Showing posts with label Book Reviews. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Book Reviews. Show all posts

Thursday, March 21, 2024

Scattered Showers by Rainbow Rowell

Scattered Showers by Rainbow Rowell

Scattered Showers (2022) is a collection of nine short stories by Rainbow Rowell. Several of the stories feature characters from the author’s other works.

Here are brief summaries of each of the short stories:

“Midnights” - This story spans the course of several New Year's Eves from 2011 to 2014. As the years pass, Mags and Noel's friendship develops into something more.

“Kindred Spirits” - Elena camps out to see Star Wars: Episode VII and bonds with Troy and Gabe in the line. At first, she doesn’t understand why Gabe is not talking to her at all. The title made me think of Anne of Green Gables.

“Winter Songs for Summer” - Summer grieves her break-up by lying on her dorm room floor and crying while listening to “Silent All These Years” by Tori Amos. Benji, the guy who lives immediately below Summer, helps Summer move on by giving her mix CDs and expanding her outlook. As a Tori Amos fan, I identified with this story.

“The Snow Ball” - Libby hangs out with Owen as he prepares to attend the high school Snow Ball. She's resentful that her best friend isn't spending the evening with her watching movies.

“If the Fates Allow” - Reagan (from the novel Fangirl) and her grandfather spend Christmas together in 2020 during the Covid pandemic. Both are cautious and decide to spend the holiday together and apart from the rest of their family. Reagan connects with her Grandfather’s neighbor Mason over Jell-O salad and their shared caution over covid. This was a nice story that captured the time period really well.

“The Prince and the Troll” - A man from the road brings Starbucks to a muddy troll under the bridge.

“Mixed Messages” - This story revisits Jennifer and Beth years after the novel Attachments took place. I was glad they were still close friends.

“Snow for Christmas” - Simon spends Christmas with Baz's family. I haven't read the Simon Snow trilogy yet, so i wasn't familiar with these characters.

“In Waiting” - An author's characters live in limbo before she writes them into a story. I thought this was a fascinating premise for a story.

The volume was a fun read and good mix of romantic stories that gave me a taste for Rowell’s other works.

Purchase and read books by Rainbow Rowell:

Scattered Showers by Rainbow Rowell Attachments by Rainbow Rowell Landline by Rainbow Rowell


Saturday, March 16, 2024

Attachments by Rainbow Rowell

Attachments by Rainbow Rowell

Attachments (2011) by Rainbow Rowell is a story set in Omaha, Nebraska in 1999 and 2000. The novel begins after Lincoln has returned home to live with his mother after earning his second Masters degree. He gets a job in IT security at the city’s newspaper, but is stuck on the nightshift. His job ends up being a disappointment to him. There are no hackers to stop. Instead, he’s tasked with reading internal emails that are flagged as potentially inappropriate.

Lincoln begins reading the flagged emails between Beth Fremont, the newspaper’s film critic, and Jennifer Scribner-Snyder, the features copy editor. Jennifer is married to Mitch and terrified of getting pregnant. Beth has been in a long-term relationship with her college boyfriend, Chris, a guitarist in a rock band. Beth wants to get married, but Chris hasn’t proposed. Lincoln is amused by Jennifer and Beth’s email dialogue and can’t bring himself to send them warnings about their emails. Even though he knows it’s wrong, he continues reading their conversations.

In many ways, Lincoln is stuck. His first love Sam broke his heart in college, and though years have gone by, he’s never truly recovered from it. As he reads the emails between Beth and Jennifer, Lincoln begins falling for Beth, noting her humor, kindness, and way of expressing herself. Meanwhile, Beth notices Lincoln around the office and is infatuated with him. Beth begins emailing Jennifer about the new cute guy in the office, and eventually, Lincoln realizes she’s writing about him.

What should Lincoln do? He knows that he’s invaded Jennifer and Beth’s privacy. If Lincoln confesses the truth about reading their emails, will Beth forgive him, despite the weirdness of the situation? Does love before love at first sight exist?

