My Reading Month: January 2015

IMG_6555And we’re off! The year has started, the first month is done, and what have we read? Anything good?

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:  LolitaGatsby, 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?

4 thoughts on “My Reading Month: January 2015

  1. (deep breath in) okay: i have a confession. i’m behind on my blog reading NO NO WAIT: you obviously knew that already. So i’m just catching uuuuuup, and *twirls toe in the carpet, eyes downcast* i save your blog for last because i take the time to really READ it: like read your thoughts. It’s because you’re my favorite one to really get into; to absorb-read rather than skim-read. Occasionally this puts me like *coughcough* months behind. MY LOVE FOR YOU BECOMES THE REASON I CAN’T READ.

    embarrassing, but it at least explains how i’m reading this a month later than i should be. And i’m so happy to be reading this! One, your reading list manages to eek into my own, in a happy way. The first two books – Animal Vegetable Miracle and Reading Lolita in Tehran – i have read before, but it’s been YEARS and i really should revisit them. I read AVM pre any blogging or real interest in food; rather, i’m a B Kinsolver fan in general, and have been since high school, so i’ll read anything and everything by her. it would be nice to read that one with a fresh perspective and different eyes, so to speak. Reading Lolita i remember really enjoying…i’m going to dig it out, because i know that’s one i own as well…somewhere around here. 🙂 It should be noted that i do actually root around in book piles: i’m the crazy old retired professor with stacks of books floor to ceiling in some parts of the house.

    And i’ve noted the other two for future reading: i keep a nice list of “to borrows” for the library runs.

    What am i reading…i’ll answer honestly after i run back to see what my current rentals are from my fair library. I’m knee-deep in a book called The Story of Edgar Sawtelle, which is FABULOUS: i’ve seen it for a few years and never picked it up, but it’s entrancing: beautifully written story about a boy who is born without a voice, and whose family raises some fictional breed of dog supposedly put together by generations of Sawtelle men finding dogs they liked personally and making puppies. It’s a large book, and i’m not super far in yet, but it’s one of those sweepingly visual books where you really do feel like you’re inside it. Pretty: takes place in Wisconsin. I’ve read that it’s a retelling of Hamlet, but i try not to go into it knowing too much.

    the other one is a book called A Half A King, which seems like it may be a flop for me. too Game of Thrones-y (which i love) without actually being Game of Thrones, so…jury = out. i probably won’t get to it.

    One i keep thinking about and i mean to read again, if you’re wanting anything on your own list: The Infinite Tides by Christian Kiefer. I read it two summers ago and it somehow really got embedded into my brain. A beautiful, sad, life-ish story, but with some interesting twists to it.

    wow so, i’m wordy. hi. 🙂

    1. Shannon! Hello! Thank you so much for being so kind about my blog. You’re such a sweetheart, and I LOVED this long comment on books and reading. I would be really interested in hearing your perspective on a re-read of AVM. It was published in 2007, and I only really became engaged in food a couple of years later. She probably had a hand in that becoming an issue, and so it felt like I was reading a foundational text. But then again, it also felt a bit out-moded. A lot of her big issues were ones that are discussed regularly these days, if not in legislative realms, then certainly on the Internet and by a range of different voices. I found that to be reassuring. As in, look how far we’ve come.

      Thanks for the book recommendations! I hadn’t heard of any of them, so they’ll be new ones for me to investigate. And you know I love adding books to the old To Be Read list!

      1. I”m definitely going to dig AVM out and give it a re-read, and we’ll discuss! It was one of the first books out there on the topic, or at least from a mainstream author, and it did get conversations starting for sure. I’m excited to look at it with new (and more knowledgeable) eyes.

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