Highly Recommended

What are you reading? Why do you love it? 

Post book title, author, and one or more unique quality of the writing.

I'll start off with two extraordinary nonfiction titles:

H IS FOR HAWK by Helen MacDonald. An extraordinary blend of memoir, nature writing and literary/experiential analysis. Uniquely beautiful and honest writing, with a style that is both lush and direct.

BEHIND THE BEAUTIFUL FOREVERS by Katherine Boo. National book award winner detailing--grippingly--the travails of a slum family in Mumbai. Honest, breathtaking journalism. The writer is uniquely transparent and breathtakingly conscientious in her process of transforming interviews into accessible, meaningful prose.

  • One book that has stayed with me even though I read it last summer is "The Portable Veblen" by Elizabeth McKenzie. Her protagonist is atypical--kind of an underachiever, but highly intelligent, and the language, dialogue, and settings are all vividly articulated. I can feel the wind, smell the eucalyptus, feel her stomach gurgle, which means she really grounds everything in the senses. Not everyone will love this book, but I did, and the scenes with the mother made me laugh out loud. I so appreciate reading scenes that feel tense and real and that are cathartic for me because I've had some pretty odd conversations with my mother over the years. She's a sweetie, but is from the generation that never asked directly for anything--always used manipulative language because that's what she learned from her mother.

    Beyond the mother-daughter scenes, the book manages to cover lots of themes without overdoing it or announcing them in some didactic way. I think about the characters from time to time, so that means I truly connected with them. Sigh.  A cool book that once again proves the novel is not extinct, but instead fluid and relevant and fresh.

  • I love all of Gilman's books. Did you read the other two books in the Herland trilogy? If not, I don't recommend the first--it's pedagogical--but the third is amazing.

  • Glad I could help! I know what you mean about all those titles blending in (scary thought for my own writing!), but Strout truly does stand out. I haven't loved an author's stories the way I love hers in a long time. As a fellow reader I'm sure you know there's nothing like discovering a new favorite writer.

    FYI--If you do end up reading "Olive Kitteridge," HBO put out a mini series based on the novel.

  • I've recently discovered the works of Elizabeth Strout. I finished "Olive Kitteridge" not too long ago (won the Pulitzer in 2008), and now I'm halfway through "The Burgess Boys." What I absolutely love about Strout's writing is the humanism. 

  • I just finished Les Miserables  by Victor Hugo. It was all 5 volumes in 1 book. It was great read. I liked the way the book explained certain things compared to the movie.  

  • I am reading "In the Fall" by Jeffrey Lent. It's a beautiful book filled with rich characters and a plot that at times, sends the reader reeling. A young man, Norman Pelham, returns from the Civil War with a Negro wife, Leah. They build a life together in remote Vermont, have children, and then Leah's past returns to haunt her. The book raises numerous questions about race, and the cruelty of man.