The book has a fun premise with realistic characters. For instance, I liked that Lincoln played Dungeons & Dragons and enjoys pie at Village Inn. The pop culture references also struck a note with me and were skillfully used. I really loved the openness and intimacy in the email dialogue between Beth and Jennifer. So many people made deep connections online during this era, and their conversations reminded me of how much I loved writing emails during that time.

Purchase and read books by Rainbow Rowell:

Attachments by Rainbow Rowell Landline by Rainbow Rowell Scattered Showers by Rainbow Rowell


Saturday, February 10, 2024

Kitchen Confidential by Anthony Bourdain

Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly (2000) is a memoir by Anthony Bourdain about his career in the restaurant industry. As a child, during a vacation with his family in France, Bourdain ate a raw oyster, which ignited his passion for food. Bourdain describes his early escapades and experiences in kitchens and culinary school. He provides a first-hand account of how restaurants function.

I’ve wanted to read this book for many years, and wish I’d read it much earlier, prior to Bourdain’s death. Bourdain had such a sharp wit and sense of humor and a deep passion for life, travel, and food. His writings and words (in books and on television) allowed him to share his passion with the world and inspire us all to try new things and to be open to new experiences. It’s still hard to understand how a man with such joie de vivre was in such pain that he took his own life.

Purchase and read books by Anthony Bourdain:


Thursday, January 18, 2024

My Hygge Home by Meik Wiking

My Hygge Home by Meik Wiking

My Hygge Home: How to Make Home Your Happy Place (2022) is a book by Meik Wiking. Wiking is the CEO of The Happiness Research Institute in Copenhagen, Denmark. Hygge (pronounced hoo-ga) is a Danish word that describes a feeling of coziness, comfort, and well-being.

Wiking studies happiness through surveys conducted by his institute. He describes his institute’s results as well as those of other researchers. The book provides the reader with digestible statistics from various studies that indicate what components in a home bring people happiness. He couples these stats with anecdotes and personal stories. There is advice about lighting and the functional placement of furniture to make your space your own. Making a hygge home also involves spending time with loved ones, sharing meals, playing together, cooking, and growing plants and food together.

Some of the advice to make your home more hygge may seem to be common sense, but the book provides a reminder to make your space your own and to have it say something about you. The one downside is that there were a lot of stock photographs in the book, and most featured phony-looking, grinning people. They detracted from the authenticity of the book. I much preferred the illustrations throughout. They were charming.

Purchase and read books by Meik Wiking:

My Hygge Home by Meik Wiking The Little Book of Hygge by Meik Wiking


Friday, December 15, 2023

Monsieur Monde Vanishes by Georges Simenon

Monsieur Monde Vanishes by Georges Simenon

Monsieur Monde Vanishes (1945) is a novel by the prolific Belgian writer Georges Simenon. It begins on the morning of Norbert Monde’s 48th birthday. No one in his family remembers his birthday or wishes him. Likewise, his longtime employees forget it’s his birthday and treat the day as any other.

Monsieur Monde suddenly realizes he must escape his life in Paris. He leaves his second wife, two adult children, and successful career as an importer/exporter behind him, and he simply vanishes without a word of explanation. He withdraws a sum of money, has his mustache shaved off, and exchanges his perfectly tailored suit for a cheaper, ill-fitting suit in a second-hand store. He throws off his old clothes for a new identity and new life. Then he heads away on a crowded train to Marseilles with a sense that this rebellion has always been his fate.

In Marseilles, he overhears a fight in the hotel room next door, and saves a young woman named Julie from committing suicide. Julie and Monde understand one another to some extent, and Julie has no expectations of Monde, who has renamed himself Monsieur Désiré. Julie is a pragmatic, survivor. The pair travels to Nice together where no-nonsense Julie gets a job as a nightclub dancer at a gambling club. Julie manages to get Monde a job there too as a bookkeeper. Monde is also tasked with spying at a peephole, watching the staff and club members go about their nightly activities.

Monde is used to his routine in Nice when his first wife suddenly appears on the scene. Years ago, she left Monde and his children, and now she is a desperate drug addict. Monde helps her, but she doesn’t understand him. At the novel’s conclusion, Monde returns to his former life, but he’s a different man with a new outlook on life.

