Sunday Salon – September 18, 2011

September 18, 2011

Good morning and welcome to The Sunday Salon where bloggers are invited to read and talk about books :

Every Sunday the bloggers participating in that week’s Salon get together–at their separate desks, in their own particular time zones–and read. And blog about their reading. And comment on one another’s blogs. Think of it as an informal, weekly, mini read-a-thon, an excuse to put aside one’s earthly responsibilities and fall into a good book.

This past week was all about book bloggers with the annual Book Blogger Appreciation Week in full swing. This is such a great event – and it always adds to my Google Reader. If you stopped by here and left a comment – I promise I will be by to visit you in the next few days. In the meantime, I still have several book giveaways open. Check out the sidebar of my blog to click through to the entry pages. All of the giveaways are open internationally, but you must be a book blogger to enter.

We were encouraged to post on daily topics last week. Here is what I posted:

Besides participating in BBAW, I have had an interesting week of reading. Last week I mentioned that I had finished reading Salvage the Bones by Jesmyn Ward, but my review did not post until Wednesday (as part of a TLC Book Tour). Now that my review is up, I really want to talk about this book. This is a book which blew me away – it is definitely one of the best novels I’ve read this year. Set in Mississippi just prior to, during and one day after Hurricane Katrina, it features a family living in poverty and on the edge of violence. Ward’s writing is amazing. She evokes place and character so well. The only negative thing I have read about this book has been in relation to dog-fighting – a difficult part of the novel, but one which is integral to the theme of survival. I love dogs (anyone who visits me knows that), and I used to do German Shepherd rescue years ago. I saw plenty of cruelty, which made me sick. And yet, once I was immersed in Ward’s fictional world, I wanted to stay for the duration – despite the scenes of cruelty involving animals. So here are my questions for you:

  • Do you shy away from books which have difficult subject matter?
  • Are you able to appreciate excellent writing even if the book deals with a subject you find abhorrent?

I also read Peirene Press’s latest book – a collection of short stories by Austrian writer Alois Hotschnig. Maybe This Time was not really my cup of tea, as they say…but, it did give me a lot to think about (read my review). Books like this one always make me feel a little out of touch with the literary world – complex, confusing, filled with symbolism…it was mostly a puzzle to me. That said, there are readers who loved these little stories (I have provided links to their reviews on my post about the book). Readers who love Kafka will probably find much to like about Hotschnig’s writing.

My current read is going slowly for me. The Twisted Thread by Charlotte Bacon is a literary mystery set in an elite Massachusetts private school. I am not quite sure why this one has not grabbed me. The writing is good, the plot is well done – but, for some reason I am finding it easy to lay it aside to do other things. I hope to have this one finished and a review posted by mid-week at the latest.

I have some great books in the line-up for the rest of the month. I am intending to celebrate Banned Books Week by reading Lady Chatterley’s Lover by D.H. Lawrence (Bonnie from Bonnie’s Books is hosting a discussion of this one on her Book Buddies Blog). I read this book more than two decades ago for a college literature course, and remember loving it. Last year, I bought one of Penguin’s beautiful copies through their Penguin Classics imprint – and I am looking forward to spending some time with this book. How about you? Are you reading anything for Banned Books Week?

Also look for reviews of these books before the month ends:


The Things We Cherished by Pam Jenoff
Touch and Go by Thad Nodine

What is on YOUR bedside table today? Whatever it is, I hope you love it!


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  1. Difficult topics do not make me shy away…in fact, I often go out of my way to read them. After more than three decades as a social worker, I have seen many things others might find abhorrent. My first five novels are filled with fictionalized accounts of some of these things.

    Currently I’m writing about other topics and issues, but I still watch movies and read books that go to the dark side.


    • Kailana on September 18, 2011 at 09:21

    I got it in my head yesterday I was going to visit all of the bloggers that had visited me this week… It took a lot more time than I was expecting! My Google Reader is all ready so unmanageable, but yet I keep adding to it! There are a lot of great blogs out there that I hadn’t know about before, though. It’s fun to visit!

    There are certain subject matters in books that I don’t really read. For a while after 911, there seemed to be a lot of books that centred around the even. For whatever reason if I knew that was what it was about, I avoided the book. Maybe too recent? Some subject matters it is more how they handle it. I am not crazy about rape, especially when it is shown in a negative light: it was her fault, she asked for, or it is how the culture is. That really bugs me, so I tend to just try and avoid it. So, I have things I am not crazy about, but the important thing for me is the manner in which they are addressed.

  2. I thinkl that there are times when I seek out harder topics pertaining to my mood or situation but I’m not one to shy away from hard things. I tend to look for good writing and well crafted stories and those often have to do with harder things. Hope you had a great BBAW!

    • gavin on September 18, 2011 at 14:45

    There are times when I seek out difficult topics and I always appreciate excellent writing. The only time I’ve had to stop reading a book was when the violence was over the top for me.

    I’ve go Salvage the Bones on hold at the library and can’t wait to read it. Have a great week.

  3. I don’t mind difficult topics at all, as long as the book in which they’re discussed is well-written. What is a novel without conflict, anyway? Where better than life to find that conflict?

    As to my bedside table, work and a migraine that will not release have really diminished my ability to read much this week, but I’ve got Tuesdays with Morrie and The Paris Wife on my Kindle, and I’m switching back and forth between them.

  4. My bedside table holds a copy of Lady Chatterley’s Lover. Well, that’s not exactly true, since I have the book beside my computer so I can pick it back up after I visit a few blogs. Thanks for telling folks about our read-along at Book Buddies:

    • Megan on September 18, 2011 at 17:41

    I definitely don’t shy away from books with difficult subject matter. In fact, a lot of times I find myself seeking them out. That said, I think animal cruelty is one subject that is particularly hard for me to swallow. A book has to be very good and handle the subject very well for me to be able to press on in the face of harming innocent animals.

    I don’t usually do anything for Banned Books Week. I don’t know why, because many of the frequently challenged books are among my favorites. This year, though, it happens I just finished The Grapes of Wrath, so I’m looking forward to getting in on the action with a review of it that week.

  5. I’m almost to the middle of Lady Chatterley’s Lover. I hope you’ll cross-post a review of it over at our Banned Books blog. Would you like to consider doing a discussion-type review of the book with me?

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