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What Are You Reading

StevenHB's picture

What are you reading currently?  I'm going away between Christmas and New Year's and need to bring something with me.   The last two books that I read were Rashi's Daughters: Joheved and Julie and Julia.


Rashi's Daughters is a fictional account of the lives of the daughters of one of the most respected Talmudic commentators.  Anyway, this book focuses on the life of his eldest daughter, whom the author, Maggie Anton, calls Joheved.  It's an interesting mix of Talmudic debate, middle-ages historical fiction, and coming of age story.  Enjoyable and recommended.


Julie and Julia is the book form of Julie Powell's blog about cooking every recipe in Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Volume 1 in a year.  Powell spends a fair amount of time covering her cooking foibles but addresses many other details of her life and her friends' lives.  One reviewer complains that she spends too many words on her friends' sex lives and her endocrine problems - I found it all interesting.  Definitely recommended to this crowd.


So, now that I've shared, I'm hoping that you'll reciprocate with some suggestions for what's next.  I tend to read more non-fiction than fiction these days.




Without coffee, chocolate, and beer, in that order, life as we know it would not be possible


Edited 12/17/2006 11:13 pm ET by StevenHB

Without coffee, chocolate, and beer, in that order, life as we know it would not be possible
AJ12754's picture

(post #46712, reply #41 of 164)

I had The Golden Notebook on my shelves for probably 15 years before this last move when I finally gave it away realizing I just was never going to read it.   I find that I am most likely to read those books that are recommended by people who I know tend to love the things I love -- or that are recommended by a reviewer (like Michael Dirda at the Post) whose sensibility is close to my own.


I never thought I'd get around to reading Iris Murdoch either but after the movie Iris I picked up A Severed Head and found that I love the way she writes -- and I am not easily shocked but that booked had a scene that simply stunned me.   My favorite of hers so far is A Fairly Honourable Defeat.


"Truth is the engine of our judicial system." Patrick Fitzgerald

Cave obdurationem cordis

shywoodlandcreature's picture

(post #46712, reply #42 of 164)

Ah, we might have been separated at birth.I love Iris Murdoch (though haven't read her in several years). The movie broke my heart.

At the moment I have too many books on the go, and not enough focus to do justice to any of them. I must stop doing that to myself.





"It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen."
George Orwell, 1984

AJ12754's picture

(post #46712, reply #52 of 164)

Do you like Muriel Spark?  I think The Girls of Slender Means and The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie are two of the most perfect novels (novellas really I guess) ever written.

"Truth is the engine of our judicial system." Patrick Fitzgerald


Edited 12/19/2006 8:20 am ET by aj12754

Cave obdurationem cordis

Jean's picture

(post #46712, reply #53 of 164)

I haven't read the first, but I agree about the latter!



They told me I was gullible and I believed them.
http://www.thebreastcancersite.com/

A  clear conscience is usually the sign of a bad memory.
http://www.thebreastcancersite.com/
help to provide free mammograms for women in need
AJ12754's picture

(post #46712, reply #56 of 164)

I was so impressed with those two books that I haunted used bookstores in search of Spark's autobiography which I finally found about 8 months ago in Charlottesville -- I can't believe I have not gotten around to reading it yet.  I need to pull it off the shelf and get started.  Just as soon as I wrap up those Steinbeck letters...


If you want to borrow my copy of Slender Means, I am happy to lend it out :-)


"Truth is the engine of our judicial system." Patrick Fitzgerald

Cave obdurationem cordis

Jean's picture

(post #46712, reply #62 of 164)

Thanks, but I'll put it on my library list. I have to finish Omnivore's Dilemma and send it on to Jill. I couldn't concentrate on reading while I was in my Benadryl fog, then DH picked it up. Now I'm too busy to do much reading. After the holidays. :)



They told me I was gullible and I believed them.
http://www.thebreastcancersite.com/

A  clear conscience is usually the sign of a bad memory.
http://www.thebreastcancersite.com/
help to provide free mammograms for women in need
annieqst's picture

(post #46712, reply #63 of 164)

Just finished 'Ghost Map' about the 1854 cholera epidemic in London. It started with a bang, but about 2/3 of the way through it got too bogged down in details. Loved 'Marley and Me' though I sobbed at the end. Am presently reading 'The Worst Hard Times' about the dust bowl era. Have several waiting: 'The Stone Angel,' 'Water for Elephants,' 'Skeletons on the Zahara,' and 'The Memory Keepers Daughter.'


Has anyone read Alice Munro's new book of short stories? I've just heard several people talking about it.

Jean's picture

(post #46712, reply #64 of 164)

All new titles for me except Marley and Me. I had great hopes for that one for book club but it was entertaining, but too much fluff for a great discussion.



They told me I was gullible and I believed them.
http://www.thebreastcancersite.com/

A  clear conscience is usually the sign of a bad memory.
http://www.thebreastcancersite.com/
help to provide free mammograms for women in need
shywoodlandcreature's picture

(post #46712, reply #72 of 164)

Ah, Alice Munro - I have high hopes that her newest is under my Christmas tree this year. If not, it's first on my list of must-buys.





"It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen."
George Orwell, 1984

dorcast's picture

(post #46712, reply #79 of 164)

I really enjoyed Memory Keepers Daughters.
Did you read The Time Traveller's WIfe? I loved it, and find the two tend to appeal to the same readers.
I'm not usually a short story reader, but have heard good things about the new Alice Munro.

wonka's picture

(post #46712, reply #80 of 164)

I'm putting  Memory Keepers Daughter on my to read list as I really liked The Time Traveller's Wife.

shywoodlandcreature's picture

(post #46712, reply #71 of 164)

I haven't read Muriel Spark, though I suspect I'd love her. And have you read Alice Munro? She's a true literary treasure, much, much better than Margaret Atwood who is overrated, IMNSHO.





