It’s deliciously rainy outside. Today was the big Nor Cal Storm-windy, pouring, weather. In nearly 6 months of living here, I forgot what it’s like to feel the collective excitement of metro riders, grocery shoppers, and general high volume people-all stressing about weather.
Our Rain Day turned into a “it’s actually not that bad, back to the office” day. The thought of being home and cozy got me thinking about reading. As it is nearly winter, now is a great time for Fall Reading Reviews:
Heather invited me to her book club, and so in September, I re-read this favorite. 10 years later, the experience was so different from the initial read. Damn, Jefferey Eugenides. What a writer. While iPad reading is rough on eyes, I love being able to go back and quickly find passages. Like this one, on explaining emotions: “Emotions, in my experience, aren’t covered by single words. I don’t believe in ‘sadness,’ ‘joy,’ or ‘regret.’ Maybe the best proof that language is patriarchal is that it oversimplifies feeling. I’d like to have at my disposal complicated hybrid emotions, Germanic train-car constructions like, say ‘the happiness that attends disaster’…I’d like to have a word for ‘the sadness inspired by failing restaurants’ as well as for ‘the excitement of getting a room with a minibar.'” There’s so much more to say, about the incredible story he weaves together on family, Detroit, Cal, Greece-but I’ll leave it at simple gratitude for the opportunity to re-discover this incredible writing.
The One and Only
With Emily Griffin’s seventh, she brings a slightly more mature relationship than her other books. SPOILER (But not a monumental spoiler): This book has the classic Emily Griffin touches that make her books so comforting. From the main character who thinks shes’s awkward, yet the dreamy leads (though in this book, its the slightly un-dreamy Tony Romo-ish character and a much older football coach) fall for her, to the way she captures friendships. On the comfort of turning to your best friend: “instead I picked up the phone and called Lucy..I needed to talk to my best friend..” There’s a lot of these “do you want to come over and have some wine?” moments. In fact, I just searched the word “wine” and there’s at least 15 references. The one thing I’m still struggling with is the way Griffin deals with a pretty serious plot moment. I don’t think including it helped develop the story, and she kind of puts it in there without giving it the adequate attention it requires. The other issue is was I completely pictured Coach Carr to be MUCH older than his age. Apparently, Emily Griffin imagined George Clooney when writing him. From the beginning, I saw him as Robert Redford-present day Robert Redford. If you read it, think of George Clooney. Overall, not my favorite EG, but a fun holiday weekend read.
This was my first book with my newish Oakland Public Library Card-hooray! Read this book. The west coast liberal commentary (this from a west coast liberal) is hilarious and spot-on. I found myself reading the e-mails from Ollie-O, the private school consultant, out-loud to David, and we were both in fits of laughter. The relationship between Bee and Bernadette is so special. Their conversations in the car, with Bee overjoyed to be with her mom in a happy moment, are wrenching and beautiful. Read it.
Obvious commentary ahead-this book feels like a vacation. It’s a bit similar to Bernadette, along the lines of Very Rich People with Very Rich Problems. Here, the backdrop isn’t rainy Seattle, it’s sun-drenched Mallorca. There’s so much pool time, fancy people and food descriptions, the book is prime material for a Nancy Myers adaptation. While I still think of Bernadette and Bee, a month-ish later, I’ve long forgotten the characters in Vacationers. But the image of that sun-soaked Mallorcan mansion, with the good swimming pool that makes “the rest of the world seem impossibly insignificant, as far away as the surface of the moon,” is a place I think of often.
The Burgess Boys
Am I the only one who didn’t read Olive Kitteridge under the impression it was an American Girl book? After reading The Burgess Boys, Strout’s other, more famous, decidedly NOT an American Girl book, is on my list. My colleague saw me leaving with this the other day and said SPOILER: “Ohhh, that book, just a character sketch. It never leads to anything!” True, it is mostly a character sketch. Though, what a character sketch. As Strout shifts from Maine to Park Slope, you realize, it’s not just a sketch of the Burgess family, but of the two (three) vastly different worlds. She’s a phenomenal writer, and I’m looking forward to reading more.
We’re discussing this tomorrow at Heather’s book club. This book had a profound impact on me when I first read it, nearly 20 years ago. Re-reading it, I began to wonder if part of my admiration and interest in seniors has anything to do reading the Giver as a child. There’s so much more to say about this, but it’s now super late and I’m excited to discuss tomorrow, so signing off. I’m hoping to finish the book I’m listening to (The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness) and reading (Being Mortal:Medicine and What Matters in the End) before studying takes over. For the most part, fun reading will be on hold until spring. Until then, I’ll be slowly gathering and reserving my Spring list at the OPL :)