Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Current Reading: April 18


1
What Possessed Me?
If I hadn't been naive and recklessly trusting, would I ever have purchased number 10 Turpentine Lane, a chronic headache, masquerading as a charming bungalow? "Best value in town," said the ad, which was true, if judging by the price tag alone. I paid almost nothing by today's standards, attributing the bargain to my mother's hunch that the previous owner had succumbed while in residence. Not so off-putting, I rationalized; don't most people die at home? On moving day my next-door neighbor brought me a welcome loaf of banana bread along with the truth about my seller. A suicide attempt . . . sleeping pills . . . she'd saved them up until she had enough, poor thing. And who could blame her? "Strong as an ox," she added. "But a whole bottle?" She tapped the side of her head. 
"Brain damage?" I asked. "Brain dead?"
"Her daughter had to make the awful decision long distance."

On Turpentine Lane
by Elinor Lipman

Elinor Lipman's books are just plain fun to read. Her latest novel, On Turpentine Lane, is delivering the quirky characters and snappy dialogue. I've come to expect. I grabbed it off my library's "new fiction" shelf and started reading right away. Here's the goodreads summary:
At thirty-two, Faith Frankel has returned to her claustro-suburban hometown, where she writes institutional thank-you notes for her alma mater. It's a peaceful life, really, and surely with her recent purchase of a sweet bungalow on Turpentine Lane her life is finally on track. Never mind that her fiancé is off on a crowdfunded cross-country walk, too busy to return her texts (but not too busy to post photos of himself with a different woman in every state.) And never mind her witless boss, or a mother who lives too close, or a philandering father who thinks he's Chagall. When she finds some mysterious artifacts in the attic of her new home, she wonders whether anything in her life is as it seems. What good fortune, then, that Faith has found a friend in affable, collegial Nick Franconi, officemate par excellence .
At the 50% mark, this novel has been the perfect complement to my decidedly more serious audiobook...



Nothing to Envy: Ordinary Lives in North Korea 
by Barbara Demick, narrated by Karen White

This one has been in my audible library and on my kindle for quite some time, but seemed especially appropriate this week. Published in 2009, it's an eye-opening account of everyday life in North Korea. I'm hoping it's still current enough to provide insight as I continue to follow the news.

Here is the goodreads summary:
Nothing to Envy follows the lives of six North Koreans over fifteen years—a chaotic period that saw the death of Kim Il-sung, the unchallenged rise to power of his son Kim Jong-il, and the devastation of a far-ranging famine that killed one-fifth of the population.  
Taking us into a landscape most of us have never before seen, award-winning journalist Barbara Demick brings to life what it means to be living under the most repressive totalitarian regime today—an Orwellian world that is by choice not connected to the Internet, in which radio and television dials are welded to the one government station, and where displays of affection are punished; a police state where informants are rewarded and where an offhand remark can send a person to the gulag for life.  
Demick takes us deep inside the country, beyond the reach of government censors. Through meticulous and sensitive reporting, we see her six subjects—average North Korean citizens—fall in love, raise families, nurture ambitions, and struggle for survival. One by one, we experience the moments when they realize that their government has betrayed them.   
Nothing to Envy is a groundbreaking addition to the literature of totalitarianism and an eye-opening look at a closed world that is of increasing global importance.
I've been listening on my morning walks and it's kept me going the entire hour, despite rising temperatures. I'm in Florida until early May.

What are you reading this week?




34 comments:

  1. I've had Nothing to Envy on my TBR forever...part of my random fascination with what goes on in the black box that is North Korea.

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    1. Sarah - I'm glad to finally read it and am learning quite a bit, too.

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  2. I have Nothing to Envy on my Kindle, and I've been meaning to read it ever since I finished The Orphan Master's Son last year. Probably should get to it soon. Good idea mixing it with something a bit lighter!

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    1. Priscilla - And I've had The Orphan Master's Son on my list for some time. Maybe Nothing to Envy will inspire me to finally read it!

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  3. Nothing to Envy is fantastic. I learned so much from it. I'm reading a bio of Margaret Wise Brown, the author of Goodnight Moon, which is interesting, but the writing is weird. Ah well.

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    1. Amy - I'm learning quite bit from Nothing to Envy... fascinating and timely!

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  4. Nothing to Envy sounds fascinating.

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    1. Kathy - Life is pretty bleak in North Korea. Nothing to Envy is a very interesting book!

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  5. On Turpentine Lane sounds good (love that quirky cover) and Nothing To Envy does seem rather timely! It's sad how those people have to live in such a repressive country.

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    1. Greg - I think I would have picked up On Turpentine Lane based of the cover alone! It's just what I need to red alongside Nothing to Envy.

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  6. That's a fascinating combination. On Turpentine Lane is a treat, isn't it!

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    1. Audrey - Sure is! It makes me happy every time I pick it up :)

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  7. I have On Turpentine Lane, and hope to read it soon. I have enjoyed almost every book I've read from this author...she writes quirky characters, which I do enjoy.

    Thanks for sharing.

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    1. Laurel-Rain Snow - Her characters are the best! I've read several of Lipman's books, but not The Inn at Lake Devine yet. Everyone seems to love that one.

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  8. Both books look great but On Turpentine Lane caught my eye. I need a happy book.

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    1. Beth F - Lipman can always make me smile.

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  9. Both books are on my TBR so I'm glad to hear you're enjoying them. I'm especially intrigued by the book on North Korea. I've seen a few documentaries lately that were completely fascinating and I really want to learn more. On Turpentine Lane sounds fun and I wonder just what else is going on to make the house such a headache!

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    1. Katherine - I don't know nearly enough about North Korea, but this book is helping to remedy that situation.

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  10. On Turpentine Lane looks really good.

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  11. I brought Turpentine Lane home from the library too. Hope to get to it soon. Glad it is a great read so far for you.

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    1. Nise' - I think you'll like it, too.

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  12. Oh JoAnn, On Turpentine Road sounds like a lot of fun. You always find the best books. Thanks for doing that.

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    1. Thanks, Margot. On Turpentine Lane is such a fun read, but I'm especially appreciating the contrast with Nothing to Envy.

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  13. North Korea is such an enigmatic and terrifying place. There are a few book out there written by people who have escaped it. I want to read one of them soon.

    I can see how such a book would hold your interest.

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    1. Brian Joseph - I may look for those later, too. This book is written by journalist, but I would be interested in individual first-person accounts.

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  14. Both books sound engaging...in totally different ways!

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    1. Patty - They are... and together make for some great reading!

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  15. Nothing to Envy seems quite interesting. I don't think I've ever read anything in that format!

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    1. Poem fanatic - It's really fascinating... at the halfway point now.

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  16. Can't wait to read your thoughts on Nothing to Envy!

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    1. Lisa - I'm still listening (over 50% now) and learning a lot!

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