"It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen."
George Orwell, 1984

AJ12754's picture

(post #46712, reply #74 of 164)

I've read a lot of Munro and I always enjoy the read -- but she doesn't really stick with me.  I mean I know I'll enjoy the ride but I don't get much takeaway.  But there are short stories by Cheever and Flannery O'Connor and Jane Smiley and Willa Cather and even Somerset Maugham that have a permanent place on my interior bookshelf.

"Truth is the engine of our judicial system." Patrick Fitzgerald

Cave obdurationem cordis

Marcia's picture

(post #46712, reply #68 of 164)

I was fortunate to have gotten hold of Iris Murdock books when in my twenties, but I've not been able to even try to watch the movie.

shywoodlandcreature's picture

(post #46712, reply #73 of 164)

The movie will break your heart. Worth watching just for the acting, if nothing else.





"It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen."
George Orwell, 1984

Marcia's picture

(post #46712, reply #75 of 164)

The movie will break your heart.

I know it will, which is why I haven't watched it.

wonka's picture

(post #46712, reply #43 of 164)

You're not alone. I've read one Doris Lessing and that was a slog for me. I've no desire to read anything else by her.

shywoodlandcreature's picture

(post #46712, reply #44 of 164)

I'm glad to know I'm in good company. And I know this is heresy, but I also can't stand Robertson Davies.





"It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen."
George Orwell, 1984

wonka's picture

(post #46712, reply #45 of 164)

I've been told he is hit and miss. I've just never been able to figure out which are the hits and which are the misses. I've also tried to read Ian McEwen and didn't care for his writing as well as Jane Urquart(is that spelled right?) many people like her and I've tried by reading at least 3 of her books but I just don't care for her. I've met more people that disagree with me over Anita Diamonts The Red Tent. I thought the premise for the story line interesting but the writing was really boring. The whole book was : and then this happed, then this happened, then this happened ... OK I'm done with my rant. I actually like more authors than I dislike but I can't be bothered reading authors I don't like when there are so many other books out there that are great reads.

AJ12754's picture

(post #46712, reply #49 of 164)

You are a reader after my own heart ... I completely couldn't figure out what all the fuss was about over The Red Tent.

"Truth is the engine of our judicial system." Patrick Fitzgerald

Cave obdurationem cordis

jojo's picture

(post #46712, reply #91 of 164)

ITA.  ugg.

RheaS's picture

(post #46712, reply #93 of 164)

Ian McEwan - puts me to sleep every time. I've tried reading both Atonement and Amsterdam and never even came close to finishing. A friend uses Atonement as a sleep aid. He always brings it along on long flights and only ever manages to read 5 pages at a time. He thinks it's a wonderfully useful book ;-)

wonka's picture

(post #46712, reply #96 of 164)

I guess every book has its use. LOL

jaq's picture

(post #46712, reply #104 of 164)

I also disliked Atonement. Thought the ending made the entire book a cheat. Also, it was slow.

Marcia's picture

(post #46712, reply #106 of 164)

I do so agree with you about the ending of Atonement. Acutally, I enjoyed the book but the ending spoiled it for me.

butterscotch's picture

(post #46712, reply #85 of 164)

Robertson Davies can be so terrible. I swore off him after buying and forcing myself to finish a dreadful trilogy--thick as a doorstop--that had something to do with the distribution of a reclusive art historian's estate and a lot to do with gypsies.


On the other hand, I agree with Wonka, there are some hits as well as misses. I read "The Cunning Man" just before my first visit to Toronto and felt that I'd learned a lot of things about the look and history of the city and Canada in general that benefited me while I was there. And I will always love "Fifth Business" and "The Manticore", although I can do without "World of Wonders", the concluding volume in that trilogy. "The Manticore" is the only good novel I've ever found about analytic therapy and how it feels to be a patient undergoing that kind of treatment. An old friend who is a shrink says that she learned much about dealing with her patients (especially male patients) from reading it. 

Regality's picture

(post #46712, reply #162 of 164)

Originally posted on 12/18/2006:


I can't read Pynchon...I don't know why -- I seem to have a mental block against him and Philip Roth (except very very early Roth).  And Saul Bellow.  God knows I have tried.


I couldn't agree more!  I have just abandoned my first attempt at ready Pynchon's Against the Day.  I hated to do it, but I wasn't understanding half of what I was reading.  It might just as well have been some obscure, advanced scientific text.


roz's picture

(post #46712, reply #164 of 164)

I feel that way about all, except two, J.G. Ballard novels. I loved Empire of the Sun and his latest autobiography. The rest? The fantasy? Could not comprehend those, at all!

Be impeccable with your word. Don't take anything personally. Don't make assumptions. Do your best. Don Miguel Ruiz
Marcia's picture

(post #46712, reply #65 of 164)

A first edition is wrapped for our daughter for Christmas. She loves Pynchon, but I've never even tried him. When I was younger I would have, but I have less patience now, and sometimes I find literary literature wearing.

butterscotch's picture

(post #46712, reply #48 of 164)

I also read a lot of non-fiction and think it's better in general than most contemporary novels.


I can recommend enthusiastically "Team of Rivals", Doris Goodwin's study of Lincoln and his presidency. I cried over parts of this one. Lincoln had such great intelligence and generosity of spirit that he won over his serious political opponents (of both parties) and persuaded them to join his cabinet for the good of the country. It's really grim to realize how little of the virtues these men embodied (industry, integrity, devotion to duty) can be found in Washington now.


I've also just finished"The Devil in the White City"--fascinating on how the Columbian Exhibition shaped popular culture in America and even more fascinating on how the anonymous urban setting of turn-of-the-century Chicago helped a serial murderer pass unnoticed in the crowd.