Quantcast

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

224

The Hairpin's Spring Reading List

Welcome to spring! It starts today. Are you going to stand an egg up on its end? You should at least try. Supposedly this works any day of the year, but we're about having fun and not raining on everyone's egg parade. Speaking of fun: we asked some friends "What's the last great book you read?" and they answered us. There should be enough here to keep you busy until our Summer Reading List comes out.

I'm going to go old school and say Zora Neale Hurston's Their Eyes Were Watching God. What's that you say? That's so sophomore year of college? That's so Intro to Ethnic Studies? True, but it's also the best. When I introduced this book to my class of ten sophomore boys, I told them about how the bigwigs of The Harlem Renaissance essentially told Hurston that her work didn't belong because it was a romance and lacking in political verve. Then I told them not to continue the cycle of generalized misogyny, and to think about the ways in which the personal is political, and how the story of a black woman seeking, losing, finding, and losing love in the South in the 1920s was and remains important. 'Pinners, these boys f-ing loved it. And they're right: this book is exquisitely wrought, there's that sweet orgasmic scene with the pear tree (just trust me), and it's clear that Teacake was a stone-cold fox. You've probably read it before, but read it again, revel in it, and remember what it feels like to read something beautiful and strong. —Anne Helen Petersen

Patti Smith, Woolgathering. I got this reissued mini-book of Smith's because I had already re-read Just Kids and wanted more.Woolgathering is much closer to Smith's poetry than prose; it's a rambling discourse on inspiration, becoming an artist, the whole tangle of mortality and obsession and real life coming knocking. It's perfect to read now at the top of the spring, when the world feels especially new and possible. This book could be your creative talisman for an especially creative and fancy-free summer. —Jessica Hopper

Okay, besides The Hunger Games (The Hunger Games!!!!) I recently read The Poisoners Handbook. It's all about the office of the medical examiner in New York around prohibition, and all the ways you could get poisoned! Did you know they used to put radium in face cream to make you "glow"? Not for hypochondriacs. —Jaya Saxena

I became a little obsessed with Bringing Up Bebe: One American Mother Discovers the Wisdom of French Parenting, by Pamela Druckerman, and probably freaked out my new boyfriend by talking about it all the time. As more of my friends start having kids, I guess I was looking for reassurance that when you become a parent your life doesn't have to be consumed by children who never sleep and disobey you all the time. This isn't a how-to book, but anecdotal observations on the cultural patterns and methods Druckerman saw parents in Paris using to teach their kids to sleep through the night (by four months old!), be patient, have self control, eat all kinds of foods, and let their parents have some time to themselves. I even used some of the methods to teach myself to have better self control, so even if I never have kids of my own, it's still a win. —Julie Whitaker

I pretty much exclusively read medieval smut, so if that doesn't speak to your needs you should probably move on to the next blurb. On a (somewhat) recent vacation I chewed my way through the newest Philippa Gregory novel, The Lady of the Rivers, which is the third in her series on the Plantagenets and the War of the Roses. To my mind it has everything: Joan of Arc, an insane king who may or may not have been bewitched into a years-long slumber, tarot cards, and a charm bracelet that tells the future. After I managed to blow through that book in two days before handing it over to my mother, she turned me onto the Shardlake Series by C.J. Sansom, which follows the exploits of a hunchback lawyer practicing law and serving the kingdom during the time of Henry VIII. If you like mysteries and the Tudor period and, um, hunchback lawyers, give 'em a whirl. —Jolie Kerr

I'm reading No More Nice Girls by Ellen Willis. It feels very, very necessary right now. I'm nodding my head at every single sentence. —Haley Mlotek

I have two! Born Standing Up: A Comic's Life is Steve Martin's autobiography. I am obsessed with comedians AND autobiographies, and this one is fucking great (the book and the comedian). And Assassination Vacation by Sarah Vowell. Who doesn't want to learn about the death's of former US presidents and the men who killed them — as well as how many times the author puked on her way to the prison where the Lincoln conspirators were brought? Or how many of her fellow B&B guests she scared with her enthusiasm for the subject matter? Seriously, who? —Emily Panic

I've been in the mood for ghosts and fake murders lately so have been re-reading Sarah Caudwell's four perfect mysteries. If you haven't read them, they're fantastic, like P.G. Wodehouse with fewer aunts and more loucheness — the first in the series is Thus Was Adonis Murdered. Also read recently: Susan Hill's The Woman In Black, which was satisfyingly filled with ghosts and "hedge rows and gloppy English bogs." —Carrie Frye

People hate Jonathan Franzen! I don't really understand why. But I do understand that finding something I actually want to read isn't easy, and finding the resolve to actually sit and read it (increasingly difficult in my dumb laptop-as-limb, commute-free life) is, for me, teetering on the precipice of impossible lately. I read Freedom last year, but I have not forgotten how every page was a complete pleasure, the story never lagged, every character was delicious, and I never wanted it to end. I'm still always amazed when anybody just makes up an amazing story. The process of good fiction blows my mind. I heard Franzen on Fresh Air, and he said something about the central marriage in the story being loosely based on his parents', and how he basically had to wait for them to die before he could write the book, so. (PS: This "blah blah blah, so." affectation is, embarrassingly, one which I now realize I absolutely stole from a character in Freedom. Now I write it all the time. What does this mean??? That I'm a nerd, yes, but maybe also that Freedom's voice never didn't feel cutting, current, smart and well, cool?, and I guess I probably and slightly desperately just wanted a bit of that in my life. A keepsake, if you will.) Good book! —Esther C. Werdiger

Get ready to make fun of me: the last good book I read was a picture book. 100 Dresses is from The Costume Institute at The Metropolitan Museum of Art and it's just what it sounds like: a book about 100 historically significant and certifiably fabulous dresses in the collection, and each has a little story. —Jane Marie

Pulphead, by John Jeremiah Sullivan. Nonfiction essays. It is as good as everyone says. —Edith Zimmerman

I am obsessed with books about the financial crisis. HAPPY SPRING. I like Fool's Gold, because it begins with bros pushing each other in a pool and you know that can't end well. (You literally know it can't because it's the future now, and it didn't.) PS: Jeez that is a terrible cover. I read it on my Kindle, I HAD NO IDEA. —Carrie Hill Wilner

Elizabeth: The Life of Elizabeth Taylor, by Alexander Walker. With seven marriages and six ex-husbands under her impossibly cinched belt, it's easy to label Elizabeth Taylor a femme fatale. But this book tells another tale, and one of a woman far more relatable. Underneath the perfect exterior, Liz struggled with vulnerability, insecurity, romantic desperation, and a frightening list of health problems. It's an entertaining read, adding complexity to a woman famous long before TMZ was around to shatter the image. —MacKenzie Lewis

Gryphon, by Charles Baxter. People (including myself) are always saying that Baxter is a writer's writer, which is actually kind of a dismissive comment, in retrospect. Baxter is a writer for everyone, and this new collection of his exquisite short stories (seven new ones, Baxterites!) is a great place to start. It's missing my favourite, "Saul and Patsy are Pregnant," so you should buy A Relative Stranger to fill in the gaps. Don't buy the novel Saul and Patsy, it's not as good. —Nicole Cliffe



224 Comments / Post A Comment

Tulletilsynet

Pulphead, yes. Already gave away two copies or (I fear) three. Anybody who can make me weep over Michael Jackson is a sick genius.

milenakent

Return to innocence... @n

leastimportantperson

I sort of expected No More Nice Girls to read as sort of a relic? It does not. Be prepared though, because you will be dying to read almost every sentence aloud to someone and that gets annoying even if Ellen Willis is right about everything (except Freud).

Decca

@leastimportantperson I am dying to get my hands on this book! It seems awesome.

DrFeelGood

@leastimportantperson I like that when you look it up on amazon, under "customers who bought this item also bought" is a Remington Battery Operated Fabric Shaver...

cuminafterall

@DrFeelGood Read Ellen Willis, make your sweaters pill-less

plonk

YAY!

i realize now that i really like the rare mentions of AHP's students/teaching. and this one is particularly nice.

what are some good books where the city is a character and the city is not new york?

Lucienne

@plonk Love and Longing in Bombay by Vikram Chandra.

