Young Widow Forum

Encouragement => Books, Quotes, Poems, and Songs => Topic started by: TooSoon on April 07, 2016, 11:29:25 PM

Title: What are you reading?
Post by: TooSoon on April 07, 2016, 11:29:25 PM
I'm always interested in what people are reading.  I'm about to finish Dave Eggers," A Hologram for the King" and Jenny Erpenbeck's, "The End of Days."   I've also been working my way through "Americanah" by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie which is fanstastic, too.    Next on the docket is Middlemarch by George Eliot.

What's everyone reading? 
Title: Re: What are you reading?
Post by: twistedmensa on April 07, 2016, 11:38:57 PM
I have always been an avid reader, tearing through anything I could get my hands on, but the past few years I have found it difficult to concentrate long enough to actually get through a book. I recently downloaded Oscar Wilde's The Picture of Dorian Gray; I've wanted to read it for many years and am hoping I can become immersed in the story like I used to be able to do. So far, I haven't been able to get past the first few pages.
Title: Re: What are you reading?
Post by: Mizpah on April 08, 2016, 11:36:04 AM
A Norwegian, Karl Ove Knaussgaard, wrote a six-volume memoir/autobiography - I've been hearing that the best writers are all reading it.  I picked up the first volume out of curiosity and am hooked.  It's not exciting or suspenseful, mostly about minutiae of life and relationships and self, but it's strangely addictive. 

A few months ago, read a great four-part piece by an Italian, Elena Ferrante (not her real name - her identity is a secret) that was fantastic, about a friendship between two women, starting as children and into older middle age.  The first is called My Brilliant Friend. 
Title: Re: What are you reading?
Post by: Mizpah on April 08, 2016, 11:36:49 AM
I love Middlemarch!  (Or at least I did when I was in college.)
Title: Re: What are you reading?
Post by: TooSoon on April 08, 2016, 11:46:21 AM
OMG, Andy and one of my colleagues are obsessed with the Knaussgaard series!   It keeps coming up lately.  I'm trying to read a Norwegian novel called Shyness and Dignity but it literally has no paragraph breaks and I'm about 40 pages in and he's still musing on one episode/character in an Ibsen play......may not make it to the end. 

Middlemarch has been on my list forever but somehow I've never gotten around to it.

A highlight for me so far this year has been, Alejandro Zambra's, My Documents.  Absolutely loved the stories.

Anyone else reading some good stuff these days? 
Title: Re: What are you reading?
Post by: TooSoon on April 08, 2016, 11:48:58 AM
I have always been an avid reader, tearing through anything I could get my hands on, but the past few years I have found it difficult to concentrate long enough to actually get through a book.

I had some trouble, too, initially.  I worked up from the New Yorker, to short stories, to memoirs and can now focus on novels again, sometimes escaping into them to avoid everything else....but isn't that in part their purpose? 
Title: Re: What are you reading?
Post by: TooSoon on April 08, 2016, 12:01:16 PM
Mizpah - I think we've had this conversation but have you read Nora Webster by Colm Toibin?  It is beautiful.  Melancholy but beautiful.  He also wrote Brooklyn, which Andy bought for me.  I haven't read it yet but I've seen the film.  Looking forward to that one as well. 

And I just got Laila Lalami's The Moors Account which I am excited about; it sounds fascinating! 

Anyway, I ramble.  What I should be reading is undergraduate essays by the truck load.....
Title: Re: What are you reading?
Post by: SoVerySad on April 09, 2016, 01:28:45 AM
I've struggled with concentration for reading as well, much to my lament as a former avid reader. I'm re-reading Jane Eyre as part of my son's school assignment. I also have started reading Damien Echols' Life After Death. He was sentenced to death and spent 18 years on death row for horrible child murders he didn't commit. I've seen him interviewed and been intrigued by his strength to endure what he went through. I'm hoping to get some personal inspiration.
Title: Re: What are you reading?
Post by: adp on April 09, 2016, 05:55:52 AM
As TooSoon says, I'm deeply enthralled by Knausgaard. The fifth book just came out in English but I haven't bought yet as it is only in hardback - but I'm starting to think I might just out and buy it this afternoon anyway. I don't know what I'm going to do when I've read all six! But I've heard great things about Ferrante too, so maybe I should get that.
Title: Re: What are you reading?
Post by: calimom on April 09, 2016, 05:56:28 PM
Love hearing about what others are reading. Another vote for Nora Webster! Absolutely fantastic. TooSoon, I just saw a trailer at the theater for the adaptation of the Dave Eggers book, with Tom Hanks in the starring role, made me curious about the book. Mr. Eggers's wife, Vida Vendela, wrote a good novel a few years ago that would likely fit into the "Wid Lit" category: The Lovers.