Monsieur Monde Vanishes is a novel about being taken for granted and about change, growth, and throwing off old habits.

Purchase and read books by Georges Simenon:

Monsieur Monde Vanishes by Georges Simenon Pietr the Latvian by Georges Simenon


Tuesday, December 12, 2023

The October Country by Ray Bradbury

The October Country by Ray Bradbury

The October Country is a collection of dark and scary short stories by Ray Bradbury that was first published in 1955. The selection has an autumnal feel with a mix of psychological, spooky, supernatural, and horror elements.

The October Country includes the following 19 stories:

"The Dwarf"
"The Next in Line"
"The Watchful Poker Chip of H. Matisse"
"The Jar"
"The Lake"
"The Emissary"
"Touched With Fire"
"The Small Assassin"
"The Crowd"
"The Scythe"
"Uncle Einar"
"The Wind"
"The Man Upstairs"
"There Was an Old Woman"
"The Cistern"
"The Wonderful Death of Dudley Stone"

I’ve been meaning to read the book in the fall for the past several years. This year, I carried out my plan and I started reading the book in October and continued reading it through the fall. My favorite story in the collection was “The Lake,” a poignant story about a man who returns to his hometown where he remembers an old friend named Tally who drowned as a child. I also found “Skeleton” and “The Scythe” to be particularly creepy.

Purchase and read books by Ray Bradbury:

October Country by Ray Bradbury The Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury


Saturday, December 9, 2023

So Late in the Day by Claire Keegan

So Late in the Day by Claire Keegan

So Late in the Day: Stories of Women and Men (2023) is a short volume of three short stories by Irish writer Claire Keegan.

The first story, "So Late in the Day," is the story of a man named Cathal who is reflecting on his failed relationship on what would have been his wedding day.

The second story, "The Long and Painful Death," is about a woman writer who is driving to Heinrich Böll’s house on Achill Island where she will begin a prestigious writing residency. The following day is the woman’s 39th birthday. Before starting work that morning, a German man, who is a stranger to her, visits wanting to tour the home. She agrees to meet him in the evening, but resents his intrusion to her day. She spends part of the day swimming, gathering berries, and baking herself a birthday cake. The man arrives, resentful and angry that she has spent the day swimming and baking instead of writing. He doesn’t think she deserves to be there. His misogyny is clear as he devours her birthday cake. The woman is inspired by the visit to write a story.

The third and final story, titled "Antarctica," is about a married woman who decides to have an affair out of boredom. While the woman intends to find freedom and fun, she instead finds something much darker.

Each of the stories explores misogyny, how women react to awful male behaviors, and the relationships between men and women. It’s an interesting trio of tales.

Purchase and read books by Claire Keegan:

So Late in the Day by Claire Keegan Small Things Like These by Claire Keegan


Friday, December 8, 2023

The Door by Magda Szabó

The Door by Magda Szabó

The Door by Magda Szabó is a haunting and unusual novel about the connection between two women. I read the translation from Hungarian by Len Rix. The story is narrated by a writer named Magda and describes her relationship with her servant Emerence. Magda begins the story by recounting a recurring nightmare and makes a dark confession.

Set in Budapest, Hungary, Magda’s story then winds back in time to recount how she and her husband decide to hire Emerence as their servant. Magda’s writing career is finally thriving again after it was restrained by the Hungarian government and various forces for years. To have enough time for her work, she tries to hire Emerence do the housework. Emerence is unusual and strong-willed. She tells Magda that she needs time to decide whether to take the job as she doesn’t work for just anyone.

In her own time, Emerence chooses to work for Magda and her husband. Emerence gets all the housework done, but keeps her own odd schedule. She has many other obligations in their neighborhood. Magda and Emerence have a love-hate relationship characterized by misunderstanding, cruelty, duty, and affection. It is a troubling portrayal of two unlikable and complex women over the course of 20 years.

Emerence doesn’t show Magda a whit of respect for her writing; instead, she values working with her hands. Magda resents Emerence at times, but is fascinated by her. She slowly pieces together Emerence’s life story, but she is never able to obtain a full picture of her. Magda sometimes longs for Emerence to be a mother figure to her, but she fails to be a dutiful daughter when called to do so.

