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Friday Keeps Readin'
Nicholas: When you think summer reads, you think of something fun... maybe a mystery novel, or one of the new bestsellers out there (The Hunger Games series perhaps?). But I had to be difficult and choose to reread a book that probably was better suited for life on a desert island. In celebration of the 150th anniversary of the Civil War and the 75th anniversary of its publication, I decided to reread Margaret Mitchell's Pulitzer Prize winning classic, Gone With the Wind. I haven't read it since high school, where I wrote a rather amateurish essay about why Scarlett O'Hara was a survivor through means of being a capitalistic bitch. My copy of the book was, shall we say, thoroughly loved, so I decided to pick up another newer edition. While some may disregard the novel as southern chick lit, I think the story holds up as one of best survivor stories written in the 20th Century. Yes, we're all familiar with the movie (for those of you who aren't, you should devote a rainy Saturday afternoon - it's only 4 hours!). But the book itself retells the story of a society's downfall and one woman's fight to survive on her own terms. Scarlett doesn't do it the ladylike way; her way is messy, immoral, and oftentimes downright cruel, but she survives the carpetbaggers, the Yankees, and the restoration of the South, whereas, others of her kind do not. Although the book may be not the most ideal T-reading book I could have chosen at the start of the summer, I'm already a 150 pages in of a 1,000 page novel that redefined what it meant to be a Southerner. I'm from Ohio, I felt I needed the education. As God as my witness, I'll have the book done by the end of June!
Katie: On Tuesday, I signed up for a Boston Public Library Library Card! So, after a very fruitful trip, this week I am diving into the insane mind of Chuck Palahniuk in his 1996 novel, Fight Club. I swear, the man is unhinged. I haven’t read too much yet (I’m only about 50 pages in) and so far it’s fairly similar to the movie. Not to give anything away for those who haven’t seen the movie or read the book (but really, get on that), but things are much more apparent in the book. Important things. That’s all I’ll say because the first rule of Fight Club is that you don’t talk about Fight Club. The second rule is also that you don’t talk about Fight Club. So there. I really enjoy Palahniuk’s writing style, even if it does tend to make me uncomfortable. Last summer I read another of his novels, Diary, in which the main character’s contractor husband goes insane and seals off rooms of his customer’s houses. As in, they call his wife (after he’s committed suicide) to say they can’t find their laundry rooms, linen closets, or back doors. If you’re in the mood for something weird, I highly recommend any of Chuck Palahniuk’s novels.
Karina: Though not chosen by me, and not my usual genre, my current read is fast becoming one of the most interesting and informative things I've read in a while. Ted Gioia’s The History of Jazz is my assigned reading for a U.S. Diversity class at Emerson by the same name. On the first day of the course, when the professor asked how many of us were musicians and an overwhelming majority raised their hands, I was daunted. Since then, however, Gioia’s book has given little old un-musical me hope, and has begun to read like an epic novel. So far, the details about the history of minstrel shows or a young Louis Armstrong in a smoky dive in Brooklyn do not sacrifice the dreamy poetic language that I drool over. In detailing the prehistory of Jazz, Gioia describes a musical display in nineteenth century New Orleans: “Another calabash has been made into a drum, and a woman heats at it with two short sticks. One voice, then other voices join in. A dance of seeming contradictions accompanies this musical give-and-take, a moving hieroglyph…” This is the kind of textbook I always hope that I am assigned; it is bursting with both information and poetry. Written as musically as its subject, this book is introducing me to what I am sure will be a hoppin’ summer course.
How does this blogger with a fascination for lacerations get her fix? By reading Cutting for Stone, by Abraham Verghese. As a reader with limited medical knowledge, I find both the content and characters assessable and interesting. This bestselling novel depicts the story of twin brothers. The twins’ mother, a nun named Sister Mary Praise Joseph, gives birth to the boys in a remote village in Ethiopia. The surgeon and father, Thomas Stone, must operate on the twins who are connected to one another by a blood vessel. When Sister Joseph dies in childbirth, Stone’s shame drives him to abandon his sons, believing the secret of his affair with Sister Joseph will die with her. That is where the story really begins. Having just started the book, this is as far into the story as I have gotten. Thus far, the crisp yet poetic narrative illuminates the surgical scenes without delving too deeply into medical jargon. From the first pages it is apparent that this is more than a book about medical procedures; it is a richly crafted narrative about balancing familial and occupational love. Looking forward to seeing more of what Verghese has to offer.
Some news (and other fun stuff) from the industry!
It's not looking good for our pal, Borders: Borders Hearing Ends Abruptly
A book club a la Margaret Atwood: The Blind Assassin Picked for 1book140 Book Club
Ellen DeGeneres speaking on... books? Cool. BEA Show Daily 2011: A Chat with Ellen DeGeneres
Some of the top titles from last year you may have missed: Best Books of 2010
But enough of the past... here are some coming literary attractions! Radiance & Simple Twist of Fate
And what are YOU reading?