WWW Wednesday 12/24/2014

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What are you currently reading?

The Iliad by Homer

Lock In by John Scalzi

 

What did you just finish reading?

Mission:  Impossible by Peter Borsocchini

Bel Canto by Ann Patchett

Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert

 

What do you think you’ll read next?

The Group by Mary McCarthy

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe

Bel Canto

Sometimes you read a book by an author you’ve never heard of, just by chance–you grab it off the shelf at a library because the cover is pretty, or it happens to be on an end cap so it catches your eye. And when you start reading you are immediately hooked on that author so completely that you must read everything they’ve ever written.

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That is what happened with Ann Patchett. I don’t remember exactly how I came across Bel Canto, but I know it was something serendipitous. It wasn’t a new book when I read it, it was just something I had randomly picked up. I hadn’t read any of Patchett’s other books, but since reading Bel Canto, I have read and purchased many. Not all…yet. Her prose is unbelievably beautiful, her stories so well thought out, her characters diverse and excruciatingly human.

Bel Canto is the story of a botched political kidnapping. What should have taken only a few hours becomes a months-long hostage situation. Enemies become friends as language barriers slowly break down and lives are shared.

This is a book that I can, and have, read over and over and over again, for all of the reasons I gave earlier. It always makes me wish I enjoyed opera, and sometimes I will listen to some of the pieces Patchett mentions…but I still prefer instruments to such high pitched voice. The way she describes Roxanne Coss though, the experience is lovely.

As I’ve said before with Patchett’s books, pick her up when you want something on the slower end. There is some action, some romance, some suspense, but it’s not bam bam bam in your face. Her writing is very well balanced, and so you keep turning pages and forget about everything else (I was almost late to yoga this morning!). Make this your next read after one of those hard hitting trilogies. you won’t be disappointed!

WWW Wednesday 12/17/2014

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What are you currently reading?

The Iliad by Homer

Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert

 

What did you just finish reading?

The Hobbit by JRR Tolkien

A Dance with Dragons by George RR Martin

Backpacks and Brastraps with Savannah Grace

Before I Go  by Colleen Oakley

 

What do you think you’ll read next?

The Regulators by Richard Bachman

A Good Man is Hard to Find by Flannery O’Connor

Bel Canto by Ann Patchett

Favorite Author

I’ve talked about Ann Patchett on this blog before, but I’ve recently collected more of her books, and they are right in my eye line when I’m sitting at my desk. I can’t wait to read Bel Canto again soon. It is one of my absolute favorite books. The prose is just spot on.

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Newest Purchase

I had a pretty great book haul in September. Some new books, some used ones. Even a free one, thanks to a Twitter contest! Here’s what I picked up:

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I’ve blogged about most of these already, so I’ll keep this short. But LOOK at that gorgeous purple Drop Caps from Penguin Books! Sorry if you follow me on Twitter and get annoyed by my constant retweets, but it was well worth it. Even the pages are purple on the outside!

The bottom green book I threw in to the picture because technically…I own it. But, that’s definitely a husband book. I may read it, eventually, when it makes it way into my TBR rotation. We’ll see if I even understand it. It’ll be awhile before that happens though.

And of course, I finally have a Sherlock book. I’ve read The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, but I haven’t yet read this one. I couldn’t resist it, when I saw it on the clearance rack!

Trees of Reverie September Readathon Daily Bookish Challenges Day Fourteen

You’ve just started to work at a bookstore or library – what are your top ten go-to book recommendations?

  1. Harry Potter Series by JK Rowling
  2. Kingkiller Chronicles by Patrick Rothfuss
  3. Pride & Prejudice by Jane Austin
  4. The Thorn Birds by Colleen Mccullough
  5. Secret Garden by Frances Burnett
  6. Bel Canto by Ann Patchett
  7. The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein
  8. Game of Thrones by George RR Martin
  9. Quiet by Susan Cain
  10. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte

Top 3 Favorites

These are not the usual three that I give when people ask for my three favorite books, but they rank pretty high. And, since I just picked them up on clearance at Half-Price this week, I’m anxious to reread them soon.

