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Reading List

April 13, 2011

jennybadman

My dear, writer friend Amanda asked me for a post on the books I’ve recently or currently reading. She’s also the mother of a 2 1/2-year-old, so her reading time is pretty limited. Here’s to finding a few quiet hours with a great book, sweet friend!

Nora Ephron wrote my favorite movie, When Harry Met Sally…as well as Heartburn, Silkwood, Sleepless in Seattle, You’ve Got Mail and a plethora of others. I read her first book of essays: I Feel Bad About My Neck: And Other Thoughts On Being A Woman, and liked it so much I had to have her second book, this one.

I love Nora Ephron. In fact, one of my life goals is to have a really delicious, hilarious lunch with her in New York. Cocktails would also suffice.

If you’ve never read anything by Joan Didion, this is a pretty intense and incredible place to start. A vivid, detailed and sometimes disturbing account of the late sixties and seventies in America: everything from the Manson murders to Ms. Didion’s notes from a recording session with The Doors.

I was stunned and shocked to learn in the first pages of this book that I’m not the only one on the planet who, when asked what I’d like, often responds with the words: “A pony!” It’s also a handy addendum to the question, “Anything else?”

Anyway, Ms. Crosley writes funny. This is a wonderful, quick read. I love her honesty, sarcasm and commentary on how the way we grow up doesn’t necessarily seem strange or weird…until you start meeting a whole bunch of people who grow up completely differently. For instance, while a camper at a Christian summer camp (Crosley was raised Jew-ish), one of Crosley’s fellow campers is shocked to discover that she didn’t have “horns.” Crosley’s response had me laughing for the better part of the day:

“I had no idea that people thought Jews had horns. Where I came from, Jews had good grades and BMWs.”

This is a bold statement, but I’m not afraid to make it. If you haven’t read any Billy Collins, you’ve missed one of our country’s finest writers. I give you:

“…Just think-
before the invention of the window,
the poets would have had to put on a jacket
and a winter hat to go outside
or remain indoors with only a wall to stare at.

And when I say a wall,
I do not mean a wall with striped wallpaper
and a sketch of a cow in a frame.
I mean a cold wall of fieldstones,
the wall of the medieval sonnet,
the original woman’s heart of stone,
the stone caught in the throat of her poet-lover.”

I reluctantly admit to you that my knowledge of Patti Smith music was minimal. As in, it began and ended with “Because The Night.” However, I picked up her memoir Just Kids in the bookstore, read the first page and immediately bought the book.

All that I didn’t know about Patti Smith as a woman, writer, artist, friend and lover comes to beautiful light in this book. Again, I didn’t know of her years-long relationship/friendship/kinship with artist Robert Mapplethorpe until I read this book, a vibrant, honest and wide-eyed story of love, art, music and growing up.

A great book for writers of all sorts about our evolving profession, mission and inspiration in the digital age. Also comes with helpful career and health tips, like:

“Also, don’t use the word ‘learnings.’ You might not realize it right away, but slowly, inexorably, your soul will start dying.”

I first heard about Stewart O’Nan on NPR. His latest novel, Emily, Alone, garnered wonderful reviews. I decided I’d go back a bit and picked up Last Night at The Lobster, a novel about the last night of business at a Red Lobster in Connecticut. Warm yet lonely, this book says so much about jobs, the relationships we build within them and around them and how we define ourselves. Lots of bittersweet and an especially telling read for anyone who’s ever worked for even a moment in the food and beverage industry.

Now. How about your recommendations?

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One Comment

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  1. hughtube #
    April 13, 2011

    Yay, I am so excited about this post. Not just a list, but reviews and tantalizing quotes. Damn you. I must read them all. I will get back one day with My List.

    Smooch.

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