Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Twitterature: "May" I tell you what I've been reading?


Once again I'm linking up with Modern Mrs. Darcy's monthly "Twitterature" post, in which we give short reviews of what we've been reading.  (Yes, I know, they're "supposed" to be Twitteresque/ish in length but I can never keep to that!)  Here are the books I've read since last time:






Crossing to Safety by Wallace Stegner.  (I first heard about this novel on Modern Mrs. Darcy's blog, as she rated it one of the best books she'd read last year.)  It traces the friendship of two couples from the 1930's to the 1970's.  I was bothered by one oddity:  while both couples have children, they live as if they have none (they could have been childless and the plot would remain essentially unchanged).  But otherwise it's a beautifully written book about relationships that relies on small scenes and conversations -- the things most lives are made of -- rather than big dramatic events.


Why We Write:  20 Acclaimed Authors On Why They Do What They Do by Meredith Maran (ed.).  This interesting and inspiring book contains interviews with 20 writers (including Jodi Picoult, Ann Patchett, James Frey, and Mary Karr) about their writing goals, techniques, successes, and failures. 


A Hidden Wholeness by Parker Palmer.  This book explores why so many of us live divided lives, hiding our true selves and souls from others.  Palmer suggests that one solution involves creating "circles of trust": intentional communities that provide opportunity for the soul to find freedom and for participants to access and listen to their own inner truth.



The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion.  Don Tillman, an oddball genetics professor (who probably has Asperger Syndrome), has trouble with relationships, so he takes on the Wife Project to help him find a partner.  While conducting his research he meets Rosie, a grad student, who is on her own quest and upsets his structured and systematic life.  This is a wonderful novel whose strongest point is its unusual, lovable main character.  I like quirky novels, but they really only work for me if they feature a compelling character who makes me care (Jessica Grant's Come, Thou Tortoise did; Maria Semple's Where'd You Go, Bernadette didn't, so I found it funny but forgettable).  With The Rosie Project, I quickly came to like Don and appreciate his earnest desire to do what's right and fit into a world which, in many ways, makes no sense to him.  Here's one quote, to whet your appetite (Don's friend Claudia is trying to set him up with a woman named Elizabeth):

"Claudia had introduced me to one of her many friends.  Elizabeth was a highly intelligent computer scientist, with a vision problem that had been corrected with glasses.  I mention the glasses because Claudia showed me a photograph, and asked me if I was okay with them.  An incredible question!  From a psychologist!  In evaluating Elizabeth's suitability as a potential partner--someone to provide intellectual stimulation, to share activities with, perhaps even to breed with--Claudia's first concern was my reaction to her choice of glasses frames, which was probably not even her own but the result of advice from an optometrist.  This is the world I have to live in."

I know you'll love this book -- even if, as Don would say, that opinion is not "evidence-based"....


What have you been reading lately?


10 comments:

  1. That quote cracked me big time. Now I'm really going to have the read the Rosie Project.
    I also found the presence of children lacking in "Crossing to Safety". The world where children are fed by their nanny and put to bed before the adults' meal every night is completely foreign to me. Did you get the ending of that one? I could tell something deep and symbolic was going on with that mouse, but it never felt like things quite resolved. But then, when it comes to dysfunctional relationships, perhaps some things never do.

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    1. Yes, that's probably true. It wouldn't have worked with a Hollywood-style ending, that's for sure.

      Hope you like The Rosie Project! And thanks for stopping by.

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  2. Thank you for the recommendations. I've just added several of them to my to-read list. It's a long list! :) I loved The Rosie Project, too!

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    1. Thanks for stopping by, Heidi -- and yes, my to-read list has gotten much longer since I joined Twitterature!

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  3. I loved The Rosie Project! It was definitely a quirky book, but it was a fun read :)

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    1. Thanks Stacey -- have a good day.

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  4. I downloaded the sale Kindle version of Rosie Project when Mod.Mrs.Darcy recommended it -- and now I want to read it sooner than I was planning!

    What did you think of Why We Write?

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    1. I liked it a lot -- it was so interesting to hear how these authors got published, how they do their work, etc. You have authors who say things like "If I didn't write, I'd die" and others (like Ann Patchett) who say, "If I didn't write any more, I'd be fine." It helped me see that not everyone's style or approach has to be the same.

      Thanks for stopping by, Jenna - take care!

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  5. I read the Rosie Project recently too, and really enjoyed it. I love your description of wanting to care about the quirky characters... I like that in a book, too! (I do the same thing with TV shows -- I know everyone loves Mad Men, but the characters are so unlikeable, I find it unwatchable!)

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    1. Thanks for your thoughts, Sarah -- I've actually never watched Mad Men and now I have absolutely no motivation to start! :-)

      Have you ever read Come, Thou Tortoise, by Jessica Grant? It's very different, too -- it has 2 narrators, Audrey Flowers (aka Oddly) and her turtle, Winnifred. I really liked it.

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