Monday, February 16, 2009

The Castle Captured Me

I've been making more time to read in 2009. Here are some titles you may want to check out.

I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith
Published in 1951 (I think) but then out of print for many years, this novel was the most wonderful surprise. I loved it and know I will read it again and, if I have a daughter someday, will share it with her as I plan to share my Anne of Green Gables books. This novel is a perfect blend of romance and reality. I actually remember picking it up and putting it down many times back when I used to visit Joseph-Beth Bookstore multiple times a week. I think the title made me associate the book with fantasy and/or historical fiction, neither of which is a favorite genre of mine. I regret that I didn't encounter this book sooner. My fault and my loss.

A Free Life by Ha Jin
This novel tells the story of a young Chinese couple and their son, immigrants in the U.S. who end up making a life in Atlanta. In partnership with his wife, the main character Nan works hard to build a business, pay a mortgage, and provide for his family. Yet he continues to nurture his dream of writing poetry in English. I liked learning about life in China from the perspective of persons who left that country. I also really admired Nan's dedication to creating not just a life, but the life he wanted. This is a bit of a slow read, but the journey of creating a free life can be slow too so it worked for me.

Eat, Memory: Great Writers at the Table edited by Amanda Hesser
Collection of essays about my favorite topics -- eating, food, gathering for meals, preparing meals, eating out, friends -- previously published in The New York Times. One of my favorite essays was about the popularity of TANG in China. As seen above, I now really like learning about China. It is nice to read essays for a change.

I Love You More Than You Know by Jonathan Ames
Speaking of reading essays for a change, I purchased Ames' collection on Audible a couple of years ago but then never listened to it. The audiobook is of him reading his essays, and I really liked it and him, well more than I thought I might enjoy tales of being in the bathtub with a ball of snot that ends up being a cockroach, visting a prostitute, or obsessing over warts. I was impressed by Ames' honesty and his sense of humor and look forward to reading more of his work.

I've read some other stuff as well, but those are the titles I wanted to tell you about for now. What are you reading? What's your favorite read of 2009 so far?

(Sorry I did not link to the titles' Amazon descriptions as usual, but I am using hubby's laptop, and I struggle with it for some reason.)


msh said...

very excited to have some new books to add to my "recommended" list on my library page! i always read the books you pass along and i always love them! favorite read of 2009 so far is definitely cormac mccarthy's "the road"--i can't stop thinking about this book and i think i will definitely have to read some more of his stuff. and i think i read this in 08, so this is cheating, but i loved loved loved "the namesake" by jhumpa lahiri--another one that has just stayed with me. and on the lighter stranger side, a mep rec, "candy girl"--diablo cody fascinates me for sure.

Anonymous said...

I LOVE Hesser's "Cooking For Mr. Latte." Do you know it? Lovely, lovely, and I read it every summer. And it has pictures! And recipes!

And "Ms. Mep"? How about "Dr"?!

Sara G.

CaraBee said...

I just finished The Story of Edgar Sawtelle and I really liked it. My best friend loaned it to me with the proviso that she had begun it and couldn't get into it, quitting after 100 pages. Our tastes are generally pretty similar, so my expectations were quite low which might have influenced my final opinion. Whatever, I liked it and recommend it.

Amy said...

Told you about this book the other day, but Firefly Lane by Kristin Hannah. I am still reliving bits of it in my mind (and probably overanalzying). Also recently read Harvesting the Heart by Jodi Picoult (sp?) which is about a first time mom. It was good and I related to so many of her emotions that she was going through (without ruining the book she carried hers a little further than I did, although the thought crossed my mind). Not sure what to read next, but may look for some of the ones on your blog at teh library.

E... said...

I'm struggling to find time to read lately, and would really like a nuts and bolts accounting of where and when you clear out time to do so. I just finished Interred With Their Bones, a Shakespeare inspired thriller which I really enjoyed, and plan to discuss it in the Kindle post I've been drafting for weeks in my head now.
I really must go read I Captured the Castle. I somehow always confused it with The Glass Castle and thus can never remember what it's really called when I'm looking at the library.

Steph said...

Thank you for these recommendations! I will go request Captured the Castle from the library right now!

I've got a confession - I've been hooked on the Twilight series. I'm not-so-patiently waiting for book 3 to arrive. I'm # 22 of 24. I look at it as a practice in patience. Not my strength.

Actchy said...

I'm reaind Power of One by Bryce Coutenay for my next book club meeting. I saw a movie with Morgan Freeman of this title years ago. My local bookstore ordered this book for me and when it did so, the sales guy said, "Oh, yeah: the South African story?" And I said, "No, that's a movie by the same name. This is different."

I based that statement on nothing, as I had done zero research on the book.

Naturally, as it turns out, that Morgan Freeman movie was based on the book. But the book is a much fuller story that far exceeds the time line of the movie. I am going to feel a little silly the next time I see that guy in my bookstore.

Actchy said...

Good Lord. Could I possibly have had more typos in that comment? Groan. Acey woke up three times last night.

CaraBee said...

I just had to come back and say that I read I Capture The Castle and loved it! Thanks for the recommendation.

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