Book Review: The Wife by Meg Wolitzer

Book Review: The Wife by Meg WolitzerTHE WIFE
by Meg Wolitzer

Fiction
Scribner, 2003
Paperback; 192 pages
Source: Purchase

While on a plane to Helsinki, where her famous author husband will receive a major literary prize, Joan Castleman finally decides to leave the man she has spent most of her life with. From her seat in first class, she reminisces about her life with Joe, which started when she was a student at Smith College in the 1950s.

When Joan walks into her creative writing class at Smith, she is immediately drawn to Joe, the charming young professor. Joe, in turn, is impressed by her writing skills, and eventually he leaves his wife and baby for his promising student. For years they struggle in tiny apartments, Joan working at a publishing house while Joe tries to write a novel. Continue reading

Book Review: The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell

Book Review: The Sparrow by Mary Doria RussellTHE SPARROW
by Mary Doria Russell

Fiction
Ballantine; 1996
Paperback; 364 pages
Source: Purchased

In 2019, a listening post in Puerto Rico picks up a transmission that confirms the existence of extra terrestrial life. The otherworldy music is coming from a planet near Alpha Centauri, which comes to be called Rakhat. Secretly, the Society of Jesus launches an expedition to Rakhat to make the first contact with the Singers.

A team of eight, both Jesuits and non-Jesuits, land on Rakhat and make contact with a village of peaceful vegetarian Runa, who allow the aliens from Earth into their society. The explorers are fascinated by the culture they have found, although they quickly learn that the Runa are not the ones who made the music transmitted to Earth; the music came from a larger city populated by the Jana’ata, a group the Runa seem to fear. Eventually, the explorers make contact with the Jana’ata, but they unwittingly cause a lot of damage between the two dominating species because of their inability to fully grasp the complex societal structure on Rakhat.

Continue reading

My First Year as a World Book Night Giver

World Book NightYesterday I participated in World Book Night for the first time! World Book Night is a movement to spread the love of reading to light and non-readers. Publishers donate special editions of popular books, and volunteers go out in their communities and give them away.

I chose to give away copies of Wild by Cheryl Strayed, a book I love. I picked up my box of 20 books from my local indie bookstore a few days ago and stuffed them with my blog bookmarks and a letter with info about WBN, a recommendation for further reading, and my email address. Yesterday, I made a big “FREE BOOKS / WORLD BOOK NIGHT” sign and headed into downtown Buffalo. I basically just stood on the sidewalk in an area that gets plenty of foot traffic from a huge variety of people and said, “Hi, would you like a free book?” to everyone who walked by. Continue reading

Ten Characters Who Defy Social Expectations

Happy Tuesday, bookworms! Like a true blue book nerd, I love a good list.

This week for Top Ten Tuesday, the folks over at The Broke and the Bookish ask bloggers to list ten characters who X. This is SUPER flexible, and today I’m writing about ten characters who challenge social expectations. A lot of my favorite books are about women who defy the norms / expected gender roles of their times, and I’m excited to share them!

Top Ten Tuesday Continue reading

Book Review: Parnassus on Wheels by Christopher Morley

Book Review: Parnassus on Wheels by Christopher MorelyParnassus on Wheels
by Christopher Morley

Fiction; Novella
Melville House; Aug. 31, 2010 (original pub 1917)
Paperback; 142
Source: Book Riot Quarterly Box

Helen lives a quietly contented life on a farm in Upstate New York, which she runs with her dreamer of a brother, Andrew. When Andrew writes a popular book, his success spoils him a bit, and he goes traipsing off around the state collecting material for his next book, neglecting his farming duties.

One day, a man named Roger arrives at the farm with the most curious contraption Helen’s ever seen: a horse-drawn van covered with books, with a living space in the center. Roger introduces his bookmobile as the Parnassus and tells her about his travels selling books all through the country. When he tells her that he came hoping to sell his bookmobile to Andrew, who had gone out for a few hours, Helen knows her brother would jump at the chance to own it — but for the good of the farm, she can’t let him have it. He would never get any work done again! Instead, she buys the Parnassus herself, and she embarks on a grand adventure with Roger, his horse Pegasus, and his trusty dog Bock. Continue reading

Mid-Month Book Look: What I’m Reading

aprilHappy Saturday, readerkins! It’s a little later than I had planned, but I’m checking in with a quick mid-month reading update.

So far this month I’ve read Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro and All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr, both of which were fantastic. I’m currently reading The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell, which isn’t something I probably would have picked up without the numerous recommendations from trusted sources, but I’m loving it! Also, whenever I think “Jesuits in space” in connection to it, the “Jews in Space” song from A History of the World, Part 2 pops into my head. (I know it’s not a real movie). So, there’s that.

I’ve also taken a kind of accidental two-week break from blogging. I’ve just been feeling uninspired to write, so I’ve been totally neglecting this space. Thank goodness for a few pre-scheduled posts, so it hasn’t been completely quiet. It’s been a nice break, and now I’m coming back with gusto!

Book Review: Judging a Book by Its Lover by Lauren Leto

Book Review: Judging a Book by Its Lover by Lauren LetoJUDGING A BOOK BY ITS LOVER
by Lauren Leto

Essays
Harper Perennial; Oct. 2, 2012
Paperback; 269 pages
Source: Book Riot Quarterly Box

Have you ever needed to pretend that you’ve read an author whom you haven’t gotten around to yet? Are you curious about the rules for bookstore hookups? Do you wonder what your favorite author says about you? Are you aware of what your child will grow up to be if you read him/her The Giver? Do you just love reading intelligent, funny writing about books by a person who is clearly passionate about them? If you answered yes to any of these questions, Judging a Book by Its Lover is for you.

This relatively slim volume contains essays about the many facets of being a bookworm — including Leto’s proposal to change the term to bookcat. Some pieces are personal essays about her own life as a reader, from her no-shame enjoyment of The DaVinci Code to her childhood spelling bee flub to trying to obtain a copy of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows on its release date while teaching in Japan. Other essays are bookish rules and how-to’s. I’ll share a few examples: Continue reading

Book Review: The Word Exchange by Alena Graedon

Book Review: The Word Exchange by Alena GraedonTHE WORD EXCHANGE
by Alena Graedon

Fiction
Doubleday; April 8, 2014
Hardcover; 384 pages
Source: Received from publisher for review

Set about a decade in the future, The Word Exchange portrays a world in which paper books and newspapers are a thing of the past, libraries and bookstores have shuttered their doors, and most people rely on handheld Memes for everything from communicating with friends to ordering food in restaurants to looking up hard-to-place words in conversation.

Our story opens shortly before the launch of the third edition of the North American Dictionary of the English Language (NADEL), which will be the last edition to be published in print. Ana works for the Dictionary under the direction of her father Doug, its Editor in Chief. The third edition has been his life’s work, and its publication will be the triumph of his career. However, one night Doug vanishes from the NADEL office, leaving a single written clue for Ana to find: the word “Alice,” a code word they had agreed to use if either of them were in trouble. Continue reading