Thursday, July 31, 2014

When you read a book, the neurons in your brain fire overtime, deciding what they characters are wearing, how they're standing, and what it feels like the first time they kiss. No one shows you. The words make suggestions. Your brain paints the pictures.
~Meg Rosoff

Thursday, July 24, 2014

More than anything, the old leather, paper, wood and fresh outdoor air in this image goes directly to my nose. Would that such a scent could be bottled. 
image source

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Woman Reading in the Sunshine

The Round House by Louise Erdrich

How is it that Young Adult books like this are sitting alongside adult fiction? The storyline of Round House certainly has mature elements, but with a thriteen-year-old boy as the protagonist and hero of the story (and all the accompanying fascination with breasts and boners that come with that particular demographic) this book is soundly in the YA category. But because it was on the library shelf with other adult fiction, I kept expecting the teenage main character to grow up and conclude the story as wiser more enlightened, perhaps also more jaded, adult. But no. I'm increasingly baffled at the preponderance of teen books in mainstream reading lists. I don't get it.

Anyway, the story is touching and heartbreaking and compelling enough to see through to the end, but left me annoyed that it didn't go deeper.

(back cover)
In this bittersweet coming-of-age tale, Erdrich returns to the fictional setting of many of her novels, a North Dakota Ojibwe reservation. There in the spring of 1988, 13-year-old Joe's mother is raped; when efforts to bring the attacker to justice are thwarted by a labyrinth of laws applying to Indian lands, Joe considers taking action himself. Nominated for a National Book Award, the novel is another of Erdirch's haunting portraits of Native American life, tender but unsentimental and buoyed by subtle wit.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi

What I so admire in Marjane Satrapi's work is her evocative images done in such simple black and white lines. With some ink and a piece of white paper she has given us an incredibally tangible window into her youth during a time of upheaval both for herself and her country. If you are unfamiliar with graphic novels, this is a good one to start with. It's emotionally challenging, compelling and difficult to put down.

(back cover)
Persepolis is the story of  Marjane Satrapi's unforgettable childhood and coming of age within a large and loving family in Tehran during the Islamic Revolution; of the contradictions between private and public life in a country plagued by political upheaval; of her high school years in Vienna facing the trials of adolescence far from her family; of her homecoming - both sweet and terrible; and, finally, of her self-imposed exile from her beloved homeland. It is the chronicle of a girlhood and adolescence at once outrageous and familiar, a young life entwined with the history of her country yet filled with the universal trials of growing up. 
Edgy, searingly observant, and candid, often heartbreaking but threaded throughout with raw humor and hard-earned wisdom - Persepolis is a stunning work from one of the most highly regarded, singularily talented graphic artist at work today.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Rainy Day Reading

It's a perfectly lovely rainy Sunday today. Ideal conditions for curling up with some good reading, I'd say.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Beach Reading

I love the windy, sandy, sunny energy in this painting. Any idea who the artisit is? I did a some searching online but could not find any credits or references.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

The Magic Mountain by Thomas Mann

This is one of the most wonderfully thought provoking books I've ever read. It took me several months to get through all seven hundred pages and then another month or two to finally commit some thoughts to print, and even then I couldn't begin to do its depth and scope any justice. There is so much going on within the layers of the story I can well imagine some devoted scholars spending years studying all the characters and themes. For me, though, it was a purely recreational endeavor; I just blissed out with the evocative writing, the beautiful Swiss Alps setting, and the cast of quirky charaters with their oddly funny sense of humor and lengthy existential musings and discussions. It had me thoroughly captivated well into many, many a night. It was remarkable. I loved it. The only thing that keeps me from giving it a perfect 5/5 stars, though, is the ending, which I found unnecessarily bogged down with "one more thing" and "one more character" as if the author did not want to stop writing. Perhaps I didn't *get* the ending? Totally possible, I don't know. What I do know is that I am eager to get to more of Thomas Mann's books. I have Buddenbrooks, Doctor Faustus, and Confessions of Felix Krull already on my TBR shelf, all out-on-a-limb purchases from a community fundraiser book sale last fall. So far so good, I'd say.

(back cover)
With this dizzyingly rich novel of ideas, Thomas Mann rose to the front ranks of the great modern novelists, ultimately winning the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1929. In The Magic Mountain, Mann uses a sanatorium in the Swiss Alps - a community devoted exclusively to sickness -  as a microcosm for Europe, which in the years before 1914 was already exhibiting the first symptoms of its own terminal irrationality.
To this hermetic yet intrigue-ridden world comes Hans Castorp, a 'perfectly ordinary' young man who arrives for a short visit and ends up staying seven years. For on the Magic Mountain, Hans will succumb both to the lure of eros and to the intoxication of ideas. Newly rendered into English by acclaimed translator John Woods, The Magic Mountain is a monumental work of erudition and irony, sexual tension and intelectual ferment, a book that oulses with life in the midst of death.