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Wednesday, August 29, 2007

What I'm Reading August 2007

During the last week of each month I will give a run down of some of the books I read that month. I will try to include at least 3 titles, a brief annotation, and one readalike. So here's the first month's run down.

Kristin Gore, daughter of former Vice-President Al Gore, published her second novel in July, Sammy's House. In this sequel to Sammy's Hill, Samantha James is now the health care policy adviser to the Vice President of the United States. She is also involved in her first serious relationship and trying to navigate her career and a long distance boyfriend. The insider information that only those who have worked in the White House could provide adds a unique angle to the story. While Sammy's Hill was pure Chick Lit, Sammy' House is moving into Women's Lives and Relationships territory. Anyone who enjoys Marian Keyes' novels of women dealing with life, love, and career will enjoy this book. Also any fans of politics and how the American government works (who also don't mind the relationship issues) should give this one a try.

I also finished listening to Richard Ford's The Lay of the Land this month. At 20+ discs, it took awhile. This is the third in Ford's Frank Bascombe trilogy, the second of which won the Pulitzer Prize. This was a satisfying read and as usual, Ford captured the NJ setting perfectly. As a "Jersey Girl" I appreciate this very much. Each of the three books revolves around a holiday, and they always involve some kind of catastrophe, that gets satisfactorily resolved. Here it is Thanksgiving, 2000 and the election is still up in the air, although Frank has conceded that his guy (Gore) is done. Frank himself is undergoing treatment for Prostate Cancer, having problems with his second wife, and as usual, is perplexed by his son. This is a long book, and Ford takes his time with the story. His writing is exquisite and I loved every detail. Bascombe is an everyman and the reader roots for him, even as we cringe watching him make poor decisions. Bascombe is very similar to the middle aged men in Richard Russo's books. If you liked Empire Falls or Straight Man, the Bascombe Trilogy is for you.

Another book I listened to this month is Ian McEwan's new novella On Chesil Beach. Check the Amazon link for a basic summary. I do not want to give too much away about the plot since it is so short, but this is classic McEwan. Here we have the familial dysfunction, claustrophobic setting, and sexual problems found in most McEwan books. I might even start suggesting this book to those who have never read McEwan as the new first place to start since this novella provides everything a McEwan novel is, only in a smaller package. Note to new readers of McEwan, his endings in general are resolved but not necessarily happy. His works also require work from the reader to look between the printed lines. Here I also highly recommend getting your hands on the audio. Included at the end is one of the best author interviews I have ever heard. If you like Paul Auster, Martin Amis, Margaret Atwood, or Philip Roth, try McEwan.

This is a good first month's report. It should help get you started on some reading ideas for yourself. Each title has a link to the Amazon record where you can read other actual readers' thoughts on these titles. I encourage you to browse them. You may find more titles to add to your to read list.

Finally, don't forget to check the posts tagged "book discussion books." These are also books I read in any given month. The reports posted there go over the main topics of discussion and contain readalikes. Eventually, the other librarian who runs the book groups at our library will also post comments once her group has discussed the title.

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