Wednesday, January 19, 2011

book talk.

i've been devouring books lately, you guys -- i've read three in the past two-and-a-half weeks, which is partially due to semi-unemployment and partially due to that newfound love of life i've been feeling. in anticipation of my trip north on friday, i'm plucking some as-yet-unread books off my shelves so i'll have something to flip through on the plane, but i thought i'd give you some quick reviews of my three most recent conquests in case you're looking for a little reading material yourself.

the cookbook collector, by allegra goodman. my aunt gave this to my mom as a christmas present, and i picked it up before mom could get to it -- then realized i only had two days to read it before returning to sarasota. so i plowed through, but i actually ended up enjoying it, kind of in spite of myself. this is a book that could easily have turned cheesy, but its main characters -- two sisters who are very close, despite leading very different lives -- give the novel its soul and force you invest your emotions in them. foodies, take note: this is not actually a book about food or cookbooks, although cookbook collecting does come into play, peripherally, for a bit. but it's worth picking up nonetheless, as goodman's writing style is transporting -- it's very easy to get lost in her lush descriptions. the perfect book for a rainy afternoon and a cup of tea.

freedom, by jonathan franzen. this is a big, heavy book in all senses of the word, and i actually just finished it on sunday night. it's a novel that feels epic; like it's going to be one of those books that will be taught in high school english classes and held up as a masterpiece of american fiction. franzen is a very straightforward writer with a journalistic bent, and freedom is not only the story of a family -- it's also a commentary on politics, the environment, and the state of things during the bush/cheney administration. still, franzen's depiction of the relationships between the members of the berglund family-- both husband/wife and parent/child -- is the best and most compelling part of freedom. read this, you guys. when i closed it, i felt that internal shift that i only feel when i read something that's truly profound.

dear american airlines, by jonathan miles. i picked this up -- almost by accident  --  for $2.99 at a book sale one afternoon after work, and i'm so glad i did. a little book -- literally -- that packs a surprising emotional punch, dear american airlines begins its life as a demand for a refund from american airlines when its narrator, bennie, finds his flight grounded in chicago while he's en route to his daughter's wedding. but it quickly turns into the history of bennie, a reflection on all the mistakes he's made in his life up until this point, and he his earnest, almost heartbreaking belief that he can make things at least a little right if he can just get to the wedding. miles is an incredibly engaging writer -- i loved the little liberties he took with form and grammar -- and he made me misty-eyed as often as he made me laugh. i'd recommend this to anyone; i really thought it was great and it's not hard to get through.

so that's what i've been reading lately -- what about you all?

genius photographs by candice lesage austen -- aren't they just lovely?


  1. I am almost done with Let the Great World Spin, which I decided to read after you mentioned it here. I love it. xoxo

  2. steph! so glad you're loving it. :) xoxo

  3. so happy to have found your blog via sephanie's. those pictures remind me of how much i love jane eyre the movie with orson welles. but back to books. the cookbook collector sounds right up my alley these days.

  4. Definitely want to read Freedom. I'm so horribly behind on my reading, partly because English books are more expensive here. Great recommendations.

  5. aw, thanks, tammy! xo

    christine, freedom was awesome -- i hope you like it! and thanks. :)

  6. I've been listening to The History of Love on audiobook (the audiobook part I'm sort of ashamed of admitting, but oh well). love these photos!