I have so, so, so many good books on my nightstand waiting to be read. I'm close enough to my New Years goal of reading thirty books this year, but I haven't read as many substantial tales as I have wanted. Days will go by when I'll hardly read a page. I'm trying to make myself read at least 15 minutes a night. I set the timer. Usually I'll go way past my 15 minutes, but it's the getting started with heavy eyelids that is my biggest hurdle.
I've read more than the usual amount of memoirs this year. I do love a good memoir. But my favorite in a long time is What Remains: A Memoir of Fate, Friendship, and Love by Carole Radziwill. Let's be honest, I picked it up because she was the newest cast member on Real Housewives of New York this season, and also because she has a royal last name. But I wasn't familiar with her before, even though this book was a best seller when it came out 2007.
This story is just so well written and, to use a review word, haunting. The introduction had me all the way in, sad as the events are that she is describing. The book is hard to read in some places. It is about death. It is about cancer. Knowing this almost kept me from purchasing, but something told me to read it anyway. It is beautiful and sad and very real. But beyond all that, there is an interesting take on life right next to the spotlight, on a life with all the benefits of glamour without as much of the hassle. Perhaps that is the part that I really related to?
I read most of The Sense of an Ending while on a big blanket at the park on a Friday afternoon. I can't remember having done such a thing since I had kids, though taking a blanket to the park was something I used to do all the time back in my other life. Reading this book under a tree with the sunlight on my face cured anything that ailed me.
This is an absolutely beautiful read. It's short - 176 pages - and Barnes says more in those few words than most every other book you've read at twice the length. It's a moral story, almost (but not quite) day-in-the-life, a little like Mrs. Dalloway. The language is simple, but this is more for the literary reader, not for those who love plot and action. I just loved it. It won the 2011 Man Booker award.
Broken Harbor is the latest by one of my favorite modern fiction writers, Tana French. French's books are all murder mysteries (my very favorite so far is The Likeness), and they clip along at a crime procedural pace. They're perfect for long airplane rides or the beach. The characters and plot in Broken Harbor are great, and much more believable than, say, In the Woods. But this one is not for the tender hearted. The murder is quite gruesome and involves children. This part was hard for me. But I'm a Tana French fan girl and this was an entertaining read that kept me interested from beginning to end. It might, in fact, be my new favorite of hers.
Mr. Peanut by Adam Ross was recommended to me by a reader friend I trust. I picked it up blindly at the bookstore after remembering her mention of it. I simply cannot spoil a word of it for you, but there are really two books here (in the best way). A story within a story, and I was completely captivated by them both. You're never entirely sure where Mr. Peanut is going, which might usually be a turn off for me, but in this case I was riveted. I thought about the characters, I couldn't wait to get back to them. The whole thing is sort of circular. It's also very, very disturbing. It was definitely one of the best books I've read this year.
Soon I plan to do a few list posts of my favorite books ever (favorite memoirs, favorite mysteries, favorite books on faith, etc.). If you have ideas on a category, let me know! Reading is one of my very favorite topics.
What are you reading right now? Anything I should be making a note of?
A little housekeeping: Typepad changed up their widget system, which makes it hard to display the What I'm Reading and What I've Recently Read lists in my sidebar like they were before. I've made a new button (currently on your right) that says I Read Books that will now house the same information. This may just be a temporary fix, I'll let you know.