This bookworm is excited to be linking up with Taylor and Lesley, my fellow Literary Junkies. Like to read? Join in and share the love! This week’s questions really get to my reading soul, the source of my love for books. I’d love to hear your thoughts as well!
1. What are you reading right now? Tell us about it.
- I’m reading listening to Lost in Shangri-La by Mitchell Zuckoff (who does the reading) during my interminable bouts on the recumbent bike. It’s really the only thing getting me through those workouts… Anyway it’s a true story about some American troops on New Guinea during WWII who become marooned in an unknown land with what they believe to be a tribe of cannibals. It’s beyond fascinating and very well-written. Strong recommend for this one!
- I’ve also just started The Hare with Amber Eyes by Edmund de Waal, an intriguing history of multiple generations of one great European family as discovered while the author researched an inherited collection. Too early to review, but so far I at least appreciate the prose!
- Finally, to add something lighter to the mix, I’m dabbling with The Paris Wife by Paula McLain (in follow-up to Hemingway’s Moveable Feast, which I just finished). It’s about Hemingway and his “Paris Wife”, Hadley, though it is an historical fiction piece. Having just finished Moveable Feast, I find McLain’s writing style to very much in line with Hemingway’s, so this book is really working for me so far.
2. Give us the recipe for a great book. There isn’t one! In fact, I can tell the difference between someone who writes for the art of writing or because he can’t help but spill out a story and someone who writes to keep publishers and consumers buying, following some proven “recipe” or “method”. The latter almost never grips me, feeling a bit like an arranged marriage: perfect pictures, great description and no actual feeling. The former, however, are written in a way that I can almost physically feel the story pushing against the author’s skin from the inside, hoping to get out and be shared. These books can suck me out of reality so profoundly that when someone who belongs in my actual space and time interrupts my reading, I’m momentarily confused, unable to place (for example) my husband walking in to the kitchen in the context of the book. Maybe my short answer is this: If The Gentleman interrupts my reading by saying hello and I look at him bewildered, thinking “wait, what are you doing in 1963 Michigan or the castle at Winterfell?” THAT, that is a great book. Also, if I’m compelled to keep reading a book not because I’m curious about how it ends, but because I feel personally responsible for liberating the story and resolving the conflict of not knowing all its details, then THAT, that is a great book.
3. Tell us things you’ve learned from a book recently. Did you learn anything about history? Did you take away a deep & profound realization about the world around you? Or maybe even a beauty tip? One of the main reasons I read is to soak up history – not just events but the more subtle “where we come from” details that truly talented writers capture with ease. It would be impossible to list all that I’ve learned, but I think a recent stand-out detail is the way different languages capture similar ideas in such different ways because of the influence of culture. Specifically, I learned in Lost in Shangri-La that the aboriginal people who “star” in the true story used the same word to describe their current place and time. So, where romance languages describe those two things differently (as, um, place and time), the two concepts are represented as one word and therefore probably one concept in this particular tribe. It makes me wonder about the unique characteristics of culture that would lead a people to not distinguish between place and time. Interestingly, that language also spoke of war using a word the implied war was a constant and unending state. Whole other can of worms, there, folks.
4. What was your favorite book as a child?I’ve mentioned these before, but Secret Garden and all of the Little House on the Prairie books were my favorite. They are all perfect examples of subtle detail-capturing that when woven together show our history without bluntly stating it. To this day, I have a vivid picture of the (secret) garden in my mind that taunts me and makes me want to discover concealed connections. Great books, all.
What are you reading these days? Have any authors particularly inspired you?
Have these questions inspired your own responses? Link up here.