Sunday, September 16, 2007

Need book advice, readers!

We're off to Colorado for October and November, now that Dinah's off to college. This time I think we'll have a high speed line.

I've been trying to find some good books to read. I'm a very fussy reader.

On Friday night I read Nora Ephron's book, I Feel Bad About my Neck, from library. It was fun. Some of her observations were very funny, some too New York for me to relate to, mostly it felt like a good blog or a book in a waiting room to pass the time. Returning it yesterday, I picked out two books, one by Alice Munro and one by Alice McDermott, but neither one engaged me and both are going back. Vow: no more Alice books for awhile, except I see I have one on the list below!

I've been looking at lists of the best 100 novels. Being as old as I am, I've read a lot of them. Also as soon as I see novel number one is James Joyce's Ulysses I'm doubtful. On the other hand, if they include John O'Hara, Sherwood Anderson, or Theodore Dreiser in their lists, I look closer.

Some of the lists seem to go so overboard on the pc thing that you can't trust them either. On the other hand, I thought Their Eyes Were Watching God was exquisite.

In no particular order, here are the books I'm considering ordering, after perusing internet lists. Any feedback on them would be greatly appreciated, even if you already realize I have too many opinions on things:

I'm worried, though. None of these except maybe the last one jumps out at me as can't wait to reads. But at least I got a list together. Alas I've read just about every Kurt Wallendar mystery now.

(and if you don't think it took a long time to post all these links-- but at least it made me place my order!)

I started The Disenchanted by Budd Schulberg last night, and it's great. Schulberg is a very talented writer who made the wrong decision in the McCarthy era.


sally g said...

Not on the list, but I'm reading the last Harry Potter and enjoying it.

Namowal said...

Stay away from Go Ask Alice unless you want a novelty read. It was written by an adult who cranked out a half dozen alleged "anonymous diaries" where some wholesome kid gets corrupted. More about it here if you're interested.
You might want to substitute Alice with The Basketball Diaries (Jim Carroll). It's excerpts from diaries he kept as a teenager. I'm trying to think of a a better word than "hijinks" or "mischief" to describe his misadventures, which eventually includes heroin addiction. Witty and horrifying at the same time.
If you've read the Basketball Diaries and hated it, then please excuse this post. ;)

Sally said...

Sally G, I never got started with that series. Dinah read every one in the series this summer before the last one came out.

Namowal, found out too late about go ask alice. Wonder if you've read Phoebe Gloeckner's Diary of a Teenage Girl?

Katy said...

Highsmith-Tremor of Forgery
Didion-Where I Was From
Richard Yates-Short stories or Revolutionary Road
Cheever-Short stories
Paula Fox-Borrowed Finery (memoir), or any of her novels
Harold Nicolson-Some People (1927)
Shirley Hazzard-The Great Fire; or Greene on Capri (her memoir of Graham Greene)
Graham Greene-Our Man in Havana

When Linda D and I worked in a bookstore, there was a book Time Travel: Myth or Reality? I never got around to reading it but I've always loved the title.

It's impossible to recommend books--you're lucky to find the right book at the right time, to suit your mood or interest. It's hard to know what voice will speak to you or carry you away, lost in a book, until you read it, hear it. Miss Highsmith is just about the scariest writer ever, in my book; she really creeps me out, and I have to keep reading her to the bitter end. I found Borges by chance, in a library when I was eighteen. I'm still attached to him and remember the thrill of first reading him. He was in the time travel vein, the reality side, for sure.

Nancy C. Brown said...

As a Chestertonian, I feel compelled to congratulate you on your top choice. The Man Who Was Thursday is an excellent novel.

linda said...

Wait a minute. Back up. Dinah's at college now? I think you left a major post out. How did the move go? I know it's been a gradual process, but ...

...And speaking of Pepper's new roommate, does Dinah get a roommate? I was really worried about this when I went to college, and I ended up with Angel, a perfect roommate for me, as her name was not at all descriptive of her personality. Now she's at a women's prison (working as a teacher though--ha!)

