Our Summer Reading Fest

Following up on my Eat, Pray, Love adventure with Elizabeth Gilbert, I read her biography of The Last American Man. I love that she can tell a story about anyone and anything. Reading about his life after my jaunt back to Walden was perfection.

Then I read What It Use To Be Like: A Portrait Of My Marriage To Raymond Carver by Maryann Burk Carver. I wasn’t sure about reading this book and the writing was very conversational, not something I’m use to. But as much as the style wasn’t what I like, hearing the story of Ray’s early life via his first wife was intriguing and felt somewhat voyeuristic, which was a Ray Carver trait. It made me go back and reread Furious Seasons, my favorite short story of his and in my opinion one of the best short story ever written in the English language. It actually makes you want to give up writing all together because what’s the point, who could ever be as good at that art form.

I read Other People’s Dirt: A Housecleaner’s Curious Adventures, by Louise Rafkin, which is a memoir of an over-educated house cleaner. Short and insightful to cool my brain after the pain of reading about Ray and his work; the love of my literary life (I have actually laid my head on his grave.)

Then I hit the jackpot with Hypocrite In A White Pouffy Dress: Tales Of Growing Up Groovy and Clueless by Susan Jane Gilman. I loved, loved, loved every minute of this read. She is such the feminist of my generation. Such a voice of sexual, girl, woman reason and revolution. Maybe it’s the first time I’ve ever read something that was written by someone of my generation about growing up. And even though I didn’t grow up in the NYC, I lived close to where she did in my mid twenties and could feel her life in the asphalt of up-uptown Manhattan. I then went on to read her first book, Kiss My Tiara: How To Rule The World As A Smart Mouthed Goddess. And even though I am not likely to be seen reading a book with giant lips and a tiara on the cover, it really was brilliant. I’m not smart mouthed as a general rule to the general public but I can kick start a fight with one sharp tongued word like no bodies business in my own small little world – or if you are a member of the general public and you insult someone I love!

Since I loved this book so much, I used this handy little This One Next website to find a similar author/subject and got The Boys Of My Youth, by Jo Anne Beard, which I started but while I was reading that I found our local King County Library within walking distance (I’ve been going to the South Park Library since it’s in my old neighborhood and on my direct path from home to school) and picked up Margaret Atwood’s new book of short stories, Moral Disorder, which I started as well as Elizabeth Gilbert’s short story collection, Pilgrims, Jane Goodall’s biography, The Woman Who Defined Man by Dale Peterson (I love Jane Goodall,) Final Exits: The Illustrated Encyclopedia Of How We Die by Micheal Largo and The Pleasure Of My Company by Steve Martin, (which I devoured in a night.) It’s funny. I read Shopgirl and didn’t really like it all that much but I absolutely loved the film, it’s stunning color, cinematography and lasting punch in the stomach. I cried and cried when it ended and I had already read the book so the ending was no surprise – it must have just been the right moment for me to hear that story.

Finally, Amy gave me Found II for my birthday by Davy Rothbart. It is a collection of more of the best lost, tossed and forgotten items from around the world. It’s great for the moments before bed when I can barely turn the light off but I must read something so I’ll stop dreaming things like I’m giving birth out of my lower back (although when I did give birth that is exactly what it felt like!)

Autumn’s list is mostly focused around dogs, cats and other sundry animals. Surprise! Suprise!

Make Way For The Ducklings by Robert McClosky (the book and the book on cd)

Owen’s Marshmallow Chick by Kevin Henkes

Dogs and Cats by Steve Jenkins (a birthday gift from Amy – does she know us or what?)

So What’s It Like To Be A Cat? by Karla Kuskin

I Love Cats by Sue Stainton

Dog’s ABC: A Silly Story About The Alphabet by Emma Dodd

If The Dinosaurs Came Back by Bernard Most

Leaving The Nest by Mordicai Gerstein (more for me than her – see the last few posts)

Big Black Bear by Wong Herbert Yee

Sled Dogs Run by Jonathan London – “We run to keep up with our hearts.” (featured in the photo taken by Don)

Don has been listening to all the Dune books by Frank Herbert on CD while working on the house, his book and the screenplay he’s rewriting for a film in the works.

Happy reading…

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5 Responses to “Our Summer Reading Fest”

  1. You mentioned the book “Sled Dogs Run.” Did you know that the Iditarod is terribly cruel to dogs? For the facts: http://www.helpsleddogs.org.

  2. I love this list. I have not been able to read through a full book since becoming pregnant 3 years ago (although I can get through a short magazine article – no problemo). I feel like it’s time to pick up some books again (especially with your recaps). Although I don’t have the 2 hour subway rides anymore to use for reading time, we do have book night here. I’m putting this in my bag for my next trip to the library. Love it. thanks!

  3. “Sled Dogs Run” is not about the Iditarod just in case anyone else was worried.

  4. I’m proud of my well-read family.

    Books are ideas.
    Ideas are dreams in motion.
    Books make dreams possible.

  5. Maryann Carver Says:

    I love “The Furious Seasons” as well and am glad that you do. It was Ray’s second short story (written after “Aficianados,” which was a sincerely written first short story by a very committed young writer, who wrote the story when his hero, Hemingway, was still alive and in good favor–1958. Never was “Aficionados” meant to be a Hemingway parody, as one self-anoited Carver scholar has claimed!)
    You and your baby are lovely, and I admire your prodigious reading list, despite your domestic and other claims for your attention. “Ah, youth,” as Ray and I used to exclaim, echoing the title of one of our favorite short stories by Joseph Conrad.
    Thank you for reading my book.
    Maryann Carver

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