Summertime = time for reading. FINALLY.

Posted: June 1, 2009 in Uncategorized

Ah, summer break! I’ve been yearning for it, not only because it means a respite from graduate school, and a possible vacation at some point, but mostly because it means I can read what I’d like, and not just what’s assigned to me.

Calloo! Callay!

Having taken a course in multi-cultural literature for children and YA last semester, I read a  number of wonderful books. And telling my husband, “I have to go do homework… Could you make dinner?” when homework meant reading a novel, was one of the best guilty pleasures of my life. Aside from being a book editor, does it get better?

Short answer: NO.

It’s right up there with working with medieval manuscripts and rare books. In short, it’s dying and going to heaven. Forget the clouds and the harps! Give me a LIBRARY and a comfy chair for all eternity.

I’ve been reading during every spare minute (they happen now!) since school finished for the semester, and my stack of both interlibrary loan and review books is massive. I’ve requested interviews from two authors, and if they agree I’ll post about their books as well as their interview answers here.

To say I’ve mentioned specific books in this post (which, face it, is what matters to true librarians), here are some coming up next in my pile:

The Act of Love: A Novel by Howard Jacobson

Review:

From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. In his naughtily erudite 10th novel, British author Jacobson (Kalooki Nights) explores the nature of the erotic with a wicked twist. Narrator Felix Quinn, a fusty antiquarian bookseller in contemporary London, wants to cuckold himself in order to save his marriage and give himself the freedom to be jealous. The unwitting but willing participant in Felix’s scheme, Marius, is a libertine without scruples: he first appears in the tale some years previously, letching after two underage girls while attending the funeral of a man whose wife he had seduced. As for Felix’s wife, Marisa, she embraces the infidelity foisted on her with gusto, relishing her thrice-weekly assignations and, after much persuasion, titillating her curious husband with details of their intimacies. Though Felix’s narration is disconcertingly mannered, he’s remarkably honest and blisteringly funny, while Jacobson’s prose is sharp as ever, loaded with spiky dialogue and wonderfully arch observations. (Mar.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Naughty! Wicked! Titillating! Bookseller!

I’m sold. Will let you know how this one goes.

********

Still Alice: A Novel by Lisa Genova

Review

From Publishers Weekly
Neuroscientist and debut novelist Genova mines years of experience in her field to craft a realistic portrait of early onset Alzheimer’s disease. Alice Howland has a career not unlike Genova’s—she’s an esteemed psychology professor at Harvard, living a comfortable life in Cambridge with her husband, John, arguing about the usual (making quality time together, their daughter’s move to L.A.) when the first symptoms of Alzheimer’s begin to emerge. First, Alice can’t find her Blackberry, then she becomes hopelessly disoriented in her own town. Alice is shocked to be diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer’s (she had suspected a brain tumor or menopause), after which her life begins steadily to unravel. She loses track of rooms in her home, resigns from Harvard and eventually cannot recognize her own children. The brutal facts of Alzheimer’s are heartbreaking, and it’s impossible not to feel for Alice and her loved ones, but Genova’s prose style is clumsy and her dialogue heavy-handed. This novel will appeal to those dealing with the disease and may prove helpful, but beyond the heartbreaking record of illness there’s little here to remember. (Jan.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

“Little here to remember,” they say. Well, maybe. But that’s why I’ve checked it out of the library instead of buying it.

*****

The Whole Five Feet: What the Great Books Taught Me About Life, Death, and Pretty Much Everything Else by Christopher Beha

From Publishers Weekly
At first glance, Beha’s situation is enviable: the 27-year-old Princeton graduate quits his job and is welcomed back into his parents’ Manhattan apartment, where he decides to dedicate himself to reading all 51 volumes of the Harvard Classics Library, a five-foot shelf of (mostly) Western literature from Plato to Darwin. If only it were that easy: he must come to terms with the death of a beloved aunt early in the year, then is himself afflicted with a torn meniscus and a serious case of Lyme disease. With so much personal drama, the classics frequently take a back seat, and several volumes go completely unremarked. Beha spends the most time on those books that spoke most keenly to his personal circumstances; not only does he discuss John Stuart Mill’s existential crisis at length, for example, he compares his own reaction to reading Wordsworth to the philosopher’s. The broader conclusions Beha (now an assistant editor at Harper’s) reaches about cultural values and the meaning of life are disappointingly pat; even the young memoirist concedes, I haven’t written the book I set out to write. (May)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Oh, blah, blah, blah, PW. I’ve started this one, and I’m enjoying it. Here’s a prime example of taking a review with a grain of salt. Besides that, these are the people who fired editor-in-chief Sara Nelson. So phooey on them.

And with that goes my hopes of any future career at Publishers Weekly.

On a sidenote, Beha has a blog on which he asks trivia questions and is giving away volumes of the Harvard Classics through a random drawing. Though he asked no one reply in his comments section, which can be read by anyone stopping by, for some reason I had a brain lapse and did just that. And I feel like a royal douche for it, too.

Yes, almost librarians use the word “douche.” And lots of other choice words, too.

Speaking of messing up, my gaffe on his blog may well have blown my chance to ask Beha for an interview, unless I grovel using my most convincing Oliver Twist waif voice. I’m truly not above it.

I have several other books in the pile, review books and also the Tunnel series by Roderick Gordon and Brian Williams. Both my boys are reading these and they’re enthralled. So I fired off a plea to the publisher, asking for a copy of book # 3, so my son can brag to his friends, “Oh, and I have the third book, which isn’t even RELEASED here yet …”

I capitalize on the few perks life throws me. Can you tell?

But this means I’ll be pushing all else aside next week to read these books, as I did promise the publisher a whopping review of the trilogy in return for getting my sweaty paws on a copy of book 3 … And I shall be as good as my word. Maybe if I am they’ll let me interview the authors.

HEAVEN.

Could I be more a nerd? In this company, I’m glad to say, I know many will sympathize with me.

I hope you’re all making up your lists of interesting books to read over the summer, and that life magically throws extra reading time your way.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s