On my bookshelf right now I have 38 adult fiction titles, 15 nonfiction, 23 YA books and 70 children’s. Of these titles I’ve read 16, 10, 9 and 48 respectively. Despite owning 63 books that I have yet read, I find myself wanting to read more and more books. I have a hold list at the library a mile long. In my room I have Swamplandia!, Freedom, Fifth Avenue, 5 a.m. The Secret of Roan Inish, Gigi and Inside the Victorian House: A Portrait of Domestic Life in Victorian England. These are in addition to the few P.G. Wodehouse novels I have floating around including the one on my Kindle.
I think it might be a disease, this need to continually read and buy/check out more books when I haven’t even finished the ones I have. Will someone please tell me what to read?! Maybe someday I’ll even write up a review. Sorry, I hate writing book reviews, although I really ought to practice and write more (and by that I mean any).
So, if you’d like to help a gal out, these are my options (reviews taken from Publisher’s Weekly. I’m also including covers since I know we all judge books by their covers despite the old adage):
Russell’s lavishly imagined and spectacularly crafted first novel sprang from a story in her highly praised collection, St. Lucy’s Home for Girls Raised by Wolves (2006). Swamplandia! is a shabby tourist attraction deep in the Everglades, owned by the Bigtree clan of alligator wrestlers. When Hilola, their star performer, dies, her husband and children lose their moorings, and Swamplandia! itself is endangered as audiences dwindle. The Chief leaves. Brother Kiwi, 17, sneaks off to work at the World of Darkness, a new mainland amusement park featuring the “rings of hell.” Otherworldly sister Osceola, 16, vanishes after falling in love with the ghost of a young man who died while working for the ill-fated Dredge and Fill Campaign in the 1930s. It’s up to Ava, 13, to find her sister, and her odyssey to the Underworld is mythic, spellbinding, and terrifying. Russell’s powers reside in her profound knowledge of the great imperiled swamp, from its alligators and insects, floating orchids and invasive “strangler” melaleuca trees to the tragic history of its massacred indigenous people and wildlife. Ravishing, elegiac, funny, and brilliantly inquisitive, Russell’s archetypal swamp saga tells a mystical yet rooted tale of three innocents who come of age through trials of water, fire, and air.
Nine years after winning the National Book Award, Franzen’s The Corrections consistently appears on “Best of the Decade” lists and continues to enjoy a popularity that borders on the epochal, so much so that the first question facing Franzen’s feverishly awaited follow-up is whether it can find its own voice in its predecessor’s shadow. In short: yes, it does, and in a big way. Readers will recognize the strains of suburban tragedy afflicting St. Paul, Minn.’s Walter and Patty Berglund, once-gleaming gentrifiers now marred in the eyes of the community by Patty’s increasingly erratic war on the right-wing neighbors with whom her eerily independent and sexually precocious teenage son, Joey, is besot, and, later, “greener than Greenpeace” Walter’s well-publicized dealings with the coal industry’s efforts to demolish a West Virginia mountaintop. The surprise is that the Berglunds’ fall is outlined almost entirely in the novel’s first 30 pages, freeing Franzen to delve into Patty’s affluent East Coast girlhood, her sexual assault at the hands of a well-connected senior, doomed career as a college basketball star, and the long-running love triangle between Patty, Walter, and Walter’s best friend, the budding rock star Richard Katz. By 2004, these combustible elements give rise to a host of modern predicaments: Richard, after a brief peak, is now washed up, living in Jersey City, laboring as a deck builder for Tribeca yuppies, and still eyeing Patty. The ever-scheming Joey gets in over his head with psychotically dedicated high school sweetheart and as a sub-subcontractor in the re-building of postinvasion Iraq. Walter’s many moral compromises, which have grown to include shady dealings with Bush-Cheney cronies (not to mention the carnal intentions of his assistant, Lalitha), are taxing him to the breaking point. Patty, meanwhile, has descended into a morass of depression and self-loathing, and is considering breast augmentation when not working on her therapist-recommended autobiography. Franzen pits his excavation of the cracks in the nuclear family’s facade against a backdrop of all-American faults and fissures, but where the book stands apart is that, no longer content merely to record the breakdown, Franzen tries to account for his often stridently unlikable characters and find where they (and we) went wrong, arriving at–incredibly–genuine hope.
This room-by-room guide brims with delightful description and discussion of the Victorians and their domestic environments. Flanders (A Circle of Sisters, which was shortlisted for the Guardian First Book Award) evokes the period’s intimate preoccupations by drawing on a variety of sources: extracts from Dickens, Gissing, Jane Carlyle, Gaskell, Trollope and Beatrix Potter, among many other authors; line drawings, period paintings and advertisements; and snippets by the numerous magazine advice writers of the era, including the influential household experts Mrs. Panton and Mrs. Beeton. Flanders makes particularly clever use of commentaries by alienated overseas visitors to Britain, highlighting national customs of the period. She weaves these materials into an absorbing cradle-to-grave story of life in the urban upper-middle-class household. Although working-class life is overlooked, the work of the servants who tended the bourgeois home is rendered in vivid, often harrowing detail and with great attention to class boundaries and tensions. Particularly informative are the journal entries of domestic servant Hannah Cullwick, encouraged to record her days’ work by naughty gentleman Arthur Munby (who later became her clandestine husband). Flanders is unflinching on the realities of dirt, childbirth, women’s bodies and serious illness. Her intelligent, and unromanticized scrutiny of Victorian domestic custom, etiquette and style will greatly enhance readers’ understanding of the period’s social history, its literature, and visual and decorative arts. Aware of the power of family life to determine attitudes toward gender, childhood, education and health, Flanders is sensitive to the otherness of the period, translating its strangeness without resorting to anachronism.
Wasson, who wrote on the career of writer-director Blake Edwards in A Splurch in the Kisser, tightens his focus for a closeup of Edwards’s memorable Breakfast at Tiffany’s, which received five Oscar nominations (with two wins). Interviewing Edwards and others, he skillfully interweaves key events during the making of this cinema classic. He begins (and ends) with Truman Capote, whose novel was initially regarded as unadaptable by the producers, since they hadn’t the faintest idea how the hell they were going to take a novel with no second act, a nameless gay protagonist, a motiveless drama, and an unhappy ending and turn it into a Hollywood movie. The flow of Wasson’s words carries the reader from pre-production to on-set feuds and conflicts, while also noting Hepburn’s impact on fashion (Givenchy’s little black dress), Hollywood glamour, sexual politics, and the new morality. Always stingy with praise, Capote dismissed the finished film as a mawkish valentine to New York City, but one feels he would have been entranced by Wasson’s prismatic approach as he walks a perilous path between the analytic interpretation and the imaginative one. The result deserves Capote’s nonfiction novel label. Recapturing an era, this evocative factual re-creation reads like carefully crafted fiction.
The Secret of Roan Inish by Rosalie K. Fry. Watch the 1994 film.
Apparently, Gigi and The Secret of Roan Inish are so old and unpopular that Amazon.com and Barnesandnoble.com do not have reviews/summaries. I’ve seen both movies and both are novellas so I should be able to read them pretty quickly. My summaries based on movies are as follows: Gigi comes from a lower class family who is trained to be a courtesan. In the Secret of Roan Inish Selikes are alive and well and mothering children in early 20th century Ireland.
The hope is that after I finish these library books I can get back to the unread books on my shelf. Although, the FYA bookclub is reading The Book Thief which I’ve read but feel the need to reread if I want to attend the meeting. Decisions, decisions, decisions…And my old bookclub is reading Cleopatra so I should read it, but I’m not sure if I’ll be around come meeting time (I’m hoping for a job).