Tuesday, April 20, 2010

We are BACK! Also: What books are you reading?

HOORAY!  Kiss kiss Austin, I am back home and ready to smother you with love, like an overbearing Italian mother. Hugs for Mama!

Reader, we will resume  regular posting here on Austin Eavesdropper this week. I've got too much fun stuff to share with you, both from my adventures in San Fran, and upcoming awesomeness here in town. But first, a question.

what books are you reading right now?

I wrote an intensely personal piece on the airplane that I considered posting on this blog, but decided in the end that some things are best kept personal. However, the bottom line was this: I miss reading. Good reading. When I read less, I am a less effective writer, which has certainly been the case for me lately. Plus I just miss it, the act of holding a book in my hands, and spending some time with the people who animate its pages. You know?

So I am open to your valuable book suggestions. Memoirs have been calling to me recently, as have anything about food politics. However, I'd love to dig into some fiction, too: my tastes trend toward Ann Patchett and Zadie Smith, both contemporary writers, but trust me, my own list of unread fiction classics is impressive. (Someday, I tell myself, someday I'll read you Moby Dick!)

What are you reading, friends?


katherine said...

Great topic! I love a good book suggestion, so I'll give a few in hopes to see a few in response. The last really good book I read was Special Topics in Calamity Physics by Marisha Pessl. I read it until I had to be up for school the next day, and while teaching is hard to do without sleep, it's been awhile since I've read a book I literally couldn't put down.

Currently, I'm reading Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver. She's a fantastic writer and I'm enjoying learning more about living off the land, something I aim to do even though I live in an apartment and don't even /have/ land of my own. Some day, though.

Camille @ Style Notes said...

Currently reading Food Matters by Mark Bittman...a great combo of instruction on how to eat more healthfully (complete w/ awesome recipes) AND a manifesto on how to eat in a way that is better for our planet. Its the first time I've really considered that what I buy at the grocery store affects my drain on global resources. Such an interesting read!!

Frank J. Rivera said...

I don't know how well our literary tastes blend, Tolly. My fun fiction usually trends towards fantasy, weird neo-scifi & WWII historical fiction.

However, whenever anyone says they like memoirs I always recommend Lauren Slater's Lying and Alison Bechdel's Fun Home. The latter really proves what graphic novels can do.

As for general fiction, I'm loving Lev Grossman's The Magicians (it's an adult, angrily hilarious Harry Potter) and the entire bibliography of Irene Nemirovsky.

Patty said...

Ooh skip Moby Dick, not fun at all :P you should try Candide by Voltaire though, that one is fun :)

Lynzie said...

I agree Moby Dick is not a very good Spring read. I recently read "Edie: An American Girl" by Jein Stein. I couldn't put it down.

Le Tigre said...

I always am reading five books at a time. Which is ridiculous but I love books, so whatever. A very guilty pleasure of mine is anything by Jodi Piccoult. Sure, her movies get made into lifetime movies that suck but her stories are filled with twists and turns and are hard to put down!

I also enjoyed the book "Home: A Memoir of My Early Years" by Julie Andrews. But this is a personal preference, I love anything Julie Andrews.


Austin Eavesdropper said...

You all have killer book suggestions. @Katherine, what is Special Topics in Calamity Physics about? It sounds familiar and yet, my memory recall isn't booting up. I have ALWAYS wanted to read Animal, Vegetable, Miracle - BS is such a fantastic writer, and the premise (take your family and live off the land, *only* the land) is so fascinating. Checkmark, added to list.

@Camille, I was just reading an article by Mark Bittman on the plane!! It was the cover story for Atlantic, I believe ("Fat Nation," May 2010). At least I think it was him. If you like that, you would also like anything by Michael Pollan recently - In Defense of Food, or The Omnivore's Dilemma. Last summer, I ate up In Defense of Food (har), it reads like part investigative journalism, and part philosophy. If you're already questioning the items you buy at our grocery store, I highly recommend it.

@Frank, I'll see your WWII historical fiction and raise you Jane Austen's Juvenilia (this TOTALLY BIZARRE collection of short stories she wrote as a teenager). Heh. But Lev Grossman, eh? I like Geek World (think that's the name of his section?) in Time. I will check him out.

@Patty - A CLASSIC! Yes. Can I admit something to you - I've never read Voltaire? Done. Added to the list. I'm glad you support my decision to keep walking past Moby Dick in the bookstore; the compulsion to read it arises from 1% desire, and 99% guilt. Not suitable grounds for pleausre reading. Or anything, really.

@Lynzie Oooh ooh, is that the one about Edie Sedgewick? (I cheated, I'm reading the Amazon page). I cannot believe she died at 28 - my age! On those grounds alone it's worth the read. Thank you thank you for that suggestion.

I'm going to throw in my hat too to this delicious reading circle: I am currently reading "Born Round," a memoir by Frank Bruni. It's about growing up with an eating disorder, becoming a successful journalist, while also becoming obese, finally getting healthy again, then getting a call to be the new food critic for NYT. It is simply told, and utterly delightful.

