Staff Picks: Books
Staff-recommended reading from the
At a library conference several years ago, I heard mystery writer Lisa Scottoline. She was promoting a new book, I don’t remember which one. I do remember that I really enjoyed her – she was witty, humorous, engaged the audience. I didn’t read the book she was promoting nor anything else she has written – I confess I am not a mystery reader.
Now she has published a book of essays. The style and approach I so enjoyed when I heard her, come through loud and clear in Why My Third Husband Will Be a Dog, a collection of essays originally published in her hometown paper, The Philadelphia Inquirer, entitled “Chick Wit.”
She writes of her built-in guilt-o-meter, her Mother Mary and just-graduated-from-Harvard daughter, her former husbands known as Thing One and Thing Two, and, of course, why her next husband will be a dog. Women of a certain age – and she writes about them too and whatever that age might be – will relate to her everyday experiences told in an engaging style from the perspective, she says, of an ordinary woman.
Each essay is about 2 ½ pages, just the length of a newspaper column – read a few here and there or read them straight through. I’m beginning to think about my favorite books of the year. This one just might be on my nonfiction list.
Why My Third Husband Will Be a Dog
Congratulations to Sherman Alexie winner of this year’s Pen/Faulkner award for Fiction for his title War Dances! The Pen/Faulkner Award is a national prize which honors the best published works of fiction by American citizens in a calendar year. It is the largest peer-juried award in the country with one winning writer and four finalists chosen from more than 300 annually submitted works. War Dances is a collection of stories, poems, and question and answer sequences in which Alexie confronts fatherhood, race, class, and sexuality in his piercing in-your-face style. Alexie is an astute observer and his stories are tragicomedies that reveal the triumphs and tragedies within Native American life. Whether his stories are amusing or bittersweet, they are always beautifully poignant and thought provoking.
While you are exploring War Dances, check out the four finalist writers and their wonderful titles: Barbara Kingsolver’s The Lacuna, Lorraine Lopez’s Homicide Survivors Picnic, Lorrie Moore’s A Gate at the Stairs, and Colson Whitehead’s Sag Harbor. Each would make a great summer read happy reading!
The Oshtemo Book Group has had a wonderful year of discussions about a variety of books. We ended the 2009-10 season with a “Readers Choice” roundtable where everyone could share a book they particularly enjoyed.
Not surprisingly, each book mentioned was a top favorite of the reader, and we all added that title to our “must read” list.
We were surprised that so many of the titles fell under the “historical fiction” category, but not all. There were several nonfiction books and a Pulitzer Prize winner as well.
So if you are looking for a good summer read you might want to check out the following titles:
- Winter Garden, Kristin Hannah
- Day after Night, Anita Diamant
- Left to Tell, Immaculee Ilibagiza
- Night Fall and Wild Fire, Nelson DeMille
- Olive Kitteridge, Elizabeth Strout
- Dogs of Bedlam Farms, Jon Katz
- Enchantment, Orson Scott Card
- Heat: an amateur's adventures as kitchen slave, line cook, pasta maker, and apprentice to a Dante-quoting butcher in Tuscany, Bill Buford
- Pillars of the Earth, Ken Follett
- Madonnas of Leningrad, Debra Dean
- Stitches, David Small
- Nineteenth Wife, David Ebershoff
- Making Rounds with Oscar, David Dosa
- Little Bee, Chris Cleave
Oshtemo Book Group
I’m not a big fan of short stories, but when one of my favorite novelists publishes a short story collection, I usually read it and am seldom disappointed.
A Good Fall by National Book award winner, Ha Jin, is a strong collection of loosely related stories. All are set in the Chinese immigrant community in Flushing area of New York City. They address the challenges and loneliness of finding one’s place in America from various generational perspectives. He writes of anxiety and trust, desire for love and companionship, economic challenges.
I know it’s way too early to be thinking about my favorites of 2010, but this just could be a contender.
A Good Fall