The story ends in tragedy, and the ending is ambiguous and haunting. The writer is unnamed until late in the novel when she is referred to as Magdushka a single time. I was left wondering if the novel was autobiographical or not.

Purchase and read books by Magda Szabo:

The Door by Magda Szabó The Fawn by Magda Szabó


Thursday, November 30, 2023

The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman

The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman

The Graveyard Book (2008) is a novel by Neil Gaiman about a boy being raised by ghosts in an English graveyard. Geared towards young adults, Gaiman was inspired to write this story by Rudyard Kipling’s The Jungle Book (1894) in which a little boy named Mowgli is raised by wolves in the jungle.

The Graveyard Book tells the story of Nobody Owens. At the beginning of the novel, Nobody is orphaned when a man named Jack murders his parents and his older sister. Nobody manages to escape by wandering to a graveyard. The ghosts in the graveyard decide to care for him and protect him with the help of a vampire named Silas who serves as his guardian. Nobody, nicknamed “Bod,” is granted “Freedom of the Graveyard.” He is able to see ghosts and learn supernatural abilities, such as disappearing or Fading, Haunting, and Dreamwalking.

Bod has various adventures and learns about the outside world from the ghosts. He befriends a ghost witch named Liza Hempstock and a young living girl named Scarlett Amber Perkins, who later moves away to Scotland. Though he is safe in the graveyard, Bod craves learning about the outer world and convinces Silas to allow him to go to school. Unfortunately, when Bod attracts too much attention to himself at school, he has to leave.

Meanwhile, the man Jack continues to pursue Nobody with the goal of killing him to finish what he started. Nobody must use his skills to protect himself, his friends, and his home from the evil man Jack.

The Graveyard Book is a coming-of-age novel with an episodic quality. The main narrative conflict is the existence of the man Jack, but he is mainly absent from the story. Jack’s reason for pursuing Bod isn’t very compelling. Still, I really liked Bod and his friends, especially Scarlett and Liza, and I wonder where life will take Bod next.

There were many quotes and exchanges that I loved throughout the story. Here are a few of them:

Silas said, “Out there, the man who killed your family is, I believe, still looking for you, still intends to kill you.”
Bod shrugged. “So?” he said. “It’s only death. I mean, all of my best friends are dead.”
“Yes.” Silas hesitated. “They are. And they are, for the most part, done with the world. You are not. You’re alive, Bod. That means you have infinite potential. You can do anything, make anything, dream anything. If you change the world, the world will change. Potential. Once you’re dead, it’s gone. Over. You’ve made what you’ve made, dreamed your dream, written your name. You may be buried here, you may even walk. But that potential is finished.”

“That’s the difference between the living and the dead, ennit?” said the voice. It was Liza Hempstock talking, Bod knew, although the witch-girl was nowhere to be seen. “The dead dun’t disappoint you. They’ve had their life, done what they’ve done. We dun’t change. The living, they always disappoint you, dun’t they? You meet a boy who’s all brave and noble, and he grows up to run away.”

Liza could be seen now, a misty shape in the alleyway keeping pace with Bod.
“He’s out here, somewhere, and he wants you dead,” she said. “Him as killed your family. Us in the graveyard, we wants you to stay alive. We wants you to surprise us and disappoint us and impress us and amaze us. Come home, Bod.”

Bod had allowed himself no friends among the living. That way, he had realized back during his short-lived schooldays, lay only trouble. Still, he had remembered Scarlett, had missed her for years after she went away, had long ago faced the fact he would never see her again. And now she had been here in his graveyard, and he had not known her...

Then she said, “Can I hug you?”
“Do you want to?” said Bod.
“Well then.” He thought for a moment. “I don’t mind if you do.”
“My hands won’t go through you or anything? You’re really there?”
“You won’t go through me,” he told her, and she threw her arms around him and squeezed him so tightly he could hardly breathe. He said, “That hurts.”
Scarlett let go. “Sorry.”
“No. It was nice. I mean. You just squeezed more than I was expecting.”
“I just wanted to know if you were real. All these years I thought you were just something in my head. And then I sort of forgot about you. But I didn’t make you up, and you’re back, you’re in my head, and you’re in the world too.”

