Favorite reads, 2017

I just finished reading The Weight of Ink, by Rachel Kadish. It’s one of my favorite novels of the year: history, culture, great characters, interesting ideas, good writing–a page-turner set in the 17th century London Portuguese Jewish community and current cutthroat academia. I like books that take me places.

It didn’t make it to the NY Times 100 Notable Books for 2017. The Times reviewers seem to prefer edgier fiction and memoirs. “Disturbing” is their favorite descriptor. Continue reading

Boxing up

We went out today in search of boxes. Many, many boxes. I started packing with the boxes we have on hand and I didn’t get through the first of five bookshelves. We are buying boxes because we have made the rounds of grocery stores for boxes too often in the past. You never get enough that way. I will have enough boxes. I will be wealthy in boxes. Continue reading

Ten books that marked me

My daughter-in-law tagged me in the challenge that’s making the rounds on Facebook: name 10 books that have had an impact on you at some stage in your life. How does a compulsive reader like me narrow it down to 10?

Rather than list favorites I decided to name 10 books that marked different stages of my life. Many of them prompted me to do something. Here they are, in chronological order: Continue reading

Book v blogging

In case you miss this blog when I don’t write, which I doubt, I thought I should explain why my entries have been few and far between recently. It is because I am working on a book and it sucks up all my writing energy. In fact, it sucks up most of my energy, period, in something like two to five hours a day, and leaves me with long, low-energy stretches of time in which I am good for nothing except reading, watching TV and movies, and making endless, hamster-like rounds on the walking track at the Y.

The book is going well but I don’t want to talk about it yet. Which gives me little to do but list the books I have read recently to fill the dull-headed hours left after squeezing out a thousand words or two. Here is the list of recent reads on my Kindle, beginning with the latest. After a morning of writing I have enough energy only for one-line reviews.

All Our Names, Dinaw Mengestu. In the middle of this now. Intriguing but I wish I liked the characters more.

The Empathy Exams, Leslie Jamison. This is making the rounds and I read it with high hopes. Unfortunately I could not summon much empathy with the author.

From Times Square to Timbuktu: The Post-Christian West Meets the Non-Western Church, Wesley Granberg-Michaelson. This blew me away because it is an academic-ish exposition of the main themes of the memoir I am working on.

Flash Boys: A Wall Street Revolt, Michael Lewis. I have a horrified fascination with Wall Street machinations and if anyone can make sense of them, Lewis can.

Living with a Wild God, Barbara Ehrenreich. Amazing. I loved seeing this other side of social-activist-writer Ehrenreich.

The Husband’s Secret, Liana Moriarty. Pretty good chick lit.

Foreign Gods, Inc., Okey Ndibe. Started this novel about a Nigerian immigrant but lost patience with it.

Dust, Yvonne Adhiambo Owuor. Ditto. What’s happening? I usually love books by African novelists but these two left me cold.

Leaving Church, Barbara Brown Taylor. I love honest spiritual memoirs, whether by atheists (Ehrenreich) or ex-Anglican priests (Taylor).

Ghana Must Go, Taiye Selasi. I loved this African émigré novel, a portrayal of what can happen when brilliant people get lost in another culture.

The Luminaries, Eleanor Catton. An absorbing, prizewinning, long novel set in 19th century New Zealand that entertained me but didn’t quite live up to the hype.

Stringer: A Reporter’s Journey in the Congo, Anjan Sundaram. This guy went to Congo on his own, on an urge, without a job, and lived with/off of Congolese acquaintances. Nitty-gritty real.

I won’t begin to list the movies I’ve watched except to say that the BBC series Doc Martin has 33 episodes and is super-great escapism. Although I am getting royally fed up with the main character, the others (receptionist Pauline, the pharmacist who has a crush on the doc, the Larges, father and son) are a riot.