A reader of this blog might know that my profession is organizing homes and offices. When I first began organizing I worked with a few hoarders–people who had accumulated so much stuff that their lives are unmanageable and several rooms in the house are unable to be used for their intended purpose. I stopped working with hoarders when I realized that much of the disorder and compulsive shopping or saving of stuff is due to a mental illness and, even with therapy, is very difficult to “cure.” Organizing a true hoarder is a Sisyphean task and far more intimate (dirty undies) and gross (garbage smells, pet feces) than I signed up for. Still, it is fascinating and often the first thing people ask me about when they find out what I do. E.L. Doctorow’s novel based on hoarders Homer & Langley Collyer crosses the organizing, novel and biography categories in my library.Continue reading “Homer & Langley by E.L. Doctorow”
For some reason I was hesitant to pick up this book again. I’d read it at least twice before and remembered loving it but didn’t recall too many specifics; it had been a long time. Nothing about the Library of Congress list of themes particularly appealed to me: hermaphroditism, teenagers, Greek Americans, Detroit. One did lightly strike a chord–gender identity–because I’ve recently completed an experimental class on body image and sexualization of females. So I pulled Middlesex off the shelf.Continue reading “Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides”
Back in late March 2020 I was on a kick to think of books that would be good to read during the pandemic, specifically under the shelter-in-place conditions. A Gentleman in Moscow immediately came to mind, reviewed earlier, as did Bocaccio’s The Decameron, which I don’t own, so won’t review. Then I remembered Bel Canto, by Ann Patchett, a favorite novel of mine that has only dimmed a bit in favorite-ness because I have liked so few of Patchett’s other novels Continue reading “Bel Canto by Ann Patchett”
The first time I read A Gentleman in Moscow was for a real book club. I absolutely adored it on my first read, and I had been very attentive, knowing that I would be discussing it with some very smart women in a few short weeks. I had really enjoyed Amor Towles first novel, Rules of Civility, although it had a somewhat chilly tone, and found A Gentleman in Moscow to be a much warmer and even more satisfying a read. Continue reading “A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles”
Adam Johnson, I learned from reading the back flap of my cherished First Edition of The Orphan Master’s Son, is a professor and lives in San Francisco. I got chills–genius is always so close and yet so far, right? I feel a stupid sort of pride in the fact that the author of such a great book lives in my neck of the woods.
I originally read this book right after it came out. I had just joined a book club and it was the very first book I read with that club; unfortunately it and maybe a couple of others were the only few books I thoroughly enjoyed over three years in the club (which in part led to the formation of the SBC). I reread The Orphan Master’s son last week and it was every bit as good as I remembered with the added oomph being that I now know so much more about North Korea (thanks, Donald Trump) than I did in 2011, and that made it all the more impressive and intriguing. Continue reading “The Orphan Master’s Son by Adam Johnson”
Who could imagine a novel about a pair of contract killers could be heartwarming and sometimes sweet? The Sisters Brothers by Patrick DeWitt is all that and also extremely funny. From the title to the last line, it is original and entertaining. It makes me want to read everything else DeWitt has written but that desire is tinged with fear that nothing else will be quite as good. Continue reading “The Sisters Brothers by Patrick DeWitt”
Steve Martin’s novel, An Object of Beauty, is itself an object of beauty. It’s got a super sexy dust cover, thick and creamy, with slick raised lettering that looks like it was cut out from a modern masterpiece. There are nicely reproduced photos scattered throughout the book of paintings and sculptures that are mentioned in the text, which is so fun for the reader to be able to instantly see the art the characters are referencing. Continue reading “An Object of Beauty, Steve Martin”
I got a copy of Donna Tartt’s The Secret History as soon as it hit the bookstore. My favorite bookstore at the time was a satellite of Berkeley’s famous Cody’s, located in the Opera Plaza on the corner of Van Ness and McAllister in San Francisco. It was the same bookstore where, if you put a dollar in a glass jar, you were allowed to look at Madonna’s Sex book for a minute, and there was a line for that privilege, which seems awfully quaint now, with the internet and everything. It was 1992. Continue reading “The Goldfinch, Donna Tartt”
The 80s are back and I can hardly believe it. There is a female editor (again, post Tina) at Vanity Fair, ridiculous volume in clothing, and a familiar new wave sound on the Sirius XMU channel, and they are giving me flashbacks. I never thought I’d worry about shoulder pads and nuclear war again, but here we are. Big Brother is one thing, but the return of Big Hair would be a real tragedy.
The news of the day, with themes of surveillance, white nationalism and American exceptionalism make it a perfect time to revisit George Orwell’s 1984. I sure hope they are still reading it in high school, although from the sound of the Parkland student speeches and youthful activism of the moment, maybe they don’t need to. 1984 made me quake in my jelly sandals in the 80s; I’m glad to see the kids of 2018 have the courage to speak truth to power. Continue reading “1984 by George Orwell”
The Sellout is one of the most entertaining and original books I’ve read in a long time. it came into my library via a book club I belonged to and was definitely one of the highlights during my few years of membership in that club. (I didn’t get thrown out of the club, but being childless and not inclined to participate in a potluck, I eased myself out of that club and into this one. In the Selfish Book Club I can now enjoy my books from a reclining position as God and nature intended.) Continue reading “The Sellout by Paul Beatty”