Also, the Discworld novels. Also, anything set in Oxford, probably (because Oxford is a bit Like That).

leastimportantperson

@plonk Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil! I think it's good, but that's based on my memories of reading it when I was 18, so. But I'm pretty sure!

thebestjasmine

@plonk Anna and the French Kiss (set in Paris).

Decca

@plonk Iain Sinclair's Lights Out For The Territory: 9 Excursions in the Secret History of London.

alpelican

@plonk Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole.

DrFeelGood

@plonk Palace Walk (Cairo).

MilesofMountains

@plonk China Mieville's Kraken pretty much literally has the city of London as a character/religion.

martini

@MilesofMountains YES. Loved Kraken. Have you read anything else of his? Unsure where to go next.

MilesofMountains

@martini I've read Perdito Street Station and Iron Council. They're both really good, although both weirder than Kraken. I know Perdito Street is widely considered his best book, but I think I liked Iron Council better, personally. Read Perdito Street before the Iron Council if you're going to read them both, since they take place in the same world a few years apart.

halfheartedyoga

@plonk Andre Aciman's Out of Egypt is a memoir of his childhood in Alexandria in the 40s-50s. NEVER has a memoir gripped me like this, and its all about place, a place you can never return to due to your own growth and history itself.

tortietabbie

@MilesofMountains Also Mieville's The City and The City!

SarahP

@plonk Boston isn't quite a character in The Rise of Silas Lapham, but it is so symbolic.

liznieve

@plonk OK, so um, it is about New York? But it contains some of the most gorgeous amalgamations of words in the English language: Colson Whitehead's The Colossus of New York. Like, no, seriously.

roadtrips

@plonk Anything by Raymond Chandler is a great noir-ish experience of Los Angeles.

martini

@MilesofMountains Thank you! I will check them out.

@tortietabbie I saw The City & The City in the store after I'd read Kraken and the back made it seem like it was super serious and wouldn't have any of the nerdy fantasy fun of Kraken -- is this true?

tortietabbie

@martini I haven't read Kraken, so I can't speak to that. But The City and The City is kind of dark, not a lot of fun-having.

laurel

@plonk If it's OK that it's a state instead of a city, I think Joan Didion's Slouching Towards Bethlehem counts.

The Lady of Shalott

Holy shit, I am inappropriately excited to read the new Philippa Gregory. Her awful, awful writing is like crack. I'll probably pick it up before I go on a trip, so I can read it where no one I know will see me reading it.

IT'S TRUE. I literally just handed in an almost-final version of my Master's thesis in history AND I LOVE CRAPPY HISTORICAL ROMANCE. I AM NOT ASHAMED. Philippa Gregory is the best at it. When are we going to have a Hairpin Readers' Club for WIDEACRE?

Jolie Kerr

@The Lady of Shalott I mean, why stop at the Wideacre series? How about an entire book group devoted to incest in literature ("literature")????

Also I'm not ashamed of what I read and I don't hide my damn books and frankly I'm getting sick and tired of the notion that we should hide ANY reading material we find enjoyable. For Christ's sake, what a dumb God damned thing. (That's not directed at you Shalott. Just... something I've seen A LOT of lately and it's really fucking annoying to me.)

The Lady of Shalott

@Jolie Kerr YOU ARE SO RIGHT. The article last week about how ladies are reading porn on their Kindles or whatever, and how they finally feel OK to buy it because no one can see it? On the one hand, I am ALL FOR people buying and reading whatever the hell they want to! On the other hand, wouldn't it be great if they could buy these things and nobody would care one way or another?

I hate having to be careful about what I read because I KNOW that I'll run into someone in my snotty department who will sniff all "Oh, you're reading...THAT" whether "that" is YA fiction or a trashy romance novel or whatever it is, you know? Wouldn't it be awesome if we all just read whatever we wanted and nobody felt the need to hide anything?

Nicole Cliffe

@Jolie Kerr OMIGOD I HAVE TO DO WIDEACRE FOR CLASSIC TRASH. Also, yeah, I have alllll the Phillippa Gregory.

redheaded&crazy

@The Lady of Shalott oh GOD wideacre is a SERIES?!

that's another book I had to stop reading because I do most of my reading on the subway and I was like "WASPY BACKGROUND RISING, FACE BURNING, MUST PUT AWAY"

Xanthophyllippa

@The Lady of Shalott Depending on whether you're doing your MA at a school in the area, I probably know who exactly in your snotty department would say such a thing.

Maghrebi

@The Lady of Shalott No no no! Permanent boycott on Philippa Gregory. She called me a nerd in a room full of people years ago. It was a book launch and actually, she called me a swot, which is British slang for a nerd. She is the worst.
However, I am going to be spending my spring break nursing my sister after her spinal surgery (love ya sis!), so I am going to have TONS of time to sit around and read. On mah list:

Griftopia
Shantaram
Great Granny Webster
The Balkan Trilogy, maybe?

Mingus_Thurber

@Maghrebi I want to hear the story of how you were called a swot by a crazy-ass writer.

Maghrebi

@Mingus_Thurber Ok, but it's kind of a long story. My mother LOVES Dorothy Dunnett and Philippa Gregory wrote a foreword to a reissue of one of her novels, and was giving a talk in Boston to launch the book. She talked about her academic work and said her doctoral thesis was on lending libraries of the 18th century, and mentioned learning what the most popular novel of the 18th century was. My hand shot up and I was like "Was it Clarissa?" That wasn't it. Then I guessed Tom Jones. Nope. Then someone guessed Robinson Crusoe. Wrong. Then I raised my hand again and guessed Tristam Shandy. Nope. Then I guessed Moll Flanders, then Candide. Then someone else guessed Gulliver's Travels. Then I called out Fanny Hill.
Then she gave me the stank eye, put her hands on her hips and said: "You're quite the swot, aren't you?" AND EVERYONE LAUGHED. Except my mother, who said "Did she just call you a slut!?!?!?"

FurCoats&CinemaTropes

@Nicole Cliffe
Yes Yes Yes ALL THE WIDEACRE!

I had the boob-tastic grocery-store pulp novel cover...the 87 version that I'm pretty sure my grandmother handed to me to keep me quiet in church.

slutberry

@The Lady of Shalott I READ SO MUCH YA and I am a LITERATURE major. People are all, "So, who are some of your favourite authors?" And I'm all "SARAH DESSEN!... I mean...ahem... I've been reading a lot of female modernist poets lately, they are so woefully underrepresented in the canon..."

(p.s. AND THAT IS TOTALLY TRUE H.D. is BOSS and most of the modernists were misogynists. Misogynists who wrote beautiful beautiful poems...)

miss buenos aires

@Maghrebi Your story is hilarious, but it is missing a crucial bit of information—what was the most popular novel of the 18th century?! I refuse to Google it.

Maghrebi

@miss buenos aires The answer is ungoogleable. It was....drumroll....Don Quixote.

Verity

@Maghrebi That's so mean of her! You were just being interested and engaged in the conversation.

MissMushkila

@teffodee Me too! YA Fiction foreeeevvvveeerr. Apparently I am just 16 at heart? Oh God.

rocknrollunicorn

@teffodee Oh, do not let other people make you feel like you need to be pretentious. I have a literature degree and I adore YA lit. How do you think we all became big book nerds, originally?

I've been out of my program for almost a decade, and let me tell you, I'm reading a lot more YA lit than I am poetry. Though I kind of do not adore poetry anyway, unless Margaret Atwood wrote it.

Ginger Slap

Their Eyes Were watching God (yes!), Pulphead (yes!) and a big yes for Jonathan Franzen's Freedom. If readers are going to start anywhere on this list, go with Freedom!

tea for all

@Ginger Slap i LOVED freedom. i felt everything esther felt about freedom.

saul "the bear" berenson

@Ginger Slap YES yay Freedom! I have a friend who calls me Patty, and I call him Walter, and this gives me great happiness. Also, sometimes when people talk about having tons of kids, I want to shout "Cancer on the Planet! Cancer on the Planet!" and I restrain myself only because others will, you know, think I'm crazy.

vunder

@Ginger Slap at the risk of being contrary, I didn't like Freedom so much but thought the Corrections was brilliant.

alliepants

@Moxie waiiiit why would you want to be Patty & Walter?? They're miserable! I don't think it's a bad book, but for Christ's sake it's not fun to read AT ALL.

saul "the bear" berenson

@Ginger Slap I know, I know. My pal is verrrry eco-conscious and it's my way of ribbing him about it, and in return he calls me Patty. Plus he's gay and I'm a "lady" (as they say) and we're best friends so we have joked about the two of us being in a fucked up marriage. It feels right in a funny not miserable way, I promise :)

Porn Peddler

The last book that was blow-my-mind awesome was The Once and Future King by TH White. But I am a nerd so...

