November 4, 2012
Good morning and welcome to The Sunday Salon – a place where readers gather to talk about books! Check out the Facebook page for more links and to play along.
I last posted for the Sunday Salon on October 15th – just before I left for Booktopia in Santa Cruz. The bookstore there is to die for, and I stayed in a fantastic (very serene!) bed and breakfast. Met some fun readers and some awesome writers (including Tayari Jones, Cara Black, Adam Johnson, Sarah McCoy, Ann Packer, Tupelo Hassman, Lynne Cox and Matthew Dick). Unfortunately, I had to cut out early on Sunday because I had car problems…I was lucky to make the 300+ drive back to Shasta County and my car ended up in the shop for some repairs to the fuel injector and a tune up (I guess I can’t complain because that baby has over 240,000 miles on it now!).
Here is what I have been reading the last couple of weeks:
The Silver Sparrow by Tayari Jones is a bit of a coming of age story – but it is also a glimpse into contemporary marriage and introduces strong, female characters. I loved this book (read my review), and was thrilled to spend some time talking with Tayari at Booktopia who offered even more insight into her novel and its characters. If you enjoy southern literature and terrific characters…and of course, great writing…do yourself a favor and pick up a copy of The Silver Sparrow. This one would make a terrific book club read.
In the Time of the Butterflies by Julia Alvarez was a bit of a disappointment for me (read my review). I read this novel for a book club discussion on Bookies Too and so I stuck with it even though it really lagged for me. The book has the pieces to make it compelling: an evil dictator, four beautiful revolutionary sisters, a murder…but, despite some beautiful writing, the structure of the novel lacked tension. Readers who are interested in the historical events occurring during General Rafael Leonidas Trujillo’s reign in the Dominican Republic may still want to give this one a try.
The Lighthouse Road by Peter Geye is one of my favorite novels this year (read my review). I loved everything about this book set in the 19th and 20th centuries in Northern Minnesota. Geye’s writing is exquisite, his characters are complex and original, and the story itself plays out by gradually revealing the dark secrets of its characters. I loved Geye’s first book (Safe by the Sea – read my review), which was also set in Minnesota, and I had a feeling he would not disappoint me with his sophomore effort. He did not. This is a book I will be thrusting into other readers’ hands – I hope you’ll get a chance to read it too!
The Orphan Master’s Son by Adam Johnson is superb literary fiction. I’m nearly half way through this novel and loving it. Here is a book which has gotten tons of buzz (it was chosen for Hilary Clinton’s book club for good reason). Part of the reason is that it is set in North Korea – a place that is so secretive that many people cannot even imagine life there. But the real reason this book is getting so much attention is that Johnson is an amazing story teller. I’m glad I got to hear him speak and spent a little time talking to him at Booktopia…he is a very interesting person with a talent for sharing his experiences. He says he is not going to write another novel – but I think we will be seeing a short story collection by him in the future. I hope to finish this book sometime this week – stay tuned for a review by the end of the week.
The next book in my stack is Flight Behavior by Barbara Kingsolver which I am reviewing for a TLC Book Tour on November 12th. Those of you who read my blog know I love Kingsolver’s work (read my reviews of The Poisonwood Bible and Prodigal Summer), so I expect to really enjoy this latest effort by her. I am going to need to start this one soon!
Today we get an extra hour…I am going to use mine to read. What about you? Are you planning anything special today to take advantage of the extra time you have? Whatever it is, I hope at some point it involves a great book!
Have a wonderful week!