New Library Card Day

May 5th


Our book club red “Into the Beautiful North” for April; having read “The Hummingbird’s Daughter” last year, we were looking forward to Urrea’s latest. This novel takes the current immigration conversation and turns it upside down. It’s the story of Mexican women from a small southern town who decide they are tired of living in a town without men. All of the men have gone north to the US for work. And so, they create a plan to go get their men back.

There are several notable characters and the writing is colorful. That said, writing a novel that competes with the beauty of “The Hummingbird’s Daughter” is tough. Kingsolver has yet to top “The Poisonwood Bible.” Marquez will never top “100 Years of Solitude.” Courtenay’s “Power of One” was the one.

So, “Into the Beautiful North” is fun, light-hearted reading. But it isn’t Urrea’s best. We collectively agreed we wanted more. More detail, more character development, more resolution.

Three of five bananas

Similarly, in the easy reading category — “The Solitude of Prime Numbers” is an enjoyable read. I bought this on a day trip to Colorado last month and managed to finish it in one day, with flights both directions. It is one of those novels that I looked up and 200 pages had gone by. I was fully engrossed in the characters. And these characters are memorable. I’ve found myself thinking of their story several times in the last month, wondering where they are today — as if they are long, lost friends.

This novel didn’t teach me anything new about culture or take me to some far off land where I’d never traveled. But novels like this teach me more about humanity, and as a writer — more about dialog and phrasing.

Four out of five bananas, absoloodle.

I’ve also read several health books lately while riding the primal eating train. The title is horrible, but the information was worth my time — “Why You Get Fat.” I won’t preach about primal eating, but I will say I’m seeing sweeping changes in weight for friends who are following it. In my half-ass attempts, I’ve noticed how grains effect my digestion. Like so many other wild claims and great intentions I’ve shouted publicly from the blog, I’ll instead say I’m working on eating this way. (Also, a great primal eating blog.)

Four out of five bananas.


And a false start — I recently tried reading “The Diagnosis.” No go. I got 100 pages into this novel and I couldn’t enjoy the character’s mania dealing with temporary amnesia. As it goes with so many books I read, the content has to fit my mood. Thankfully, I got my Colorado library card yesterday and checked out four new novels for the next three weeks. (These lovely deer were chomping away in a front yard on my walk home. Oh, Colorado life — you are keeping things interesting. If I can make a suggestion? Fewer snakes, more deer. I saw my first evil slithery monster yesterday too. I would have taken a photo, but I was too busy screaming at the top of my lungs and fleeing in mania.)

First up, “The History of Love,” by Nicole Krauss.

What are you reading?


Posted in
2011 Books, Media
Follow the comments.

14 Responses

  1. Oh, Kelli, thank you for the beautiful pictures and the book recommendations! I just finished “Tinkers”–and loved the beautiful language–its a book I’ve picked up and put back down a thousand times at the store, and finally just bought it and read it. The language of the writer is so rich to me–much like Toni Morrison’s–I can just feel it in my bones! I have just started “The Elegance of the Hedgehog” and the musings of the characters both surprise and delight me. I find it difficult to put down so that I can get to bed in a timely fashion! Hope you are having a great day–please keep sharing the beauty of your new home and the books you are enjoying! Fun!

  2. Debbie May 5, 2011

    I’m currently reading “The Peabody Sisters: Three Women Who Ignited American Romanticism”. This is a great book that described the lives of three women who could hold their own with the great thinkers of the time even though women were not allowed formal schooling at the time. We were never taught about the role of women in this period of American history and this book really brings to life how difficult it was for women during the early 19th century. I highly recommend this book. Love your deer pics!

  3. Yay, new book recs just in time for summer reading. I’ve got Tina Fey’s Bossypants, The Wilder Life (about a Laura Ingalls Wilder fanatic), and Mark Bittman’s Food Matters books on my nightstand right now.

  4. Currently reading “She’s Come Undone” (yes, I’m a little behind the times). Not enough hours in the day to read as much as I’d like! Thanks for the great recommendations!

  5. It really is hard to top “The Hummingbird’s Daughter”, isn’t it?
    I’m trying to read Mark Richard’s memoir “House of Prayer No. 2.” It’s told in the third person, which feels highly impersonal, disjointed, and disconnected, like he doesn’t really want to remember everything (can’t say that I blame him). I’m not sure if I can finish.

  6. How dare you move to Colorado and snatch up all the good library books! And if you don’t like snakes, well you just move on back to Arizona where there are no snak… Wait, what’s that? There are snakes in Arizona? Oh, carry on then.

  7. I recently tried to get into History of Love but could. Not. Get into it. Frustrating! Last month our book club read The Grapes of Wrath and since I’d never read it (really! I know!) I was excited to read A Classic. And it was great. Amazing even. Others who had read it before said it made an even bigger impression this time ’round because of the economy now.

  8. I always note your book recommendations. I’m way behind on my reading right now, though, for some reason. Currently I’m reading the sort of book I never read…”One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are.” I generally prefer good novels like you have suggested but this one is definitely spiritual and inspirational. My latest blog post is about it.

    And, how cool to come across grazing deer while just walking around.

  9. I always enjoy reading your book reviews. I’m currently reading Mary Higgins Clark, “The Shadow of Your Smile”. Just started it (pretty entertaining so far).

  10. “Just Kids” by Patti Smith. She was my icon when I was (much) younger, and I’m really enjoying it.

  11. Kelly,

    I laughed at what you said about “The Diagnosis”. I bought it a long time ago at a book store, read it and HATED it. I think i skimmed through to the end because I felt obliged to finish, but it SUCKED. Then about 2 years later I got a haul of books at Borders. I sat down to read one of my new purchases, and not only hated it, but it seemed familiar. Finally I looked up from my “new” book, “The Diagnosis”, to see on my bookshelf–my 2nd copy of this stupid book. So, i guess the write up on the back is incredibly compelling, but the book itself–not at all.

    I have a good bunch to recommend: The Madonnas of Leningrad, about a real event–the Germans occupying Leningrad during WWII and the docents who work at the Hermitage have to hide all the artwork. Now they are guarding a museum filled with empty frames, and begin giving each other “tours” describing details of the paintings that once occupied the frames. This storyline alternates with that of one of the docents, now elderly, who is suffering from Alzheimers. It is a strangely uplifting book and beautifully written, plus the paintings referenced are all real, so you can look them up after you finish the book and see if the description and your vision match the actual painting.

    I’m loving The Weird Sisters, about 3 sisters named after Shakespearean characters–very engrossing and I don’t want it to end. Each sister is very interesting and it is proving to be another very well-written book.

    I’d also recommend The Art of Racing in The Rain, which ends as all good stories about dogs do (have kleenex handy) and, for something completely different, a non-fiction book about the life of Mary Astor–what NYC was like during her time and how her life ended up, which was just recently resolved in court. The name of the book is “Mrs. Astor Regrets”.

    Glad you’re having such fun in Golden already; i will definitely let you know when i am headed out to boulder to visit katie and see if we can meet in person!

  12. I just started reading

    I had picked up for a quarter in the library sale area. So far it’s not too exciting but I’m still in the first chapter lol.

  13. Honestly, I’m finally reading your book. And I am loving it. I’m a little better than 1/2 way. I both can’t wait for it to end to see what happens and don’t want it to end. xo

  14. Brittany May 8, 2011

    Kelli!!!!! The History of Love is one of my alltime favorite books! I hope you enjoy it as much as I did! In fact, knowing that you’re reading it makes me want to pick it up again. Great, great, great read.

    I’m currently reading your book and loving it so very much!!!