Sunday, September 26, 2010

The Sunday Salon: A Mixed Bag of Books This Week

How is it even possible that this is the last Sunday in September ... and that October begins this week?!  I mean, honestly. 

We were in Baltimore last weekend with a million other people for the Yankees-Orioles games, so I skipped last weekend's Salon.  The time that I would have normally been spending in this spot was being spent with Betty at the National Aquarium in Baltimore, which was fascinating.  (Don't miss the dolphin show, if you go.) I'm wishing I was back in Charm City this weekend for the Baltimore Book Festival, though, as it sounds like such a great time.  Maybe next year ....

But speaking of Baltimore and books, I made the mistake of taking Olive Kitteridge with me on our trip last weekend and starting it an hour before we had to leave for the Yankees game.  Big mistake.  If you read my review of Olive Kitteridge this week, you know how much this incredible book captivated me. I loved this. I nearly wound up taking this to the game with me (and in fact, there was a woman sitting behind us who was reading a mystery novel - I don't remember which one - during the game). 

I'm still making my way through The Early Stories of Louisa May Alcott 1852-1860, which has some wonderful gems in it ("The Rival Prima Donnas," Bertha," "A New Year's Blessing") along with a few that have left me somewhat confused ("Little Genevieve," "A Lady and a Woman.")  There's an Amazon review that suggests not starting with this collection if one is interested in reading Louisa May Alcott's short stories and at this point, I kind of agree.  Diehard Alcott fans and those wanting to read her entire body of work will enjoy this, but the casual reader? Not so much, I don't think.

My current read is John McNally's After the Workshop, a satirical and humorous look at the post-grad life of an Iowa Writers Workshop writer. (No matter that Jack Hercules Sheahan graduated a mere 12 years ago.)  After publishing one short story ("The Self Adhesive Postage Stamp") in The New Yorker,  Jack's novel-in-progress continues to collect dust while he works as a media escort for writers (mostly of the prima donna variety) visiting Iowa on their book tours.

I'm almost scared to review this one because McNally, through Jack Sheahan, appears to be familiar with book blogs.  He (the character of Sheahan) refers to leaving comments on blogs early on in the book, as well as being at Book Expo America. I love that ... and fortunately, I don't think John McNally needs to worry about my review because I am really enjoying After the Workshop so far. It's a fast and funny read, one that's keeping me entertained as I wonder who the fictious authors really are (this is kind of like the "You're So Vain" of the literary world).

Quite the opposite is true of my current audiobook. The only thing I'm wondering about with The Elegance of the Hedgehog is what the hell others have seen in this that I am clearly missing. Seriously, at page 104 and at the beginning of chapter 14, the only reason I'm still listening is because several book bloggers who I respect and have similar tastes as have raved about it (Beth Kephart Books) and warned me about the slow start (thank you Dawn of She is Too Fond of Books).  But I've gotta say I'm starting to lose my patience. Reading portions of it in addition to listening to it on audio isn't helping.  I'm hoping this one turns around soon before I take delight in the thud it will make as I throw it back into the library's book drop.

And finally, into this week a DNF book did indeed fall.  I only made it through the first 30 pages of Crossing Oceans before giving up.  I don't know what it was about this one - maybe just a matter of having the unfortunate circumstance of coming on the heels of Olive Kitteridge, but it just struck me as too much of a made-for-TV movie.  I couldn't get into this one at all, but I'm in the minority with this one.  My Friend Amy has a wonderful review of this one as does Becky's Book Reviews and Books, Movies, and Chinese Food.

So, at the end of the week, we have a very mixed bag of reading here.  What about you?

copyright 2010, Melissa (Betty and Boo's Mommy, The Betty and Boo Chronicles) If you are reading this on a blog or website other than The Betty and Boo Chronicles or via a feedreader, this content has been stolen and used without permission.


Anonymous said...

I can see how the Louisa May Alcott book might not be for most readers. As for The Elegance of the Hedgehog, it is very high up on my wishlist.. I'm sorry you aren't enjoying it.

JoAnn said...

I keep picking up The Elegance of the Hedgehog and then putting it back on the shelf - both at the library and at B&N. I'm afraid my reaction will be similar to yours... will wait for your final verdict.

K A B L O O E Y said...

And I bought The Help a million years ago and it's still on the car floor, where I always intend to grab it when I go to the gym, but always manage to have something else exerting a stronger pull on me. Very rarely do I end up totally loving the books I can't seem to get started on, no matter what everyone else says.