Thursday, March 13, 2014

What I Read - January and February 2014

I try to read about a book a week. Sometimes it works, other times, not so much. Either way, what I'm reading changes what I'm writing, so I thought it might be fun to share that with you. Maybe one month, like my friend Dann, I'll share everything I've read. (I read many more articles in a given month than books.) For today, though, you get the books and nothing but the books.

East of Eden - John Steinbeck
I've been a big fan of Steinbeck since high school, but every time I started East of Eden, I'd put it back down rather quickly. Now that I've read through it, I can't figure out why. It's brilliant and everything about it felt comfortable, like this is the book I've been waiting for. It helps that I'm fascinated by all things Biblical, American, masculine. It took me two months to finish this, and I read the six books below while I was working on this one, but it was worth every second I spent with it. 

Where's the Moon, There's the Moon: Poems - Dan Chiasson
Dan Chiasson is one of my favorite poets (I'm excited to read this review on my way home today), and this collection didn't disappoint. I especially loved "Here Follows an Account of the Nature of Birds," "Satellites," and the poems in "Coda: Hide-and-Seek." The long titular poem was also incredible.

Orange Is the New Black: My Year in a Women's Prison - Piper Kerman
An interesting and fast read, which I picked up after falling in love with the Netflix series. I taught in a women's prison while I was in college, so I have some extremely limited experience in the environment and was glad to see it being explored more in-depth and with some sensitivity. I'd be interested to see Kerman speak.

The Union of Geometry & Ash - Josh Booton
As discussed here. Really loved this debut.

Saints and Strangers - Angela Carter
I share Carter's obsession with historical fact, folklore, and women. I didn't love this collection quite as much as I loved The Bloody Chamber, but I did really appreciate The Fall Rivers Axe Murders. It felt visceral and I loved it almost as much as I loved the titular story in George Saunders's Civilwarland in Bad Decline

The End of the Suburbs: Where the American Dream Is Moving - Leigh Gallagher
I read this with my book club, and was surprised by how interesting it is. The smallest details (building porches onto houses, making sure the streets are organized into right angles) can make an enormous difference in the community of a place, and while I've experienced it my whole life, I never realized it until reading this book.

This Is New York - Miroslav Sasek
The classic children's book, which I bought for a friend's baby shower and then read once I got home. I was surprised by how un-charming I found it.