Nothing was said. Just a silence in reply, that echoed of dust and loneliness.

“How is she?”
“I took her memories,” said Silas. “They will return to Glasgow. She has friends there.”
“How could you make her forget me?”
Silas said, “People want to forget the impossible. It makes their world safer.”

...Mother Slaughter interrupted, “And I still feels like I done when I was a tiny slip of a thing, making daisy chains in the old pasture. You’re always you, and that don’t change, and you’re always changing, and there’s nothing you can do about it.”

Liza’s voice, close to his ear, said, “Truly, life is wasted on the living, Nobody Owens. For one of us is too foolish to live, and it is not I. Say you will miss me.”
“Where are you going?” asked Bod. Then, “Of course I will miss you, wherever you go...”
“Too stupid,” whispered Liza Hempstock’s voice, and he could feel the touch of her hand on his hand. “Too stupid to live.”
The touch of her lips against his cheek, against the corner of his lips. She kissed him gently and he was too perplexed, too utterly wrong-footed, to know what to do.
Her voice said, “I will miss you too. Always.” A breath of wind ruffled his hair, if it was not the touch of her hand, and then he was, he knew, alone on the bench.

“Will I see you again?”
“Perhaps.” There was kindness in Silas’s voice, and something more. “And whether you see me or not, I have no doubt that I will see you.”

Related Reviews:
Good Omens by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett
Snow, Glass, Apples by Neil Gaiman and Colleen Doran

Purchase and read books by Neil Gaiman:

The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman Snow, Glass, Apples by Neil Gaiman and Colleen Doran Good Omens by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett American Gods: A Novel by Neil Gaiman


Friday, October 27, 2023

Cat's Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut

Cat's Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut

Cat’s Cradle is a novel by Kurt Vonnegut that was published in 1963. The story is a wild, satirical tale told by a narrator named John, who wants the reader to call him Jonah. Told in flashback, John is working on a book, called The Day the World Ended, about what people were doing on the day the US dropped the atomic bomb on Hiroshima.

John is particularly interested in the late Felix Hoenikker, a creator of the atomic bomb, and he plans to interview Hoenikker’s children and coworkers. Along the way, he learns that Felix Hoenikker invented a substance called ice-nine, which acts as a seed crystal to make water freeze at room temperature.

Later on, another writing assignment brings John to San Lorenzo, a fictional island in the Caribbean. Hoenikker’s three children, Frank, Angela, and Newt, are all there too. During his journey to San Lorenzo, John learns about Bokononism, a humorous religion based on lies. When he reaches the island, he meets the beautiful Mona and the island's dying dictator. So much happens that it's hard to even summarize.

One of my favorite parts was the vocabulary from the The Books of Bokonon. The term karnass refers to a team of seemingly random people that carries out God's will. They're the people that each life is tangled together with for no logical reason. In contrast, a granfalloon is a false karnass, or a meaningless grouping of people, for instance, "any nation, anytime, anywhere."

Cat’s Cradle has short chapters, each serving a purpose of making a commentary. The book is dark, cynical, and absurd, with commentary on science, religion, government, business, and the (lack of) meaning of life.

Purchase and read books by Kurt Vonnegut:

Cat's Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut


Monday, October 23, 2023

Where the Wild Ladies Are by Aoko Matsuda

Where the Wild Ladies Are by Aoko Matsuda

Where the Wild Ladies Are by Aoko Matsuda is a collection of intertwined short stories featuring living humans interacting with ghosts and spirits. Matsuda’s inspiration for each story came from Japanese folktales, legends, kabuki, rakugo, and plays. She provides synopses for the original tales at the end of the book. I read the English translation from the Japanese by Polly Barton.

The stories are unique in that the ghosts and spirits are growing, learning, and changing. The spirits are not scary, horrifying, or frightening; instead, they exist side by side with the living. The collection begins with the story of a young woman who is blaming herself after her boyfriend breaks up with her. The ghost of her aunt who died by suicide appears to the woman, reminding her not to destroy her strength. Later, the young woman’s cousin (her aunt’s grieving son) appears in other stories. Many of the stories are interconnected. Some stories are connected by the characters, others by their themes, and still others by their location.

