detect a pattern here in my reading choices? (see the Carole Shields thread).

I like it; I really do. Anyone read anything by her?

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vagansmom, have you read Carol Shield's Unless speaking of "loss"?

I'm reading it now - though I'm not smitten by it, so far.

balletmom2, I've never read any of those Mitford books, but they do seem as though they'd be charming and make me want to put on my cardigan and have a nice pot of tea! :) Not a bad thing, I might add. :)

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BW, I think vagansmom wrote about "Unless" on the Carole Shields thread.

As it happens, I'm reading it right now too. Like you, I'm not smitten -- don't have that feeling that I just have to pick it up and finish it right now -- but I don't want to give it up either. I suspect that it's the sort of book that works on you unconsciously, and I want to give it a chance to do that.

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My favorite book thus far this winter has been Reading Lolita in Tehran. :yes: It took me a long time to read because I needed to put it down every so often and completely digest what I had read! It is non-fiction written by an Iranian woman, educated in the United States, who now lives here again. She is a professor in literature and is very insightful, not only about literature, but also the issues of the way women are treated and viewed and how they view themselves in Iran.

As for southern writers, one of my favorites is Pat Conroy! :)

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I knew that book/story sounded familiar! Here is a link to NPR and a piece by Terri Gross on Fresh Air Azar Nafisi. B)

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When you mentioned Reading Lolita in Tehran, it reminded me of another book, also autobiographical: Dreams of Trespass. It is a wonderful book written about the author's childhood in a harem in, if I recall correctly, Morocco. It is a relatively easy read, but thoughtful and enlightening.

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I'm reading "Testament of Youth," an autobiography by Vera Brittain, who worked as a volunteer nurse during World War I.

I also recently read a very interesting article in the March issue of The Atlantic, "How Serfdom Saved the Women's Movement -- Dispatches from the Nanny Wars."

Thinking of this article, I was highly entertained by a quote from Vera Brittain's book, especially as she considered herself a feminist. She has just arrived home from London late at night, and is highly miffed because:

Though the three maids had been unoccupied all evening, not one of them offered to help me unpack or to get me a cup of tea.

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I often feel the same way. It is SO hard to get good help these days. :rolleyes: :grinning:

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Tutumaker, Reading Lolita in Tehran was just highly recommended to me by a good friend. It's on my March vacation reading list because I fear that, right now, I wouldn't have the kind of focused concentration it requires. I'm looking forward to it though.

Treefrog and BW, I suspect that Unless is a book that will grab you emotionally when your children are leaving home. We are reading it for our staff book club this month at school. So far, those of us whose children are moving on in life - making their own choices away from home - have deeply responded to this novel whereas those of us with younger children have not. One woman, a little older than the rest of us, has said that she felt even more deeply affected by it than she'd expected.

Most of our book club group are in my shoes - with kids who are in transition in their lives - and we are, all of us, anxious and hopeful and sometimes saddened - by their choices. We've all agreed that this book is far deeper than it appears.

But I don't know if it would've touched me so deeply two years ago, or even one year ago, for that matter because my family's lives weren't in so much transition at the time, although I knew it was coming. I do wish I could've had a conversation with Ms. Shields about it. She was ill, and probably knew she wouldn't live long, at the time of its writing. That makes her topic even more poignant.

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I haven't yet finished Unless, but I realized today that I am growing fonder of the book. The more I get into it, the more fascinated I am with Reta's character and her psychology. I think perhaps this is because Reta reveals more of herself. She is so guarded and emotionally removed at the beginning. I see exactly what you mean about how it might resonate more with someone whose child(ren) are more in transition.

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