Currently on my nightstand are City on Fire, and because that one's going to take me forever to savor, I'm interspersing it with The Argonauts by Maggie Nelson, a memoir on sexuality, motherhood, gender and I am loving it.
Title: Re: What are you reading?
Post by: TooSoon on April 10, 2016, 10:00:59 AM
I just saw a trailer at the theater for the adaptation of the Dave Eggers book, with Tom Hanks in the starring role, made me curious about the book.

His first book, A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius, annoyed the hell out of me at the time (I might feel differently about it now) but then he wrote this fabulous account of one Arab family's experience with Hurricane Katrina (joining two of my interests the Arab American experience (I was married to one; lived in an Arab country for a long time) and New Orleans (where I went to school) so I picked up A Hologram for the King when I read a review of the film in the New Yorker. 

Anyway, I've really enjoyed it.  Basically, a failing salesman in tremendous debt whose life is a mess goes to pitch holographic software to the Saudi king, hoping a contract will be the panacea for all of his problems.  That's the story line but a bit like Lost in Translation, it is about this weird experience of being taken out of your normal life/comfort zone and dropped into a surreal, incomprehensible environment where you're completely disconnected and required just to roll with whatever happens around you.   I'm almost finished and have loved it.  Two thumbs up! 

I'll have to check out his wife's book.  Despite my first encounter with him long ago, he has written and done some important things over the years, especially with his not for profit work and McSweeney's.  I am a fan.   
Title: Re: What are you reading?
Post by: TooSoon on April 10, 2016, 11:44:19 AM
I also have started reading Damien Echols' Life After Death. He was sentenced to death and spent 18 years on death row for horrible child murders he didn't commit. I've seen him interviewed and been intrigued by his strength to endure what he went through. I'm hoping to get some personal inspiration.

SVS, I looked up Damien Echols and read a fascinating article about him, I think, from the Boston Globe.  Might need to add this one to the list. 

Oh and in my book (pun intended), one can never read Jane Eyre enough times.  I'm sure your son does not agree!  Good luck! 
Title: Re: What are you reading?
Post by: canadiangirl on April 10, 2016, 09:35:33 PM
These are great suggestions, thanks for starting this thread. My focus and attention have also been seriously affected - I don't read a lot of fiction because the truth was stranger (and sadder than) for a while.  On my night table is Mary Beard's SPQR and a lovely little book from Helen Humphreys called "The Frozen Thames" that is forty little vignettes (about my speed) rather poetically describing times that the Thames River was frozen in London between 1142 and 1895.  It's a weird concept but brilliantly executed so far.

Title: Re: What are you reading?
Post by: TooSoon on April 10, 2016, 09:54:41 PM
On my night table is Mary Beard's SPQR and a lovely little book from Helen Humphreys called "The Frozen Thames" that is forty little vignettes (about my speed) rather poetically describing times that the Thames River was frozen in London between 1142 and 1895.  It's a weird concept but brilliantly executed so far.

SPQR - senatus populus que romanus says READ IT! 

I'm intrigued by the Thames book.   I heard a job candidate once give such a vivid talk about the times on the frozen Thames and how life sort of got suspended because of it.  So interesting! 

Love this thread!  What else is everyone reading?
Title: Re: What are you reading?
Post by: adp on April 11, 2016, 01:14:55 AM
Virginia Woolf's novel Orlando has some beautiful, enchanting scenes set on the the frozen Thames - in fact I found the whole book enchanting.

So, I went book shopping on Saturday and got Richard Ford's The Sportswriter, the first of his Frank Bascombe books. Its drawn me straight in; the quiet telling of a pretty ordinary life - exactly the sort of thing I like.
Title: Re: What are you reading?
Post by: TooSoon on April 15, 2016, 08:16:38 AM
My stack keeps getting taller: on the free book stand at the gym, I found a copy of Don Quixote which, along with Brothers Karamazov and Middlemarch, is one that's always been on the list.  If only there was enough time! 

