I’ve had books on my mind a lot lately. I’ve always been a reader, but my intake has slowed a lot over the years, especially when I moved to a Boston suburb two years ago and started driving everywhere. (Public transportation – especially Boston’s, which is plagued by breakdowns and delays – is a godsend for people who like to gobble up books. Driving? Not so much.) I did manage to get through a few books last year, but right now I’m eyeing the stack that’s been piled up on my bedside table collecting dust. I have a bizarre habit of buying books in twos (I’m a lit-tle indecisive), so the stack has been growing at a rate that far exceeds my actual reading. I’d love to know if you’ve read any of these and, if so, what you thought.
Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, by John Berendt
In my previous job as a magazine editor, a reader once emailed me to pitch a story about a road trip down South that he and his wife were about to take in search of the place where they’d retire. Charleston, SC, and Savannah, GA, were on their list of spots. In his email, he tied books in with the destinations that the couple were to visit. This one corresponded with their visit to Savannah, and I immediately ordered it. (Along with South of Broad, by Pat Conroy, his corresponding read for Charleston. I read that one right away because, well, you know.)
Telegraph Avenue, by Michael Chabon
A couple of years ago I read The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay, another novel by Michael Chabon. I can’t count the number of times I’d picked that book up on visits to various bookstores and left without buying it. I don’t know what finally possessed me to buy it, but I did, and it remains one of the greatest books I’ve read. I’ve had Telegraph Avenue on my bookshelf for quite a while, and I even started it one weekend, but I haven’t picked it up since. Maybe I’m afraid it won’t measure up to K&C.
Where’d You Go, Bernadette, by Maria Semple
I don’t know much about this book yet, other than the rave reviews I’ve heard going around the halls at work. I bought this one along with Jess Walter’s novel Beautiful Ruins, which I finished at Christmastime (and highly recommend). I’ve been eager to crack it open but just haven’t done it yet. If nothing else, the cover has been fun to look at every night.
The Lace Reader, by Brunonia Barry
This is another one I don’t know much about. It was sent to my office at the magazine, as was often the case with books written by authors from Massachusetts and, more specifically, the North Shore (Barry lives in Salem). I love the idea of exploring work by local authors, which takes me to…
The Art Forger, by B.A. Shapiro
What I Talk About When I Talk About Running, by Haruki Murakami
Last, but not least, this is the book I’m currently “reading” (I’m about 20 pages in and started it right around the New Year, so it’s been slow going). I’ve never been a runner and don’t care to be, but when I discovered the book in a post by Damsel in Dior, one of my favorite fashion blogs, I was intrigued. A lot of fashion blogs are about just that – clothes – but I like Damsel for its author’s thoughtful, introspective, and sometimes heady posts. She gets inside her own head a lot, as do I, and credits running for her ability to find clarity and peace of mind. This book is what inspired her new running hobby, and I thought, if nothing else, it might help me find a new way to sort out my own web-like thoughts. If I learn to like running, well, I’ll consider it a bonus.
Tell me: Have you read any of these books? What did you think? And what do you recommend?