Había una vez there was a hard-working Student Library Aide who was tasked with processing books. She did not identify as a reader, and so she could handle large numbers of books without temptation–until The Last Cuentista by Donna Barba Higuera caught her eye. Did her supervisor look the other way as this book trailed the student worker through her assigned duties at the front desk, while training new co-workers and as she prepped for her eventual departure upon graduation? Yes, I did. I did because I also read The Last Cuentista and know how transportive the story is. Continue reading
My top recommendations for summer 2016 reading will include Rich and Pretty by Rumaan Alam. The story doesn’t seem to go anywhere, but neither does life when you are just getting traction as an independent new adult. In a book with few exciting plot occurrences, it’s Alam’s turn of phrase and believable characters that make this book so enjoyable. Additionally, the affirmation of friendship between people who dream of a relationship going one way and adapting when it doesn’t makes for the best message I’ve read in fiction lately.
Normally, I don’t spoil a good read by looking up reviews of books that I want to read, but in the case of Lust and Wonder: A Memoir by Augusten Burroughs, I did. Not surprisingly the reviews come in two flavors–favorable and not favorable. The overwhelmingly positive reviews likely come from people who are just diving into Burroughs’ work and superfans. Those who didn’t review the new memoir kindly probably know too much about Burroughs and feel as though there’s not much mystery left. Burroughs’ similarly reviews his relationships in Lust and Wonder.
When a room of parents at a PTA meeting at a Title 1 school audibly squirmed in response to my assertion that I would drink milk on its sell-by date, the armor I wore in childhood to make my poverty less hurtful clamped down around me. Many children at that school would drink milk on its sell-by date and likely have a parent who knows how to make use of spoiled milk. While my early experiences with poverty remain near the surface, the one type of poverty-related insecurity I didn’t fear is eviction. That’s the focus of Arizona-born Matthew Desmond’s new book, Evicted: Poverty and Profit In the American City.
The debate in my house about which is better, Marie Lu’s Legend trilogy or The Young Elites trilogy in progress, is more of an exercise in book chat than to make an actual determination. We share an appreciation of both, though we have preferences. My sci-fi boy likes the tech-y world depected in Legend. He read it alongside classic dystopian books, including 1984 and Brave New World. I prefer The Young Elites but not because it takes place in a classical, romantic world.
Eleanor: A Novel by Jason Gurley opens with every reader’s dream–a rainy Sunday, a steaming cup of tea and a private nook. Moving deeper, “Sometimes Eleanor [grandmother of the titular Eleanor] swore her life was being written by someone else’s hand.” Yes. I recognize this person.
I fell in love with Clare Clark’s writing the moment I broke into We That Are Left in spite of the grammatically irritating title. I wondered what she had to say about appearances that deceive and those who are titled pretending at something while we who are not titled aspire to their falsehoods. I jotted down lines and page numbers of favorite descriptions and passages. Such great writing promises a great story. In the end, I felt cheated of that great story just as the wealthy cheat at status and the poor are cheated.
Since the new Goosebumps movie came out on October 3, I decided to revisit my night with R.L. Stine at the 2012 Tucson Festival of Books Author Dinner.
If you are a writer your children will be nonreaders, at least that’s what bestselling author R.L. Stine told me at dinner. He offers his son as an example. His son read book after book of Garfield cartoons but nary a Goosebumps. When I suggested Stine was putting me on about his son not reading his work he says, “That’s something nice people like you say.” (I often make it through entire meals without revealing my monstrous side.)
“Evelyn” like “EEV-lin” in the UK or “Evelyn” like “EH-vah-lin”, my Mississippi born, plumber’s daughter grandmother? Intentionally or not Stephanie Clifford plays on a class tension among the upwardly mobile in America from the get go through the naming of the protagonist in her novel, Everybody Rise. I never felt on sure footing while reading this book. I was curious about Evelyn and the voyeurism that tempts me with Real Housewives of Everywhere and other reality shows about one percenters kept me reading.
[Note: Due to a website migration at my day job, some content that I wrote for a local bookstore chain was unpublished, so I’m republishing it here. I wrote reviews to sell books, so I may have sugar coated some things, but my basic feelings are represented.]
In Fiction Ruined My Family, Jeanne Darst isn’t posing, bragging or begging. She fully experiences the life of an artist and plies her wares in private homes or working barns or legitimate theater. She tells her story without embellishment, though she admits that perhaps not all the details are entirely true either. She doesn’t need our approval, though she has it (or at least the book does).