Spinach Party

@Third Wave Housewife Oh man, I read this when I was 13-going-on14, and I remember appreciating it... but I seriously need to reread it as an adult. Thanks for the reminder!

joie

@Third Wave Housewife yessss. That book. THAT BOOK. so good. It ignited my obsession with all things Arthurian.

Xanthophyllippa

@Third Wave Housewife Can you believe I used to be an early modernist and have never read this? MUST CORRECT IMMEDIATELY.

atipofthehat

@Third Wave Housewife

Also try White's The Goshawk.

Steph

@Third Wave Housewife For me it was the Mists of Avalon that awakened my love of Arthurian mythology. 8 years and one Arthurian Literature college course later and it's still my fave.

lobsterhug

@Steph The Mists of Avalon literally turned me into a pagan Goddess worshiper for a few years.

Charlotte

@Third Wave Housewife Try The Dark is Rising sequence!

Verity

@Charlotte Ooh, yes! They're great books.

Hot Doom

@lobsterhug You too? Glad I'm not the only one! My book of shadows (sigh) has since been converted to a scrapbook for recipes.

pterodactgirl

Ugh. Their Eyes Were Watching God is SO GOOD. For all the reasons AHP notes.

HeyLookAChicken

@pterodactgirl Yes! And best read in the spring, too.

OhMarie

@pterodactgirl Oh I am totally reading this book again. I read it in, I think, 11th grade, and I only remember the 2 most salacious details of the book (one of which is the pear tree orgasm mentioned above).

PistolPackinMama

@pterodactgirl OH yeah. She was... AN ANTHROPOLOGIST!!!!! And did folklore on African American life in the South and she was amazing at that job.

So there is that.

You can find the only known film she made doing fieldwork on YouTube, of some girls playing a schoolyard game.

omgkitties

Adding so many of these to my 'to read' list! (This is perfect - I work with kids and don't get around to much adult lit, though I've been meaning to. That said, some youth recs: When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead, Revolution by Jennifer Donnelly, and Someday This Pain Will be Useful to You by Peter Cameron.)

thebestjasmine

@dearheart When You Reach Me BLEW ME AWAY, and I loved Revolution too, so I will trust you and read that third one!

omgkitties

@thebestjasmine WYRM - right?! So sweet and touching and ahhhhhhhh the ending ahhhhhhh. Fair warning with the last one - it's more than a little teenage angst-y and some people complain that it reminds them of Catcher in the Rye. The writing blew me away, though, and I don't think the main character came off as half the dick that Holden was.

Lucienne

@dearheart Yes yes yes yes Someday This Pain Will Be Useful to You.

null

@dearheart I picked up When You Reach Me for my daughter and started reading it out of curiosity only to get so sucked in that, after my daughter demanded I give her back her book, we ended up reading it at the same time with me looking over her shoulder. Definitely one of my favorite reads from last year.

Jenny Cox

@dearheart My co-counselor and I started reading When You Reach Me to our boys at summer camp last year! We got so sucked in we continued to read it out loud to each other long after the kids went to bed...! I was kind of glad they fell asleep though. I think they were too young for it, and that parts of it hit a little too close to home, as they were homeless and foster kids from NYC.

Jenny Cox

@jenny_ Well, too close to home for me I guess, thinking about their situations? The kids were excited to know the street names.

Lucienne

I've been saying "blah blah blah, so." for ages but haven't read Freedom. Does this make me a Jonathan Franzen character? I thought it was just a "Millennial" verbal tic, so.

martini

@Lucienne Me too, so. :(

Lucienne

@martini We should demand our share of the royalties.

amuselouche

Charles Baxter! I am actually not a big re-reader of books, even if I love them. But I go back to his work again and again and again. Guaranteed to break your heart in the best possible way. Re-incarnation is one of my favorites.

cuminafterall

I am reading Break of Day by Colette right now and it is sooooo goooooood.

Lucienne

@cuminafterall If you haven't already read Secrets of the Flesh, you should read that next. It is probably the best biography ever written. Accept no substitutes.

elysian fields

This list is so cool, but grad school is ruining books for me. All books, seriously, even "pleasure reading." At a certain point in the day, I can no longer look at words printed on a page. Can't do it. I swear to God, with every additional year of school, I've read less and less and watched more and more TV.

cliuless

@elysian fields RIGHT? i'm not even in grad school and reading is ruined for me. as soon as Jane mentioned "picture book" i perked right up.

elysian fields

@cliuless slate.com once published a list of "Top 25 Bushisms" (i.e. George W.'s most embarrassingly mangled turns of phrase), and I'll never forget this one: "One of the great things about books is sometimes there are some fantastic pictures." You know what? Those are some true mother fucking facts! SOMETIMES PICTURES ARE THE BEST PART OF BOOKS!

cliuless

@elysian fields the best part is when pictures show up in your school reading. every time there's a visual i fist pump because that's another half page of not-reading!

MilesofMountains

@elysian fields I pretty much gave up reading for pleasure during grad school, and it took me like a year of trashy romance novels before I was "rehabilitated" enough to read other kinds of books.

florabora

@elysian fields I'm in my last year of college and I feel like I have more time than in high school but somehow I read so much less/more slowly. And not just because I'm reading slightly fewer YA books than before. (I am totally going to read a Judy Blume book next.)

FurCoats&CinemaTropes

@MilesofMountains
I feel like the key to this is maybe ONLY reading YA books for pleasure?

I put them on my kindle for when I can't handle anymore goddamn German Media Theory.

carro

@elysian fields I had to create an account to say "I feel ya" to this comment. Last semester I was SO EXCITED to finish my M.A. because it meant I would actually get to read stuff that I wanted to (= fiction) again. Now that I'm about to finish, all I want to do is maybe plant some flowers, do some math problems, play the piano, sleep for a week, and NEVER EVER EVER read or write another word. Sad state of affairs for a former English major.

oh, disaster

Born Standing Up and Assassination Vacation are two of my favorites too. High five, Emily Panic!

charmcity

I just finished "The Art of Fielding," and really really liked it. Even though it was super-hyped, and is about baseball, and set at a college, and the main characters are mostly dudes -- I just ENJOYED it. If you like Franzen (aka big character-driven gossipy awesome novels about FEELINGS) you'll probably like it, although it is definitely less mean.

vunder

@charmcity I'm about a third of the way through Art of Fielding and very much enjoying it.

AndSomethingElse

I don't like comedians or autobiographies but I still liked Born Standing Up. Way better than I expected it to be.

Dug Poisoner's Handbook too.

I'm covering dystopias this spring, whee! We by Eugene Zamyatin (you should read this! It is great!), Brave New World (good), Anthem (SO BAD I HATE IT SO MUCH), and 1984 is next. The three latter books all ripped off We to varying degrees.

AndSomethingElse

I have a crush on Sarah Vowell, but her writing doesn't quite do it for me.

KellyStitzel

I need to get back to reading fiction this year. I think all I've been reading the past few years is non-fiction and memoir.

That said, I just finished I WANT MY MTV: THE UNCENSORED STORY OF THE MUSIC VIDEO REVOLUTION and I can't recommend it enough. It's 600 pages, and you'll probably be stopping every five minutes to look up videos on YouTube, but it's the perfect spring (probably into summer) read.

Decca

At the moment I'm reading Rushdie's Midnight's Children and resenting every word. Magical realism just annoys the crap out of me. Unfortunately it's for a class. Double unfortunately, it's a bazillion pages long.

Decca

@Decca But to cheer myself up, and in honour of the vernal equinox, I've been rereading some of my favourite poems about spring.

