Thursday, May 18, 2017

Spring Book Report

My reading has been as far-flung as the pollen seems to be this spring.  It's all over the place!  Here are some of my recent reads that I would recommend:

I think Hillbilly Elegy deserves the accolades it's received.  This is a memoir of a life shaped by culture and dire circumstance. But I also thought it was a balanced view of how efforts for change, no matter how well intentioned from the outside, need to be done in concert with the folks that will be impacted by the suggested changes.  A thought provoking book -  at times chilling and, at others, uplifting - of a part of America that doesn't often make the headlines.

The Maisie Dobbs series is an enjoyable one, and I'm pleased that the latest edition to the collection doesn't disappoint.  In This Grave Hour, the 13th in the series, finds the our British female investigator trying to solve the murder of an immigrant who settled in Britain after WWI. (Yes, a bit spooky in its applicability to today's debates.) I continue to find Maisie an entertaining and engaging character.  Do you have a favorite series?  (Mine are almost all murder/mystery books.  Hmmmm.....)

Paul Kalanithi's book should be required reading for everyone (along with Being Mortal) about the choices we may choose to make as we near the end of our life.  This is sad, no doubt, but it's also humbling. And, I think it's important for those of use with aging parents to consider how we'd like to help them maintain dignity.

This time I got my science fix from The Soul of an Octopus, a charming and well written account by naturalist Sy Montgomery, of her experiences getting to know captive octopuses (no, it's not octopi, I've learned; you can't put a Latin plural "i" at the end of a Greek word), seeking to discover them in the wild, and marveling at their intelligence and individuality.   This was particularly compelling for me after our diving trips this past December/January.  We watched octopuses ink, change colors, and scamper about reefs.  I don't think I'll eat octopus salad again.

An octopus on one of our dives.
What have you been reading?


kathy loomis said...

I just finished "Being Mortal" -- what a fine book! Highly recommend it to anybody whose parents are getting old, or who is getting old, or who plans to get old.

I found "Hillbilly Elegy" fascinating but by the end of the book I didn't like the guy very much any more. Seems that after he managed to escape the culture that took so many of his family and friends down, he soon lost any compassion for those who couldn't escape. I read that he's moving back to Ohio to do some kind of good works and will be interested to see whether he is as judgmental as he was in the book.

Have you read "H is for Hawk" (Helen Macdonald) and "A Shepherd's Life" (James Rebank)? Both magnificent books.

Anonymous said...

My favorite murder mystery series is the Inspector Lynley novels by Elizabeth George. But since I'm all caught up I think I'll give your suggestion a try. Right now I'm reading a high school classic that we never read, All's Quiet on the Western Front. Mark said it was his favorite high school read so far. Ging

Norma Schlager said...

I recently read Being Mortal and Hillbilly Elegy and enjoyed them both. I am currently rereading A Handmaid's Tale. I read it 25 years ago and with all the hubbub about the new TV series on Hulu I decided to read it again. I don't need to get another premium TV channel.

Vivien Zepf said...

Kathy -- I have "H is for Hawk" on my bedside table; I've read about a quarter of the book and, thus fa,r I'm enjoying it. I haven't read "A Sheperd's Life". I'll look for it on your suggestion.

I think I especially liked Hillbilly Elegy because my husband and I read it in tandem. He grew up around the area that J.D. did, though two decades prior, and it was interesting to hear him say things like, "We played that high school in baseball" or "I went to a dance at that school". It personalized the story for me in a very unique way.

Ging -- I'll have to read All's Quiet on the Western Front; great suggestion. Another book I feel we missed is A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, another book I'm reading.

Norma -- A Handmaid's Tale... not sure I read that one. I'll have to check it out!

Thanks for all the excellent suggestions!