Sunday, September 28, 2008


I read 43 books in 2005 and have selected 8 as my favorites of the 43 I read. As you can probably tell right away, I was on a Jodi Picoult reading marathon when I first discovered her work. Excellent stories and writer! There is always a good twist to her stories.

And, if you keep up with reading my blog, you already know that Gilead is one of my all-time favorite books. (Only beaten by To Kill A Mockingbird). However, after having read her next book recently (Home), it may have taken over second place, moving Gilead to third. I will have to re-read Gilead again!

Gilead-Marilynne Robinson *****

Strange Fits of Passion-Anita Shreve

Cavedweller-Dorothy Allison

Blackbird House-Alice Hoffman

Shoot The Moon-Billie Letts

Vanishing Acts-Jodi Picoult

My Sister’s Keeper-Jodi Picoult ***

Mercy-Jodi Picoult

I almost always like books by Anita Shrive and am a big fan of Dorothy Allison’s writing. I am kind of hit and miss with Alice Hoffman, but I like her work enough that I will always try her newest books. I really liked Blackbird House.

So there you are. I have noticed from other blog about books that I follow that many of the blog authors have reading 100 books a year as their goal. Do this people work? Have a home? Have a life? I may aim for that goal in retirement, but for right now, just not going to happen! Wouldn’t you love to be able to have the time to do that??

Wednesday, September 24, 2008


Memory by Philippe Grimbert

Memory is an interesting book. It apparently is the fictionalized true story of the author (a psychoanalyst) who was born in post WWII France and raised by his parents there. The parents had a small shop and in the same building was their good friend Louise, who was like a close aunt to the boy. The first line of the novel is “Although I was an only child, for many years I had a brother.” And so begins the story.

The author’s family history was hidden from him for many years until at age 15, he learned the truth from Louise, who could no longer keep it from him. While reading the book, I kept thinking of collective memory and how at some level this boy knew that there had been another child. When he was young, he had been in their attic with his mother and found an old stuffed toy that he would carry around with him. He must have gotten pretty clear messages from his parents not to ask questions about the past. He invented an older brother while he was young and established quite an imaginary life for the brother, who was all that he was not. And when the truth was revealed, none of the imaginary life was imaginary…it was real.

From Amazon:

Product Description
Twenty years after his mother and father jumped to their deaths from a balcony, Philippe Grimbert has written a gripping novel about the hidden memories that dominated their lives. A colossal bestseller in Europe, Memory is the story of a family haunted by the secret of their past: an illicit love affair, a lost child, and a devastating betrayal dating back to the Second World War.

The day after my fifteenth birthday, I finally learned what I had always known...Growing up in postwar Paris as the sickly only child of glamorous athletic parents, the narrator invents for himself a make-believe older brother, stronger and more brilliant than he can ever be. It is only when the boy begins talking to an old family friend that he comes to realize that his imaginary sibling had a real predecessor: a half brother whose death in the concentration camps is part of a buried family secret that he was intended never to uncover.

A spare, erotic, and ultimately cathartic narrative, Memory is a mesmerizing tale of coming to terms with one's shameful past through the unraveling of a series of dark desires.

--This text refers to the Kindle Edition edition.

The book only took a couple of hours to read. It is a very small book, but quite intriguing. I recommend it.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008


Home by Marilyn Robinson

This book almost broke my heart. It is a very simple and complex story. I know that sounds contradictory, but it isn’t in the book. The story is set in the town of Gilead and concerns the Boughton family. Marilyn Robinson’s last book, Gilead, was about the Rev. John Ames family. (It won the Pulitzer Prize in 2005). Home is about Rev.Robert Boughton’s family. Rev. Boughton and Rev. Ames are life-long friends. Rev. Boughton is retired, and physically not well. His wife had died sometime before and none of his children had settled in Gilead. His daughter, Glory, is single and comes home to care for him, as he begins to settle into old age. Soon, messages come announcing that his son, Jack, is coming home. Jack had not had contact with the family for the past 20 years. Even when his mother died, no one heard from him. No one knew what had become of him. He had always been a mystery to the family, kept to himself, etc. Yet there was something about Jack that everyone loved, cherished and missed terribly when he was gone.

Jack finally shows up and is reluctant to make himself part of their little family. He still tends to keep to himself and carries around the feeling that he is not worthy of these people. It appears that Jack’s drinking is the scourge that Jack carries around, but I think that the real scourge is his feeling of never fitting in with the family. At one point he makes a comment about remembering when he was young watching the others (his siblings) going in the back door like they belonged there and how envious he was of that feeling. As soon as he arrived at home in Gilead, he talked about when he would be gone again, leaving no doubt in Glory’s mind that he would not be staying for long.

Meanwhile, the book is also examining the Rev. Boughton’s struggle with dying and his struggle with forgiveness for his most beloved son. At one point, Glory tells her father that it was hard for Jack to come back to them and he should be kinder to him. Her father responds: “Kinder to him! I thanked God for him every day of his life, no matter how much grief, how much sorrow-and at the end of it all there is only more grief, more sorrow, and his life will go on that way, no help for it now. You see something beautiful in a child, and you almost live for it, you feel as though you would die for it, but it isn’t yours to keep or to protect. And if the child becomes a man who has no respect for himself, it’s just destroyed till you can hardly remember what it was-. It’s like watching a child die in your arms.”. A little later, Rev. Boughton is talking about seeing Jack’s mother in heaven and says “I was hoping I would be able to tell her that Jack had come home.” , to which Jack whispers, “I hope you will give her my love.” Heartbreaking.

Another theme running through the book is watching Glory struggle with the awakening knowledge that this has become her life. She will never have the husband and children that she dreamed of, but will live the rest of her life in Gilead in the home where she was raised. Probably always waiting for Jack to reappear.

This is a book of great sadnesses. Yet, it also a book about great love.
And I loved the book.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

A Night Without A Good Book.....

you might as well shoot me. After I finished The Stand (outstanding book), I was left with that awful dilemma of needing a really good book to read. It is so difficult to find a really good book when you just finished one. I started reading Lake of Sorrows by Erin Hart a couple of nights ago. Just hasn't grabbed me.

So, back to the bookstore today and, of course, in my panic for a really good book, I bought 3 new books:

Out Stealing Horses
The Plain Sense of Things

Never mind that I have 6 non-fiction books sitting by my bed waiting to be read, and 3 non-fiction books that I am in the midst of.

If you are a reader (and why else would you be reading this blog? for the outstanding pleasure of my prose?), then you will understand that I have to have a good novel to be reading at all times. And by that, I mean, that I am never without a novel of some sort that I am reading. I'm afraid that I would lie awake in bed all night if I didn't read first.

Anyway, I am very eager to start a new novel tonight. Which will I choose? Easy, I will be reading Home by Marilyn Robinson. She wrote my second favorite book, Gilead, so I have great expectations for this book!