Friday, April 16, 2010

What We're Reading

ROBERTA: My reading's been a little slow since January--I blame that on burnout from serving on the MWA Edgar best novel committee. But I just finished CAUCASIA by Danzy Senna--a novel about two sisters, one who takes after their white mother, and the other who resembles their black father. After the parents split up, each takes the daughter most similar in appearance. The story is told from the perspective of Birdie, the girl passing for all white, as her mother drags them around the east coast. Fascinating!

And on my to-be-read pile: Steve Hamilton's THE LOCK ARTIST, Jhumpa Lahiri's UNACCUSTOMED EARTH, THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO, and Barbara Kingsolver's THE LACUNA.

What have you loved lately?

HALLIE: I just read a manuscript that I loved -- THE SCENT OF THE MISSING by Susannah Charleson. She writes about raising and training her search-and-rescue dog, a lovely golden retriever named Puzzle. It's a knockout, and it comes out next month.

I am looking longingly at the pile of books on my floor. I haven't had a minute to read for pleasure in the longest. But when I do, I'm going to read GILEAD, and OLIVE KITTERIDGE, and LIFE OF PI, and THE YIDDISH POLICEMEN'S UNION, and at long last THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO.

HANK: AH, Roberta, I, too, have judging burnout! But now I am back in the reading groove, such as it is ...sometimes, it seems as if I get through thre pages, and then I have to sleep. Anyway. I'm in the midst of 212 by Alafair Burke, and enjoying that quite a bit! I'm also trying to read The LOCK ARTIST by Steve Hamilton, but Jonathan keeps taking it away. Harlan Coben's new CAUGHT is waving its arms at me, but I need to read Mary Jane Clark's fast-paced DYING FOR MERCY before I interview her Saturday at Murder 203. I'm eager to read UNDER THE DOME by Stephen King, but that'll have to be this summer. And hey, Jungle Reds...I guess my ARCS of DEADHEAD and THE LAST ILLUSION must have blown off my front porch. Sigh.

JAN: I'm reading Loving Frank, about Frank Lloyd Wright, by Nancy Horan. And Boston Against Busing, race, class in Ethnicity in Boston in the 1960s and 1970s, which is actually fascinating. And I just reread Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, which was better the second time around, which makes me believe that how I feel about a book has a lot to do with the hype beforehand. Someone told me Midnight in the Garden of Good Evil was the best book ever written before I read it the first time, so I felt slightly disappointed. This time, when I was reading it just for structure, with no hype, I was delighted.

RO: Maybe that means I should read Girl with the Dragon Tattoo again. I recently reread Unsuitable Job for a Woman and loved it all over again, so I will probably reread another PD James next. It's almost like taking a writing class.

ROBERTA: Jan, I read Loving Frank last summer in preparation for visiting Wright's Falling Waters. Fascinating look into his (fictional?) character. I found the ending shocking!

And I thought of two other for my pile--both Anna Quinlan and Anne Lamott have new books out--got to run down to the bookstore and snatch those up too.

RHYS: I must be the only person in the world not to have read THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO. I feel so badly for him--I should be furious if I died before I became a bestseller! I currently reading THE MYSTERIOUS BENEDICT SOCIETY. It's a children's book, along the lines of Harry Potter, I suppose, but not nearly as fun to me. More like an old fashioned adult telling the tale,rather than living the action with the kids in the present. I'm reading it because my daughter and I are just finishing up the first book in a children's series (we need an agent for her... any suggestions?) and someone mentioned this book.
Next I have an AS Byatt book to read STILL LIFE. POSSESSION was one of my favorite books ever so I'm looking forward to this one.

ROBERTA: You are right Rhys--what a disappointment to be a big sensation after you've gone and died too soon. And so exciting about the children's bok with your daughter--keep us posted on that! And Susannah--woo-hoo--absolutely can't wait for yours! How about you JR readers--any recommendations to add to our piles?


  1. OH,I haven't read Dragon Tattoo, either..and now am eager to see the movie. Should I wait and read first?

    (Rhys, my word verification is "Dripy" which is perfect. It's pouring down rain here.)

  2. I read the Girl With the Dragon Tattoo. It was a slogging read for me for the first 200 pages. I think I finished it only because I was brought up in the 'clean plate' mindset, and because everyone said, "it gets better."

    I just finished Untraceable by Laura Griffin and that was a 'can't put down' read. I can't wait until we move and I get a real address so I can get a library card. Right now, I have no room for new books. And our new house is much smaller than the old; book storage will be a challenge. I'm using my e-reader a lot.

  3. Terry,

    So I'm curious, are you glad you cleaned your plate?? Or disappointed with the Dragon Tattoo. I haven't read it yet either.

  4. Jan - yes, it did get better, but I have a feeling the movie would be a better choice. There's so much "local" stuff in the book, so if you're not from Sweden, it slogs. Or it did from me. Frankly, I felt like shouting, "Show Don't Tell" a whole lot of the time.

    But that's a matter of taste, I'm sure. Let it be said here, I haven't read (nor do I have any desire to) Twilight, and I gave up after 2 Harry Potter books.

  5. that's a funny analogy to cleaning the plate--my book club read THE ELEGANCE OF THE HEDGEHOG last month. I totally slogged through the first half, would not have finished if a friend hadn't told me too. And it did get better at the end.

    But how does a book with a beginning that slow get to be a bestseller? Who starts the run and urges the rest of us on?


  6. Terry,

    I've been to Sweden and have a fascination for Sweden.....still having to slog through the first 200 pages is daunting. I'm usually only willing to slog 100 pages and that's only for my book group.

    Roberta, I'm amazed by that, too. I'm also amazed by bestsellers that start well and have really disappointing endings.

    I always feel terribly burned, but obviously people recommend them...

  7. I found this rule of thumb a while back:

    If you're fifty years old or younger, give every book about fifty pages before you decide to commit yourself to reading it, or give it up. If you're over fifty, which is when time gets even shorter, subtract your age from 100. The result is the number of pages you should read before deciding.

  8. Loved all three books by Steig Larsson. Complex storyline, smartly done, interesting characters. I so wish there could have been more by this author.

    I'm not reading nearly as much right now as I used to -- I blame overtime at work and zonking out too quickly in the evening. But a recent read that I really enjoyed is HERESY by SJ Parris. A historical mystery set during Elizabethan period. Similar in style to CJ Sansom.

  9. I'm in the middle of three books:

    Fairway to Heaven
    Rotten to the Core
    The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks

    All are hard to put down, but each is in a different location--gym bag, nightstand and work bag.


  10. Hey Hallie-- Thanks for the nod to Scent of the Missing, which actually came out this week, on Wednesday! I'm writing this from DC in the early days of the nutsoid book tour, but please to note I read JRW every single time there's a new post. :)

    So that's one thing I'm reading. I also always have a Patrick O'Brian Aubrey/Maturin novel to hand -- those are my comfort books, so one is always going.

    I'm very much looking forward to David Shield's Reality Hunger and Kate Atkinson's Crimespotting and Started Early, Took My Dog.