Saturday, August 24, 2013

Read recently, speed-typing version: typhoid, HeLa, ice storms, suicidal poetesses, Nigerian immigrants, and Montreal bagelshop sisters

More time for reading recently, given that I have taken a running break, am sitting on the balcony more, and took a bit of a staycation!
  • Bone and Bread by Saleema Nawaz: a wonderfully rich first novel from a fellow Ottawan/Montrealer about the fantastically complicated bond between two sisters growing up in Montreal in the 80s and 90s.
  • Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie: definitely one of my favourite books of the year so far, although the fake blog posts by the main character (entitled "Raceteenth or Various Observations About American Blacks (Those Formerly Known as Negroes) by a Non-American Black" the blog made me apologise to my husband at least twice and that's all I am going to say about that) may be the most memorable pieces of this stunning novel by the talented Adichie. Longer, more thoughtful review here by the lovely Kerry.
  • Hold Fast by Blue Balliett: a treasure of a book for kids and all ages about a family that finds themselves unexpectedly homeless in modern-day Chicago. Paired with Ocean (below), another modern-day fairy tale, with grittier subject matter but no less charm.
  • And the Mountains Echoed by Khaled Hosseini: yes, Hosseini does it again. Heartstrings are tugged, etc.
  • Fish Change Direction in Cold Weather by Pierre Szalowski: made me nostalgic for the Ice Storm, which is no small feat given the horrors of it at the time. Great book, terrible translation.
  • The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot: all the praise for this book is well-deserved. It is richly compelling and heart-breaking. When Zakariyya thanks Christoph Lengauer for the image of his mother's cell line, I swear I wept profusely over the pages of this book.
  • The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman (aka he who hugged my best friend recently): A little gem of a book, a fantasy for the non-fantasy reader, a fairy tale for grown-ups.
  • The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce: funny, moving. A sweet tale of a stagnant marriage's fresh blooming.
  • American Isis: The Life and Art of Sylvia Plath by Carl Rollyson: limited new material and a tautological thesis statement in my opinion, but how could I not read it?
  • Reconstructing Amelia by Kimberly McCreight: a great summer read, by which I DO NOT mean it's fluff, just that it is plot-driven and engrossing! Would make a great Law and Order episode, and I say that as a L&O fan.
  • Fever by Mary Beth Keane: a fascinating novel based on the story of Typhoid Mary.

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