Friday 21st July 2017
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What are you reading?

I went to Oberlin with Claire Dederer, author of the most excellent memoir, Love and Trouble: A Mid-Life Reckoning, but we didn’t hang out: different crowds. Still, I have admired her writing career since college and am in love with this new book, which is both laugh-out-loud funny and quite tender. Anyone looking for an examination of middle-age that is acutely written and not rife with cliches needs to pick this up. And now it’s your turn: What can’t you put down?

Posted on April 5th, 2017 70 Comments

70 Responses

  1. y.k. says:

    me first!
    THE PACIFIC by Simon Winchester.
    every chapter is like a great New Yorker article.

    • bethy says:

      Ooh! Thank you. I didn’t know about this book but I LOVED The Professor and The Madman. Now I’m excited.

  2. Dana D says:

    Yay!!!

    The Refugees by Viet Thanh Nguyen…finished last night. Amazing short stories.

    Also just finished This Close to Happy by Daphne Merkin (loved) and Brain on Fire (got to that one late in the game).

    I’m going to start Elizabeth Alexander’s The Light of the World and Chimamanda Ngozi Adishie’s Dear Ijeawele…is sitting next to me as I write this.

    I love your recommendation, Kim, and will take notes from today’s responses!!!

    Yay!!!

    • KimFrance says:

      Just started Brain on Fire—pretty fascinating.

      • Dana D says:

        Yes…I couldn’t stop reading.

        I think you would appreciate This Close to Happy, as well.

        Brains and chemicals that mess with them…really something.

        • Mamavalveeta03 says:

          Speaking of brains and chemicals…This Close to Happy sounds a little too close to home for me right now. Finding it hard to focus enough to read.

          • Dana D says:

            It’s an intense book, Mamaval…

            It’s a sad story about what happens when a privileged but emotionally-starved and neglected child ends up with a chemical imbalance that leads to severe depression. Bad combo, but she writes about it with vulnerability and courage and we are with her, as she struggles…

  3. Kristen says:

    Currently reading American Gods by Neil Gaiman in anticipation of the TV series starting at the end of this month.
    I’m also reading The Vein of Gold in hopes of finding my creativity which seems to be on a very long sabbatical.

  4. Ann says:

    I’m halfway through Pachinko by Min Jun Lee and it’s totally absorbing.

  5. Bethany A Ball says:

    The book I recently could not put down is See What I Have Done by Sarah Schmidt. She’s an Australian writer and her book will be here in the summer, I think. The novel is about Lizzie Borden. Lots of historical fact, mixed with Schmidt’s flights of fancy. It’s wonderful.

  6. c.w. says:

    The Dark Flood Rises by Margaret Drabble (novel)

    The Witches Salem, 1692 by Stacy Schiff fascinating non-fiction about the Salem witch trials that brings in the perspectives of what the world was like and more specifically what the world of Salem was like and the mind-set of the people who lived there. Particularly interesting in today’s political climate and trying to understand why people voted against their best interests.

    On deck is: Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders. He gave a thoughtful interview on the NPR program, Think, a few days ago. Made me appreciate him as a writer even more than I already did…

    • Anne L says:

      LOVED Lincoln in the Bardo! Also highly recommend listening to it on Audiobook, David Sedaris,Nick Offerman, and some 100 other people. Saunders has a beautiful imagination and a brilliant way with words – a combination that is not often found.

  7. Maggie says:

    How to Murder Your Life by Cat Marnell, because I still haven’t outgrown reading about debauched party girls. It’s definitely a page turner and she’s a good storyteller, but the quality of her writing is just ok. It’s a good beach read, though.

    Also reading One of Us about Anders Breivik, the Norwegian who murdered the campers in 2011. It is also a page turner, but beautifully written.

  8. Jacky says:

    I just read Dark Matter: A Novel by Blake Crouch. A sci-fi thriller so far from the realm of what I normally read, but I couldn’t put it down.

  9. Sarah says:

    Lincoln in the Bardo – it’s absorbing.

  10. Kristin says:

    I’m way late to the game on this, but Donna Tartt! I just finished The Secret History and The Goldfinch is on my nightstand. Complex, enthralling, thoughtt-provoking. Highly recommended.

  11. DeDe says:

    Nothing! I have stuck out on pretty much everything I’ve attempted to read for the last two months, which pretty much sucks. Being Wrong by Kathryn Schultz was the lone interesting read, but it took me forever to get through it (there are epic footnotes on like every other page, which always slow things down for me). On my coffee table right now I have Word by Word by Kory Stamper and Living by Henry Green, and I think I’m going to give the new Rachel Cusk a try, too. Hopefully one of those will hit the spot.

    • DeDe says:

      Struck, not stuck. I need an editor for my comments, seriously.

      • Dana D says:

        Don’t you hate it when this happens? When the books aren’t what you hoped for? When the stories don’t stick?

