Saturday, August 11, 2012

August Reading

As promised.

This summer has been a big drag when it comes to reading. So many of my favorite authors had new books out, yet all of them disappointed and I don't write about books I dislike, so aside from Wild, I haven't had much to rave about.

Until now. Sort of anyway. I'm researching potential agents for my book and on the agencies' websites they list the books they represent. This is an excellent way to find new reading material! But more on that later.

I read  A Door in the Ocean: A Memoir by David McGlynn and it appealed to me for a variety of reasons. Here's my recap - as a teen, McGlynn's best friend and swimming partner is murdered, leaving McGlynn behind to try to make sense of the loss. At the same time, his parents divorce and his dad moves to Laguna Beach and turns into a Jesus Freak. McGlynn wants to live with his dad, moves to California and succumbs to the allure of the Evangelical culture. Eventually the allure fades and I won't spoil the rest, but the one constant throughout the book is McGlynn's love of water and swimming. This book is not without flaw - McGlynn leaves too many unanswered questions for my satisfaction and there's a bit of a pacing problem towards the end, but the overall quality of the writing makes up for those minor issues. It's a beautiful book. I found it particularly appealing because he does a good job at explaining why people get sucked into religious fanaticism. Not how, but why. I'm warning you though, the first third of the book deals with an unbelievably horrible, execution style, mass murder and it scared me so badly that I had actual nightmares, because this isn't fiction and that murder was never solved.

I'm going to finish (hopefully) two books on my vacation. I just discovered Suzanne Morrison's   Yoga Bitch: One Woman's Quest to Conquer Skepticism, Cynicism, and Cigarettes on the Path to Enlightenment.And oh my God, it is the perfect book for me right now, as a floundering yogini. If you like my writing, you'll appreciate Morrison because she's snarky and hilarious and cusses about doing yoga and I love it. I've been telling everyone about this book lately and I'm a little troubled that a book this funny and delightful hasn't been better and more widely promoted. It deserves more attention, especially with how many people are into yoga now. I was so intrigued by the author, that I looked up her blog, where you can read the first chapter, and her website and it turns out she's writing a show (like on a stage?) about her family's friendship with Ted Bundy. Really? I kind of imagined a serial killer as more of a loner, not someone who'd be friends with a family, you know? I mean, I can't exactly see a man who bit the nipples off a sorority sister kicking back at the family reunion. Naturally, I'm intrigued and can't wait until this comes out in some form that I can watch or read all about it.

My other vacation book you may have heard about, as it's getting a lot of recent hype. M.L. Stedman's The Light Between Oceans: A Novel is not my usual fare. But you know what? I don't have a usual fare. I don't even know why I said that, maybe because it's fiction. I like good writing. Period. I've only read the first chapter because I'm saving this for my trip. but I can already tell it's going to be good. There's a depth and richness to the writing, a level of detail, that I can only aspire to and it's the best sort of fiction - the kind that takes you to a far away time and place and makes that time and place very real for the reader. The novel also poses a wonderful moral dilemma and I love, love, love any writing that presents difficult choices for its characters, putting them in situations where right and wrong are blurred and where the reader can see both sides to the story. We need more of this kind of writing. And if you'd like to know what happens to a lonely lighthouse keeper and his wife who have longed for a child, when a baby and a dead man wash up on their desolate island, off the coast of Australia, in the early 20th century, then read this book. I have a feeling they are already planning the film and casting Cate Blanchett somewhere in it.

I'd like to start sharing with you the books I send my grandmother. I love recommending books and when I taught, I always made reading lists for my students. Likewise, I recommend a lot to dear old Mommom. Mommom has always been a big reader and her tastes tend towards more commercial, female driven stories. The Help is a perfect example. She doesn't like anything too edgy and she likes stuff set back in a time some. She's a big fan of Louise Erdrich, and I take 100% credit for that. Yay me. So the book I'm gifting Mommom with this summer is  Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford. It's a really lovely book with two parallel stories. I love Asian American literature and I love WW II stories, so this was perfect. It's a love story between a Chinese boy and a Japanese girl in Seattle during the Japanese Internment. Just read it. I'm telling you. Mommom's going to love it and so are you.

What books have you loved this summer? What are you reading now? Share away.


Anonymous said...

Really loved Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn. Lots of twist and turns. Very well written.

Living in Muddy Waters said...

The Crowning Glory of Calla Lily Ponder by Rebecca Wells. I cried so hard at one point during the book that I had to put it down. Love her books.

And if you want to laugh at me, I read the entire Sword of Truth series. They were awful but I am a Legend of the Seeker addict so I felt I had to. Go ahead and laugh.

Dawn said...

I agree about Gone Girl. Could not put it down.

Jean said...

Loved Hotel at the Corner of Bitter and Sweet, lovely.

catherine said...

I could not put down "The girl with the dragon tattoo" series. The ending of the last book was edge of your seat holy crap amazing. The begining of the first book kind of drags, but be patient it gets better. Too bad the author passed away before he finished the 4th book. His life and what happened when he died would make a great story too.
Another great Swedish author is Carla Lackberg. I just finished Ice Princess, and I have the next 3 at the library waiting to be picked up.

Hey Muddy :D could you email me @ I was wondering if you are still blogging.
Thanks, Catherine

Kayla said...

I used to live right next door to the Panama Hotel! There's a gorgeous espresso and tea shop there now, I'd go down and get my morning coffee and Japanese sweets :-) "Hotel" was a beautiful story.

mcgrimus said...

Currently reading "Ghost Hunters: William James and the Search for Scientific Proof of Life After Death" by Deborah Blum. I'm liking it so far. Plan on following it up with "Fringe-ology" by Steve Volk. After that, I'll give paranormal reading a rest for a while.

Gina said...

I enjoyed both The Light Between Oceans and Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet.

This summer, I have read quite a few good books - some old - like The Book Thief, I Am the Messenger (I may be in love with Markus Zusak).

And some new - The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, Tell the Wolves I'm Home (my favorite of the bunch), Gone Girl, This is Where I Leave You, The Fault in Our Stars, The Boy in the Suitcase, Heft, Shooting Kabul, The Book of Jonas, The Miseducation of Cameron Post.

And yes -I am 43 and many of those titles fall into the YA genre, but they're GOOD. I've also read some YA series, lie The Maze Runner & Divergent.

And - not the most literary book I've read, but I got some good laughs out of Lunatics. Dave Barry never fails to entertain me.

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