Saturday, April 07, 2007

“It's spring fever.... You don't quite know what it is you DO want, but it just fairly makes your heart ache, you want it so!” - Mark Twain

It’s the Spring Preview of Books. Because none of us have spent nearly enough money on books yet this year….

Whitethorn Woods - Maeve Binchy. Binchy is one of the few writers whom my mother-in-law and I have in common. Um, actually, she is the only one. While I don’t adore her (Binchy), I can appreciate the homeyness and comfort of her writing and subjects, and her novels are down-to-earth and imminently readable. Unlike many other authors of this amorphous sort of romance-novel genre, Binchy’s writing doesn’t make me cringe. (Hmm, I don’t mean to damn with faint praise; that sort of came out wrong but I don’t know how else to say it.) (March 2007)

Quilter’s Homecoming - Jennifer Chiaverini.
I like Chiaverini’s sweet, detail-filled, semi-historical quilting novels. Some are better than others, and sometimes I can’t always keep track of the characters, but mostly I enjoy them. If you don’t like to quilt, you may not. I still haven’t read the last installment, Circle of Quilters, and I’d like to get the Elm Creek Christmas novel as well. (April 2007)

Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life - Barbara Kingsolver. Barabara Kingsolver could rewrite the phone book and I would read it. Fortunately, she chooses much more interesting topics, such as this recounting of her family’s move to a farm in Appalachia and their attempt to eat only locally-produced or -grown food for a year. (May 1, 2007)

Bright Lights, Big Ass: A Self-Indulgent, Surly, Ex-Sorority Girl's Guide to Why it Often Sucks in the City, or Who are These Idiots and Why Do They All Live Next Door to Me? - Jen Lancaster. Jen is a very very funny blogger, who wrote a very very funny book sometime in the past couple of years which I own and have read but then lent to someone who failed to return it to me. So, Andrea, if you have ANY desire to borrow my copy of Jen’s new book when I buy it, and I will because have I mentioned that I find her very very funny? you better give me back Bitter is the New Black, woman! (And come have a beer with me because I haven’t seen in you for fucking ever.) (May 1, 2007)

Hungry in LA turned me on to Nicola Griffith, and Aud Torvingen, Griffith’s Norwegian detective, with a copy of The Blue Place; several years later when I read a review of Griffith’s second novel featuring Torvingen, Still, describing the story as “literary noir,” that descriptive was so perfect that I felt validated in reading a mere crime novel. You can be as snotty as you want about the crime/mystery genre; Marlowe, Spade, and Spenser have made their way into college-level lit classes and are there to stay. (The Maureen Corrigan book I am leisurely enjoying boasts a chapter on the noir genre, and its sociological value and insights.) Now Aud stars in a third installment, Always, due for release in the beginning of May. (May 3, 2007)

I have a bit of a thing for the historical supernatural. When my mom and I traveled to England in '99, she was already ill, and we just didn’t know it yet. Her liver disease manifested itself then in extreme fatigue, and so while my mom went to bed early most nights, I occupied myself by strolling around London and York with various tour outfits specializing in the ghost walk. In London, I indulged myself in the Jack the Ripper tour; the York tour was shorter, but somehow even spookier, wandering around the dusk in the shadow of the looming minster. So when I saw Rebecca Stott’s novel, entitled Ghostwalk, I had to read the blurb. And it looks very cool. The Barnes & Noble description and feel of the book reminds me of Possession. And we all know how I feel about Possession. Add it to my list. (May 8, 2007)

Crashing Through: A Story of Risk, Adventure, and the Man Who Dared to See - Robert Kurson. Much to my surprise, I really enjoyed reading Shadow Divers. I thought it might be fun, but it was really intriguing; I liked it enough to give it to my little brother for Christmas. So, although I find the subject matter of Kurson’s new book (a blind man can have an operation to restore his sight – but does he want to? Should he?) slightly disturbing in a sci-fi kind of way, I will read it. (May 15, 2007)

A Thousand Splendid Suns -Khaled Hosseini. This book looks depressing as hell, but so was Kite Runner and I still liked it. (May 22, 2007)

Divisadero - Michael Ondaatje. I once harbored a passionate crush on a weenie little English professor due solely to his brilliance. He was Canadian, and so he liked to teach Margaret Atwood and Michael Ondaatje. I had a tough time getting Ondaatje, but was glad I persevered. He is a lyrical writer, if a tad on the inaccessible side; this is his first novel in six years. (May 29, 2007)