        • DeDe says:

          Or when the author is supposed to be some forgotten genius but all he can write about are mystical scantily-clad goddess-nymphs in the woods? I rolled my eyes so hard I need to call an opthomalogist.

    • S. says:

      I’ve got Word by Word in the reading queue, too — looking forward to it.

  12. Achariya says:

    For work, 99 Stories of the Game; next up is The Boys of Winter. I’m also re-reading Good Omens, feeling nostalgic for Gaiman because of American Gods coming out soon.

  13. Mimi says:

    “Far From the Tree: Parents, Children and the Search for Identity” by Andrew Solomon. This isn’t a new book by the National Book Award Winner (for “The Noonday Demon”) but it’s challenging and fascinating. Solomon explores themes of generosity, tolerance and acceptance by telling the stories of parents with children who are markedly different from them. What if you didn’t get the child you “ordered?” I’m not even a parent, but the book has much to say about diversity and love. For a terrific fiction read, you can’t beat anything by Tana French.

    • Julie says:

      I LOVED “Far from the Tree”!It made me think of identity, nature/nurture in an entirely different way.

      Books are on hold now until I finish the podcast “S-Town” which so like a supremely absorbing book.

    • y.k. says:

      yes that Solomon book did me in

  14. I’ve been reading your blog everyday for like ten years and never realized you went to Oberlin. OBERLIN FOREVER! sorry i know that’s off the subject. i just finished a beautiful tiny novel called “exit west”- a sort of magical realist account of the refugee crisis- with a complex look at love and what it means to love someone. It’s a two-afternoon read.
    all the best! keep up the amazing work and good luck writing your book! stephanie (Oberlin ’93)

    • Liz Gregg says:

      I WENT TO OBERLIN TOO! And I have been reading this blog for years as well, and never knew. No wonder you are so smart and interesting! And right now I am reading the Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls. I am in a memoir phase and this book is only feeding my obsession. OBERLIN FOREVER! (’90)

  15. lc says:

    Our current political situation is driving a lot of my recent reading. I particularly recommend Tribe: on homecoming and belonging (Sebastian Junger), Dream: re-imagining progressive politics in an age of fantasy (Stephen Duncombe), We Should All Be Feminists (Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie) and On Bullshit (Harry Frankfurter).

    And, given the season, I’ve been reading a lot of gardening books, particularly container gardening.

  16. Susan G says:

    How to Be a Person in the World by Heather Havrilesky. It’s a collection of her Ask Polly columns and it is amazing!

    Her articles are also available on The Cut.

  17. joannawnyc says:

    I just read the first Dublin Murder Squad book, In the Woods, by Tana French, and while it’s not much of a murder mystery, it’s a helluva novel. But I’m pretty late to the game with this one (I generally dislike mysteries).

    • Jamie says:

      I *love* this whole series. And you are right—they are definitely more interesting than the general crime thriller books. They are so layered and well written. The second one (The Likeness) is my favorite, as is the last one (The Trespasser). Have fun absorbing them!

    • c.w. says:

      Love Tana French.

    • Rachel says:

      I recently finished the Trespasser and was blown away by Tana French. That was some read.

    • Mamavalveeta03 says:

      I like her stuff, too. I can always visualize the setting because her descriptions are so vivid!

    • Jan says:

      I’m late to the party with Tana French, but so happy to be here now. Very interesting characters, plots and plot twists. I started backwards with The Trespasser (for bookclub) and then The Secret Place. Loved them both. Now I will read the rest, preferably in the right order from now on.

  18. Carrie says:

    My Struggle series by Karl Ove Knausgaard; I randomly came across one of the five books and am now totally hooked. Am also in the midst of Tana French’s In the Woods and just ordered the rest of that series. I tend to rotate between 3 genres each night beginning with non-fiction and ending with a classic which is currently Anne Bronte’s The Tenant of Wildfell Hall (a favourite reread). Oh, and my mom bought me Lauren Graham’s book Talking as Fast as I Can: From Gilmore Girls to Gilmore Girls (and Everything in Between), which is a fast, fun read if you are a GG fan like me! Happy Reading!
    “Knowing you have something good to read before bed,” Vladimir Nabokov wrote, “is among the most pleasurable of sensations.”

  19. Jennifer says:

    The Art Forger by B.A. Shapiro – great summer read

  20. Jamie says:

    I started All Grown Up by Jami Attenbury on Wednesday evening, and finished it Thursday morning, it was so absorbing and wonderful.

    https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/1957059065?book_show_action=false&from_review_page=1

  21. Elise says:

    I’m reading Crazy Rich Asians, which is a really absorbing, fun book. Also Dark Matter, another page turner, but much creepier in a sci-fi, almost distopian way. It’s not a before bed book.

    • Jennifer says:

      I loved both Crazy Rich Asians and his second book China Rich Girlfriend. There is going to be a third and a movie!