It was fun working at the bookstore with Katy. Katy knows the best books. I was in a book group for a little while. We read Their Eyes Were Watching God, a book I never would have read otherwise. I really liked it, too. On the other hand, I'm not able to read Chesterton, though my sister loves him. She even looks a little like Nancy (above). Tom is sending you a book that he read and liked, a mystery by I-forget-who, another one of those Scandinavian writers.

linda said...

When I was in the book group, I was reading Ellen Gilchrist. There was one book of her short stories that was incredibly good...Maybe it was Victory Over Japan. It was hard for me to imagine at that time that women over 50 could wear tennis shoes, have crushes on guys, hang out at bars, drive sports cars--still do fun things.

Sally said...

Wow, wonderful All these great suggestions and funny stories. Thank you all for the thoughts. Katy, I'm going to print this list out. I liked Cheever's stories too, and love Graham Greene. The rest are pretty much new to me. Linda, I was never in a book group, and always sort of envious of them. Once someone said she thought she could get me in, but they were reading books like DaVinci Code.

And Linda, it's a major difficult time with Dinah about to leave. I may post about it later. How nice that Tom may share a mystery with us. I remember when I first read about Henning Mankell there were other Norwegian writers also mentioned, but somehow he's what I ended up with.

Sally said...

And thanks for the post, Nancy. I'll visit the blog manana.

No one's mentioned the wonderful assortment of eccentric British women authors like Iris Murdoch, Beryl Bainbridge, Barbara Comyns, Barbara Pym, Rosamond Lehmann. Virago did such a great job bringing some of these books back into print in the 1980s. Some, of course, are still well known.

further bla bla: Nora Ephron does a funny review of Doris Lessing's Golden Notebook. I could not figure what was so great about her writing back in the 70's when it was very influential.

Katy said...

And don't forget Elizabeth Taylor.
Good summary here:

Can you read Anita Brookner? She's awfully good at the airless trap and the parental burden; she makes me crave fresh air, I open the windows or take a walk.

linda said...

Oh! I was confusing Barbara Pym with Muriel Spark. I kept looking for A Far Cry From Kensington under Barbara Pym. I love them both! K. introduced me to Barbara Pym. I also love Iris Murdoch. I was sad to read just now that Barbara Pym died of breast cancer when she was 66.

Sally said...

Katy, I went right out to the library to return the dismal Alice books and find Elizabeth Taylor. They didn't have a single one. grr. Several times I tried to get going with Anita Brookner, but just didn't corral me.

Linda, I like Muriel Spark and Iris Murdoch too.

I've never liked Jane Austen, and read every book the way I've eaten food that gave me food poisoning. "Ook, this tastes really awful. But maybe if I try another bite it won't be so bad." I liked the movie Clueless though.

Katy said...

It's a sign of good health not to take up with Anita B. Me, I've never finished a Barbara Pym. Let us know how your reading goes. I've spent so much time with fragmentary Internet reading it's difficult to recover the pleasure of reading novels.

Sally said...

Katy, for some reason I could relate to all the jumble sale stuff of Barbara Pym. I made a mistake of checking free shipping on my amazon order, so who knows when I'll see any of these books. (They save up till all are ready to ship, as you probably know.)

Jim Woodring said...

Just before my oldest friend died this spring he sent me a box of books. I'm going to read them slowly and stretch them out over as many years as I can, but so far I've read two and I can recommend them without reservation:

HOUSEKEEPING by Marilynne Robinson;


Incidentally it made my week to find your comment on my "blog". My wife Mary and I have loved your work for years and eagerly sought it out wherever we could find it in the days before everything in the world became available online. For whatever it's worth your cartoons are a big influence on me, aesthetically and as an example of what could be done by a person with vision and determination. From the depths of my being I thank you.


Sally said...

Wow I am totally overwhelmed by your comment, Jim. What a wonderful surprise to read your note. Your work is SO AMAZING!! Thanks for your kind comments!

Got to look up these books right now!