Don’t Call It A Staycation

I really need a vacation. Preferably one where you sit in a beach chair all day reading and drinking margaritas.

Alas, because of a series of unfortunate events (no time, no money) and fortunate events (dream job) I am not taking an official vacation this year. While this makes me incredibly sad, I will at least take a few days off and enjoy some serious, quality reading time.

Books I tried to save for vacation

Flight Behavior, Barbara Kingsolver

Kingsolver is not afraid to tackle big subjects like immigration, the Congo’s struggles for independence and social equity and it’s no different here. In Prodigal Summer she touched upon environmental issues, but focusing more on ecology as science as opposed to political movement. In Flight Behavior Kingsolver confronts climate change as a political issue, but is not afraid to include issues of faith, miracles and what nature means to people.

Unearthly beauty had appeared to her, a vision of glory to stop her in the road. For her alone these orange boughs lifted, these long shadows became a brightness rising. It looked like the inside of joy, if a person could see that. A valley of lights, an ethereal wind. It had to mean something. She could save herself.

A Working Theory of Love, Scott Hutchins

I was fortunate enough to meet Scott Hutchins and hear him read at the American Library Association’s Annual Conference.  Nice guy. A Working Theory of Love opens with a perfect description of living alone and is a thoroughly modern love story. This story has something for everyone: artificial intelligence, a mid-life crisis and the perils of love, grief and surviving adulthood.

It’s like, there’s me and then there’s this animal that’s like in me. And I’m just living my life, walking around, going to work, but I know this animal can take over. Just for a second. But I get that feeling a lot- that I might say or do anything.

Sniper, Nicolai Lilin

Lilin combines several of my favorite subjects in both of his books: Russian history, tattoos, gratuitous violence and memoir. His first book, Siberian Education: Growing Up in a Criminal Underworld covers his early life as a gangster in post-Soviet Transnistria. Sniper picks up where Siberian Education left off, with Lilin being drafted into the Russian Army to fight in Chechnya. Although there are questions about the factuality of both books, there is no question that Lilin is a powerful writer with an eye for detail (and hyperbole.)

Gone Girl, Gillian Flynn

Gone Girl is the book on all the lists right now. As it should be. On the night before her five year wedding anniversary, Amy Dunne disappears. What follows is a harrowing, psychological tale of betrayal, punishment, and plot twists. After this book, you’ll be thrilled (or horrified) to know she has two more, just as twisted and dark; Sharp Objects and Dark Places.

Books I plan to read

World War Z, Max Brooks

This was the most recent book chosen for the new Book Buzz program at Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh. I started it, but put it aside for later. It’s definitely not lunch reading: unless extremely graphic images of bones poking through bloodless skin are your thing.

Cloud Atlas, David Mitchell

I feel like the last person on Earth to read this book (soon to be a major motion picture.) I rarely like Man Booker Prize nominated books, but I’m feeling hopeful about this one. Described by some reviewers as six perfect novellas, Cloud Atlas follows six vastly different characters loosely connected through history.

In One Person, John Irving

John Irving is the other author I heard speak at the ALA convention. He was worth getting up at 6 am for. For an hour he answered librarian’s questions (almost all about sex!) and then read a passage from In One Person. Of course he chose to read the passage that is homage to librarians. Swooning abounded. Some are calling In One Person Irving’s most politically important novel since Cider House Rules. Instead of abortion, Irving addresses sexual identity, particularly in the context of the AIDS epidemic. You know, a little light summer reading.

Book I wish were out

Phantom, Jo Nesbø- October 2

First of all, Jo Nesbø not only an author; he is a musician, songwriter and economist. Phantom is book nine in the Harry Hole series. This time Detective Hole is in Hong Kong, far away from police work and plans to stay there. Then the boy he helped raise is arrested for murder and Harry is barred from officially working the case. Yet he can’t help but investigate. Nesbo combines great characters with unlikely, yet believable plots for great results.

The Twelve, Justin Cronin- October 16

If you didn’t read The Passage (opening line: “It happened fast. Thirty-two minutes for one world to die, another to be born.”) get it immediately. The Twelve follows the survivors of the viral plague and the Second Viral War.

The Secret Keeper by Kate Morton- October 16

If Kate Morton hasn’t been compared to du Maurier, she should be. Her first three books, The House at Riverton, The Distant Hours and The Forgotten Garden are all gothic anti-fairy tales. Atmospheric and moody, Morton writes about babies switched at birth, past lives and the dark secrets families keep. The Secret Keeper promises murder and thievery. I’m sold!

Any books you think I should be reading? I’m game for anything!



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3 responses to “Don’t Call It A Staycation

  1. Eleanor "Serene" Mendicino

    Suzy, thanks for your list — I love to hear about new books and authors — yur book club just read “The sweetness at the bottom of the pie” — I loved it.

  2. I also have Cloud Atlas on my “to read” list. You are not alone in being the last person to read it. Thanks for the other books as well. My “to read” list is now even longer.

  3. Congratulations on your dream job! Much better to have a job you love than a vacation with a beach chair. I can’t wait to read Sweet Tooth by Ian McEwan, myself.

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