Loved this one!
By Caitlin Kelly
Our apartment building has a shelf near the laundry room where we exchange books and magazines. I’ve had some great luck, (“Sharp Objects” by Gillian Flynn), but recently gave up on three books I found there — one by (of all people!) John Grisham, since the book was all scene-setting with no apparent action or plot to be found.
Another was one of those Scandi-noir murder mysteries (ditto) and the third (sigh) was “NW” by Zaidie Smith. I gave up within two chapters. I loved White Teeth but have been so disappointed by others of hers.
I’m still slooooooowly getting through “A Bright Shining Lie”, Neil Sheehan’s doorstop history of the war in VietNam. I’m meandering through “The Lay of the Land,” by Richard Ford, who manages to make the life of a middle-aged New Jersey realtor compelling.
A good friend keeps urging me to write a novel, as I’ve had the vague outlines of a murder mystery in my head for a decade. The idea is a little terrifying, even though many journalists have made a successful transition to fiction.
But I tend to keep returning to non-fiction as I am so often annoyed by fiction and resent wasting time on it.
Some of my fictional favorites:
The Elegance of the Hedgehog, Muriel Barbery
Later made into a film, a portrait of a Parisian concierge and the upscale apartment building where she works.
The Thousand Autumns of Jacob deZoet, David Mitchell
Loved love loved this tale of 18th century Japan. His physical descriptions are beautiful and mysterious.
The Imperfectionists, Tom Rachmann
Written by a fellow Canadian journalist who once worked at the International Herald Tribune in Paris, apparently his portraits of his co-workers are pretty clear in this charming novel about…a newspaper in Paris.
The Goldfinch, Donna Tartt
Another doorstop, its size intimidating, I received this as a gift from a friend for my birthday two years ago. I’d been warned it was too long and the last third could well have used a heavy edit. But loved this one, set in New York City and elsewhere.
A Little Life, Hana Yanagihara
Not an easy read, but one of the most powerful and unforgettable books I’ve ever read, a tale of ongoing friendship, also set in New York City — written (in her spare time!) in 18 months by an editor at The New York Times.
In The Skin of a Lion, Divisadero, Michael Ondaatje
He’s probably best-known for “The English Patient”, (still one of my favorite films ever), but reading anything by this Sri Lankan-Canadian author is like entering a dream state, in the best sense. In the Skin is about Toronto (my hometown) in the 1920s and “Divisadero” about a California family.
I was recently given a copy of “Lincoln in the Bardo”, so that’s on the list.
I typically don’t read horror, romance, sci-fit, dystopian, Westerns or YA…
What have you been reading lately (or tossing?!)