Back with Books

And we’re back.

It’s taken me a while to regain the desire to blog (or do anything, for that matter) post-election. I haven’t made the fact that I’m fairly liberal a secret, on this blog or anywhere else. And I’m very distressed about the looming prospect of a Trump presidency.
However, this is something I’ve talked about on various other social media, and for now I don’t see this blog becoming a platform for that. In very great part because it’s not something I’m ready to talk about to a general audience.
I’ve been thinking a lot about how to broach the subject of the election here. This is all there will be for now.

And in the meantime, I’d like to let you in on some family dynamics. Some family reading dynamics.  We’re all rather literate.  I read more than either of my parents do. I also think about and talk about books a great deal more.  There are over 400 distinct titles on my ‘to read’ list at the moment, and at one point it was over 2000.

I love recommending books to people (especially when people are willing to talk about their other favorites so I can get a good idea of what they like)- this may sound a bit strange, but I’ve realized that searching for ‘the perfect thing’ is one of my favorite things to do.  I do it with movies, books, gifts, names, everything really.

In a horrible twist of fate, I don’t like taking recommendations very much.  Especially when it comes to books.  Books take a little while longer to get through than movies, and while I will not infrequently add things to my reading list based on recommendations, I’m not likely to let some upstart recommendation jump the 400+ line of books waiting for my love and attention.  And you have to read a book when you’re in the right mood for it.  I can’t just be in the right mood for a book because someone recommended it.

But to the point of this post: My parents and I trade recommendations pretty frequently.  Or they sometimes recommend things that I eventually get around to and the rest of the time I’m shoving an elite selection of books at them, desperately trying to get them to read when really they have lives and other hobbies and I… well, I do, but not as much.

So a dissection of this over the years, starting with Mom- I’ll do Dad tomorrow:

Recommended to Me:

  • A Wrinkle in Time: From way back when. We still joke about the line “You have dreamboat eyes.”
  • The Mists of Avalon: Nothing but love for this epic compendium of lady badassery.
  • Harry Potter Series: I think she + the movies got both Dad and I on the bandwagon.
  • Goddesses in Every Woman: It’s a kind of psychology texts based on the Greek deity archetypes.  Actually very reassuring.
  • The Leopard: This is little-known and little-read by amazingly good. Thin but dense.
  • Play it as it Lays: Cheating kind of because I planned to read this after reading The Year of Magical Thinking.  But Mom had been pushing this one for a while and it was a beautiful story of depression in the way I wish The Bell Jar had been.
  • The Heart is a Lonely Hunter: Years of pushing from Mom on this one as well. It still took reading the shorter The Member of the Wedding by Carson McCullers for me to realize what a fabulous writer she is.
  • Tortilla Flat: I finally listened to this recommendation because I had nothing to read (horror) and because I worship Steinbeck so I had to get around to it at some point.  It’s awesomely grittily illuminating. As Steinbeck is.

Read by Mom Based on My Recommendations:

  • The Age of Innocence: I love Edith Wharton completely. This was the first one I’ve read (it’s no longer my favorite, but Mom hasn’t followed me further on the Wharton train-yet).
  • East Of Eden: Mom is also a fan of Steinbeck, so we trade Steinbeck recommendations.  Relationship goals, no?
  • Zuleika Dobson: This is an easy light read, some cute and odd surrealism with a kind of tragicomic aspect. Quirky.
  • Tess of the d’Urbervilles: Mom likes the depressing books but TWO can play at that game.
  • Wuthering Heights: Swing and a miss. I love Wuthering Heights’ overblown aesthetic but it fell a bit flat for Mom.
  • Great Expectations: She liked it, Yay! But how can you not like Great Expectations, really? All of the characters are so endearing and I can see using any of them as a model for lifestyle (for bettor or worse).

Recommended to Mom:
I’m just going to use this space to plug recommendations in the hopes that Mom reads it and feels inspired to pick them up so I can GRILLE HER ABOUT THEM HAHAHA

  • A Prayer for Owen Meany: This is one of the few times I listened to a friend’s recommendation (the book was already on my list, I just moved it up) but it is so beautiful and so affecting.  One of my favorite books ever. And I’m so happy to have discovered John Irving as well. This is still my favorite of his, but his narrative style is  intricately woven throughout all of his novels.
  • Rebecca: We have Hitchcock’s movie version and it’s brilliant.  This is the novel that convinced me to like rhododendrons (no easy task, I had a huge dislike for them beforehand) by describing the giant wall of blood red ones Rebecca had had planted at Manderley.  Mom loves the mystery books and this is suspense with a dash of mystery.  Unfortunately, none of Daphne du Maurier’s other books do anything for me. 😦
  • The Shadow of the Wind: One of my most recently finished books. It has the suspense and mystery element and is very beautifully written, has a kind of gothic character. One major stumbling block that I was able to overlook (with irritation, but still overlook) is that the author CANNOT WRITE FEMALE CHARACTERS. They’re all completely useless (remember when we talked about man pain?)  And one female character in particular just seems to serve as a way for the author to let out his spite at some poor woman who friend-zoned him.  This woman friend-zones the protagonist and somehow this is indicative of a great moral failing and she is justly punished with fading beauty and a life alone.

So that last may not have been my most convincing, but hopefully the others were!
If you have any thoughts about what Mom (or I!) would enjoy, please comment!

One thought on “Back with Books”

  1. I love Rebecca. I don’t like recommending books. I don’t want someone to get upset with me, because they didn’t like it and felt like they wasted their time. I will tell you 4 of my favorite books. Sarah’s Key, Orphan Train, Wild and The Nightingale.


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