Spring and All [By the road to the contagious hospital] by William Carlos Williams

By the road to the contagious hospital
under the surge of the blue
mottled clouds driven from the
northeast-a cold wind. Beyond, the
waste of broad, muddy fields
brown with dried weeds, standing and fallen

patches of standing water
the scattering of tall trees

All along the road the reddish
purplish, forked, upstanding, twiggy
stuff of bushes and small trees
with dead, brown leaves under them
leafless vines-

Lifeless in appearance, sluggish
dazed spring approaches-

They enter the new world naked,
cold, uncertain of all
save that they enter. All about them
the cold, familiar wind-

Now the grass, tomorrow
the stiff curl of wildcarrot leaf
One by one objects are defined-
It quickens: clarity, outline of leaf

But now the stark dignity of
entrance-Still, the profound change
has come upon them: rooted, they
grip down and begin to awaken

Spring, by Gerard Manley Hopkins

Nothing is so beautiful as spring—
When weeds, in wheels, shoot long and lovely and lush;
Thrush’s eggs look little low heavens, and thrush
Through the echoing timber does so rinse and wring
The ear, it strikes like lightnings to hear him sing; 5
The glassy peartree leaves and blooms, they brush
The descending blue; that blue is all in a rush
With richness; the racing lambs too have fair their fling.

What is all this juice and all this joy?
A strain of the earth’s sweet being in the beginning 10
In Eden garden.—Have, get, before it cloy,
Before it cloud, Christ, lord, and sour with sinning,
Innocent mind and Mayday in girl and boy,
Most, O maid’s child, thy choice and worthy the winning

charmcity

@Decca FUCK YEAH SPRING POEMS! brb off to read every mary oliver poem ever

joie

@Decca What would the world be / once bereft of wet and wildness? / let them be left, oh let them be left, wildness and wet. / long live the weeds and the wilderness yet.

Decca

@heyits Glory be to God for dappled things...

God, I love Hopkins.

pterodactgirl

@Decca Screw Midnight's Children. (And magical realism in general.) Best of the Booker MY ASS.

PistolPackinMama

@pterodactgirl Oh, but Mama Day!

joie

@Decca for rose-moles all in stipple on trout that swim...

Yes, agreed. Hopkins is wonderful .

Decca

@heyits Hopkins scholars are an odd bunch, though. When I was 18 I ended up at the Gerard Manley Hopkins week-long summer school. A very bizarre set of people!

joie

@Decca was this summer school the famous one at Pendle Hill in Pennsylvania? the possibility that there is more than one Gerard Manley Hopkins summer school makes me happy. And...I can imagine Hopkins scholars are strange. I'm picturing a lot of geeking out over sprung rhythm and latent homoeroticism.

Decca

@heyits There must be (at least) two then! This was in Mullingar, in Ireland, where he spent a good bit of time.

Speaking of cake, I have cake

@Decca I met this slightly bonkers (and not very good) poet years ago in Galway who was obsessed with the GMH summer school in Mullingar and kept trying to make people attend it. So that turned me off Hopkins for years, but I loved what I just read, so he's been rehabilitated in my brain!

thebestjasmine

The Secret Garden is always fun to reread in the spring. Though, every year, I hate Colin more and more, and want to find a way to excise him from the story.

I recommended this in the Timeline post earlier today, but The Fault in Our Stars by John Green is the most recent Wow book that I read, but it might make you cry. And also, I adored The Night Circus.

oh, disaster

@thebestjasmine I just came across my childhood copy of The Secret Garden and rereading it was the best Sunday afternoon. <3 Dickon.

Mad as a Hatter!

@thebestjasmine I second your Night Circus rec. That book was FANTASTIC.

Tam
Tam

@thebestjasmine The Fault in Our Stars is amazing! I truly enjoyed it. Though it does make you feel all the feelings.

Speaking of cake, I have cake

@thebestjasmine Colin needs to be burned with fire

Jenn@twitter

Yes to The Poisoner's Handbook! :D It and Elements of Murder are the two chemistry-related books I recommend to students wanting to read something other than The Disappearing Spoon.

mlle.gateau

The Poisoners Handbook is so good! If you get on a tear about early twentieth century medicine, I also recommend The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks and The Great Influenza (which is awesome unless you have the sniffles).

Flora Poste

I have BOTH Their Eyes Were Watching God AND Woolgathering sitting on my shelf unread! This might just be the inspiration I need, as I haven't read TEWWG for precisely the reasons AHP outlined above. Also I now think I might save Woolgathering for al fresco summer reading times- it's light enough to hold in one hand, leaving the other free for pimms/g&t etc and a creative and fancy free summer sounds peeeerfect.

florabora

@Flora Poste girl, is that your real name? I'm a Flora too and have met exactly one other one in my life, who was a 70+yo woman teaching art at my day camp when I was 8.

Flora Poste

@florabora Ah, sorry no it isn't! I kind of wish it was though, I think it's a lovely name. It comes from Cold Comfort Farm, which I would recommend to anyone (mad old aunts! cows with funny names!)

travelmugs

@Flora Poste I recognize your name from another forum, and this makes me happy!

florabora

@Flora Poste Oooh, I so should have recognized that.

alpelican

I just loaded more Charles Portis onto the Kindle in advance of an upcoming trip. Portis is hilarious. The Dog of the South might be one of the funnier books I've ever read. Southern writers!

tea for all

Behind the Beautiful Forevers, Katherine Boo. (<-- TOP rec)
The Haunting of Hill House, Shirley Jackson.
Cain, Jose Saramago.
State of Wonder, Ann Patchett.
Anything by Rohinton Mistry.

thebestjasmine

@tea for all Ahh, I really really want to read Behind the Beautiful Forevers, but it's going to make me cry and cry and feel hopeless about the world, right?

tea for all

@thebestjasmine you know, i wouldn't say that. however i am one to read books that i know will make me feel hopeless about the world. the injustices are numerous and depressing, that's true. but the writing is so, so good, and i think books that make you ask questions - even questions like "what do we do about rampant corruption, wherever and whoever we are?" - are usually worthwhile.

Megasus

My reading list is huuuuuggge but I am currently reading Blood Red Road, which is SUPPOSED to be like, the NEXT Hunger Games. And I am not very far but it is actually better written.

Canard

@Megan Patterson@facebook Ooh! I have not heard of this particular next Hunger Games and must check it out immediately. The Knife of Never Letting Go was pitched to me that way (and is indeed better written and more original), but it didn't quite hit the spot, though I enjoyed it.

camanda

I've read some of Zora Neale Hurston's nonfiction (thanks, literary theory class!) and loved it, and need to read Their Eyes Were Watching God, and I have failed on this count because I already own a ton of books I haven't read yet. I can probably find room in the day for it, though, if I try hard enough.

Currently I am trying to finish Ben Goldacre's Bad Science: Quacks, Hacks, and Big Pharma Flacks, which is the greatest thing ever. Highly recommended.

DrFeelGood

So if you hated The Corrections, would you also hate Freedom? I'm asking for a friend. Oddly enough, I have really enjoyed all of his New Yorker essays, but The Corrections was just too weird/depressing.

Esther C. Werdiger

@DrFeelGood I will say that Freedom is less about death and aging and more about love, I guess?

saul "the bear" berenson

@DrFeelGood I read and loooved Freedom so went straight to the Corrections, which I didn't love at all (except for the Denise parts). But I also felt kind of wronged by The Corrections, as though the book had dropped a huge bomb on me with the whole Parkinson's part of the story. My dad had just been diagnosed when I started reading it. I didn't know it was part of the story, and I wasn't ready to go there, but then I'd already started the book and how bad could it get? Oh, rather bad.

alpelican

@Esther C. Werdiger And more about birds, definitely.

Esther C. Werdiger

@alpelican haha, yes! But y'know, that's a Franzen thing; he creates these really fully formed characters with interests and obsessions and everything. Ugh and I forgot to mention that he actually writes good female characters. Important.

DrFeelGood

@Esther C. Werdiger Good to know. Maybe I'll pick it up eventually, thanks!

