Kathleen Hale is a brand-new writer after my own heart. When her best friend is murdered in the tiny town of Friendship, WI, high school junior Kippy...moreKathleen Hale is a brand-new writer after my own heart. When her best friend is murdered in the tiny town of Friendship, WI, high school junior Kippy Bushman has to use her smarts and take the law into her own hands. I can’t even choose what one thing I loved best about No One Else Can Have You. There’s the knitted moose sweater on the front cover. There’s the portrait of life in small town Wisconsin — from the convention of addressing everyone by their full name, to eating hot dogs fried in mayonnaise. There’s the awkward but hot romance that’s just one small piece of who Kippy Bushman is, rather than her whole entire raison d'être. There are the complicated, real relationships; the beautifully handled issues of grief and outsidership; the ragtag friends from anger management support group. And then there’s the super smart, slightly weird humor that would be right at home in a Daniel Pinkwater novel or David Lynch movie. But if I HAD to choose, the number one reason I love this book is because it’s about a brainy girl who goes up against incompetent authority figures and gets criminalized, pathologized, and institutionalized along the road to justice. But still gets home in time for Hot Dog Jumble and microwaved bacon salad with her dad. I can’t wait for the sequel!(less)
Sonali Deraniyagala was vacationing with her family in Sri Lanka's Yala National Park on Christmas, 2004, when the deadliest tsunami in history killed...moreSonali Deraniyagala was vacationing with her family in Sri Lanka's Yala National Park on Christmas, 2004, when the deadliest tsunami in history killed her parents, husband, and two young sons in a single instant. It's a story so unfathomable that, even nine years later, Deraniyagala herself can hardly believe it happened to her. What she's finally shared in Wave is a brief account that is both shocking and — terribly, somehow — beautiful. Unsentimentally, she excavates all the ugly crevices of her grief. By opening up about the horror that swallowed her entire family, Deraniyagala has in some small, shadowy way created a space for Steve, Vikram, Mali, and her parents to live on. It is, in a word, astonishing.(less)
Check out this hardcore line from the opening of The Woman Upstairs: "It was supposed to say 'Great Artist' on my tombstone, but if I died right now i...moreCheck out this hardcore line from the opening of The Woman Upstairs: "It was supposed to say 'Great Artist' on my tombstone, but if I died right now it would say 'such a good teacher/daughter/friend' instead; and what I really want to shout, and want in big letters on that grave, too, is FUCK YOU ALL."
Nora Eldridge is a middle-aged elementary school teacher who's righteously angry about having to play the part of the "good girl" when she's not a girl at all but a 42-year-old woman on fire with unfulfilled dreams, hunger, and ambition. When she meets an artsy international family to whom she becomes creepily close, the story takes on the sharp edge of a twisty psychological thriller à la Sissy Spacek and Shelly Duvall in the creep-tastic masterpiece that is 3 Women. I loved where this book was going, but ultimately wished it would've dug a little deeper into the emotional heart of an otherwise badass feminist story that tickles all my usual sweet spots. It's one of those books that I wanted to LOVE, but ended up just liking instead.(less)
This is a fun collection of short stories and essays by some heavy-hitting writers including Elizabeth Berg, Andre Dubus III, Sue Grafton, Barbara Kin...moreThis is a fun collection of short stories and essays by some heavy-hitting writers including Elizabeth Berg, Andre Dubus III, Sue Grafton, Barbara Kingsolver, Ann Patchett, Anita Shreve, and Jane Smiley. The collection is organized alphabetically by author's last name, although I think organizing it a different way could have been more interesting and given the book a better flow.
I LOVED several -- Andre Dubus III's "Blood, Root, Knit, Purl" and Barbara Kingsolver's "Where to Begin?" are especially and awesomely extraordinary -- but many of the others blur together into cliche territory, the two biggest culprits being the "I learned to knit from my so-and-so" stories and the "knitting is hard and I'm not very good at it, but I'm still a knitting wannabe" stories.