Still want to hear what others are reading as the to-read list can never be too long! 
Title: Re: What are you reading?
Post by: Mizpah on April 18, 2016, 03:03:05 PM
TooSoon, you're my bookclub soulmate.  Twistedmensa, I couldn't read anything after DH died except books about death and widowhood, and about the Holocaust.  Everything else seemed frivolous and too light-hearted.  adp, Ferrante is fantastic!

The Brothers Karamazov is one of the only books I've reread (and I've reread it several times).

I love the Eggers book about New Orleans (what was it? can't remember) and hated A Heartbreaking Work....  I've read a couple Colm Toibin books, but not that one.

Has anyone read Fates and Furies?

Title: Re: What are you reading?
Post by: TooSoon on April 18, 2016, 03:16:05 PM
I have Fates and Furies on my shelf! 

If you loved Zeitoun and hated Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius then yes, book club soul mates! 

I dragged a copy of Brothers K around with me traveling one summer but was so obsessed with Paul Bowles at the time I never read it and must have abandoned my copy somewhere along the line. 

Mizpah, have you ever read Naguib Mahfouz's Cairo Trilogy?  It is another series and one I loved very much. 

Title: Re: What are you reading?
Post by: Mizpah on April 18, 2016, 03:30:23 PM
Zeitoun!  Yes.  Exactly.  Completely. 

Aaaaaaaaaaaaa!!!!!!!!!!  PAUL BOWLES!!!!  I've read every one.  And I love Mahfouz. 

Have you read The Alexandria Quartet?

(I'm not saying you'll love Fates and Furies.  If/when you read it, let me know what you think.  I have mixed feelings.)
Title: Re: What are you reading?
Post by: TooSoon on April 18, 2016, 03:37:37 PM
Yes, I read the Alexandria Quartet a thousand years ago.  Andy just bought it and I should read it again.

I'm a bit of a Paul Bowles devotee.  Have you ever read any of the stories by his protege (not sure that's the right word to describe the relationship), Mohammed Mrabet?  Highly recommend!  I've got to get to Tangiers one of these days! 

Yes, that's why I haven't read Fates and Furies yet - lots of people say it is tough.  President Obama said it was his favorite book of 2015 which is how it wound up on my shelf.   

PS -- I've been reading your posts, Mizpah, over these years and so I wondered if you've ever read People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks? 
Title: Re: What are you reading?
Post by: Mizpah on April 19, 2016, 08:51:23 AM
I haven't read People of the Book.

I hated Fates and Furies for much of it, and then at the end, loved it.  A friend of a friend wrote it, which is why I ended up reading it, but it was on the most "best of" lists last year....

I did read one of Mohammed Mrabet's collections but can't remember it now - it must've blurred in with all the Bowles.  Tangiers is beautiful but a bit upsetting - poverty.  (DH's parents are both Moroccan, and we always planned to go to find his grandfather's grave in Casablanca, but he didn't get there yet.)

Edited to say: I wrote "yet."  But he's dead.  So he didn't get there, period. 
Title: Re: What are you reading?
Post by: TooSoon on April 19, 2016, 10:26:17 AM
It is a fictional account of the Sarajevo Haggadah (a real book) that traces its journey from Spain (where it was made) across time and place.  Its not a masterpiece but i enjoyed it.   

Title: Re: What are you reading?
Post by: Justin on April 19, 2016, 11:20:02 AM
On my last flight, I started re-reading Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, by Robert M. Pirsig.


It feels really good, because I haven't read much fiction since being widowed. It seemed too frivolous for a while, for some reason.
Title: Re: What are you reading?
Post by: MrsT85 on April 19, 2016, 03:45:43 PM
I hadn't chimed in on this thread because I read such comparably sophomoric literature :(  I just finished a new post-apocalyptic trilogy by an author I hadn't previously heard of names Hugh Howley called The Silo Series, and have Neal Stephenson's The Diamond Age on deck for next.

