Tuesday, January 24, 2012

What I'm reading

I've always been a big reader. When I was a kid, I would spend my summers trekking to my local library and devouring as many Baby Sitters' Club and Lucy Maud Montgomery books as I could. My love of books and reading led me to study English Literature at university. I still keep lists of all the books I read each year -- a habit I started when I was about 10 that gives me a perverse sense of nerdy satisfaction.

So, in the spirit of book-loving and list-making, I thought I'd share what I've been reading lately. First up -- a few that I've just finished and enjoyed.

The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon
 This book was lent to me by a colleague with the promise that I'll love it, but with the caveat that it's hard to get into. She was right on both accounts. This is one of those multi-layered books where the interconnections between the characters and storylines don't become clear until the mind-blowing conclusion. It's set in Spain in the years after WWII, when a young boy named Daniel comes across a rare novel that changes the course of his life. It's a spooky, sad, romantic, and addictive read.

 Death Comes to Pemberley by P.D. James
 I could. Not. Put. This. Down.  As a hardcore Jane Austen lover, I loved getting a peek into the post-marriage life of Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy. I kept forgetting that I wasn't actually reading Jane Austen. My only complaint is how P.D. James interpreted my beloved Lizzie -- in this book, she's more of a dutiful wife who says all the right things rather than the spitfirey single gal who tells it like it is.
 As Always, Julia - The letters of Julia Child and Avis DeVoto
This book made me fall in love with these two women. Everyone knows Julia Child, of course, and her sassy yet down-to-earth style. But the biggest surprise of this book for me was Avis. She's smart, sharp, plugged in, self-deprecating, witty, and accomplished. She was certainly a tour de force and the reason why "Mastering the Art of French Cooking" was published. I was blown away by the sheer volume of the letters these two women exchanged -- hardcore (and hard-copy) correspondence like that just doesn't really happen anymore. This book made me want to write thousand-word letters to my friends, cook things like duck and goose and travel back in time to have dinner with Julia and Avis.

And here's a few books that are on my to-read list.

 The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
Everyone I know keeps telling me to read this book, which chronicles a morbid kill-or-be-killed ritual in post-apocalyptic America. I gotta get to this one before the movie comes out in March! 
Loving Frank by Nancy Horan
Ever since I visited Fallingwater in Pittsburgh last fall, I've been a little obsessed with Frank Lloyd Wright. This book is a fictional account of his real-life affair with a married woman. I've heard nothing but good things.

The Marriage Plot by Jeffrey Eugenides 
The main character of this book is an English major writing her thesis on George Eliot and Jane Austen -- so clearly I couldn't resist. This book is a love triangle that takes the "marriage plots" of Austen and Eliot into the 21st century.

Have you read and good books lately, dear readers? Have you read any of these? Any more recommendations for me?

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