I enjoyed the stories and wish I was familiar with the originals. In this season of ghosts, reading this volume was a good reminder that there are spirits all around us, if we just open our eyes to them.

Purchase and read books by Aoko Matsuda:

Where the Wild Ladies Are by Aoko Matsuda Monkey Business: New Writing from Japan Volume 6


Thursday, October 5, 2023

The Dinner by Herman Koch

The Dinner by Herman Koch

The Dinner by Herman Koch is a dark, corrosive tale about bad people doing bad things. I read the English translation of the novel from the Dutch by Sam Garrett. Set in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, the book tells the story of two brothers and their wives who meet for dinner at a fancy restaurant to discuss a family matter involving their sons.

The book’s sections are named for the dinner’s five courses: aperitif, appetizer, main course, dessert, and digestif. Paul Lohman and his wife Claire arrive at the restaurant first. They await the arrival of Paul’s brother Serge and Serge's wife Babette. Serge is a famous politician who is planning to run for Prime Minister of the Netherlands.

Paul is the narrator, and he’s an unreliable one. Beyond that, he’s a sociopath. Paul is aware that his son Michel and Serge’s son Rick have committed a heinous crime. Their violent act was recorded on video, but the boys have not yet been identified. Over the course of the dinner, their parents must decide—should they turn their sons in, or should they cover up and ignore their crime?

To any reader with a moral compass, the decision is obvious, but these characters lack morals.

Purchase and read books by Herman Koch:

The Dinner by Herman Koch Dear Mr. M by Herman Koch


Sunday, September 24, 2023

The Blue Castle by L.M. Montgomery

The Blue Castle by L.M. Montgomery

The Blue Castle (1926) is one of my favorite stories by L.M. Montgomery. It’s about a woman’s rebellion and rebirth as she gains the courage to be herself. I re-read the novel this year after many years while sitting near a castle. It was time for a re-read, and I had just the right spot.

Valancy Stirling starts out as a meek, overlooked woman. She’s restricted by her overbearing, judgmental family and keeps her thoughts to herself. It’s only when she learns that she is dying that she truly begins to live.

The Blue Castle is a great novel to read when you need a little courage to change and grow or if you need a simple reminder to be yourself. It’s also perfect if you want to read a book with a romantic and happy ending.

If you know me, you know I love the author, and I’ve had a website about L.M. Montgomery and her writings for years.

Purchase and read books by L.M. Montgomery:

The Blue Castle by L.M. Montgomery Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery


Thursday, September 14, 2023

My Year of Rest and Relaxation by Ottessa Moshfegh

My Year of Rest and Relaxation by Ottessa Moshfegh

My Year of Rest and Relaxation (2018) is a novel by Ottessa Moshfegh about a depressed, unnamed 26-year-old woman who decides to hibernate for a year and emerge as a new person. The narrator seems to have it all—she’s young, she’s blond, thin, and beautiful, she’s wealthy and lives off an inheritance in an apartment on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, and she has a job at an art gallery in Chelsea.

Despite these privileges, she’s dissatisfied, dark, and miserable. We learn that her emotionally unavailable father died of cancer during her junior year at Columbia, and her unfeeling, alcoholic mother committed suicide weeks later. The narrator has little self esteem and has an on-again off-again relationship with Trevor, a cruel older man who works on Wall Street and uses her for sex. She has a complex, resentful relationship with her best friend Reva, whom she seems to judge, dislike, and tolerate. Reva’s mother is dying of cancer, but the narrator is so detached that she has no sympathy for her friend.

She says, "I was both relieved and irritated when Reva showed up, the way you'd feel if someone interrupted you in the middle of suicide. Not that what I was doing was suicide. In fact, it was the opposite of suicide. My hibernation was self-preservational. I thought that it was going to save my life."

