Yes, I completely agree. One. I am bad at updating 'Currently reading', it's to the right if you haven't noticed it or my failing to update and Two. I've been away for too long. Thank you so much for your sweet emails and encouragement. Nothing is wrong, I've just been swamped. Work is great and going really well but sometimes it is exhausting and adding to that I've started about a million projects and really, really hope to finish at least one or two before fall. We'll see. I like being busy and juggling a lot at the same time. It's like my friend Hanna said, "When you have one thing to do you finish half of it, when you have ten things to so you finish eleven." Too true.
To the book pile, since March I've read quite a few books. Typical Felicia books you could say. Except Nina Solomin's Ok, Amen. My colleague Simon lent it to me and I thoroughly enjoyed reading something I wouldn't buy myself. Then again when I look at the pile now I realize how very different these books all are.
The Pale King by David Foster Wallace - a posthumous unfinished novel compiled from notes and pages by Wallace's editor, this is in large a philosophical book dealing with our very existence and meaning as human beings, how to achieve happiness and if there truly is anything to be happy about. Towards the end of the book Wallace concludes that "Bliss [is] a second-by-second joy and gratitude at the gift of being alive." Very well put in my opinion and truly a book well worth reading especially if you are a fan of Infinite Jest.
Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother by Amy Chua - a much debated must read for every mother and father to be. Chua's child rearing techniques will sound harsh, brutal and utterly incomprehensible to some but I found her book a joy to read even though I wouldn't necessarily employ her ways. This is a funny, honest book about a mother's quest to help her daughters realize their full potential and provide them with a platform and the skills to excel in this very competitive world we live in.
State of Wonder by Ann Pratchett - a book largely about women, their rivalry, companionship and biological purpose it centers around research scientist Marina Singh who travels deep into the Amazon rain forest in search of her presumably dead research partner. There she is forced to deal with not only the buried horrors of the jungle but also suppressed events from her childhood and adult life. This is a great jungle adventure and should be read as one. If you are in search of Conran I recommend Barbara Kingslover's The Poisonwood Bible instead.
The Sisters Brothers by Patrick DeWitt - a deadpan, fascinatingly gritty and at times truly funny debut novel, which captivated me from the first page to the last. In a sense a Classic Western told in the words of reluctant hit-man Eli Sisters while he and his brother Charlie ride across America during the gold rush to kill off a man they have never met because their employer The Commodore has ordered them to do so. Over the course of their journey Eli contemplates their choice of profession, his life and previous dealings and his relationship with his brother in a thoughtful manner weighing every word. In another sense it is a tale of how two brothers' love for each other help them conquer all obstacles and look beyond their differences. If you are a Cormac McCarthy and maybe also Walter Hill fan and especially like their sparse skillfully written dialogue you will thoroughly enjoy The Sisters Brothers.
Swamplandia! by Karen Russel - probably the best book I've read this year and also one that truly touched my heart. I wrote about it here.
The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes - a fit winner of the Man Booker Price 2011, I think that The Sense of an Ending displays English prose at its best, compact and subtle, managing to turn ordinary human failings into a rich story. Barnes weaves an intricate net of one man's lost memories and broken promises, his questioning of what was and debating what if when he lets his narrator look back at his life and revisit old events, friends and past lovers.
The Group by Mary McCarthy and The Best of Everything by Rona Jaffe - I read these two books largely because of my Mad Men obsession. Don reads The Best of Everything in season one presumably to learn what women want and Betty reads The Group in season three maybe because she longs for the independence displayed by the book's heroines. Basically this is chick-lit from 1963 and 1958 respectively. Even though The Group is a comparatively much richer novel they would have better suited me at 13.
The Rules of Civility by Amor Towles - a fast paced roller coaster ride through late thirties, early forties Manhattan The Rules of Civility follows two young headstrong women in their quest for love and success and tells the story of how one serendipitous meeting changes and form their lives forever.
Ok, Amen by Nina Solomin - a personal account over Solomin's time spent with Hasidic Ultra-Orthodox Jews in Williamsburg, Brooklyn in the nineties. Solomin sets out to understand Hasidic traditions and heritage and how the community has changed since the first Hasidic Jews moved here after the Second World War. She also examines how the gentrification of the area and globalization at large is influencing the population. To me, who didn't know much about Hasidic Jews this was a perfect introduction but if you already know a lot you would probably find Ok, Amen a bit simplistic.
Ariel by Sylvia Plath - when I don't have the patience for a novel but still need to calm my mind I tend to turn to Sylvia Plath, E. E. Cummings or Edna St. Vincent Millay.
- photographed by me, candleholder The Knot of Friendship by Josef Frank at Svenskt Tenn