I broke my genre fast this month, which felt good. For months, I’d been sticking to nonfiction as a way to protect myself in my writing life from fiction. After reading a lot of great novels in the fall, I’d look at my own writing and think, Uuuuuuuugh. Defeat. Disappointment. Not near as good as the novels I was reading. So I took a break, focused on nonfiction for awhile, and I’m glad I did that. It was a good little break. But I wandered back to fiction’s open arms this month, and I’m equally glad I did that.
And so, without further delay, My Reading Month.
Reading at Time of Publication
Imagine This: Creating the Work You Love by Maxine Clair
My Reading Month: January 2015
Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life by Barbara Kingsolver: This book started off a big preachy for me. I was excited to finally be reading this book that had earned so much praise, but it was perhaps telling that here we are, eight years after publication, and I couldn’t help thinking, “Yes, Ms. Kingsolver, I know. Let’s get on with the story.” This is not to say that the things she says aren’t important; it’s just that I had heard them before. I wanted to know about her particular year, about her family’s experience. And I’m glad I hung on because after the first few chapters, she did away with the sermon and got down to telling the story, which was more a more powerful vehicle for the information she hoped to share. Y’all. This book: absolutely fascinating. Especially the chapters on turkeys. Turkeys are these amazing animals that, really, we shouldn’t even have anymore. Humans have manipulated and engineered them so heavily, it’s a miracle they exist. I highly recommend this book. An interesting read, very informative, with a cool story.
Reading Lolita in Tehran by Azar Nafisi: I’m years late to the party on this book as well, but I’m glad I finally got to it as well. Nafisi, after leaving her teaching position at the university in Tehran, assembled a group of female students in her home to read the great books, many of which were banned under The Islamic Republic of Iran. In the course of the book, we get to know the students, but we also learn more about Nafisi, about the onset of the revolution, the rise of the new regime, and the consequent crumbling of women’s rights in the country: the loss of their freedom, stability, and agency. In addition to discussing her life, Nafisi also discusses the books at hand: Lolita, Gatsby, etc. At times heady and difficult – on the literary level, on the emotional level – this book felt important to read.
The Rabbit Back Literature Societyby Pasi Ilmari Jääskeläinen: Oh, fiction, it’s good to see you too! This novel is kooky. The town of Rabbit Back is home to one of the world’s most treasured children’s story writers, Laura White, who many years ago assembled The Rabbit Back Literature Society, a group of nine promising children who she vowed to turn into writers. And she made good on that vow, all of them growing into successful writers across several genres. When Ella, a substitute teacher, is asked to be the tenth member, after a thirty-year lull in new members, she is overjoyed: this is her chance. But on the night of her debut with the Society, everything goes nuts. There’s a disappearance, there’s magic, there’s a mystery. And it’s left to Ella to solve it, to figure out the dark group she’s been welcomed into, to take her place among them. I couldn’t put this book down. It’s full of literary humor, intrigue, sexiness, and magic.
Eating Wildly: Foraging for Life, Love, and the Perfect Meal by Ava Chin: Ava Chin used to write the Urban Forager column for The New York Times, and this book is the extension of her education in cultivating the wilds of New York, and of life. She found her foods not at restaurants, but on the side of the road, in friends’ backyards, in remote patches of Central Park, and even on a tree outside her own bedroom window. And as she’s searching for food, she’s also searching for love, for professional stability, for family peace. This memoir is a cool niche in the food memoir genre – foraging is uncommon to say the least – and it’s a great story.
Whisks & Words 2015 Reading Challenge
In this month’s reading, I’ve checked off the following items:
A book with magic (The Rabbit Back Literature Society)
Though this book technically marks several items off my list, I’m not doing repeats, in the interest of reading as widely and as much as possible.
How about you? Read anything good?