I also just read a short story by Katie Williams called "The Bone Hinge," if anyone's looking for a dark and WONDERFUL read - very short, 6 pages. In this month's issue of The Atlantic. (Can I tell you that I ditched The New Yorker for The Atlantic, and am happier for it, my reading friends? Fact).

Austin Eavesdropper said...

@Le Tigre - Ah, Julie Andrews. I imagine the book cover to have a big picture of the sun on it. In sort of the same vein, if Jane Fonda wrote anything, anything at all, about her swingin' 60s/Barbarella years, I would read it. Totally.

Beth H said...

welcome back, Tolly! thanks for the tip on Frank Bruni - that sounds like a really interesting read! i'm currently re-reading Michael Pollan's "Botany of Desire" - so fascinating! i love everything he writes & have just embarked on re-reading some of his books because i have a horrible memory. in some ways that's nice because it's all new & exciting to me, like i'm reading it for the first time ever! : )

Le Tigre said...

Oh me too! Anything by Mary Gaitskill is amazing. Also currently reading "Evolution of Desire" by David Buss, fascinating as well! I always end up reading the same books over and over again, like Gone With the End. Classic.

Jimmy said...

I'm currently reading "Texas and New Mexico on the Eve of the Civil War: The Mansfield and Johnston Inspections, 1859-1861" by Jerry Thompson. It's fairly, err, detailed but I like. Wish there was more focus on landscape and scenery but not all political/historical writers can be Billy Lee Brammer.

Laura said...

I am so in love with everything that Jhumpa Lahiri writes. Interpreter of Maladies is my favorite. I just finished Unaccustomed Earth and it is good as well. I love these two books especially because they are collections of short stories. You can easily pick up the book, read for about 20 minutes and get an entire story in that short amount of time.

Michelle said...

I just finished reading Hungry by Crystal Renn...it was pretty good! I'm thinking about reading the new Four Hour Workweek but I'm not so much in the mood for Tim Ferris, so I might just skip it. I've got some pagan books in my reading queue, along Organize Now, Crush It, and Vagabonding. Good luck finding new reading material! :D

Austin Eavesdropper said...

People, it's like you're peering inside my brain, giving me reading tips perfectly matched to my curiosities.

@Le Tigre, EVOLUTION OF DESIRE. That's a wonderful, delicious suggestion. One I've been meaning to pick up.

@Jimmy, you have so much more patience than I, to train your focus on a two-year slice of history like that. But it's good, you say? This is a little more, er, pop history, but I've been meaning to read Team of Rivals for a while. About Abraham Lincoln and his cabinet. Have you dabbled?

@Laura, oh God I ADORE Jhumpa Lahiri! She visited my college the year after I graduated. Interpreter of Maladies, so wonderful. Wasn't The Namesake made into a film? Also..this is off-topic, but....did you know that Miss Lahiri wears red lipstick like no other?:


So, basically my idol.

@Michelle - Remind me of Hungry's premise. I know it got attention, and I recall an interview out there somewhere - NPR? - talking about it.

I too was intrigued by Four Hour Workweek, but I can't stop envisioning the author on a yacht somewhere, pissing me off. So I declined to read it. :) On the pagan note though, I am knee deep in zen Buddhism (who isn't) and Taoism. This may be TMI but we keep a copy of the Hua Hu Ching in our bathroom, and I feel like I gain little bits of spiritual insight from it, every single morning. :)

Also people: Bukowski. Let's talk about it. Two guys recommended Bukowski to me tonight, and while I am curious, another part of me fears the misogyny. But maybe I need to read him, just to have it in the arsenal. Have you all read any Charles Bukowski? His novels, specifically?

(God we are nerds. I completely love this).

Le Tigre said...

Oh goodness, Bukowski is a must. The misogyny does get to be a bit too much ( especially in Women ), however he is an incredible writer. I recommend Factotum, Women, and Pulp.

ClassieCassie said...

I'm reading about 8 books right now but I just thought you should know that I LOVED, I mean LOVED Moby Dick. As soon as I read Loomings I was hooked. I reread that chapter whenever I feel blue and it is always soothing.

Austin Eavesdropper said...

@ClassieCassie REALLY? Oh I'm so glad to have your opinion thrown in here! Maybe I'll give ol' Herm(an) a shot, then.

Everyone always despises Jane Eyre, which I LOVED. So there you go.

Seasoned with Words said...

You should check out The Slow Readers Book Club! http://www.ourcitylights.org/2010/01/slow-readers-book-club.html

So far we have read Half Broke Horses and now we are reading Alice I Have Been.

Austin Eavesdropper said...

Eeeeeek! @Seasoned with Words! You are inside my brain, because I was JUST TALKING ABOUT ALICE I HAVE BEEN last night. With a friend. She gave me the premise and I - long lost Victorian literature grad school dropout - am sold.

Maybe I can hop on the train right now even though I'm late, and catch up to you guys? How far in are you?