Monday, July 30, 2007

Recommended Reading

Despite my busy weekend, I managed to finish reading an intriguing book called The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon. The book is written from the unique perspective of an autistic teen-age boy. It is quirky and funny and endearing. I haven't had a lot of exposure to autism so it was a fantastic, and from what I have read elsewhere about the book, accurate peek inside the autistic mind. His reactions and behaviors that would have been viewed as startling, confusing, funny and/or weird from my normal perspective felt so much more rational when explained from his point of view. It is a quick read that makes you laugh and breaks your heart. One of the best exercises in challenging biases and judgments you may not have known you had. Pick it up when you get a chance, it is lighter reading than it sounds.

During my airport fiasco yesterday, I picked up a new book which helped me cope: The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri. I stumbled onto this in a bit of reverse order from my normal preference and saw the movie before picking up the book. So far I am impressed at how true the movie is to the novel (other than switching locations from Boston to New York). I am about half-way through and can already tell I am going to be sad when I am finished and would much rather be home reading it now than sitting in my office working (or rather avoiding work, which is what I am doing at this moment).

I have been on a bit of a reading rampage recently and I also highly recommend Boyhood: Scenes from Provincial Life by J.M. Coetzee, which was from the NY Times article I referenced last month. Coetzee used a third person narrative in his memoir to, I believe, separate himself from the apartheid South Africa in which he grew up. An excellent thought-provoking read.

I also read The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan for the first time ever. I am not sure how I missed this one earlier but it is beautiful.

Finally, the last book I will push on you today is Joy in the Morning by Betty Smith, who is also the author of A Tree Goes in Brooklyn (also an excellent book, hence the decision to purchase Joy in the Morning). I cannot adequately explain what is so compelling about this book. I loaned it to a friend and she agreed, there is something about her writing that draws you in and keeps you there. It is simple and for the most part uneventful. In fact, for most of the book I was propelled through each chapter with the anticipation of the bottom dropping out and something horrible happening . . . I won't ruin the book but I will say I finished with a smile and a feeling of contentment, but still longing for a bit more.

And that is what I have been reading over the past two months. What about you? After my last book post Katie recommended The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini which I read last summer and thoroughly enjoyed as well as My Sister's Keeper by Jodi Picoult which will be in my next Amazon purchase along with On the Road, by Jack Kerouac (Autumn's suggestion) because I feel a bit behind for never having read anything by Kerouac. So take heart, I welcome and follow through suggestions left in my comments.


tiffany said...

I definitely want a quick read that makes me laugh and breaks my heart. Thanks for a great suggestion!

autumn said...

What fun reads. I loved the Curious Dog book. I'm so going to have to order my own copy of The Joy Luck Club. I read it in my teens, and it still has a spell over me.

I ended up googling the ending to On The Road, while good, the characters were so intense, I kept want to slap them and tell them snap out of it. So there you go, hopefully it won't be so intense for you, and I do feel better about my reading library having read it.

I've also been meaning to read a Jodi Picoult book for some time. It looks like I have to make an Amazon order myself. Which is one of my favorite things to do.

Robert said...

Jack Kerouac was one of the seminal influences on the beats and hippies of the Bay Area in the fifties and sixties. If I remember correctly, the only thing I ever attempted to read was called something like "The Chocolate Kool-Aid Acid Trip". I lasted for about twenty or thirty pages before I realized that I would have to get stoned to be able to find it interesting - something I was not willing to do. So what have you been doing?

pepper said...

I love all the books you listed...The only one I haven't read is Joy in The Morning so I will check it out. Thanks!

Amanda H said...

You have got to read White Teeth by Zadie Smith. I think you will like it so much that you will then go buy The Autograph Man by the same author. You might also by On Beauty, but you might not like that one as well until you have read it twice. Long time reader, first time poster, love always from Amanda

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