DrFeelGood

@Moxie Yea I think that's the part I couldn't deal with - the parkinson's/dementia angle hit wayy too close to home for me, plus the daughter that was brutally murdered? I think I ended it somewhere on the cruise ship, I just couldn't handle it at all.

vunder

@DrFeelGood In my big dumb opinion, Freedom is less mean, less true, and less good than The Corrections. So someone who hated the Corrections might prefer Freedom, but that someone is not me, so it might not help.

dtowngirl

I just re-read "Assassination Vacation"--great book. "Their Eyes Were Watching God"--yes! Has anyone read Jeanette Winterson's autobiography yet? I think it's called "Why Be Happy When You Can Be Normal." That's next, I think.

redonion

@dtowngirl Ahhh! I bought it yesterday and I am so excited to read it. I feel like I have to wait until I can sit and give it my full attention though, so I might wait until I am on vacation in April or until I just decide to take a day off and read. I have a feeling it's just going to make me want to re-read all of her books again.

Verity

@dtowngirl Yes, I have! My mum got it for me for Christmas. It's great - I loved it.

BosomBuddy

This post reminds me that I need to read more non-academic things. It also reminds me that getting around to reading such things is highly unlikely in the near future. If I'm being really honest with myself, that is never, with sporadic bursts of productivity in the summer. I'm having trouble getting through Game of Thrones right now.

However, I loved reading this and am wishlisting some of these right now. Especially the medieval smut! I did not know this existed!

Jolie Kerr

@BosomBuddy Come sit by me. (I'm reading Game of Thrones right now too!!!!)

Nicole Cliffe

@Jolie Kerr Me three. Team Dany!

BosomBuddy

@Nicole Cliffe I'm over half way through right now, but, mygod, I never thought this kind of book (and I've read tons of 'this type' in high school) would take me SO. LONG. I think I read Middlemarch at a quicker pace.

I don't have a Team _____, yet, which I think is part of the problem. I need someone to help me get through the "Ned and his PROBLEMZ" chapters. There hasn't been enough Dany! I like Arya, but I feel like that's expected.

Nicole Cliffe

@BosomBuddy Yeah, Arya is Mary Sue for most of us. <3 u, Arya!

frigwiggin

Iiiiiiii am currently reading (because everyone cares) The Hero and the Crown, by Robin McKinley! It's giving me somewhat-flashbacks to Deerskin without the sexual assault, but I am enjoying it and loving Aerin. I'll have to give The Blue Sword another go afterward, because it was originally the first McKinley I picked up, and, I dunno, I wasn't super compelled to read more than forty pages? But I really dug Chalice and Deerskin and am digging The Hero and the Crown, so. (So! So! So!)

And then I will be reading a nonfiction book about test-tube babies in Egypt that my anthro-grad-student friend lent me, because I just read what felt like a huge rash of historical fiction that gave me the skeeves about medieval medical practice and I need something different.

frigwiggin

@figwiggin And thennnn I'm going to get a copy of Children of the Company because it's been a few months since I read a Company novel and our library doesn't have that one. (P.S. ANYBODY who likes science-fiction, read The Company series by Kage Baker! She died a few years ago, which means we're not getting any more, which makes me terribly sad, but they are so excellent and underappreciated and the core concept is time-traveling immortal cyborgs! And they're both plot- and character-driven and have basically everything I want in a science-fiction series. So good. So so so good.)

pterodactgirl

@figwiggin I loved The Hero and the Crown, but I am weirdly not remembering the sexual assault? Certainly nothing as emotionally scarring as Deerskin... I do remember thinking it was better than The Blue Sword, although I liked both. And I really LOVED Beauty. I stopped reading McKinley after her style underwent such a weird evolution in the 90's. Her heroines sort of stopped being spunky and fun and got more bland and verbose and overwritten.

Aaaaand I just realized you said WITHOUT the sexual assault. My world makes sense again now.

frigwiggin

@pterodactgirl Yes, without! I mean, after Aerin's confrontation with Maur, when she's wounded and dragging herself around, and then becomes whole again gave me super-pangs of Deerskin. Which isn't a bad thing!

I haven't read enough of her work to track a change in characters, but for the record I thought Chalice was pretty great. Mirasol isn't a dragon-killer or anything but I liked her weird brand of inner strength.

Lorelei@twitter

@figwiggin sooooo I read a fair amount of fantasy, but never any Robin McKinley for...no reason in particular. I am in sort of this awkward place, taste-wise where most "literary" fiction puts me to sleep but too many genre writers are just stylistically really painful for me to read. Plus also sexism and clueless white privilege. Should I give Robin McKinley a try?

For reference in terms of what I will put up with style-wise, I like Kage Baker a lot, I cannot reread Mercedes Lackey at all despite in principle still liking many of the things she does in her books, and Tamora Pierce gets a little dicey when I've been, say, reading all the Circle of Magic books in the course of a week and she explains yet again that a character saying "kid" is "using street slang where the word for a baby goat means a child." UGGGH if you want your fantasy characters to use American slang just fucking commit to it. This thrown-in over-explanation is awful.

If everyone everywhere could just be Ursula K. LeGuin that would make it so much easier for me to find books to read, thx.

frigwiggin

@Lorelei@twitter I think you should! Maybe don't start with The Blue Sword? Her writing falls somewhere between functional and flowery--she definitely has a particular her-ness to her writing that I'm still trying to quantify, and I think part of it is a certain kind of introspectiveness on the part of the characters. She tends to write shy, socially-awkward characters (at least in the books I listed above), and major physical or mental trauma isn't uncommon (again, in the ones I've read). I'd recommend Deerskin if you can handle traumatic/triggering scenes of incestuous sexual assault. If not, try The Hero and the Crown. Chalice is a bit quieter than those two, and you don't get a lot of infodump about the world in which the story takes place, and bees feature prominently.

TheCheesemanCometh

@figwiggin Yay to reading Hero and the Blue Sword!! And I'm pretty sure I've said this somewhere else (because I repeat myself endlessly) BUT, you might also want to try Beauty. I think there's more than one version, and the one I have and love maybe even more than any of the others was written in, I believe, 1978ish. Beauty (the character) is amazeballs.

Canard

@TheCheesemanCometh The other version of Beauty is called Rose Daughter. It's lovely and lyrical, but Beauty is much better.

Nobody ever talks about her Robin Hood book, The Outlaws of Sherwood, but it is also awesome!

Lucienne

@Lorelei@twitter I'd also recommend Patricia McKillip. Her books from amazing to merely charming (but that's all right with me). My favorite is Song for the Basilisk, but she's best known for The Riddle-Master of Hed and the two books that follow. They are sort of LOTR-riffs, but in the best way. Her style is lyrical and impressionistic, not as hard-edged as Leguin's. Sort of like a grown up Susan Cooper, I guess?

@Canard I love Outlaws of Sherwood! It was just realistic enough, you know? While still being a fantasy. The characters are really great in that one. I also liked Spindle's End a lot. (Unpopular opinion: WTF was Sunshine.)

Nicole Cliffe

@Lucienne Riddle-Master!! Also, you have referenced Le Guin and Cooper, so we can be friends.

Lucienne

@Nicole Cliffe I have this deep hope inside me that HBO will choose Riddle-Master for their next Big Fantasy Series.

Jessica Chastain's big now! She would be a great fit for the Second Most Beautiful Woman in the Three Portions on An.

Lorelei@twitter

@figwiggin cool! I'm fine with infodumps generally, as long as they are not terribly overwritten and the world-building is interesting. And some trauma is fine as long as I'm not listening to an audiobook and it's not like, bad things need to happen to a woman? time for another rape!! Anyway I've put Chalice on my list

@lucienne oh, Patricia McKillip is another of those names I've been seeing on shelves forever but never read. I swear when I see an author everywhere, either I read one of their books right away or I get more and more resistant to reading them based on no foundation whatsoever. And I adore Susan Cooper (can we talk about how heartbreaking the Dark is Rising movie travesty was?), so clearly I need to give this lady a try.

pterodactgirl

@Lorelei@twitter "If everyone everywhere could just be Ursula K. LeGuin that would make it so much easier for me to find books to read, thx." AGREED. I second the McKillip recommendations. My favorite was The Forgotten Beasts of Eld, although it's been ages since I've read it. Things to bring home with me the next time I visit my parents....

