Summer Reading and Writing

July 7th

Seattle 2015

 

I’ve been lax in writing about what I’ve been reading lately. There have been some great books I’d like to discuss:

1. Ahab’s Wife. Let me just get this off my chest right now: I’ve never read Moby Dick. I KNOW. I have ordered a copy and plan on reading it later this summer. In the meantime, I got swept away in the book, Ahab’s Wife — a creative look at what the captain of the Pequod’s wife experienced both when he was briefly in harbor, and mostly far away hunting his nemesis — Moby. It is a long, beautiful story that weaves in real life characters who would have been near Nantucket during the same time. It is not an easy read, and it took me more than three months. I would read 50 pages and then put it down for a week, digesting it like a heavy meal. I was also savoring it, though. Naslund caught and kept my attention for three months — there is something to be said for that.  3.5 bananas, absoloodle. 

2. Etta and Otto and Russell and James. This book was like an ice cream cone on a hot summer day. I picked it up and didn’t want to put it down, it was so delightfully entertaining. It’s what I call a “stop light book.” I would drive with the book across my lap, catching another paragraph when at a red light during my commute. A delightful and fun read about a Canadian senior who decides she wants to see the sea before she dies. She leaves her house on foot and walks the thousands of miles to the ocean. Otto and Russell’s stories come to light as they miss her. James — well, I’ll let you read it to see who James is. The story is told creatively in flashbacks to childhood, paired with the aging and perhaps demented memories of current day. I loved this story. 4 bananas, absoloodle. 

3. The Orchardist. I also heard of this book from NPR’s favorite librarian — Nancy Pearl. Both this novel and Etta were on her summer reading picks. I found them when we were visiting Bainbridge Island earlier this summer and am so glad I listened to that segment. The Orchardist is a tricky read — with very little dialogue. However, I am not sure I’ve read better character development, other than that of Harry Potter. Two pregnant young women wander into an orchardist’s field while he is tending to his apricots and apples. He decides to help them, which sets their lives on a perilous and twisting path. This is also a great story, and a debut novel by a 31-year-old writing phenom: Amanda Coplin.  3.5 bananas, absoloodle. 

I’m currently reading Anne Patchett’s State of Wonder; Patchett can do little wrong in my book. I hold her close to Kingsolver and Garcia Marquez in my heart. Her book Truth and Beauty remains one of my favorites of all time, and who didn’t cry while reading Bel Canto? This woman knows how to tell a story. Next up: All the Light We Cannot See.

Seattle 2015

On the writing front, I’m happy to have found a new writing group. I’ve been newly encouraged to get back to the third novel, a murder mystery set in Colorado. I’m reading books differently these days. From the font to the story arc, I’m enjoying reading to see how others craft their art. I’d like to write a mystery as gripping as Gone Girl and as enchanting as Ahab’s Wife. 

Shoot for the stars, they say!

Happy reading, friends.

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6 Responses

  1. Sarah K July 7, 2015

    Ooh – State of Wonder. So good. I’m reading Dark Places by Gillian Flynn and hoping it doesn’t get too scary for me.

  2. I never enjoyed Moby Dick enough to finish it, or, for that matter, get past the first 200 pages. There are better things in life, like All the Light We Cannot See. That is worth reading, save one cliche and mostly forgivable scene at the end. Absoloodle (to borrow your word).

  3. Currently reading The Silent Wife, listening to The Memory Keeper and just starting Bel Canto….if only there were more time in a day!! (might I recommend Station Eleven to you? It has been my favorite read (listen) as of late…)

  4. Laura July 7, 2015

    I loved Ahabs Wfe, too. I have seen The Orchardist in the library, will have to pick it up. I tried Moby Dick before, couldn’t do it. I don’t know why it is considered a must-read. No-one has ever admitted to liking it!
    I’m reading A Tree Grows in Brooklyn right now. If you haven’t ever read it, put it on your list. Classic.

  5. Read The Silent Wife and Station Eleven in the last two weeks. I highly recommend Station Eleven as well! I loved State of Wonder. Currently reading Euphoria. I, too, have not read Moby Dick. It’s been on the shelf for a few years.

  6. StephanieS August 10, 2015

    “All the Light We Cannot See” was wonderful! Also try “Girl on The Train” if you haven’t already. Gripping!

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