Sunday, October 31, 2010

The Sunday Salon: Some Frightfully Good Reads

There are times when one's reading races along like fallen leaves tumbling down the street by gusty autumn winds. That's the kind of reading month I've had in October.  I've finished three short story collections, three novels, two poetry collections, two audiobooks, a nonfiction book, and one collection of letters.

That might seem paltry compared to other book bloggers, but for me it represents a great reading month.  The read-a-thon had something to do with that, in a good way. Still, it has left me wanting to sink my teeth into a chunkster kind of book, maybe something a little spooky to coincide with Halloween and the dark evenings that will befall us next weekend when we turn back the clocks. 

Earlier this week I turned to The Little Stranger by Sarah Waters, which I know many of you have already read.  (And truthfully, this might not have been one I would have picked up if it wasn't for book bloggers. I'm not a mystery novel kind of girl, but this one was intriguing and thus far (80 pages into it), I'm enjoying it ... while starting to get slightly impatient for something to happen.  From what I've read of your reviews, something will ... and I'll find myself with yet another bout of insomnia to complement the ones I've already been dealing with. 

Before picking up The Little Stranger, I finished Amy Bloom's first short story collection, Come to Me.  Twelve stories comprise this collection, and several of them are connected to each other.  It's a brilliant way of showing the perspective of several characters within the same incident as well as at different times of their lives.  It's similar to the effect of Olive Kitteridge, only on a more abbreviated scale. Still, I think that these stories - particularly the related ones - would satisfy those who resist short stories because of not getting to know the characters well enough.  These seem almost novella-ish. 
Audiobook-wise, I finished Judith Warner's We've Got Issues: Children and Parents in the Age of Medication.  It sounds kind of odd to say that I liked this one, but it was simultaneously comforting and sobering. Listening to the personal stories from parents was like having a support group in my car.  It is also incredibly well-researched and detailed. From an audiobook production standpoint, Kirsten Potter's narration was absolutely perfect.  She might just be my favorite audiobook narrator, now that I am paying more attention to such things.  Her tone - and the emotion within it while telling the families' stories - was exactly right.  

On Friday, I started listening to Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide. Talk about sobering.  I've been a fan of Nicholas Kristof's for awhile now, and I knew enough about this book before pressing play, but that still doesn't prepare one for these heartwrenching stories of sex trafficking shared by Kristof and his wife, Sheryl WuDunn.  I'm only up to the second CD (page 42 in the print edition, which I purchased earlier this year) and honestly, there was one point where I wasn't sure if I could continue with this.  I think it is because my daughter is not too far removed in age from the countless girls sold as sex slaves throughout the world. 

And that is exactly the reason why Half the Sky is such an important book.  Everyone should read this. 

Two more books to mention this week.  I love Billy Collins's poems, and recently picked up Questions About Angels at the library.  In my opinion, this is one of his best collections yet.  Many of these poems made me smile, made me wonder, made me love Billy Collins even more.  I think this is one that I would like to own. 

Finally, Only in New York: An Exploration of the World's Most Fascinating, Frustrating, and Irrepressible City is going back to the library as a DNF.  There wasn't anything wrong with this collection except that I don't think I, a native Philadelphian, am the right reader for it.  According to the jacket, Only in New York consists of "more than seventy self-contained essays about what makes New York tick and why things are the way they are in the greatest city on earth."  Make no mistake: I love New York and am fascinated by New York.  It's just that Only in New York didn't quite grab my interest and attention as much as I thought it would.  Folks who hail from New York or live there would probably appreciate this more than I did. 

Now, off to spend some time with The Little Stranger before taking my Scarlet Knight and Cowgirl out among all the little strangers this evening. 

Books Finished in October (links take you to my reviews):

The Early Stories of Louisa May Alcott 1852-1860
The Blind Contessa's New Machine, by Carey Wallace
Lay Back the Darkness, Poems by Edward Hirsch
Little Billy's Letters: An Incorrigible Inner Child's Correspondance with the Famous, Infamous, and Just Plain Bewildered, by Bill Geerhart
American Music, by Jane Mendelsohn
Lullabies for Little Criminals, by Heather O'Neill
Come to Me, Stories by Amy Bloom
We've Got Issues: Children and Parents in the Age of Medication, by Judith Warner (audio)
Questions About Angels, Poems by Billy Collins

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.


readerbuzz said...

I say you've had a great reading month!

Have fun out trick-or-treating.

Amy said...

Great collection of books. Half the Sky is very upsetting and very important isn't it. Glad to see it getting more readers.

Lula Rashard's Mom said...

I LOVE Billy Collins and that book especially. I go back to it again and again. Enjoying the blog!
-- NoraBear's mom