As the narrator begins to sleep more and more, she finds relief in the emptiness. She contacts an unethical psychiatrist named Dr. Tuttle, and lies about her symptoms, claiming to be an insomniac. Dr. Tuttle barely listens to the narrator, but prescribes her a wide array of pharmaceuticals to help her sleep.

She contemplates her library of psychopharmaceuticals thinking, "Life was fragile and fleeting and one had to be cautious, sure, but I would risk death if it meant I could sleep all day and become a whole new person."

Will the narrator’s plan work? Is sleep and escape from reality really the answer?

I bought this book sight unseen from Barnes and Noble. It was a surprise book, wrapped up and labeled with the above synopsis as part of a “Blind Date with a Book” display. I don’t think I would have picked the book up on my own, and selecting it helped expand my reading.

Although the narrator craved sleep throughout this book, the story kept me awake, reading until the very end.

Purchase and read books by Ottessa Moshfegh:

My Year of Rest and Relaxation by Ottessa Moshfegh Lapvona by Ottessa Moshfegh


Friday, September 8, 2023

Late Fame by Arthur Schnitzler

Late Fame by Arthur Schnitzler

Late Fame is a novella by the Austrian novelist and playwright Arthur Schnitzler (1862–1931). In 1938, Schnitzler’s writings were saved from the Nazis and moved to the Cambridge University Library. In 2014, Late Fame was re-discovered in Schnitzler's archives and published posthumously.

Schnitzler is known writing with candor about pleasure-seeking and sex in fin-de-siècle Vienna. Sigmund Freud called Schnitzler his "doppelgänger." Many of Schnitzler’s works were censored and banned because of their subject matter. In recent years, Schnitzler’s story Traumnovelle (Rhapsody or Dream Story) was adapted by Stanley Kubrick as the film Eyes Wide Shut starring Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman.

In Late Fame, we meet Eduard Saxberger, an older man who lives quietly in Vienna and works as a civil servant. One evening, a young man named Wolfgang Meier arrives at his door asking if he is the poet of the Wanderings. Saxberger is astonished. In his youth, he published a volume of poetry, but his writing was never recognized. Like many people, Saxberger went on with life and stopped writing. But now, this young man and his circle of aspiring literary friends have rediscovered Saxberger’s writings and wish to celebrate him.

Meier invites Saxberger to join his literary society called "Enthusiasm." The group meets at a local coffee shop. Saxberger begins to attend and enjoys the admiration of the group. He explores his dusty documents, reads his old writings, and wonders if he is a poet after all. The literary society decides to put on a recital to get recognition for their works, and they ask Saxberger to contribute a new piece.

Saxberger agrees, but can he can he write a new work? Can he recapture his youthful dream? And does he fit in with this group of young writers, or is he past his prime?

Late Fame explores themes of aspiration, aging, artistic temperament, and vanity and is both tragic and comedic.

Purchase and read books by Arthur Schnitzler:

Late Fame by Arthur Schnitzler Dream Story by Arthur Schnitzler


Wednesday, September 6, 2023

You Will Find Your People by Lane Moore

You Will Find Your People by Lane Moore

You Will Find Your People: How to Make Meaningful Friendships as an Adult by Lane Moore is a memoir and self-help book published in 2023. It's a hopeful, heartbreaking, encouraging, and funny read.

When I started reading it, I was not quite sure what to expect, but when Lane Moore started talking about Anne of Green Gables in the second chapter, I was compelled to read more. As someone who's always looking for kindred spirits like Anne Shirley, I knew I shared that with the author.

I found the book compelling because it covers so many aspects of friendship that no one talks openly about like the grief and pain of losing friendships. Moore also talks about the influence of pop culture on our friendship ideals.

After finishing the book, I read a beautiful essay where Lane Moore talks about friendship and Anne of Green Gables called, "I Want a Bosom Friendship Like Anne Shirley and Diana Barry." She wrote the essay for Powell’s Books Blog on April 25, 2023. Until just a couple months ago, I used to live a few blocks from Powell’s. Moore's essay is really lovely, and I think any fan of Anne of Green Gables should read it.

Purchase and read books by Lane Moore:

You Will Find Your People by Lane Moore How to Be Alone by Lane Moore