What Are You Reading?: My Book Spine Post

I’ve never tried this before, but I’ve always liked the ones I’ve seen on this site. Some people are interested in other people’s clothing, or cars, or houses, etc. I’m interested in what other people are reading, just as so many of you are. Here’s an assortment of what I’ve been reading for the past few months. Some I read right straight through; others I dip into occasionally for a change of pace.

Starting from the bottom:

Its’ Never Too Late to Begin Again, Julia Cameron
I first began reading Julia Cameron’s books in an artists’ book group about ten years ago. She’s all about helping people find themselves through whatever means possible and living their most creative life. Her preferred methods are through art and writing. This is her most recent book and it is about rediscovering your creativity in your more mature years. I love her writing; it pulls me in.

Deep Denial, David Billings
My first exposure to the author was quite recent when I attended a lecture he gave on racism in my town. I was deeply moved by this humble, wise, sensitive man, and his wife, who have devoted their lives to understanding the role of white supremacy and racism in American history and culture, and to sharing their wisdom. I hope to soon be participating in a book group based on this work.

Big Magic, Elizabeth Gilbert
I’ve read several of Gilbert’s books and am impressed by her dexterity as a writer. She can tackle any subject and pull you into her orbit. This one which has been so celebrated since it’s publication didn’t impress me as much as I had hoped. But that may be a result of already having invested several years in the works of Julia Alvarez, who covers similar territory. Nonetheless, I enjoy picking this up whenever I need a change of pace. She’s an engaging writer.

A Thousand Splendid Suns, Khaled Hosseini
I read the Kite Runner and really liked it, so I assumed I’d like this book, too. Instead, I loved it. It’s a no-holds-barred look at sexism in the culture of Afghanistan during the time of the rise of the Taliban. The story follows the intersecting lives of two women whose lives are pure drudgery and humiliation. Yet, they persevere. This is a powerful story: Not for the overly sensitive reader.

A Man Called Ove, Frederik Backman
This was a slow starter for me; I’m used to much more intricate writing which I love. But the simplicity of the story and the writing are misleading. By the end, I really felt the knockout punch of this novel, and you will too if you stick with it.

What Remains, a poetry collection by Orel Protopopescu
I recently reread this collection of poetry by an old friend of mine. I liked it when she first gave it to me. I loved it the second time. This is a deeply moving collection of poetic memoirs about the poet’s life and her family, told with great affection and awe for what has come before. Sadly, her beautiful second daughter, featured on the cover, is no longer with us, which makes the poems even more poignant.

LaRose, Louise Erdrich
I’ve saved my favorite for last. I’ve been reading the works of Louise Erdrich for perhaps twenty years. She’s extremely prolific and every book she writes is, to me, a winner.
I am deeply interested in Native American culture, and this writer/Native American woman (hard to say which comes first) weaves her storytelling in narratives that are spellbinding, cooked up with a pinch of Ojibwe language, magic, witchery, despair, ecstasy and plain truth. Her characters are unforgettable. I have just begun LaRose and am savoring every word because I know that the story will just become richer and richer, page by page. And I will fall in love with her all over again.

What are you reading?

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17 thoughts on “What Are You Reading?: My Book Spine Post”

  1. I just read Big Magic and also found it not particularly remarkable. Do you mean Julia Alvarez of “In the Time of the Butterflies” and “How the Garcia Girls Lost their Accents”? I didn’t know she wrote about creativity as well. My mom was a big fan of Cameron’s “The Artist’s Way,” and I read a few Erdrich books back in the 1980s, plus The Master Butcher’s Singing Club a decade or so ago. Billings is new to me, and I will have to look him up.

    My reading list is much less cerebral. Well, in the car I’m listening to “Good Poems,” a collection edited by Garrison Keillor and “The Hemingses of Monticello.” But otherwise I’m reading a bunch of YA and MG novels, such as Ms. Bixby’s Last Day, The Boys of Blur, and Heartless.

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    1. I didn’t mean to write julia alvarez…I meant Julia Cameron, author of The Artist’s Way. ‘Tho I did love Alvarez’s book How the Garcia Girls… I love any stories about immigrants. I would have to say The Master Butcher’s Singing Club was not one of my Erdrich favorites. I prefer the ones more immersed in Native American lore by her. Billings is very demanding to read, but a must for anyone interested in how we became so racist. We read what pleases us, relaxes us, and informs us. Or just to have a good laugh! Enjoy your reading…YA novels have become so good over the years, haven’t they?

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  2. A thousand splendid suns is such a great book!! And I got A Man Called Ove for Xmas but haven’t got to reading it just yet. I am currently reading “the Rosie project” and just finished reading “shift” by Hugh Howey (a good sci-fi in a series)

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  3. Just finishing up My Grandmother Says to Tell You She’s Sorry by Backman (who wrote Ove) and have really enjoyed it. I find the story interesting, but also, the use of a modified second person narrative that shifts. It gives Backman a voice that you don’t often come across.
    I also recently finished Nabokov’s Favorite Word Is Mauve: What the Numbers Reveal About the Classics, Bestsellers, and Our Own Writing by Ben Blatt, which examines literature through a data analysis lens. I mostly skimmed the writing and focused on the charts of themes, and use of words, and more. Interesting book, but glad I got it out of library rather than buying it.
    Kevin

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    1. Not sure whether I’ll read another Backman book. The Ben Blatt book sounds interesting but I’d probably never read it being more attracted to literature and poetry, and the occasional nonfiction. Thanks for sharing, though. It’s always nice to hear what others are spending their precious time reading.

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  4. I recently finished “The Inexplicable Logic of My Life” by the great Benjamin Alire Saenz. I ADORE everything he writes! I’m reading “Only Love” by Rachel Macy Stafford and “Catching a Story Fish” which is a novel in verse by Janice N. Harrington. Loving it! Thanks for the recommendations!

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    1. I’ve never even heard of the books you shared which shows you what a wide, wide world of reading there is out there for the taking. I am curious about the first book and author you mentioned. Thanks for the suggestion.

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  5. Right now I am in professional book reading mode. When summer comes I hope to catch up on several books I have waiting on my shelf. I have a new book by Ruta Sepetys that I want to read. I’ve read two others by her that I loved.

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      1. Between Shades of Gray and Salt to the Sea are the two I have read. They are historical fiction of World War II. Between Shades of Gray is when Russia occupied and took over Lithuania. Powerful book!

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  6. I loved “A Man Called Ove”! I read it last month (I think) and it feels like I just read it yesterday because it just struck a cord with me. I’ve been meaning to read “Big Magic” so I’m happy to see it on your list. I think I might need to check out Deep Denial too. Thanks for the recommendations!

    -Amanda at https://teachingwanderlust.com

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  7. I always find this format interesting even though I have not yet tried it. Right now I am in the middle of reading Hamilton by Ron Chernow. My goal is to have it finished before we see the play in June.

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