@figwiggin I haven't actually read Chalice or her last few books, so they may be different, but I remember being really disappointed in Rose Daughter and Spindle's End, and Deerskin wasn't a favorite either (definitely at least partially a reaction to the rape though.) I sort of felt like she was trying to imitate Patricia McKillip by going in a more lyrical "high fantasy" direction, but not really pulling it off. I liked the early books more, and will need to look for The Outlaws of Sherwood!

aubrey!

@Lorelei@twitter I second all the recommendations and would like to add Caroline Stevermer. When the King Comes Home is a good place to start. Also, if you haven't read any Ellen Kushner, go read The Privilege of the Sword now. It is worth it. Oh, and Connie Willis!
And Lois McMaster Bujold. Her Vorkosigan Saga is sci-fi, but super good and ridiculously addictive.

Lorelei@twitter

@aubrey! I definitely read a lot of sci-fi too, and Bujold is second only to LeGuin in my heart, though in a different way. Connie Willis is also excellent, so clearly I can trust your other recommendations to be quality!

Oh man, so many new books. Time to go put in a bunch of holds at the library. Thanks everyone!

Lucienne

@Lorelei@twitter McKillip has like 20 books, so you might want to start with something that resonates with an interest or theme you already like. So if you like fantasy of manners, there are a bunch of books to try, and if you like music there are some other books, and if you want something riffing on fairy tales then try one of those. The fairy tale books are never flat-out retellings, though. OR you could just pick whichever has the most appealing cover. I think that is a totally legit method.

siniichulok

@Lorelei@twitter Robin McKinley has also written a vampire-themed urban fantasy, Sunshine. I usually don't like vampire-themed urban fantasy much, but I like this one (the heroine is a shy, surly baker in what seems to be post-apocalyptic America, the vampire is not conventionally handsome and does not sparkle). I usually feel compelled to bake something after I read it, though.

frigwiggin

@Lorelei@twitter I know everyone is trying to get the last word in here about fantasy (gonna look me up some McKillip when there's a breather in my TBR pile--oh wait, hahaha), but also, if anybody hasn't read her, give Shannon Hale a try! My favorite is Book of a Thousand Days because I'm crazy about non-European fantasy novels, but the Bayern books are also great, particularly The Goose Girl and Enna Burning.

Verity

@aubrey! Yes to both Bujold and Willis! (I just finished reading All Clear - oh, Sir Godfrey, why are you breaking my heart?) I adore To Say Nothing of the Dog (cats! Lord Peter Wimsey! Humour! Oxford! Time travel! There is nothing there that's not awesome), but my heart belongs to Bujold. All 'Pinners who haven't read her, go and do so at once! (Um. I have a lot of feelings.)

Elsajeni

@Canard The Outlaws of Sherwood has a girl who dresses up as a boy in it! If, um, anybody besides me is particularly attached to that trope in YA lit. (I read The Hero and the Crown about 900 times when I was in middle school, then stumbled across Outlaws of Sherwood and read that a million times, and literally did not realize for years that they were by the same author.)

joie

does poetry count as reading a book? Because I found this absolutely gorgeous edition of Shelley's collected poems last night at the bookstore and I think I'm going to take a break from Art and Lies to read it. This edition was printed in 1904! I bought it for $8.50! I love old books.

Decca

@heyits "Poetry is the supreme faction, madame"

MilesofMountains

I recently read Micheal Crummey's Galore and it was so so good. It drags a bit at the end, but I think that's part of the point. Magical realism and small-town multi-generational drama, yay!

plonk

since steve martin is on this list, i will also recommend "shopgirl"--it was surprisingly lovely and sensitive, and it was the first time i'd ever read a story about a young woman who is clinically depressed where it's not written as a manifestation of social/cultural problems, but just as a thing that she manages, sometimes better than others.

oh, disaster

@plonk I agree, I thought Shopgirl was a great little book.

PistolPackinMama

I am swamped by bad student writing at the mo, which why I am still on Kim. But am looking forward to perusing the recs here. Because yay reading!

Xanthophyllippa

@PistolPackinMama You too, huh? For me, it's 59 technical proposals. At least none of them are about concrete.

Diana

1) FOOL'S GOLD IS FUCKING AWESOME. Why isn't it getting more press? I had to read that when I was doing a senior thesis on the financial crisis of 2008 and that is still the single best explanation of the foundations of the crash I've ever read. It should be required reading. When people want to understand the kinds of things going on in the market, they need to start with that book. It's brilliant.

2) Their Eyes Were Watching God was one of the most beautiful books I've ever read in my life and I kicked myself for putting it off for so long. I particularly recommend it to folks who enjoy delicious, beautifully constructed prose. So surprisingly enough I recommend it to folks who enjoy authors like Fitzgerald and Marilynne Robinson. Ooh and Willa Cather.

After a long winter of nothing but 19th and early 20th century fiction kicked off that post about Villette I finally lost my taste for it after attempting to read Henry James and then Edith Wharton. Now I'm giving my brain a little break and reading Storm of Swords and The Hunger Games. The Hunger Games trilogy is egregiously awful writing but the story line is brilliant, so I think it's one of those rare examples where the movie will turn out to be far superior to the book. I think Jennifer Lawrence is going to be an awesome Katniss because she was so excellent in Winter's Bone.

RANDOM EXCELLENT BOOKS I READ RECENTLY:

- The United States of Arugula by David Kamp: awesome history of gourmet food in America, and optimistic for those of us who grow sad at the thought of McFood reaching its tentacles into the country. And Julia Child has always been the best forever and ever, rest in peace girl.
- October '64 by David Halberstam and The Soul of Baseball: On The Road with Buck O'Neil by Joe Posnanski: because it's almost baseball season and I am so excited. These two books are also great for people who DON'T care about baseball.
- Everything by Willa Fucking Cather. She is one of the most underrated authors produced by the United States.
- It's spring you guys! Go read some poetry by Mary Oliver!

My own spring reading list:
- finish the Hunger Games Trilogy
- tell me more amazing books about food! I checked out some M.F.K. Fisher but what I really want are more wonderful histories of food! What do you guys recommend? (Lizzie Collingham's Curry is excellent and Alistair Horne's Seven Ages of Paris and La Belle France have great histories of French foods)
- Mountains Beyond Mountains by Tracy Kidder
- Island of Vice by Richard Zacks (<3 U TEDDIE)
- Blood, Bones & Butter by Gabrielle Hamilton
- Cod by Mark Kurlansky
- And A Bottle of Rum by Wayne Curtis

If you guys couldn't tell, I'm really into food right now.

Ellie

I'm reading Demons right now. I've never read it before and I am in love with it. It's so good. I recommend it to everyone, it is seriously so fantastic (and weird and funny). Otherwise I'm reading a ton of stuff for my Holocaust class. My favorite thing I read for it is "Into That Darkness" by Gitta Sereny, definitely one of the best Holocaust books (it's based on interviews with the commandant of Sobibor and Treblinka).

I heard the interview with Pamela Druckerman on On Point and honestly she really pissed me off, even though I'll probably check out the book. I am so, so, SO sick of hearing about how French people do everything better and Americans are too self-indulgent. Not better, just different.

Loz
Loz

Thank god there will be a summer list. The worst part about being in school is no pleasure reading. I suppose I could stop watching shows I hate every week to make time but noooo I can't.

BosomBuddy

@Loz I'm with you. Unfortunately for me and the society of the future that might be populated by the offspring of a trash-loving parent, on most nights I would prefer Real Housewives of Whatever vs. books.

Nicole Cliffe

I really liked Freedom too. I read it in one go, and almost gave myself a series of bladder infections.

highfivesforall

Every time I see lists like this my first and sometimes only reaction is OH MY GOD THERE ARE SO MANY BOOKS I HAVE NEVER EVEN HEARD OF HOW DID THIS HAPPEN HOW DID I LET THIS HAPPEN I AM DOOMED and then I run and hide away where the books can't find me and sternly tell me that I should be ashamed of myself for not reading every single one of them

Pela

@highfivesforall Aaaaagh yes. Although I also like to spend time adding all these things to Amazon so someday I won't have to google for "that list of books on the internet that everyone liked"

It's soooo much better if I do it when I'm supposed to be studying for my final... (*cough*tomorrowat8AMomg*cough*)

Steph

@highfivesforall Sometimes I get seriously stressed about the amount of books I still need to read in the world and the fact that I only have like 70 more years to get through them all (if I'm lucky).