This would probably be a good collection to dip into here and there, but all together it was a little too much knitting even for me. I started skipping around by the end; maybe I'll go back to it again someday and dip into some of the other stories.(less)
This story collection gives me the shivers, and I WANT MORE. Anchored in Lookout Mountain, Georgia, a tiny border town with Tennessee, I Want To Show...moreThis story collection gives me the shivers, and I WANT MORE. Anchored in Lookout Mountain, Georgia, a tiny border town with Tennessee, I Want To Show You More's 15 stories unpeel like a hallucinogenic onion. Jamie Quatro obsessively explores questions of adultery, death, disfigurement, and phone sex, all within a bizarre framework of Christianity. My favorite of the stories, "Demolition," watches a congregation tear apart their historic Southern building and then head to a cave in the woods to start a holy sex cult (!). I like to imagine Quatro's real-life congregation innocently picking up this book at a church potluck and then getting its collective mind blown. It's a sexy, spiritual, and frightening collection from a writer who seemed to sneak up out of nowhere. I am not going to be patient for her next collection of stories, not at all.(less)
What was billed as a book about a girl and her motorcycle turned out to be something much bigger and weirder, in an awesome way. Reno is a sexy young...moreWhat was billed as a book about a girl and her motorcycle turned out to be something much bigger and weirder, in an awesome way. Reno is a sexy young thing trying to break into the performance art scene in 1970s New York. She's tall, blonde, naïve, rides an Italian motorcycle, and she's in love with all the wrong men. If The Flamethrowers were an obscure art house flick, it would have the ooh-lah-lah-ness of Belle du Jour meets the cool machismo of Paris, Texas plus a ridiculously hot cast. The story follows her from the Salt Flats to the Bowery to a violent Red Brigades rally in Rome, exploring enormous arty themes like time, speed, truth, sex, desire, labor, violence, and war, all with a stripped down swagger. It took practically the whole thing to win me completely over, but ultimately it's one of the better books I read from 2013 and I'm glad I stuck with it.
(Christina Traister has a great voice for the audio version, but I was super distracted by a few weird mispronunciations like New York's "Houston Street" and Rome's "Cinecittà.")(less)
I remember enjoying this book when it first came out in 2003, and it was fun to revisit on audio a decade later. Augusten Burroughs' voice on the audi...moreI remember enjoying this book when it first came out in 2003, and it was fun to revisit on audio a decade later. Augusten Burroughs' voice on the audio version adds to all the dysfunction and humor an innocent, tender quality that hadn't fully translated for me on the page. I loved this listen.(less)
With Little Failure, I'm now officially crushing on Gary-Shteyngart-the-writer, too. In his most vulnerable project to date, Shteyngart finally lets down his guard to write about the Soviet immigrant experience. How does a 7-year-old boy go from living amongst exploding Soviet TVs and writing his first novel — Lenin and His Magical Goose — for one slice of cheese per page, to living in a tiny American apartment with his screaming parents and being the laughingstock of the Solomon Schechter Hebrew Day School in Queens? Not easily, it turns out. It helps that his American TV wasn't the exploding variety. Little Failure is Gary Shteyngart's best writing yet; a memoir that strives for truth and addresses that age-old question of how you can still love someone who had you circumcised at age 8.(less)
Pretty much the only things I don't like about this book are the title & cover art :-) This book came along at just the right time for me, really...morePretty much the only things I don't like about this book are the title & cover art :-) This book came along at just the right time for me, really breaking down some of the concepts I've been learning about re: defusing anxious thoughts and making room for difficult emotions.
I identified with the concept that our minds have negative thoughts running through them all day because they're trying to help us be vigilant and survive all the scary wilderness predators. One of the most useful ideas of this book for me so far has been the awareness that, in modern life, these kinds of negative thoughts aren't necessarily always helpful, so it's OK to just "thank" your mind for looking out for you and then move on, letting negative thoughts be but not buying into them or putting excessive energy into them unless they help you be and do what you really value (not what you think you should value).
I appreciate the pragmatic value of this book, too; I thought it was a nice complement to the more abstract ideas written about by Jon Kabat-Zinn. Russ Harris has a knack for breaking these ideas into very do-able techniques and exercises.
There's really so much here that reading it cover-to-cover in a few weeks was a little overwhelming; it will really need to be revisited over and over again, but it's already proved immensely helpful to me.(less)