Tuesday, October 02, 2012

September 2012 Reading Recap: There Once Was A Girl Who Liked To Read

....and that girl was me, but I only managed 7 this month.  It's hard to concentrate on reading.  The weather is gorgeous and the St. Louis Cardinals have a chance to be in the wild card spot for the playoffs.  There's also my online Scrabble rating to attend to.  Then there's work, of course, which entails thinking up new and exciting ways to serve up yummy grammar and vocabulary.  2012 is winding down, though.  Can I make my goal of 113 this year?

So glad the Readathon is coming up in a couple of weeks.  I've got a stack of children's literature I'm dying to lace into, including the latest Newbery, Dead End In Norvelt by Jack Gantos.

I'm also trying to use reading as diet motivation.  I have a copy of Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn on my Kindle, but I'm not allowed to read it until I get below A Certain Evil Number.  Nearly there, I'm happy to report.  There have been back-and-forth skirmishes on the digital scale.  Advance, retreat, advance, retreat and whoops, here comes the English pound cake I got for Korean Thanksgiving.  But wait!  There's 12 flights of steps up to my apartment.  And so it goes.

Anyway, here's what I read last month:

1. The Lay of the Land - Richard Ford. This is the third book in the Frank Bascombe trilogy.  I'm reading them all out of order.  I read Independence Day, the middle one, first because it's a Pulitzer fiction winner.  Then, I was so blown away by Ford's offering this year, Canada, that I had to have more.  Now I'll have to read The Sportswriter to appease my Inner OCD Bookworm.  Surprisingly, this is just as much a love song to New Jersey as it is Frank Bascombe trying to make sense of his life at the age of 55 (during Thanksgiving Week in 2000, while the United States waits for the results of the botched presidential election) as he enters what he calls The Permanent Period, which is, if you die now, the way you are now is the way you'll be remembered.  I prefer Ford's starker pieces like Wildlife, Rock Springs and the abovementioned Canada, but I found myself warming to the garrulous Mr. Bascombe and wishing him well.

2. Not The Israel My Parents Promised Me - Harvey Pekar.  Harvey Pekar's parents were Zionists to their very core and rejoiced when the Jews seemed to find a homeland in 1948.  Over the years, as Israel engaged in conflict with neighboring Palestine, Harvey's illusions were stripped away.  He struggled to make sense of it all by tracing it all back through history and sacred texts.  In this portion of the book especially, the artwork by J.T. Waldman is excellent.  I miss Harvey Pekar.  He never stopped growing as an author or pushing the boundaries of what could be explored through the graphic novel form.

3. Xxxx  Xxxxxxx - Xxxxxx Xxxxxx.  This is an unpublished novel.  I'm looking forward to the day it is published and I can go back and fill in the name and author.  It's a lot of fun, and the author did something totally unexpected at the end that gave this action thriller an added layer of depth.

4. Escape From Camp 14 - Blaine Harden.  I wrote about getting to meet human rights activist Shin Dong-Hyuk in a previous post.  I was so honored.

5. 50 Great Essays - Robert DiYanni, editor.  Sometimes, nothing but an essay will hit the sweet spot for a reader.  A book full of them is even better.  I started this one because I was in search of some Joan Didion.  This volume included her 1967 piece, "Marrying Absurd" about the wedding industry in Las Vegas.  Other standouts include: "Graduation" by Maya Angelou; "Burl's" by Bernard Cooper; "Learning to Read and Write by Frederick Douglass; "About Men" by Gretel Erlich; "In The Kitchen" by Henry Louis Gates, Jr; "On The Pleasure of Hating" by William Hazlitt; "Under The Influence" by Scott Russell Sanders, "Coming Home Again" by Chang-Rae Lee; and "Shooting an Elephant" by George Orwell.  There are a dozen more I didn't list and also loved.  This book is nourishment for the brain and the soul.

6. Midnight's Children - Salman Rushdie.  A wild ride of history and magical realism.  I have no words.  This was my introduction to Rushdie's fiction.  Brilliant and inexorable.

7. Joseph Anton: A Memoir - Salman Rushdie.  The title of the book comes from the alias Rushdie had to choose after Ayatollah Khomeni declared his fatwa against Salman Rushie on Valentine's Day of 1989 because of his novel The Satanic Verses.  This book contains everything -- the personal and the political, large and small.  It contains the world and small spaces where Rushdie had to quickly go and hide.  There are the people who rushed in to help and those who hindered.  Joseph Anton is over 600 pages, but a relatively fast read.  It's a magnificent memoir and makes me newly and fiercely proud to be a literate person who loves literature with all my heart.

1 comment:

Melissa (Avid Reader) said...

I'm with you, I can't wait for the read-a-thon!!! It always gives my reading a big boost.