Lucienne

@Steph When the singularity arrives, we won't have to worry about this!

aubrey!

@highfivesforall My "to read" list on Shelfari is over 200 now. Aaaand I still have 20 books from the library that I need to read.

highfivesforall

@Lucienne Oh god, I can't wait!

Verity

@highfivesforall Argh, me too. Reading is basically all I do, and my favourite thing ever, and I have an English degree (which, admittedly, means nothing, because I mainly did Old and Middle English, and novels more modern than the Victorian period never crossed my path), but I have read none of these and heard of so few. What is wrong with me?

pedgehog

I read Freedom with my book club months and months ago, we had an epic four hour discussion, and I honestly still don't know if I liked it or not. That's all I know about that.

MilesofMountains

Also, I will sit alone here with my dislike of Freedom. I was about two thirds of the way through when it had to go back to the library, and I didn't really care enough to get it out again. The female characters were these shallow man-obsessed stereotypes and I got so sick of hearing these boring people whine about their boring problems while being wholely unpleasant to one another. Did he manage some fantastic turnaround in the last third that's the reason people love it so much?

vunder

@MilesofMountains ha, no, the last third is the WORST PART. I actually like the hateful stuff Franzen does, but I don't think he does women very well.

miss buenos aires

@MilesofMountains I liked Patty but the idea that EVERY character was delicious did not ring true for me given that there are two characters whose only purpose is to unconditionally love and nurture the father and son of the family. Yuck.

MilesofMountains

@miss buenos aires Ugh, the girl who almost literally shuts down when her boyfriend isn't around, standing and staring blankly at his house until he comes back. Gross.

alliepants

@MilesofMountains Ugh that book. I just think Franzen is a really miserable sadistic man. Why else would you put readers through something like that?

alliepants

@miss buenos aires I liked Patty too, which is a big reason the book really left me with a bad taste in my mouth. Really it was just depressed people making other people depressed... I don't understand how you can get anything worthwhile out of that, you know? Of course I like my books to help me cope with the world, which is not always what they're meant to do.

thebestjasmine

Diana, this is for you (the page is wonky and won't let me reply to you). Salt, by Mark Kurlansky is awesome, and is all about food and the history of food and it's crazy great. I want to read Cod and The Big Oyster too. I read Blood Bones & Butter, and loved parts of it and hated others, but it's really worth reading. Michael Ruhlman's The Making/Reach/Soul of a Chef books are all fantastic. As Always, Julia is a collection of letters between Julia Child and a friend of hers while she was learning to cook and writing Mastering, and it's fun but desperately needed an editor. Heat by Bill Buford is awesome, as are all of Ruth Reichl's books (though some of them are a little too full of drama, but still fun reads, the last one about her as the NYT reviewer is the best one). Oh, and I really liked Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver, even though it gets kind of preachy.

thebestjasmine

@thebestjasmine Oh, and this is fiction, but The Last Chinese Chef is all about food and is a super great novel.

beanie

I read Innocent Spouse: A Memoir by Carol Ross Joynt and think other Hairpinners would like it. It came out last spring, and it is about the author dealing with the debt her husband left her with after she died. She was a journalist in D.C. so she obviously is smart, but was oblivious to the debt that she was in and it is fascinating. However, I did have a hard time sympathizing with her at times when she wanted to keep her super upper-class lifestyle.

http://www.amazon.com/Innocent-Spouse-Carol-Ross-Joynt/dp/030759209X/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1332285178&sr=1-1

Also, writing that just made me feel like I was on grown-up Reading Rainbow.

Nina B.@twitter

I'm so glad this post exists! The weather is so amazing right now, that all I want to do is read outside and sip an iced coffee. (Yum.)

I just read Day of Honey, an amazing book that traces the author's experiences as a reporter in the Middle East through food. (The food descriptions slay me. I was hungry after every chapter.) It's wonderfully interesting because she is a Midwestern native married to a Lebanese man. Reading about her experiences as she lived in that region was so interesting, because she gives the reader multiple perspectives. Plus, it's great for people who like a bit of current events in their reading (it touches on the Iraq war and the Hezbollah uprising in Lebanon from 2005). Check it out!

DID YOU LIKE HUNGER GAMES? READ DIVERGENT RIGHT NOW. So fucking good. I really love these kinds of dystopic future novels.

paper bag princess

@Nina B.@twitter Yes!!! I was coming down to rec Divergent. I blasted through it in one day because I couldn't put it down, and I think I'm going to read it again now. The sequel is coming out in a few months, I can't wait!

FurCoats&CinemaTropes

@Nina B.@twitter

Yes Yes Yes!

Divergent is what I recommend to people when they ask me about Hunger Games.

MissMushkila

@FurCoats&CinemaTropes Okay I loved the hunger games, but I started reading the first part of Divergent on google books, and it didn't seem nearly as well written? But it is what everyone keeps telling me to read who liked the hunger games so... I would just read it except first I have to buy it and it is 10 dollars on google and just about as much if I amazon order it used. (And yes I have to buy it, I owe the library too much money from childhood to check anything out)

Nina B.@twitter

Also, we just read Barbara Pym's Excellent Women for my humor class recently. I really enjoyed the stream of consciousness of Mildred Lathbury, who is acerbic and funny. It's really interesting to compare what she thinks to what she says out loud. It takes place in the 1950s, but the style of writing makes it seem like it could be even earlier. If you're looking for Bridget Jones-esque novel about slightly repressed Excellent Women, this would be it.

camanda

@Diana For some reason the comments won't let me reply directly to you, but I wanted to say that I loved, loved, LOVED October 1964 and am so excited to see I wasn't the only one. I am a huge Halberstam fan and that is by far the best of his sports books, if not all of them.

The Soul of Baseball is also unequivocally excellent.

Favorite baseball book is Jane Leavy's biography of Sandy Koufax. Part social history, part game log, part biography, tied together by my all-time favorite Dodger. It wasn't as tightly edited as it should have been, but that's really a minor quibble.

Nicole Cliffe

Everyone, our next Classic Trash is The Secret History, dropping tomorrow, so now is your chance to read it again and talk about it!

anachronistique

@Nicole Cliffe I refute the classification of this as "trash", but OMG ONE OF MY FAAAAAAAAVORITES. Even if it gives us classics majors a bad name.

pterodactgirl

@Nicole Cliffe I am so excited for this.

miss buenos aires

@Nicole Cliffe This is trash? I had no idea!

ELECTROMAGNETIC CHAOS

SNARK ON

Someone convince me that Hunger Games is anything more than a weak pastiche of 'In the future or something, rich people make poor people compete in brutal olympics, what does that say about humanity, blah blah blah' tales, that has already been portrayed in films like Battle Royale and Running Man, and in probably a dozen excellent short stories from Asimov and Bradbury.

Mad as a Hatter!

@Too Much Internet The Hunger Games is probably just what you think, BUT it was a good fun read as well.

Mingus_Thurber

@Too Much Internet Y'know, the thing I liked best about THG is that the main character isn't immediately likeable. She's a normal person who grew up in what's basically a prison camp. She's not nice, she's not pretty, she's not even especially talented, except in things (like bow-hunting) that she's practiced for years. The things that happen to her--her reactions to violence, f'rinstance--ring truer than they would had she been a perfect person. She changes, gets more irritable and less stable, over the course of the series, and by the end, you get the sense that she's an irreparably damaged person who's just trying to make the best of things.

The writing is much less poetic and more detailed than Bradbury; it's the difference between hearing an epic poem about a battle and having it slap you in the face. And she's more real than *any* of Asimov's characters: she fucks up royally more than once, has to backtrack, and has actual emotions.

All that said, it took me less than two days to get through all three books, so it's not like it's a thoughtful slog through artwork of monumental beauty. But I *am* re-reading the series, slowly, paying attention to characterization this time.

Lucienne

@Mingus_Thurber My favorite thing about THG (I've only read the first two) is that Katniss is a mess. Like, really. And also how reluctant she is. Her inner monologue is like, "I really don't want to, though, ugh, okay, I guess I have to if I want to retain any self-respect."

