May 18, 2008
I’m back after missing the last two Sunday Salons. Did you miss me? My husband and I celebrated five wonderful years of marriage and took a four day trip to Mendocino, California (an almost six hour drive from our home) to enjoy the coast and relax at a fabulous Bed and Breakfast called the John Dougherty House.
Even though I wasn’t posting to the Salon, I was reading. The last couple of weeks has found me devouring some great books.
I finished Independent People, by Halldor Laxness (read my review) and loved its stark, haunting beauty and prose. I had never heard of Laxness before reading this classic, and will be looking for more of his books in the future.
I also read a short story by Haruki Murakami which was actually part of a collection called After the Quake and entitled: Landscape With Flatiron (read my review). This short story was my first introduction to this author and I was strangely captivated, although Murakami’s work is not easy to interpret. It helped that I read this for the 21st Fiction Yahoo Group and had the benefit of other readers’ thoughts to assist me in sorting things out.
Next I picked up The Zookeeper’s Wife, by Diana Ackerman (read my review). Ackerman is a naturalist and this book centers around a Polish zookeeper and his wife living in Warsaw during the Nazi occupation. Ackerman writes like a novelist (she is also a poet) which kept me turning the pages. I have to caution those readers who are animal lovers like myself – this is a tough book to read at times. The cruelty of the Nazis not only encompassed Jews, gypsies, mentally ill, disabled, and anyone not Aryan…but also animals they did not consider “pure.” The book demonstrates how people living through this horror retained their humanity in the face of evil.
I needed some lighter reading after Ackerman’s book and decided to pick up a book sent to me direct from the publisher to review. The Bright Side of Disaster, by Katherine Center (read my review) is a wonderful read targeted at women. In memory of a fellow blogger who died last year from cancer at the age of 33 (Nattie), I joined a challenge to read a book which reminded me of her…and this was the book I picked. As part of the challenge, we were also encouraged to give away a book – and here I experienced the generosity of an author. Katherine Center emailed me and offered to send me an autographed copy of her book to give away. To win this great book, read my post about the giveaway and leave me a comment. I’ll be drawing a winner on May 23rd…and actually, I’m giving away TWO copies of the book (one autographed).
I next breezed through Laughing Without An Accent, by Firoozeh Dumas – a memoir about Dumas’ experiences as an Iranian American in both Iran and the United States (read my review). I don’t always like memoirs because the always seem to be filled with angst and dysfunction. Dumas’ book, however, was a joy to read – funny, insightful and well-written.
My current read is one which has been sitting on my bedside table for several months: Nineteen Minutes, by Jodi Picoult. I’m 100 pages into the book and it sucked me in immediately. Picoult’s books always do this for me – engaging and paced well, they are usually quick reads.
I’m also thinking about reading a short story today for the Russian Lit Yahoo group. The Kiss, by Anton Chekhov is up for discussion and I recently purchased The Essential Tales of Chekhov (edited by Richard Ford) … so it is calling to me. Have any of you read Chekhov’s work? This will be my first by him.
This has been a longer post than I intended! It is a gorgeous, albeit hot, day in Northern California today – and I am gazing longingly at my hammock. I’ll leave you with some photos I took last night when my husband and I attended the Redding Rodeo – a real Americano experience if there ever was one!
*click on images to enlarge*