Michael Tolliver Lives - Armistead Maupin. Could this book be as funny and heartwarming and engaging as Maupin’s Tales from the City et al? I really don’t know; this novel may well be oddly dated, but there’s only one way to find out. (June 26, 2007)

Thursday Next: First Among Sequels - Jasper Fforde. I am a big fan of Fforde’s Thursday Next novels; they are fun, and quirky, and imaginative, and I like to describe them as “The Hitchhiker’s Guide for English majors.” I am a little concerned about the possibility that the fifth may not live up to the first ones, but I am willing to risk it. (July 19, 2007)

So, yeah, I am trying to read from my shelves, but I have every intention of continuing to endear myself to my local branch librarians as usual.


Ding, ding, ding, ding, ding! We have a winner. Although I didn't realize it was going to turn into a quiz.

Some old dude was turning around in my street and crashed head-on into my car, going at a decent clip, even though he had JUST TURNED AROUND and how fast should he have been going? He smashed into my car (with a Dodge Neon, not some tank, so consider that if you will) and pushed my in-gear, emergency-braked, parked car backwards about eight feet, and up onto the curb and into the tree. My crazy neighbor saw the whole thing (he was the one who was giving the dude directions just before he turned around) and swears the dude was drunk, but the babysitter thinks he was just old and confused.
I am still waiting for the insurance estimate.
I'll keep you posted.


Anonymous said...

Barbara Kingsolver has a new book? She's in the select group of authors whose books I buy the day they're published. I hope her new book isn't too preachy being non-fiction and all. If they're living in Appalachia and eating only locally-grown food, then they can't have coffee or chocolate (I know this from reading Diana Gabaldon's Outlander series). I can live without fast food, but I would be really cranky without coffee or chocolate.

I have to go get more coffee now.

Did your crazy neighbor get the name or licence number of the old dude who hit you ???

Sarah Louise said...

So I was sort of close. (about the car)

NO MORE BOOKS! They are going to find me out and take away my library card. (Although a librarian without a card would be pretty sad.)

I'll look at the Barbara Kingsolver--she is amazing but the only one of hers I loved was The Poisonwood Bible.

Is Maeve B. the one who wrote Evening Class? (She is, I checked.) Because there's an awesome Danish movie sort of based on that book, Italian for Beginners.

blackbird said...

I would NEVER IN A MILLION YEARS have figured out how your car got that way.
I'm still not sure I follow...

Badger said...

I gave up on the Thursday Next series somewhere in the middle of the third book, I think it was. Or maybe the fourth. I just got bored with the whole concept. I mean, I GET IT, I just don't CARE. You know?

Major Bedhead said...

Maeve Binchy is my guilty pleasure read. My mother bought that book an I'm impatiently waiting for her to finish it.

I love Barbara Kingsolver. I listened to Prodigal Summer on cd last year and was blown away. I have to get more of her books.

Literary Feline said...

A booklist! Let me get my pencil so I can take down some titles.

That's terrible about your car! Did he just forget where the brake was?

Anonymous said...

I don't think you can grow sugar cane in Appalachia either or bananas.

Anonymous said...

I just realized: you can't grow coconuts in Appalachia either, so no coconut cake for the Kingsolver family !

I'll stop now.

Jess said...

Wait! Wasn't Maeve Binchy retiring?

Damn it, more books to read!
(said lovingly)

Jess said...

Thank you - now I know exactly what to spend my latest amazon voucher on - Barbara Kingsolver's newest. Although, really, isn't it about time she gave us another NOVEL? I enjoy her nonfiction, but her novels I love. I love her even when she's preachy. (I also like that her daughter and husband are listed as authors.)

nutmeg said...

Can't beat the combination of Kingsolver (whom I called Kingslover for a very long time!), subsistance farming (another pet topic) and essays there on - I WILL be on the look out for that one.

I read the first novel in Fforde's Nursery Crime Division series and it was pretty good - I haven't looked at the next in the series yet.

And the Kurson book "looks" right up my alley as well.

Great previews :-)

Glad you got a loan car. I once had to survive two weeks without my car after a bus crashed into it (while I was sitting in it!) and it was pure hell. I have now checked the option of a loan car in my insurance, because I don't want to be without a car, especially now with children, again (very environmentally sound of me I know).

Unknown said...

I used to love Maeve Binchy, but couldn't make it all the way through her last couple.

Jess said...

I forgot to say that the Twain quote is EXACTLY how I feel most springs. Smart man.