Monday, April 8, 2019

Recent Reading: Four Book Briefs


Hello, again.. seems like it's been a while. Between a full house and computer issues, this blog has been sadly neglected over the past couple of weeks. On the bright side, it looks like I may end up with a new laptop before the end of the week and, thankfully, my reading has been a lot more satisfying.




Good Riddance by Elinor Lipman

There's nothing better than finding the right book at the right time and, after my recent encounter with Eudora Welty, Good Riddance  proved to be exactly what I needed. As always, Lipman's quirky characters, snappy dialog, and Manhattan setting spoke to me. And the premise... what could be more compelling than a high school yearbook, loaded with inscriptions and comments, retrieved from a dumpster? And what if that yearbook belonged to your mother and you were the one who, upon her death, threw it away? Then suppose it falls into the hands of a filmmaker neighbor what wants to turn it into a documentary? This was such a fun novel. Eleanor Lipman has done it again!

Lesson learned:  It's good to lighten things up periodically.

My rating:






by Durian Sukegawa,  translated byAlison Watts
"Sweet Bean Paste is a moving novel about the burden of the past and the redemptive power of friendship." 
This lovely novels focuses on the relationship between a young man and an old woman, both on the fringes of society. Sentaro has a criminal past and works in a small pastry shop selling dorayaki, a Japanese pancake filled with sweet bean paste. Tokue, an elderly woman with disfigured hands and a mysterious past, makes the most delicious sweet bean paste Sentaro has ever tasted. She talks him into hiring her and a friendship blossoms. At just over 200 pages, this short novel will touch your heart. A 2015 movie adaptation, Sweet Bean, is available from my library and I plan to watch it sometime this week.

My rating:






by James Baldwin, narrated by Bahni Turpin

"In this honest and stunning novel, James Baldwin has given America a moving story of love in the face of injustice. Told through the eyes of Tish, a 19-year-old girl in love with Fonny, a young sculptor who is the father of her child, Baldwin's story mixes the sweet and the sad."
Originally published in 1974, this achingly beautiful novel is still just as relevant today. It made me angry, it made me sad, and yet it touched my heart, too. Baldwin's writing is like nothing I've experienced and Bahni Turpin's brilliant narration made the story even more powerful.

Have you read James Baldwin? Can you recommend any of his other books? I'm adding this one to my favorites shelf.

My rating:






by Ann Hood
"From her Italian American childhood through singlehood, raising and feeding a growing family, divorce, and a new marriage to food writer Michael Ruhlman, Ann Hood has long appreciated the power of a good meal... Hood tracks her lifelong journey in the kitchen with twenty-seven heartfelt essays, each accompanied by a recipe (or a few)."
Reminiscent of Laurie Colwin's Home Cooking, this is a compilation of essays focused around food and family, each featuring a recipe or two. Hood and I are of about the same vintage and many of her childhood experiences mirror my own... the large Italian-American family, Sunday dinners with copious amounts of sauce and meatballs, riding in the "way back" of the family station wagon, all the extended family, and all the food! We also used the same cookbooks as young adults and later as emerging cooks.

This is the second book by Ann Hood I've read this year and I enjoyed it almost as much as Morningstar: Growing Up With Books. I'd like to try Hood's fiction next. Where should I start?

My rating:




So that's my reading for the last couple of weeks. Have you discovered any great books?
I'll be back tomorrow to share what I'm reading now.


27 comments:

  1. Yes to riding in the "way back" - but did you ever ride in the luggage compartment between the middle seat and the back seat? Here's to being vintage! :) I'm glad you enjoyed the two books we've had in common and as always I'm inspired to read the other two.

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    1. Audrey - Hmm, I don't remember a luggage compartment. Wonder if our station wagon had one? It's fun reading so many of the same books... my oldest daughter read Good Riddance while she was here and enjoyed it, too. It was her first Lipman novel.

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  2. P.S. The library has the spoken CD of Morningstar so I'm taking your advice (of course I am!) about listening to it.

