The October reading theme is pronouns (e.g., he, she, they, we, me, I, us, etc.). This is a great theme, rich in possibilities. Unfortunately, I’ve been otherwise committed to library books and reading groups and haven’t yet made much progress.
I have finished one book, I Still Dream About You, by Fannie Flagg. The book was fine, but Fannie Flagg is in a difficult position with me, because Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Café is one of my favorite books (the movie is good too, but not so good as the book), and now every time I read Fannie Flagg, it’s no Fried Green Tomatoes. However, I Still Dream About You did have Flagg’s signature humor, and I would add that she’s in fine form on that count in this book. There were at least four times I started laughing so, I had to stop reading. Not a tee-hee or under your breath heh-heh, but neither a guffaw. Rather, a long chuckle that’s almost a giggle. A chuggle? Not many books make me laugh out loud, much less invent a new word, so I’d have to say I Still Dream About You was definitely worth my time.
Currently in progress: So You Want to Talk About Race, by Ijeoma Oluo. I’m reading this to discuss with Sheila, and while I’m not far into it, I can tell I’m going to learn a lot (of course what I don’t know about race is immense, so that isn’t difficult). I kind of think it might change the way I think about race (as of p. 33). I’m also reading Republican Like Me: How I Left the Liberal Bubble and Learned to Love the Right, by Ken Stern (part of my ongoing effort to understand and help bridge the partisan divide).
In poetry, I’m reading You and Yours, by Naomi Shihab Nye. I recently loved her book The Tiny Journalist and am appreciating You and Yours as well.
I only finished Fannie Flagg a couple of days ago and have yet to pick up a new novel. Top contenders (as of this moment; it will be different by the time you read this):
- Sister of My Heart, Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni
- The Love of My Youth, Mary Gordon
- Never Let Me Go, Kazuo Ishiguro
- Why She Left Us, Rahna Reiko Rizzuto
One of the best things about the reading theme is that it brings to my attention books that have been on my to-read shelf for years. The above books have been patiently waiting for 18 years, 12 years, 6 years, and 15 years, respectively. Before I started the reading theme, I mostly read the books I had most recently purchased. And since I purchased more than I read, a lot of the books over the years have gone unread. (I happily have my problem under control now and purchase far fewer books than I read.)
Back to pronouns. Other books I’m looking at for nonfiction (the elite of the moment):
- Call Them by Their True Names, Rebecca Solnit
- Through No Fault of My Own, Coco Irvine
- Rage Becomes Her, Soraya Chemaly
- This Much I Can Tell You: Stories of Courage and Hope from Refugees in Minnesota, compiled by Minnesota Council of Churches and Refugee Services
- I Could Tell You Stories, Patricia Hampl
Of these, I’m most interested in Rage Becomes Her: The Power of Women’s Voices. This book isn’t a diatribe but a broad look at how women are allowed to express (or more often, repress) their anger, complete with more than 60 pages of notes and an index. Even as a woman who has experienced this, I think it will be eye opening.
Perhaps not coincidentally, it is also the most recently purchased book of the bunch, having been in the house a mere two months. The Solnit is relatively new, at 1 year. Irvine has been around 4 years, and the Refugees for 8. Hampl is the outlier here: I’ve had this since 2003. I’ve read many of her other books since, but still not this one. Perhaps this month?
Poetry at the top of the pile:
- The Way She Told Her Story, Diane Jarvenpa
- They Tell Me You Danced, Irene Willis
- I Think of Our Lives, Richard Fein
- The Girl with Bees in Her Hair, Eleanor Rand Wilner
- Combing the Snakes from His Hair, James Thomas Stevens
Here there is no question, Jarvenpa will be next. She’s local, and I’ve already read several of her books of poetry, usually focused on nature. She’s also a musician (in the name Diane Jarvi, and in fact she sang at our wedding 12 years ago, so I’m a little biased).
And I will admit the only reason I included the last two poetry books is that I love the titles, most especially one above the other. It’s tempting to shelve those two together, even though I’m obsessive about alphabetizing my poetry. And for those of you that are interested in such things, I’ve had these books for 1, 13, 14, 11, and 13 years, respectively.
We’re in one of my favorite times of year, autumn—so beautiful. Yesterday we drove across the Mississippi, and the leaves in the river valley are seriously starting to change. Gorgeous, even on a cloudy day. On a sunny day it will be stunning.
Happy reading to you all—enjoy the fall!