  22. Frances says:

    What is not yours is not yours by Helen Oyeyemi. I haven’t loved a book (linked short story collection) this much in a long time. I’ve been recommending it to everyone I know. She is a truly remarkable writer. Her prose is quite beautiful, I thought, without being overly fancy, and the content feels so modern. She’s very matter-of-fact about the fluidity of gender and sexual identity, and the cast of characters is super diverse without that hitting you over the head. Love, love, love!

  23. Danielle says:

    I just sped through Love and Trouble; it was very good. Now I’m halfway through both the new Murakami collection and Moonglow by Michael Chabon.

  24. Anne-Marie says:

    I usually have an audiobook and a physical book going. For audiobook: Don Quixote. It’s just as funny as you’ve heard it is, and it’s as fresh as if it were written yesterday, instead of in 1605. For physical book: Girl on the Train, because I don’t really do films and it was a thing. I’m not loving the writing, but I’ll finish it.

  25. Aimee says:

    The Arab of the Future, books 1-3

  26. Kirstjen says:

    I’m currently reading A Gentleman in Moscow & I’m enjoying it quite a bit. But my most recommended book ever is still The Sins of the Seventh Sister – a sort of cross between To Kill a Mockingbird & Midnight in the Garden of Good & Evil. I LOVED the Sins of the Seventh Sister. Best southern gothic heroine evah!

  27. Heidi says:

    I recently finished The Post-Birthday World by Lionel Shriver and was completely absorbed by it, and couldn’t wait to get back to it night after night. I’m working my way through the George Smiley series by John le Carré and am currently reading Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy, and loving how clever and understated the British spy world is/was. And How to Meditate by Pema Chödrön.

    • christine says:

      I loved We Need to Talk About Kevin by Shriver. She’s great. Have now added this title – thanks.

  28. karen says:

    last book that i read that is worrht recommending, “The Good Father” by Noah Hawley….which i liked, but not as much as his book “Before the Fall” which I read last summer

    • Jan says:

      Really liked “Before the Fall”, too. Thanks for the recommendation of “The Good Father”; I will add that to my list now.

  29. Nancy says:

    Best book by far I’ve read of late is “The Future Tense of Joy” by Jessica Teich. Memoir, mystery, coming of age and confession….It is engrossing and beautifully written.

  30. Raina says:

    Ariel Levy’s memoir “The Rules Do Not Apply.”

  31. Suzanne L says:

    I’m reading “To Pixar and Beyond” by Lawrence Levy. This is the fascinating story of how Lawrence Levy took an “unlikely journey with Steve Jobs to make entertainment history.” Out of the blue one day in November 1994, Lawrence got a call from Steve Jobs asking if he would like to work with him at Pixar. The two men hit it off and soon Lawrence is collaborating with Steve and the core group that founded Pixar. It’s the story of creative talented men and women on the forefront of digital animation, building a company and creating history. Levy has wonderful insights into Steve Jobs, the film industry and Silicon Valley. A wonderful read – can’t put it down; highly recommend.

  32. Cindy says:

    The Hate U Give by Angela Thomas. Doesn’t be matter that it’s described as a “YA” novel. IT’S SO GOOD. Its heartbreaking and funny and illuminating all at the same time.

  33. Cyndy says:

    Dark Matter by Blake Crouch, author of the Wayward spines series. However, this book stands out as truly unique: quantum travel, love of family, regret, and suspense. You feel as though you are there, watching all of this occur. Enthralling.

  34. Michelle says:

    Hot Milk by Deborah Levy. Gorgeous, strange and very funny book about an aimless young woman on holiday in Spain with her invalid mother. I couldn’t put it down.

  35. caroline says:

    So much to read..
    Had insomnia the other night and decided as I do every couple of years to read something I’ve been meaning to read forever…
    Ended up reading James Baldwins “another country”.
    Really really great! Depressing as hell but hey…
    also just read Viv Albertine’s book. Totally enjoyed ‘thanks kim”.
    favorite book of all time..(one of them) the amazing adventures of cavalier and clay. ( Michael Chabon)
    okay, and Anna Karenina!

  36. Marianne says:

    Hi really liked Apple Tree Yard by Louise Doughty. A story of a 50 something woman at the top of her career, children grown, who has an affair with a mysterious man. Easy read and well written. Also made into a BBC miniseries if you would rather watch on TV.

  37. Ann says:

    I just read The Revenge of Analog by David Sax. Really great. I will totally be reading Dederer’s book. I loved her first book.

  38. Lauren says:

    The Mother of All Questions by Rebecca Solnit (because Men Explain Things To Me is one of the most brilliant essays of this era). Just finished Commonwealth by Ann Patchet which I enjoyed. Also reading Seacrow Island by Astrid Lindgren because I loved Pippi Longstocking so fiercely as a kid and somehow never read any of her other books.

  39. Caroline says:

    The Fifth Season. Go feminist sci-fi!