Saturday, May 5, 2012

April Reading

I count a book as read the month I finish it. All the book versions were selected and finished in April, while the audio books took a couple of months, but were completed in April.

Tolstoy and the Purple Chair: My Year of Magical Reading (2011) by Nina Sankovitch. In Nina Sankovitch’s memoir, she takes us on her journey as she deals with the grief of her older sister’s death. She shares her insights, impressions, reflections; the way she weaves all of this together with quotes from her reading felt seamless and complete—her writing is luminescent. 

The Paris Wife: A Novel (2011) by Paula McLain
Narrator: Carrington MacDuffie

While listening to this audio, I asked myself if I would be as interested in the book if it had not been set in Paris and if it had not been based on the author’s researched and imagined life of Hemingway. I’m still not sure of my answer. The writing style won me over and the narrator did a great job of bringing the fictional Ernest Hemingway to life.

Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers (2004) by Mary Roach.
Narrator: Shelly Frasier

I may not have chosen this audio if it had not been offered for sale amongst a selection of other discounted audio books. I was pleasantly surprised at how informative the book was, while having a certain bit of humor injected through the writer’s style and the narrator’s ability to hone in on this. There were a few times I smiled and maybe even laughed, not in a disrespectful manner. You will understand if you ever listen to it. Overall, a respectable treatment of the subject matter that made me think more about what happens to human cadavers and understand the process better and how we don’t often have a choice of how our bodies are used if we donate them to “science.” Very eye opening.

How to Cook a Tart (2002) by Nina Killham. I found this on the shelves of a second hand store in San Francisco. It was the most organized book section in a second hand store I had ever seen. I felt like I was in a regular used bookstore. This was a light read and a bit over the top.  I can’t say I loved it. It was entertaining for what it was: A cookbook author obsessed with rich foods, food, love, an affair, temptation—sometimes ridiculous, but entertaining.

The Sharper Your Knife, the Less You Cry: Love, Laughter, and Tears at the World’s Most Famous Cooking School (2007) by Kathleen Flinn. I absolutely loved this book. A memoir about a period in Kathleen Flinn’s life that revolves around cooking, passion, love, dreams—ultimately her experience as a student of Le Cordon Bleu cooking school and all that she gains along the way. I was riveted from page one until the end.

The Pearl Diver: A Novel (2004) by Jeff Talarigo
A work of fiction that takes place in the year 1948 in Japan, the first 34 pages set the stage for the young pearl diver who develops leprosy and is sent away to begin a new life of isolation from the world she must leave behind. The remainder of this short book of 240 pages is told through “the artifacts of Nagashima.” The book is sad, haunting, poignant—it will linger with me for a long time.

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