I don't know if anyone here read Lloyd Alexander's Westmark trilogy, but they have the same fallible heroes + revolution + lots of death thrust as THG.

tortietabbie

@Mingus_Thurber I think you've summed up why I love THG really well here. Katniss isn't your typical heroine who is super special and extraordinary and has lots of amazing skillz and always says/does the right thing without waffling. Plus the character development, ho boy! Katniss on p. 1 of THG and Katniss on the last page of Mockingjay are worlds apart.

I liked Battle Royale as a very bloody, very entertaining, look at how people respond to violence but it's really not fair to compare it to the Hunger Games books.

siniichulok

@tortietabbie In that vein, I also love how Katniss is not the typical lone special snowflake heroine in a crowd of hot guys. She has female friends and colleagues and respects their qualities. And I also like how even though she's a bit emotionally clueless herself (and knows it), she still appreciates the more emotionally savvy people around her(Finnick, Peeta, Prim, etc.).

thebestjasmine

@Too Much Internet Hmm, in response to that, I would ask if you understand why it's problematic to proclaim that a book that you have not read that's by a woman and with a female main character must be worse than books by men and about predominantly male characters, and that male writers have already told the story of women in a way that must be better than this story.

ELECTROMAGNETIC CHAOS

@thebestjasmine: Where did I mention anything about the gender of anyone, character or author? I'm actually pretty hurt that you think that I meant it that way.

Hunger Games (the movie) doesn't look any good because it covers thematic ground that's been well trod. That the previous replies tell me the book deals MORE with the characterization and maturation of the main character than the details of the world actually makes me respect (and have interest in) the book more.

Do not reverse-engineer what I say to be anti-feminist based on some specific divination.

thebestjasmine

@Too Much Internet Whether you said anything about gender makes no difference. This is one of those check your privilege moments. You can't declare that a book by and about a woman must be a bad knockoff of a whole long list of books by and about men without gender being a key issue. I recognize that you didn't notice that, but that is a significant reason why books by women are never treated as well as books about men, and why they are frequently scorned as being not as good or not as serious.

Also, the thing is, when people call me out on things like this, the smart thing to do is stop and think if there's a relevant point, instead of talking about how my feelings were hurt on being called out.

thebestjasmine

@Too Much Internet And the thing is, you can read the book or see the movie and dislike it, nothing wrong with that. But to be automatically derisive about it while saying that it must be worse than all of these other books by and about dudes is exactly the same way books by women are condescended to by men all the time. Whether you did it on purpose or not (and I'm sure you did not) doesn't change that.

carolita

I'm reading The Fallback Plan by my friend Leigh Stein (she was interviewed here, btw) which I think has been rightfully compared to The Catcher in the Rye (a female version, but I don't want to reduce it to that, but you can read it to see for yourself), and also George V. Higgins "Friends of Eddy Coyle" which is amazing, the dialogue! I'm currently also rereading Out of Sight, by Elmore Leonard, god I love Elmore Leonard. I'd love to suggest Joseph Mitchell to anyone who's always wondered if there are any stories about New York and the Hudson River that they ought to hear: "Under the Harbor," and "Up in the Old Hotel," "Old Man Flood"... All of these are wonderful and rich with details of a New York that was beloved by the man, and long gone. Wait till you read about "oyster fits." Ha ha. I'm still trying to induce one. He wrote for The New Yorker, way back.

Lucienne

@carolita Oh man, I totally forgot Friends of Eddy Coyle was a book! I've only seen the (awesome) movie.

ru_ri

@carolita I love Elmore Leonard, and was shocked to find out he wrote Westerns. Really good ones.
And yes Joseph Mitchell! I have Up in the Old Hotel and it is a really good book to just savor. I love those New Yorker writers.

bluewindgirl

Okay, since no one has brought it up I'm going to say Dorothy Sayers has to go on any Pinners reading list! Sayers is on my list for "famous dead writers I would have an imaginary hypothetical dinner party with." Crazy brilliant feminist theologian Latin-translating 'interwar' period detective novelist! Just, read Gaudy Night. Perfection. It's an exquisite analysis of changing gender roles, women in the Academy, what we owe to our crafts, all wrapped up in a mystery novel. I recommend all the Wimsey/Harriet Vane novels, really, if you want to see the whole relationship develop: Strong Poison, Have His Carcase, Gaudy Night and Busman's Honeymoon. Harriet may or may not be a Mary Sue, but her entry into the series was transformative and turned the detective novels from "bloodless ciphers" into rich, intertextual meta-novels. Disclaimer: might forever ruin you for normal human relationships in which your partner does not recite Swinburne in bed.

Verity

@bluewindgirl Yes yes yes to Sayers (and the way around that is just to encourage your partner to do things like quote Swinburne in bed. My partner and I were looking at a flat in Hertford, and he pointed out that we would be living in Hertfordshire like Peter and Harriet; it was the best thing ever).

Verity

@bluewindgirl (Although, I think even before the introduction of Harriet the books were more than bloodless ciphers, although it certainly made them even better. Peter suffering from shell-shock and Bunter having to revert to being Sergeant Bunter to look after him provide such great moments of emotional depth.)

redonion

So I am currently reading The Magician King by Lev Grossman, but I've got Jeanette Winterson's Why Be Happy When You Can Be Normal? and Umberto Eco's The Prague Cemtery staring me in the face. But what I really want to read like right now is Hilary Mantel's Bring Up The Bodies.

EmilyStarr

@redonion I cannot WAIT for the Hilary Mantel one and just finished The Magician King (which I liked better than The Magicians). But I'm heading into maternity leave soon, so I think I'm more likely to be reading something a little lighter (um, physically lighter - those are some tomes) than Mantel in the near future.

martini

@redonion Have you read much Eco? I read the obvious ones (Foucault's Pendulum and Name of the Rose) years ago and always wanted to read more but never did. What others of his do you like?

Tim Neihaus

@Haley, I just finished "No More Nice Girls" a couple of weeks ago. It was my first time, but I really enjoyed it, and can understand why it'll be a good re-read.

I'm just starting Patricia Spacks' "On Rereading" (http://bit.ly/GDO8GZ) and her cultivated exuberance at the pleasures of re-reading is energizing me for a second or third effort at several classics.

I also just picked up Stephanie Staal's "Reading Women" which is her trip report of time spent re-reading some feminist classics. I think that'll be a good guide to have handy while wandering some used bookstores.

tortietabbie

I'm trying really hard to finish The Child Garden by Geoff Ryman for my book club this weekend and...ugh. It's a struggle. Not sure what I'll read next!

lobsterhug

I'm reading Running the Rift and I'm kind of hating it and I might not finish it. I don't normally stop reading books, but I have so many good ones waiting for me that I feel like I can't waste my time.

Also, is The Marriage Plot worth reading? I've only read The Virgin Suicides, so I'm thinking I should read Marriage and then Middlesex so I end on a high.

OhMyGoshYouGuys

Has anyone read Coral Glynn by Peter Cameron? I've seen reviews in several places and it sounds great, but I'd like a Hairpinners opinion. Hairpinion?

Rachel@twitter

Had to read "Their Eyes Were Watching God" in Advanced Placement English senior year of high school and loved it! Was just saying yesterday how I needed to re-read it. Instead I'm re-reading another book that was assigned for that class "The Things They Carried" by Tim O'Brien.

tortietabbie

@Rachel@twitter I fucking love Tim O'Brien.

camanda

@tortietabbie @Rachel@twitter Seconded.

jane lane

Their Eyes Were Watching God was the one full of pollen, right? All the tree sex, so it's perfect for spring. (I "read" it sophomore year of high school so I really hope I'm talking about the right book.)

Verity

Their Eyes Were Watching God is sitting unread on my bookcase right now! I will read it forthwith.

Verity

@Verity ... And now I've finished it. (Started this morning, but had lots of time on trains today because of work.) Thank you for the recommendation, Hairpin! I liked it a lot.

meganmaria

I'm reading The Poisoners Handbook now and it's so great. I just finished the radium chapter. Glow in the dark hair, y'all!!!

www.bulksmsbase.com

What a blog post!! Very informative and also easy to understand. Looking for more such comments!! Do you have a facebook? I recommended it on digg. The only thing that it’s missing is a bit of new design. bulk sms in nigeria

Post a Comment

You must be logged-in to post a comment.

Login To Your Account