What I’ve been reading lately.

What I’ve been reading lately.

Welcome to twitterature, where we share short and sweet reviews of what we’ve been reading lately on the 15th of every month.

What I’ve been reading lately, in a rather lopsided two-part installment. The tail end of my summer reading (new books), and The Spectator Bird, which is more indicative of the flavor of my autumn reading.

THE SPECTATOR BIRD

by Wallace Stegner

spectator birdI picked this up after reading Stegner’s later novels Crossing to Safety and Angle of Repose. I finished it weeks ago, and I still can’t quite get a handle on it. Maybe that’s because the novel itself asks hard questions, and offers no easy answers. It’s a short read—only 224 pages—but if you’ve never read Stegner, I don’t recommend starting here. Pensive, wistful, thoughtful.

BURNT TOAST MAKES YOU SING GOOD: A MEMOIR OF FOOD & LOVE FROM AN AMERICAN MIDWEST FAMILY

by Kathleen Flinn

burnt toastThis is the story of Flinn’s family of origin, from her parent’s courtship to her own teenage years. I didn’t like it as a memoir: the bumpy writing got in the way of her parent’s story. I was delighted to discover key parts of the story took place in Anna Maria Island, Florida, where my own family vacationed for many years growing up. Despite the book’s shortcomings, give it a shot if you have ties to Michigan, which plays a key role in her family’s heritage.

ALL THE LIGHT WE CANNOT SEE

by Anthony Doerr

all the lightA haunting WWII literary novel that reminded me of Ian McEwan’s Atonement—not necessarily in a good way—and had me scoping Saint-Malo, France on Lonely Planet’s website. Recommended reading for fans of The English Patient and Life After Life (Atkinson, not McCorkle). Intelligent, detailed, literary.

EVERYTHING I NEVER TOLD YOU

by Celeste Ng

everything I never“Lydia is dead. But they don’t know this yet.” So begins this psychological drama that deals with love, loss, and a million what ifs. The interesting narrative perspective allows the reader to intimately enter into the mysteries that plagued this Chinese-American family. Don’t read the jacket copy first. The less you know, the better.

GOOD CHEAP EATS: EVERYDAY DINNERS AND FANTASTIC FEASTS FOR $20 OR LESS

by Jessica Fisher

cheap eatsA brand-new cookbook from the author of Not Your Mother’s Make-Ahead and Freeze Cookbook, which I’ve come to rely on for its delicious and trustworthy meals. Easy to follow recipes and tempting photos highlight budget-friendly meals—for weeknights or for company dinners—that sound amazing yet still come in at $10 or less per meal. Easily adaptable for gluten-free, dairy-free, make-ahead, vegetarian, and freezer-friendly options. We’ve already tried a few recipes; my husband’s begging for poblano-chile enchiladas; my kids want the garlicky grilled-cheese.

ASTONISH ME

by Maggie Shipstead

Astonish MeThis book, set in the world of professional dance, is unlike anything I’ve never read in form and content. Spanning 30 years, told from 4 different viewpoints, this novel swept me into the world of classical ballet—a world I didn’t know I’d been longing to enter.  The Times hated it, but nevermind that. (But a warning: there’s language, and so much cocaine.)

What have you been reading lately?

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56 comments

  1. Leah says:

    All the Light We Cannot See absolutely floored me. I’m a big fan of WWII fiction, so going in I knew there was a good chance I’d like it, but I hadn’t realized just how much I’d come to love it. Since then I’ve pushed it on pretty much anyone within shouting distance. 🙂 So lovely.

  2. Stacey says:

    What a fun list! I have been wanting to read Everything I Never Told You and now I think it’s time. I also couldn’t agree more with what you said about Astonish Me. Who knew that I wanted to read about the world of professional ballet but I loved it!

  3. I only read 3 books last month because we moved, and because all my reading time has been taking up researching pPROM and micro-preemies. But since I’ll be on bedrest and in hospital for (If we’re lucky) several weeks, I need all the book recommendations I can get now!

    • Anne says:

      You moved and you still read three books? I’m impressed! Popping over to your blog to see if you’ve written a pregnancy update. If not, fill me in?

  4. Erica M. says:

    I keep seeing recommendations for All The Light We Cannot See. I might have to add it to my list now!

    I’m also quite intrigued by the Good, Cheap Eats book. Can’t find it at the library, but maybe I’ll get myself off to a book store one of these days…

  5. i read all the light we cannot see this summer and LOVED it. i told everyone i know to read it. it’s so… enchanting. and yesterday, i finished everything i never told you. also good, but in a different way. it’s not my usual read at all but it was still good.

  6. Karlyne says:

    Thanks to you, I just picked up a Wallace Stegner (it’s somewhere in the piles of thrift store books I’ve been hoarding for winter). I’m looking forward to it!

      • Karlyne says:

        It’s Angle of Repose, and I seriously am not sure which pile it landed in. Which makes me sound like a hoarder, and I swear I’m not! I’m just looking for the perfect opportunity to re-arrange all my book shelves so I can dust them. I swear, really!

  7. Patti says:

    I loved All The Light We Cannot See. It may be one of my favorite books ever. I didn’t think I cared about ballet. But, Astonish Me pulled me and surprised me. I’ve added Everything I Never Told You to my TBR list. Thanks, Anne! Right now, I’m reading The Time In-Between. It’s hard to put down. Since it’s so lengthy, it may be some time before I start a new book.

  8. Corby says:

    I’m reading The Wishing Thread by Lisa Van Allen. Cute book about sisters, magic and the allure of Tarrytown and Sleepy Hollow, NY. Also plugging along on Stephen Kong’s 11/22/1963.

  9. Jennifer says:

    Have you read, “And Ladies of the Club”? That spans decades and decades from I think 10-20 different viewpoints, took the author 20 years to write, and she was said to have written parts of herself into each character? All that, plus it’s a great book. Makes me want to pick it up again and read Astonish Me too.

  10. I really enjoyed All The Light We Cannot See, but for some reason could not get into Astonish Me. I’m not sure why, but I had a hard time getting to know (and thus care about) the characters.

    • Anne says:

      Interesting. Now that you mention it, I started Astonish Me not long after I saw a mini-documentary on the NYC ballet that features extensive interviews with the dancers, and detailed explanations about what it means to be a corps dancer, soloist, principal, etc. I leaned on that information heavily as I was reading, and wonder how much of a difference that made in the way I experienced the novel.

      But then again, I can totally see lots of readers hating Astonish Me, documentary or no documentary. 🙂

  11. Karlyne says:

    Oh, and thanks for the Anne Lamott recommendation a few blogs ago; I found Travelling Mercies recently at a thrift store, and she’s become a favorite already. I laughed over “The Hair” chapter (although it was titled “Sisters”), because I felt that she might have been writing it about me. Good reading.

  12. Vanessa says:

    You’ve convinced me to give Maggie Shipstead another shot. I didn’t care for Seating Arrangements, not at all, but I’m kinda curious about ballet + cocaine. 😉

  13. Amy says:

    Have you read Mao’s Last Dancer? I recently read it and really enjoyed it! I then coerced my husband into watching the movie with me (it’s on Netflix- at least in Canada), and we both really liked it….

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