This article lists a number of books recommended by various authors - some are intriguing, others not so much. Specifically, I am very intrigued by "Boyhood" recommended by Kathryn Harrison because of the teaser that "she wanted to see how he pulled off the trick of a third-person memoir." I love memoirs and I have recently been mulling over how to write some of my own life stories in third-person. Interesting timing.
The list inspired me to make some recommendations of my own. These are fairly random, an attempt to select books you may or may not have heard of or considered:
- I just finished (last night) reading "In Cold Blood" by Truman Capote - a fascinating and compelling piece of non-fiction. I highly recommend it, although as I read it a paraphrased quote from Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness echoed in my head: "a fascination with the abomination." This idea was the thesis of my senior paper in college on the guillotine during the French Revolution. I do not consider myself particularly obsessed with abominable things and generally steer clear of the gory but I find murder mysteries and the psychosis involved both appalling and enthralling, which is why I will also look into reading "Saints and Strangers", also a Harrison suggestion.
- Don't laugh, but I remember really enjoying "Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood" by Rebecca Wells. I believe I read it before seeing the movie. A fantastic summer read for the effortless way it draws you in.
- I recommend "Marley & Me" by John Grogan principally to dog lovers. As I have stated, I love memoirs and changing up the central figure to a naughty yellow lab made this a hardcover airport impulse buy and instant read. Gratefully, my sweet black lab never had the behavior problems of Marley but that did not prevent me from identifying over and over with the author and recognizing Malcolm in descriptions such as "just speak to him with a stern voice, and he acted deeply wounded" and "[h]e more wagged his whole body, starting with the front shoulders and working backward. He was like the canine version of a Slinky." Someday I need to thoroughly write about Malcolm & Me.
- "Their Eyes Were Watching God" by Zora Neale Hurston is easily one of my favorite books of all time. It actually improves each time I read it because it reads with a bit of nostalgia and dreamy-ness which feels like returning to the past, if that makes any sense. Just read it.
- Some years ago , apparently when I needed "apples, other fruit?, milk, crackers, ice-cream, cheese, tomato? and cotton balls" according to a yellow post-it in the back flap and when I rode the "Westbus" for $2.20 according to a faded receipt tucked somewhere in the middle, I fell in love with "Lust for Life" by Irving Stone. It is the fictionalized life story of one of the most enthralling painters to date: Vincent Van Gogh. I eagerly pushed the book on my sister soon after I completed it and we continue to reference the book to this day - she endearingly calls me "her Theo". When we visited the Van Gogh museum in Amsterdam we felt as if we were visiting an intimate friend.
- "Falling Leaves: The Memoir of an Unwanted Chinese Daughter" by Adeline Yen Mah is both heartbreaking and inspiring. One of the reasons I seek out memoirs is to witness transformations and metamorphoses as they are discovered and experienced first-hand by the author. There are so many amazing stories out there, even in what may seem to the author their ordinary life - although Mah's life was far from "ordinary" western life.
- Finally, I can't make any reading suggestions and omit a Nick Hornby novel. Tonight, I will recommend "About A Boy". Hornby sneaks up on you with astounding character development in the midst of a funny and compelling story without hitting you over the head with it. Love, love, love it.