Saturday, April 4, 2009

What I'm Reading

For those of you who like the library as much as me, but don't have time to scour the internet for leads, consider this my quick recommendation list for spring.

Review links jump to the New York Times book reviews for each book. While I don't always agree with their synopsis, it's far more than I'm in a mood to write today.

Unaccustomed Earth, Jhumpa Lahiri Review
An expansive collection of stories about native and immigrant Bengali families, how each transitions to America, affecting culture and connections in diverse ways. In the end, I was interested in how families with such strong a culture, unlike my amalgamous heredity, assimilate — what do they give up and what do they keep and why? These are sometimes hopeful, sometimes painful, but always insightful stories.

Then We Came to the End, Joshua Ferris. Review
I worked in an office and in the marketing department, so this novel appealed to me on a basic level. Deeply quirky and mired in irony, Ferris' storytelling is engaging and bighearted.

The Last Chinese Chef, Nicole Mones Review
Those who like superb food writing will enjoy this book. There's a light romance in it, which is obvious and predictable. But for me, the descriptions of Chinese cooking, the history of it as a fused art of skill and taste is breathtaking. Great for tucking into a beach bag.

Zookeeper's Wife, Diane Ackerman Review
A novel based on real diaries kept by the wife of the Warsaw zookeeper, Antonina, this story spans World War II years in Poland. Antonina's gift is empathy, an innate knowledge of animals' instincts, situational assessments she applies to the German invaders. Treating people like animals and recording her insights, Antonina helps to save more than 300 people.

The following are also good reads:

Lost Art of Keeping Secrets, Eva Rice
Luna Nueva, Stephanie Meyer (attempting to read the Twilight sequel in Spanish)

Literary Fiction
The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox, Maggie O'Farrell
Guide to the Birds of East Africa, Nick Drayson
Hello, I Must Be Going, Christie Hodgen
The Ladies of Grace Adeiu, Susanna Clark
Fine Just the Way It Is, Annie Proulx
Cannary Row, John Steinbeck

Izzy and Lenore, Jon Katz
The Invisible Wall, Harry Bernstein

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