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Bel Canto was the first book by Ann Patchett that I read, and the beauty of the prose instantly attracted me to her work. I’m thinking about sneaking it in before I reread Game of Thrones now that I have it in my library.

If you love dogs, and haven’t read The Art of Racing in the Rain, what are you doing with your life? This is such a lovely book. You’ll definitely hug your furry friend much tighter after this.

Memoirs of a Geisha transports the reader to another culture, another time. Even in the cruelty of WWII, the magic of a geisha works on you, and everything is lovely for a little while. At least until the makeup is washed away.

These books are must reads in my opinion. Must owns, really. I was so glad to finally grab them for myself.

Taft

I’ve reviewed Ann Patchett here before, and I just love her writing style. It’s simple, but her voice always changes to fit the characters–and those characters are never the same from book to book.

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Taft is one of her lesser known books, but just as well written as Bel Canto and Run. It follows an ex-blues musician, a drummer, through his life behind a bar. He runs a Memphis club called Muddy’s, an honest living, since he’s trying to convince his ex-wife to bring his son back home from Florida. He hires a young girl as a waitress, and becomes close with her and her brother…and that situation brings trouble to his bar and his life.

Ann Patchett does a great job of capturing a Memphis old school bluesy club voice for the narration. You feel like you’re sitting on a stool listening to some bartender telling a story as he polishes glasses with an old white cloth. The characters are diverse, but linear. Patchett gives you only the people you need to know about and no more.

I did have some trouble determining the time period for this book, and I wish she would have given a better sense of setting at the beginning. At first, because of the voice, I was thinking 60s/70s, but the longer the book went on, the later the period seemed. Then, towards the end, the boy mentions Michael Jordan, so it must be at least the early 90s. Parts of the book could span that long, but it’s really hard to figure out exactly what space of time you’re in.

Taft is a simple, linear read about simple folks. There’s nothing terribly complicated about this. Some questionable morals at parts, but for the most part, it’s about good people just trying to get through life. As always with Ann Patchett’s writing, the prose is beautiful, and so I’d recommend it if you want a break from more twisted plots.

Favorite Author

What is my favorite author?

Is that a trick question?

I don’t have one.

Yes, I’m serious.

Source:  The Relentless Reader

I don’t have one. I have several. Austen, Hemingway, Wolfe. Michael Cunningham. Regina McBride. Ann Patchett. Wilde has now been added to the list. Countless authors who I’ve only read one of their books but I loved with a passion, and they are on my Goodreads list to read more and I just haven’t gotten back to them yet. John Green up there is probably on that list too now.

Why can’t I narrow it down to just one? Geez. They all have different qualities that I love. Every book is different and each means something to me at a different point in my life. And every time I reread them, I love them in different ways.

It would be like picking a favorite topping on my pizza, or a favorite beer.

And yes, I know some people like ONLY pepperoni, and ONLY Bud Lite. That is so totally not my style. Sometimes I want mushrooms and a Belgian. And sometimes I want hot peppers and a red ale. Or maybe a porter, or a triple or….dammit now I want a beer.

It’s almost the long weekend folks!

 

The Long Goodbye

Raymond Chandler’s The Long Goodbye was my first dive into noir, but it was immediately familiar to me. I grew up with all kinds of pop culture references to old school gangsters and private detectives. Ann Patchett actually recommended this book when I read This is the Story of a Happy Marriage. She talks about Chandler’s chapter structure, so I was curious enough to read it right away.

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As soon as I started the first chapter, Marlowe’s dark voice echoed out like every private eye ever to grace the silver screen. This comes from a time when dick still meant detective, and gangsters used nicknames like “shyster” and “cheapie.”

I enjoyed this whodunit quite a bit, although the end got a bit twisted and confusing. It definitely came to a different conclusion than I had drawn, and the complications came after what I thought was the climax. It was kind of a strange roller coaster. That was probably the point, though–it just wasn’t near as succinct as what we are used to in today’s fiction.

Maybe I just need to try out a few more noir novels to figure out their structure. Does anyone have any suggestions for me?