Saturday, December 13, 2014
November Ins and Outs: What I Bought and Read Last Month
I read Yes Please for book club and enjoyed it a lot. I actually listened to the audiobook, which was great because it has a lot of fun guest stars. I picked up Station Eleven recently because the ebook was on sale, and then someone happened suggested it for our next book-club book. Score!
Ryan bought Charley Harper: An Illustrated Life while we were in New York and has since developed a fierce passion for the local artist. We barely knew anything about him except that his illustrations are all over our public parks, but this collection really shows how incredibly groundbreaking, brilliant, and diverse his work was. He had such an incredible sense for color as well as for the simple shapes that not only create an image but tell a story.
We also read The Ice Dragon together after Ryan requested it from the library. It's a children's book George R.R. Martin published in 1980, and it takes place in a soft of proto-Westeros. It was cool to see him developing some of the same ideas and themes that he would expand on later.
I started Belzhair while in New York the night before seeing Meg Wolitzer at the Bell House in Brooklyn as part of a live taping of NPR's Ask Me Another. I'd read The Interestings already and loved it, so I was optimistic. I ended up loving Belzhair too. It's definitely one of my favorite books of the year. I deeply related to it personally and I think Meg Wolitzer has such a sharp sense of what it feels like to be a teenager and even to just be a human. She was also insanely funny, smart, and entertaining at the Ask Me Another taping. I'm officially a fangirl.
I've been a longtime fangirl of Meghan Daum. I read her debut collection of essays, My Misspent Youth about eight years ago, and it's still one of my favorite books of all time. Since then I've read every book she's published. I liked her second collection and I thought her novel was okay, but nothing compared to My Misspent Youth. Still, I preordered The Unspeakable the moment I heard about it and abandoned all other reading material the moment it came out. Of everything else she's written, this came closest to capturing what I loved so much about My Misspent Youth. Her voice is so distinct and appealing: funny but insightful, full of cultural references and personal revelations. Reading her books is like having the best conversation you've even had with your most interesting friend.