Some holiday reads …

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Normally I’m a pretty voracious reader and can scream through a couple books a week; however, due to all the academic reading I’ve been doing for school my normal desire to pleasure read has transitioned to just a short stint before bed if I can keep my eyes open. And as Jack will attest to, I can’t keep the eyelids up for long these days.

Here are a couple of mine and Jack’s recent recommendations along with a little peak at what’s on top of my TBR (To Be Read) pile.

Word of warning: just like my taste in music, my taste in reading is wide and varied. 🙂

What are you guys reading these days?

First, here’s Jack’s list:

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Cadillac Desert by Marc Reisner. I heard about this book on one of Michael Krazney’s “Summer Reads” radio programs and immediately went out and got it for Jack for our anniversary; I knew he would love it. Turns out he saw this book on Roger’s shelf some time ago and has been wanting to read it ever since, so that’s a nice coincidence. It’s about the development of water systems in the American west. Jack’s commentary so far: “I never realized how much corruption and graft it took to build the state of California. Love the book and highly recommend it!”

 

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I think Karl’s wife, Amy, loaned The Bean Trees to Jack while he was recently up in Alaska. He asked me if I’d read it before. Oh, yes! It happens to be on my “Keeper” shelf. It’s the first Barbara Kingsolver novel that I read and subsequently have loved every book she’s written with the exception of The Poisonwood Bible (sorry, it just depressed me) and her non-fiction book, Animal, Vegetable, Mineral, which I’ve been meaning to read for years. The Bean Trees introduced to me the spirit of New Mexico. It’s wonderful. I highly recommend it. Jack’s review: “The best part is the first twenty pages—the imagery is fantastic.”

 

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Jack picked up Stories from Ford County in a grocery store while we were on a camping trip in the Sierras. He’d forgotten to bring a book and just grabbed this one assuming it was one of Grisham’s standard legal thrillers. Turns out it’s a collection of random short stories. He ended up finishing it within a couple days. “It’s hilly billy justice at its best. They’re stories of morality and social justice. No story is longer than forty pages and their only link is that they all take place in Ford County. Some of the stories really stick with you.”

 

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Another of Jack’s travel reads—he picked up The Rainmaker while on a trip to Mammoth mountain. “Typical John Grisham legal thriller—it’s an easy read and recommended for any travel experience.”

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Okay, now here’s my list:

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I read Deep Survival while camping and hiking in the Sierras. I loved it. In the manner of most good journalists Gonzales weaves a series of stories with human interest and emotionality (how), straight facts (what) and quite a bit of scientific research thrown in for the why. A skillful, entertaining and eye-opening look at real stories of survivors and perishers—what chemically happens in our brains, our emotional outlook and mental paradigms that influence our ability to succeed in life threatening situations. Absolutely fascinating. And did I mention entertaining? It’s actually a very fast read. This is a great present for the adventurer in your life.

 

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Alrighty, I’m only partway through Freedom, but I’m going to give you my two cents anyway. I read Franzen’s previous novel, The Corrections, and had enjoyed it, but remembered it was a bit of a slog. I loved it when I was done, but there were some parts that really dragged. Freedom is flowing the same way for me. I have a feeling I’m going to love it when I’m done as I can see patches and glimpses of terrific character development and social commentary, but at the moment it’s dragging. At this point the main players are a little unsympathetic—fascinating characters, but frankly, they’re a little sad. I’ll keep slogging and we’ll see if it lives up to all the hype.

 

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Must You Go: My Life with Harold Pinter is an autobiography by infamous Lady Antonia Fraser about her 30 plus year marriage to Nobel laureate and playwright, Harold Pinter. Based upon her daily diaries the autobiography is a love story and tribute to Pinter. At times it’s funny, appalling, hopeful and mournful. Fraser is forthright about their relationship: the affairs, the highlights, the struggles and the overarching love and affection. It really is like reading through the diary of your favorite eccentric, celebrity aunt. You come out the other end realizing that yes, they were rich and famous, but they were also just hard working, hard playing, and hard loving real people. And that long-lasting loving relationships require stimulation, amusement, self-confidence and a large dose of humanity.

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I was handed A Dirty Job by my good friend Simone. She said, “You wanna laugh your ass off? Read this.” And boy, did I! Holy baloney, what a terrific read! The main character, Charlie, confronts the complexities of death by unwillingly becoming Death’s assistant. It’s poignant and thought-provoking all wrapped up in hilarious laughter. If you want a great holiday read … and isn’t it odd that it would be about death? … this is it. If you’re not a fan of Moore’s, you will be after this.

Now here’s what’s on my TBR pile.

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I have been itching to read The Witch of Hebron, the sequel to A World Made by Hand, for a couple months now. Finally, I’ll get a chance to tackle it over the Thanksgiving vacation (it’s already waiting on my Kindle). I’ve been saving it for our halacious round of cross country flights. There’s nothing more miserable than traveling with a bad book, so I tend to save the goodies for trips. The story takes place in a post-oil America (can you even imagine such as thing? Heh.) with a witch, a commune and someone with supernatural powers. How delicious! I can’t wait!

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I originally got My Name is Memory in the summer thinking that I would laze about in the sun and get a chance to read; however, no lazing or sunbathing occurred and it’s still on my TBR pile. I quite enjoyed The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants (as usual the book was much better than the movie) and anticipate a nice light read with this book as well. I have a feeling it might be made into a movie, so I better read fast.

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Aha! Here comes the fluff! Just like I love gourmet foods, I also love Hostess cupcakes. Same goes for my taste in music as well as my reading material—it’s a crap shoot. Really, I have no shame or snobbery when it comes to entertainment and pleasure. What’s fun is fun.

I’ve never read Jennifer Ashley before but Lady Isabella’s Scandalous Marriage was recently ranked as the #1 Romance in the genre. I had to get it and give it a spin. Who can resist a good bodice-ripping romance? Not I! So, we’ll see. I’m always on the lookout for a good romance.

And here’s what’s on my iPod. I tend to listen to news podcasts and audiobooks when I walk with the dog every day. It’s a good way to get in a zone. And since audiobooks can take upwards of sixteen hours to listen to it keeps me occupied for a bit.

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I love Suzanne Brockmann’s Troubleshooter series, which is more mystery oriented. Infamous is NOT a part of that series and that’s kind of why I’m listening to it versus reading it. It’s a romance. It’s Suz. It’s a good time.

 

Phew … so that’s where we’re at reading wise.

Anyone have any recommendations?

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3 responses »

  1. sure do! both compulsory reading for everybody. find out your self and please tell me how you liked them

    The Help [Hardcover]
    Kathryn Stockett (Author)
    And God Created the Au Pair [Bargain Price] [Paperback]
    Benedicte Newland (Author), Pascale Smets (Author)

  2. Mine are all over on my goodreads list. I realize you can’t read the actual “profile” information unless you have a goodreads page, but you can see the rest. If you decide to join, don’t forget to “friend”. I too have a “dh” shelf.

    Sheri

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