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    1. Audrey - I'm pretty sure you're going to like that one, too. Hope to try some of Hood's fiction soon.

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  3. I really want to read Kitchen Yarns and I'm definitely intrigued by Good Riddance. There's something magic about getting the right book at the right time!

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    1. Katherine - Isn't it the best when that happens! My daughter read Good Riddance before it was returned to the library and Lipman has a new fan :)

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  4. Hi, I hope you get a new laptop! That will make all the difference. I read Baldwin's Beale Street in January and I, too, thought it was a 5 star read. Powerful. We watched the movie recently and it follows the book pretty closely -- though while it is good and worth seeing, it's not As Good as the book is. Still I liked the performances. I plan to read more Baldwin in the future.

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    1. Susan - I'm still limping along with my old laptop, but hope to get one Thursday. I'm curious about the film version of If Beale Street Could Talk... hope my library or Netflix gets it soon!

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  5. I've only read one book by Lipman and this new one sounds entertaining. Adding to my list! If Beale Street Could Talks, also sounds like a winner. Did you read or listen? I'm so glad you enjoyed Kitchen Yarns. I thought it was wonderful. As far as novels, I have read The Book That Matters Most, The Knitting Circle, and Ruby. Of those three, I would recommend The Book That Matters Most. The Knitting Circle is also good, but Ruby was a disappointment!

    I recently read and loved The Library Book and A Ladder to the Sky. Highly recommend both!

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    1. Les - Lipman's books are always so entertaining. Amazon had a deal on a 3 e-book bundle right after I finished Good Riddance and I couldn't resist. Will be reading one of them soon. As for Hood, I'll probably start with The Book That Matters Most and The Knitting Circle also looks good. Thanks for so many good recommendations!!

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  6. Glad you enjoyed Kitchen Yarns. For fiction, try The Book That Matters Most. I've read most of her books but really enjoyed that one a lot.

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    1. Diane - If both you and Les recommend The Book That Matters Most, that's definitely where I'll start. Thanks!

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    1. Angela - I've been on a roll the last couple weeks. It's about time, lol!

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  8. They all sound great, especially the Baldwin book.

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    1. Kathy - I'm wondering if An American Marriage was inspire by Baldwin's novel... it's been on my list for a while.

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  9. I finally got around to reading Miriam Toews' All My Puny Sorrows and loved it. I just got her latest, Women Talking, from the library. It's not an easy read, but very engrossing.

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    1. Amy - I have that one on my kindle! Read your review of Women Talking this morning and can say with certainty that I'll be reading Miriam Toews in the near future.
      Also, my daughter is reading Improvement by Joan Silber now and called last night to thank me for recommending it. I'm passing the thanks on to you :)

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    2. Always glad to know Silber is getting more attention!

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  10. I would start with Ann Hood’s earlier books. Yeah for a new laptop!

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    1. Patty - Think we'll be heading in the direction of the Apple store on Thursday. My laptop is getting worse - I can't open my recipes now. It's a crisis! ;-)

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  11. Baldwin is simply brilliant. I'm on a quest to read more of his work. Loved GIOVANNI'S ROOM. I recently listened to GOING TO MEET THE MAN, a collection of his stories. Those were good but would have been better as a read/listen combination, I think. And as a fun aside, there's a wonderful new book coming out next month -- THE GUEST BOOK by Sarah Blake (who wrote THE POSTMISTRESS) where Baldwin's influence has relevance to the plot.

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    1. Melissa - Thank you for the suggestions... and I agree that Baldwin is brilliant. Think I'll try Giovanni's Room soon and will also keep an eye out for Sarah Blake's latest.

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  12. All of these books look great.

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    1. Ti - I've finally had a streak of good books. Fingers crossed it continues!

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  13. They all sound really good! I have Good Riddance and getting ready to start Kitchen Yarns later today.

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    1. Vicki - So glad that I've finally had a streak of good books. Hope you enjoy Good Riddance and Kitchen Yarns.

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Thank you for taking the time to comment. These conversations are my favorite part of blogging. Please check back, I almost always respond to comments!

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