Monday, March 09, 2009

3 Good Books (plus 1)

I was very lucky on my last trip East to bring along three books to read, each of which was very good, all quite different from one another. With the help of my Amazon change jar I've read a stack of books since the start of the year, but most of them were heave ho's aside from these three:
The Bad Seed by William Taylor. This is the second time I've read this scary story of a charming little girl who kills people because of her greed. It was a huge hit in 1953, also a movie, (which I haven't seen), but the author died before it was published. Set in the high social world of a small Southern town, the writing is careful, beautiful and memorable, and so is little Rhoda...

The Trees by Conrad Richter. This wonderful book, recommended by my friend Ann V., is the first in the author's "Awakening Land" trilogy. I've just ordered the second book. Published in 1940, it's the story of a pioneer family settling in Ohio in the early days of this country when Ohio was still the frontier. Richter was particularly interested in capturing the language of the pioneers which he believed was unlike the formal speech you imagine, and which trickled down in dialects of country people.

Roseanna by Maj Sjowall and Per Wahloo. This Swedish detective novel is I guess the groundbreaker for all the Swedish crime books which have followed over the years. The lead character is detective Martin Beck. It even has a well written introduction by Henning Mankell, the best of all these writers, who seems to have stopped writing his great Kurt Wallendar novels, although a group of short stories about Kurt Wallendar's early years is coming my way.

A friend gave us The Uncommon Reader by Alan Bennett, a very short and charming satirical book about reading and the royal life. The main character is Queen Elizabeth. I haven't quite finished it.

The heave ho's are stacked in the back: The Torso, Sunstorm, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, The Princess of Burundi, Alice Waters and Chez Panisse. The first four are all Swedish crime novels, highly touted, just not very good.

Because of my years in Berkeley, and because I grew up in Chatham and my brother dated her, I enjoyed the Alice Waters book. I only ate in the restaurant twice though, and it certainly wasn't the world I was living in, in Berkeley.

What have you been reading lately?


Mean Jean said...

I played little Rhoda once in Jr. High.

Linda said...

Have you ever read A Confederacy of Dunces? A great description:
I think it must be the source of Norman for me.

I just put Shortpages on my phone, and downloaded the first food book I came across ("Feed Me! Writers Dish About Food, Eating ...") I'm curious about how reading on the phone will be.

I had downloaded Stanza, another reading application before, but never could find any books other than Moby Dick and Emma. But I think that may be changing fast.

p.s. Mean Jean, that's too fantastic.

Namowal said...

I've never read The Bad Seed but I've heard of it. Maybe I should take it for a spin. There's something creepy yet fascinating about adorable charmers who are, in fact, cold and calculating.

Sally said...

Mean Jean, that sounds like a supreme moment. Surprised it didn't keep you on that acting road.

Linda, I couldn't get into it the one time I started it. I think I'll try again as it may be in our book shelf. How does it seem not to be touching paper when you read something lengthy?

Namowal, see if you can find it.

stray said...

It's so interesting that your brother dated Alice Waters! The food at her restaurant is delicious but not really on my budget. I wonder how the place is faring during this recession.

Sally said...

Stray, he's not mentioned in the book! I bet Chez Panisse is being hit by the recession like most restaurants. Not a good time to be a waiter, or a journalist, or a... person who has a job!