Wednesday, May 28, 2008
On What We're Reading
"She is too fond of books, and it has turned her brain." (1873) ~ Louisa May Alcott ~
ROBERTA: Even though this topic may seem like the busman's holiday for Hallie, summer's coming and I'd like to hear what everyone's reading!
I just finished THREE CUPS OF TEA by Greg Mortenson and David Olive Relin. I had to be dragged kicking and screaming to this book. It was chosen as my book club's May read and the only only only reason I started it was so I wouldn't be considered a bad sport. No, no, not one more onerous tome about the miseries of the Middle East, I moaned, as I turned the first few pages. But I ended up enjoying it very much. Mortenson's astonishing work building schools in Pakistan and Afghanistan is enough to give the most entrenched skeptic a glimmer of hope--no wonder it lurks near the top of the bestseller list. I found myself fascinated with this man's complete disregard for his own physical safety and comfort--so not my cup of tea!
And now I'm sailing through an old favorite's new book: Ellen Gilchrist's A DANGEROUS AGE. The characters are familiar from decades of her novels, though I've forgotten much of their history so I don't think it would be difficult to start with this book. A DANGEROUS AGE is set in America during the first years of the Iraq war, and Gilchrist's characters are all affected by it in one way or another. Really lovely writing and engaging characters. But sad...
And then I have a wonderful stack of options sitting beside my bed...will I choose Nevada Barr's WINTER STUDY, Julia Spencer-Fleming's I SHALL NOT WANT, Jennifer McMahon's ISLAND OF LOST GIRLS, or Roxana Robinson's SWEETWATER? An embarrassment of riches...
RO: Well - after finally delivering the manuscript for book two I'm ready to hunker down with some of the books I've been stockpiling all winter and spring. I started I Shall Not Want yesterday (thanks Ross!) and I was up at 3am reading it so that should tell you how much I'm enjoying it. Julia Spencer-Fleming just gets better and better.
My book group is reading Northanger Abbey and it's our last meeting before the summer break so I guess I have to buy/read it! After that, I'll be rereading Lucky You by Carl Hiassen for the wonderful Dianne Defonce's Beach Reads discussion (Borders Fairfield, June 25th, 7pm) that Hank and I will be participating in. And I'd love to finish Chris Grabenstein's middle grade mystery The Crossroads before his book party on June 3. I had to put it down, though - it was pretty scary! That covers June.
HANK: I have to start writing DRIVE TIME on June first--though a lot of it is in my head--so my tbr pile will not be budging that much, I fear. Love Julia S-F! And I can't wait for I SHALL NOT WANT. Downstairs, I'm reading Peter Abrahams END OF STORY. Upstairs, I'm reading Louise Penny's STILL LIFE. (Yes, I read the fantastically good A FATAL GRACE first, even though it's the second book. SO terrific.)
For the Borders beach reads, I'm taking that, and BODY IN THE GALLERY by Katherine Hall Page. (Come visit us there!) The astonishing Amy MacKinnon sent me an ARC of her soon-to-be-blockbuster TETHERED, so that's next.
Jonathan is reading CHILD 44, and is about to begin Peter Abrahams DELUSION. Then we're going to fight over who gets Harlan Coben's HOLD TIGHT.
JAN: Well, I just finished Josephine Tey's Daughter in Time, a classic, dubbed the best mystery ever by the New York Times and a favorite of my very first publisher. Let me start by saying I'm a history buff and I especially like the time period the mystery is set in: Old England, just prior to the reign of Henry VII. That said, I find it hard to believe this is the best mystery ever written. There is literally NO ACTION. It involves no special intelligence or detective work to unravel the mystery, and it all takes place in hospital room and the protagonist never leaves the bed. In fact, it's the sidekick, a young American (whose dialogue is completely British instead of American) that does all the investigating or should I say READING. The only thing I can figure is that it was really novel at the time to have a mystery set in such a dull circumstance. (Okay all your Josephine Tey fans, skewer me!)
Anyway, I'm reading screenplays these days, and recently finished The Talented Mr. Ripley, which was awesome, and I'm about to start Shakespeare In Love.
Roberta, I agree. Three Cups of Tea was an inspiring read, and I recommend it to anyone who wants new faith in human kind. And Hank, I think End of Story by Peter Abrahams is one of my favorite mysteries ever.