Wednesday, January 27, 2016

A book published this year??

The various categories for my current reading challenge are not vast and inclusive I fear.  When Breath Becomes Air was going to count for a book published this year, but I'm going to have it be the category a book recommended by your child - since Hannah recommended it to me - and I will have this be the book published this year!!

I enjoyed Olive Kitteridge a lot, so that is what attracted this book to me, since it is by the same author.  However, it was quite a different book - and in fact I went to the library today to get earlier books by this author just to get more familiar with her.  Will let you know what I think.

My Name is Lucy Barton is very reflective - reflective in the sense that the woman - Lucy Barton - is reflecting on many different parts of her life.  Although the time frames jump around, it is easy to keep the thread.  The story is basically that of a woman who is in the hospital for 9 weeks - we never know exactly why - and her mother comes to visit her after a very long absence.  The story is very spare - but full anyway.  The richness of language is apparent in its sparseness.

I do wish I knew more about the woman and her life though.  Maybe that was the author's intent.

It might not appeal to everyone, but I found it compelling. 

Thursday, January 14, 2016

First Challenge of My New Reading Challenge!

The title of this very moving memoir comes from the writings of English diarist Baron Greville, "You that seek what life is in death, Now find it air that once was breath." And thus Dr. Kalanithi goes on to share with us his journey to death - a death that came much sooner than he had ever imagined.

It sounds morbid or depressing perhaps, but Dr. Kalanithi was a student of letters before he was a student of science.  He earned a masters degree in literature before choosing to go to medical school. Thus words for him are paramount - and he parses his words beautifully.  That is one way that this story is lifted from the possibly maudlin to nearly sublime at some junctures.

But what is mostly compelling is his ability to tell his story in a way that makes us feel that we are on the journey with him.  The scientific and medical detail is thorough, and even though I couldn't always follow it exactly, the sense of what he was trying to say came through.

He starts with the discovery of his cancer, then moves to the background of his journey to that point, and back to the discovery.  He wrote up until the end of his life, and probably did not feel that he'd told the whole story.  The epilogue by his wife is very beautifully written also.

I wept as read the ending.  As one reviewer noted, even though you know the outcome, you are still mesmerized by his story.  I would highly recommend it to one and all.

And thanks,  Hannah,  for sending me the link about it!

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Reading in 2016

I confess readily to an addiction to reading.  I read lots of books.  Whenever folks ask me how I find time to read so much, I usually reply that I read when I ought to be doing other stuff!!

Last year I met - and exceeded the challenge to read a book a week - that would be 52 books - I read 61! My high school friend Sharon McKinney sent me a reading challenge that I think I am going to try - I'm sure there's a link, but I will just summarize it here:

a book published this year
a book you can finish in a day
a book you've been meaning to read
a book recommended by your librarian or bookseller
a book you should have read in school
a book chosen for you by your spouse, partner, sibling or child
a book published before you were born
a book that was banned at some point
a book you previously abandoned
a book you own but have never read
a book that intimidates you
a book you're already read at least once

Many of these categories can overlap - so I may have to read more than 12 books! For example, Hannah recommended a book published this year that I am reading now - but I won't use it to check off 2 categories!!

And I'm excited for such a good excuse to once again re-read Gone With the Wind! Some will be true challenges - finishing books I've abandoned may be the toughest - after all, there's usually a good reason for abandoning a book! And all the books I own but haven't read are mostly dry old classics - that will be tough.

But I will keep you posted - and any suggestions that fit the above criteria above are welcome!!