Justin - it's been about 8 years since I read Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, but isn't it a more of a combination of a memoir and a non-fiction philosophy book?  I definitely remember that it was non-fiction because of a simply devastating reveal that happens in the afterward that proves the book to be about the farthest thing from frivolous that I can think of....
Title: Re: What are you reading?
Post by: Justin on April 19, 2016, 03:55:31 PM
[quote author=MrsT85 link=topic=2236.msg27853#msg27853 date=1461098743

Justin - it's been about 8 years since I read Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, but isn't it a more of a combination of a memoir and a non-fiction philosophy book?  I definitely remember that it was non-fiction because of a simply devastating reveal that happens in the afterward that proves the book to be about the farthest thing from frivolous that I can think of....



Dang! You know what? You are right - it's been about 17 years for me, and for some reason I was thinking it was fiction. Now, I want to finish it even more!
Title: Re: What are you reading?
Post by: marjoe on April 19, 2016, 06:09:10 PM
The whole Dune series, once again! It's better than the first time.
Title: Re: What are you reading?
Post by: MrsT85 on April 19, 2016, 06:29:08 PM
The whole Dune series, once again! It's better than the first time.

Another sci-fi fan, yay!  Now I feel more at home  :D
Title: Re: What are you reading?
Post by: TooSoon on April 19, 2016, 08:07:16 PM
I grew up in a Philip K. Dick household (my father has every single thing he's ever written in first edition) which could be, in part why my interests veered away from sci-fi. 

Keep on posting what you're all reading! 
Title: Re: What are you reading?
Post by: Jen on April 20, 2016, 02:19:43 PM
The whole Dune series, once again! It's better than the first time.

This was the first thing I read after Jim died. It was probably his all-time favorite series, and I wish I'd read it before he passed, because *he* made so much more sense to me after I read it. The week before he died, we finally watched the David Lynch movie-- I'd never seen it, even though I'd heard plenty about it from him. We were going to watch the SciFi channel miniseries version too, but we didn't get to it. :(
Title: Re: What are you reading?
Post by: MrsT85 on April 20, 2016, 04:11:12 PM
It's funny that the first thing you read was something just mentioned by another member.  The first thing I read after Tim died was a collection of Phillip K Dick essays - the author just mentioned by TS above!  I remember Tim saying that PKD wrote some of the most well-thought-out-but-totally-nuts theories on the nature of reality and even though a lot of the ideas seemed ridiculous on their face they really made him stop and think.  And once I got my concentration back enough to read anything, I thought some far-out ideas on the nature of reality and life-and-death was just what I needed.
Title: Re: What are you reading?
Post by: RobFTC on April 20, 2016, 05:51:31 PM
The whole Dune series, once again! It's better than the first time.

I loved Dune, and have urged my girls to read it this summer.  But I pretend there were never any sequels! :-)

Take care,
Rob T
Title: Re: What are you reading?
Post by: marjoe on April 21, 2016, 05:11:46 PM
1 to 6, Rob - don't even venture past them. The prequels and sequels written by Jr. have none of the heart and spirit that Frank Herbert brought to the table. And - I love that I have fellow sci-fi geeks here.
Title: Re: What are you reading?
Post by: Lisa on April 22, 2016, 01:06:11 PM
The Name of God is Mercy by the Pope on kindle
Title: Re: What are you reading?
Post by: TooSoon on April 25, 2016, 03:33:36 PM
So I just finished this book "The End of Days" by Jenny Erpenbeck.  I have no clue what the take-away is but I could not put it down these past few days.  Its going to drive me wild until I puzzle it out. 

Anyone else ever read a book they couldn't put down but also didn't understand?  If so, which ones?
Title: Re: What are you reading?
Post by: calimom on May 11, 2016, 09:21:31 PM
ADP, I read Independence Day by Richard Ford, he has a way with words, yes?

And currently halfway through the above mentioned  Fates and Furies by Lauren Groff. Without giving anything away, it will have impact on the community here. Enjoying immensely.

So curious as to how others read: Kindle or actual books? I kick it old school with the books. If I were traveling lightly around the world, I would definitely look into the Kindle though.
Title: Re: What are you reading?
Post by: TooSoon on May 12, 2016, 01:26:23 PM
I couldn't give up my books.  No way, no how. 

Right now I'm reading David Gates' A Hand Reached Down to Guide Me.  I love it but have a feeling it might be an acquired taste.  After this Anne Enright's The Green Road. 

I'm so curious now about Fates and Furies; on my shelf but haven't touched it yet.  I bought it because President Obama said it was his favorite book of 2015.