Wednesday, June 27, 2012

You Came Back by Christopher Coake

I'm not one for ghost stories, but I love an Ohio connection and Christopher Coake got his MFA in fiction at The Ohio State University, so You Came Back is set in Columbus.  He mentions German Village, and Short North and even Hocking Hills, so I felt very comfortable with the setting.  I did not feel comfortable with the subject matter because the loss of a child, even in a fictional setting, is unfathomable for me.  Mark Fife's young son Brendan died after fall in their home and, although the loss results in Mark's divorce from Brendan's mother, he has moved on and found love again.  This happiness is interrupted when the woman who lives in the home where Brendan died seeks Mark out to  tell him his son "came back".  I am uncomfortable with the notion of spirits and mediums, but I stayed up late one summer's night reading until I knew how this compelling story would unfold.

Monday, June 25, 2012

The Leftovers by Tom Perrotta

I keep giving Tom Perotta one more chance - this time because one of my AP reader friends suggested I would enjoy The Leftovers.  I had avoided reading the book thus far because the premise - the recovery measures taken by a group of suburbanites left after various of their loved ones were mysteriously seized by a Rapture-type event - didn't seem appealing.  As I started the book, I thought it would be biting satire, but the people of Mapleton could be the people of any town, and Kevin Garvey, the town mayor, ends up struggling with typical and mundane stresses - a spouses' rejection, a teenager's rebellion, mid-life angst.  Parts of the plot are mildly humorous, especially the cult-like Guilty Remnants who take a vow of silence and wander the town eaves-dropping on their neighbors while smoking mandatory cigarettes.  But the book seemed so contrived by the end I was left with the vapors of a great story - a fictional smoke-trick.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

The Reluctant Fundamentalist by Mohsin Hamid

A former AP student recommended this as an appropriate summer reading title for AP students, so I quickly read it on our trip to see our daughter's college graduation in Massachusetts. The main character, aptly named Changez, had been a Pakistani student studying at an American university and then a New York City businessman prior to 9/11. The episodic novel takes the form of a dialogue between Changez and an unnamed American tourist who is sitting in a cafe in Lahore. As the day fades, so do the lines between truth and memory as Changez grapples with his cultural identity and what it means to live The American Dream. Thanks for the recommendation, Bristee. I will miss hearing the discussions next fall about this enigmatic and mysterious novel.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Paris, My Sweet: A Year in the City of Light (and Dark Chocolate) by Amy Thomas

To kick off summer leisure reading, I began with the book I had given to my friend, Kathy, for Valentine's Day.  After reading it herself, she thought I would enjoy borrowing it - especially since daughter Meredith was talking about spending the summer in Paris.  Thomas was given the opportunity to leave her job in New York to spend a year in Paris as an advertising writer for Louis Vuitton.  The book compares bakeries and their specialties in New York and Paris and has quite an extensive list of bakeries and addresses for both locations in the back of the book.  I enjoyed reading the luscious and decadent descriptions of macaroons, cupcakes, madeleines and chocolates.  For a single woman living out her dream, Thomas seemed to be a bit of a whiner, but the vicarious culinary romp was enough diversion from Ohio on a summer's day to please my sweet tooth.

Monday, June 18, 2012

The Weird Sisters by Eleanor Brown

I had read a lot about the Shakespearean parallels in this new novel with an intriguing title.  And I had a student who was reading the book for her independent novel project, so I decided not to put it aside once I had started reading it.  It is a sisters book - Cordelia, Bianca and Rosalind.  They grow up in a college town in Ohio (?) under the scholarship of their Shakespeare quoting professor father.  When their mother develops breast cancer, the adult sisters have  a reason to reunite.  I was a little disappointed in the way some of the conflicts were resolved, but the plot was clever enough to keep me interested.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Once Again to Louisville to Grade Essays

We keep falling for it - the promise of working with other intelligent professionals as passionate about teaching literature as we are in a pretty cool "drinking town with a horse problem".   The "work" involves lots of sitting and reading student handwriting and looking forward to 15 minute breaks and cafeteria lunches in a freezing cold convention center.  Luckily, we have friends we look forward to seeing every year and a chance to dine out in some pretty cool Louisville restaurants. So another week of grading AP Literature and Composition test essays is behind us.  Time for pleasure reading to begin again!

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Carmichael's Bookstore - Louisville's Oldest Independent Bookstore

One of the highlights of our yearly trip to Louisville is a visit to Carmichael's Bookstore  on Bardstown Road.  This year the whole store was full of AP readers, chatting, talking about books, recommending favorites.  It is a great bookstore with lots of posted recommendations from the bookstore staff.  This year I walked out without a book purchase.  Good girl!

Thursday, June 07, 2012

New Business Card

Heading off into this we adventure called retirement, I decided to make my own business cards to share at the AP reading. For the time being, this is my effort!

Saturday, June 02, 2012

Oprah Should Listen to Me

When I blogged about Wild back in April, I went in to school and told all my students that this was going to be the new - fresh and female - Into the Wild.

Now I come to find, Oprah has the same idea!  The Oprah Book Club 2.0 launched in June and her choice was Wild by Cheryl Strayed.   I have thought for some time, Oprah should just be listening to me.  Maybe she is?

Now our county library has Wild on the Summer Reading page.

I'm just saying - TOLD YOU SO!