And now for a long overdue installment of “What I’m Reading.” One of the only benefits of my crazy travel schedule lately is that it’s provided plenty of opportunities for reading on planes. In all honesty, the quantity of my reading list lately has far outpaced the quality. So, I’ll start from the top.
My most recent read was by far the best of late. American Wifeby Curtis Sittenfeld is a fictionalized biography of Laura Bush, or Alice Blackwell as she appears in the novel. The initial portion of the book, which traces Alice’s childhood and high school years, drew me in immediately. Like her real-life model, Alice comes across as smart, kind, and grounded–someone you’d like to have as a friend. Sittenfeld weaves actual events from both Bush’s lives into the novel and adds additional imagined details that fill in some of the gaps many of us have wondered about. How did a man who spent his early years sponging off his rich family and drinking his way through various jobs end up being elected President of the United States? And, even more so, why did someone like Laura Bush mary him in the first place? Marry him, and then keep quiet about their supposed philosophical and politiacal differences? There’s enough drama in Sittenfeld’sanswers to keep up the pace and the suspenseuntil the book’s close.
Next up? Keeping Faithby Jodi Picoult. I actually picked this paperback up in the airport when I’d finished all my other reading material. (Yes, my name is LSM, and I have a problem with purchasing hardback books.) I usually can’t bear to wait for the paperback version, but I must have missed this one when it initially came out. I think I’ve read most of Picoult’s other novels. I’d definitely recommend this book to anyone looking for a little escapism or a good vacation or travel book. After her parents’ divorce, a little girl begins talking to God. Perhaps not such an unusual thing except that God is evidently talking back. The plot thickens as Faith’s experiences become public and the media attention leads to a bitter custody battle between her parents.
Both Adventure Guy and I enjoy Coben’s books. Hold Tight centers around a family’s decision to install tracking software on their son’s computer after he becomes withdrawn and sullen. While they fear drug use, what they actually find goes far beyond those concerns and eventually involves the family in a web of intrigue and danger. How’s that for enticing? Again, a good, fast read–but probably not in any danger of being declared great literature. I did pass this one along to DD1, though. I figure it should bring up some interesting topics of conversation.
Essentially, Schooled is to the upscale, New York City private school world as The Devil Wears Prada is to magazine publishing or maybe as The Nanny Diaries is to household employers. This book seemed reminiscent of both those earlier novels. While I ran through it as quickly as I did those two books, I had a definitive “been there; done that” sort of feeling at the end. If you’ve ever wondered about what it’s like to be young, privileged and not exactly expected to do your own school work, this book’s for you.
Carnegie Kincaid is at it again–planning weddings, both her own and others, and solving mysteries. It’s fun, it’s mindless. This is a series I keep picking up when I want some distraction.
Okay–back to the more serious stuff. I can’t remember exactly when I first heard of The Lace Reader–an independently published, book club phenomena–but I’ve had it on my “to read” list for a while. The plot revolves around a family whose women read futures in the elaborately patterned lace they learned to make from their early-New England ancestors. Towner, one of the daughters of the family, flees their home island after the death of her twin sister but is drawn back by the death of the aunt who raised her. The complex plot and unexpected twists make this an impressive first novel. I recommend reading it when you have time to concentrate–this one’s not so fast, or so easy a read!
I try to balance my fiction reading with a bit of non-fiction here and there–though I’ll admit my non-fiction reading tends to center on history and memoir rather than science or politics, per se. Confederates in the Attic takes us along with the author, Tony Horwitz, as he satisfies his childhood curiosity about the Civil War by travelling throughout the South, visiting battlefields and museums and participating in re-enactments. He finds a south both greatly changed and yet somehow still fixated on the past they perceive as glorious–even when that glory may always have been more imagined than real. It took me a while to read this one, and I put it down and picked it back up several times between fiction books, but I’m glad I read it. It’s on my recommendation list for anyone who is interested in what makes the modern South tick.
Whew–and I was thinking I’d been spending too much time on Facebook and blogging and letting my reading slip! I’m feeling much better now, especially since I was “forced” to turn right instead of left because of traffic after dropping off DD2 at dance today. That path just happened to take me right past Border’s where I stocked up on two new books to keep me busy. More later!