BOOKWORM

A Brief History of Seven Killings

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The latest novel to win the Booker Prize is the incredible A Brief History of Seven Killings, by Jamaican author Marlon James. It tells the tale of the rampant gang culture that took place in Kingston during the late 70’s and early 80’s, including Bob Marley’s assassination attempt. While the characters are fiction, the historical period is not. The political parties, the ghetto dons, the CIA operatives, the rule of Michael Manley, and the Rastafari ideology – all are accurate historical references. The story is told in multiple voices: gang members who “chat bad,” a philosophical ghost, one woman who reinvents herself with a new name and a new city every time she appears.

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In Other Words

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There are some authors I biased toward, it’s true. And Jhumpa Lahiri definitely falls into that category, so with her new book, In Other Words, I pre-ordered my copy last month as soon as I heard it was coming out, and knew before it even made its way into my hands, I was going to be fond of this one.  Continue Reading

Italian Ways

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I have a newly determined reading goal for the year, so I can greatly increase my book intake in a calendar year. And I’ve started off with January on track. So let’s discuss my first read of the year. . . Continue Reading

Mastering the Art of Soviet Cooking: A Memoir of Food and Longing

Mastering the Art of Soviet Cooking

Anya Von Bremzen is a very well-published food writer, a regular contributor to Travel + Leisure, and author of the cookbook Please to Table. Mastering the Art of Soviet Cooking is not a cookbook – it is an evocative memoir of growing up in Soviet Russia. She also discusses her frustrations and her fascinations with the brightly colored boxes of American food, paralyzed by the multiplicity of choices after emigrating to the United States. I was drawn to this book for the love of food writing, and of course by the playful cover illustration that captured my fancy.

The food is Soviet Russia was affected very much by who was in power at the time, so Anya’s memoir runs in order of Lenin (during the Russian famine), Stalin (in which locals spent hours in food lines for soured vegetables), and then Kruschev (so much corn, wayyyyy too much corn and too little of everything else).

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We Have Always Lived in the Castle

We Have Always Lived in the Castle

I love this creepy creepy book about a little girl named Merricat who is essentially the Bennington, Vermont version of the The Bad Seed. Shirley Jackson’s We Have Always Lived in the Castle is the story of the three remaining members of a wealthy family who were murdered by dipping into the sugar bowl. The poisoned sugar killed them at their prosperous dining table; the townies, resentful of their stingy wealth, are thrilled. Constance, Merricat and Uncle Julian are the reclusive survivors who spend their days cooking, pulling vegetables and flowers from the garden and cleaning the house to an obsessive-compulsive degree. They add to the never-ending rows of jars of pickled veggies and jams in the basement. They talk to their cat…and also listen to their cat. Impaired Uncle Julian spends his days documenting the minutiae of the last living day of his family in a draft of a never-to-be-published book. And the townies sing a song in mockery about poisoned tea with sugar.

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“Stop Reading! You’re Avoiding LIFE!!” – My Mother

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Years ago, when I was a junior in college, I started writing down all the books I was reading in a notebook. Just a simple list so I could actually see how many books I was getting through in a year. I adore reading; it is my meditation practice and my church experience. I used to get in trouble for reading too much. (My mother thought I was avoiding life, although I don’t recall anyone ever telling her that she painted too much.) I get cranky, really cranky, if I can’t read every single day. There are so many books, and so little time. My job in particular sure seems to take a lot of time away from reading. In elementary school, I won first prize in 3rd grade for reading the most books over the summer. The principal announced my name, and I walked down from the bleachers and got to stand in the middle of the gym floor, holding my prize – a book, natch. It was Are You There, God? It’s Me, Margaret wrapped quite neatly in yellow tissue paper.

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War & Peace

Did you know that if you read 25 pages of War & Peace every single day, you can complete it in 56 days? You can! And you can even enjoy it!
Where I read War & Peace: the hair salon (pictured), the subway, Chop’T, in front of the fireplace in Southampton (pictured), on a coach bus to Big Bear, on a red eye flight, in the bathtub at a farm in Connecticut (pictured, you’re welcome), in the lobby of the High Line Hotel, in the lobby of the LINE Hotel, in the car next to my dog (pictured). Where I Read War & Peace

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Finding Sweet Valley High

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If you know anything about me, you know that I was a huge, I’m talking huge fan of the Sweet Valley High series (And of course TBSC, you know what that stands for, if you read that series too) during my elementary and junior reading days. And as much as I loved the series, the book covers are so iconic to me and I will never be able to forget them. They’re so recognizable!  Continue Reading

The Maytrees

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Annie Dillard is an author recommended to me by the booksellers at 192 Books, my local weekend haunt. The Maytrees is a quiet novel about the love story of a married couple living in a beach shack in Provincetown. I read this entire book with a pencil in hand, underlining gorgeous sentence after gorgeous sentence. It begins with Toby and Lou falling for each other. They’re a free-spirited young couple who care about their books, the landscape, the pouring rain, each other’s freckles and eyebrows, and eventually, their young son. An affair splits them apart for years, but like the steady and incessant beams from a lighthouse, Toby finds his way back home to Lou’s seaside shack. It’s a bohemian tale of love, forgiveness, and changing tides.

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The Here and Now

The Here and Now

If you are a lover of The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants – and honestly, why wouldn’t you be? – then you are likely a follower of its creator Ann Brashares. Her latest YA novel, The Here and Now, follows Prenna, a girl who came back from 2095 due to complete climate disaster along with hundreds of other time immigrants. They live amongst the regular folk, hiding from the fact that an enormous plague will soon be distributed by mosquitos. She marvels at the ease with which she can plant a flower and watch it grow, and can swim in the ocean on a hot day.

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