Monday, September 22, 2014

Books I Can Sink My Teeth Into

How do you pick your next read? For a long time, I had the psychic ability to feel which book was "calling" to me from the shelves. I listened, I looked, I picked up the book and nine times out of 10, I read the whole darn thing without any issues.

These days, picking books is not so simple. While I may have a chorus of books calling to me from the shelves--and I swear, I don't hear voices...not really--they may or may not work for me. The whole dang chorus is a crapshoot.

The trustiest method is the taste-testing method I mentioned in a recent post. I pull the chorus of calling books off the shelves, I taste-test 10 or so pages, and I see what happens. Last week I reported that The Night Guest, by Fiona McFarlane, was the book that passed the taste test. That's true, but it only passed the initial test. It didn't really stick. I didn't want to dig in with my whole face.

This weekend I seem to have found a taste-tested book that's the real deal. A book I want to gobble.

It's hard to pinpoint what "works" in my reading at any given time. Right now it's a completely magical and unknown equation. I just have to try and see. And I sort of get that feeling from this book...a sense of wonder, ambiguity, and wackiness. Maybe that's why it's as nebulous as my own reading moods. 

How to Tell Toledo from the Night Sky, by Lydia Netzer, had me at page one...this time. I've taste-tested it before to no avail, but for whatever reason, this time it's "the one." The story is odd. Two astronomers whose lives were orchestrated by people and forces beyond their control. One sees the inexplicable around every corner. The other is a staunch pragmatist. The whole time I'm reading, I'm completely involved in the weirdness surrounding these characters, and I can hear Lydia Netzer smirking under her breath from somewhere out there in the ether. There's just no telling what she has in store for me next. 

Now, tell me. How are you picking your books? Does your method change depending on mood? 

Hosted by the lovely Sheila from BookJourney!

Thursday, September 18, 2014

#30Authors: Rene Denfeld on The End of Eve

30 Authors in 30 Days is a first of its kind event aimed at connecting readers, bloggers, and authors. Hosted by The Book Wheel, this month-long event takes place during September and features 30 authors discussing their favorite recent reads on 30 different blogs. There are also some great prizes provided by and BookJigs. For the full schedule of participating authors and bloggers, visit The Book Wheel.

Author Rene Denfeld on The End of Eve by Ariel Gore

Rene Denfeld is an internationally bestselling author, journalist, and death penalty investigator living in Portland, Oregon. Her book, The Enchanted (Harper 2014), is short-listed for the esteemed 2014 Flaherty-Dunnan First Novel Prize.


Someday, when I have enough wisdom, I will write a memoir.

I believe that to write a truly great memoir, you must have distance and acuity, honesty and pathos. You invite the reader in, much as a visitor to your home—and whether the couch is buckled and the springs poke, or if it is a grand mansion, they must feel welcome, secure, privy to your secrets and yet, like a child buckled into a rollercoaster, safe for the ride.

The best memoirs take readers on that ride in a way that illuminates, comforts and inspires, so by the end they are not just shaken, but informed.

The End of Eve is one of those memoirs.

Ariel Gore thought she had escaped her mentally ill mother, whose epic tantrums had gotten her banned from three cab companies. But then one day her mother shows up in her home, calmly announcing she is dying of lung cancer.

Who is left to care for her? Ariel. And she does, in a journey that is honest, painful, and almost absurdly, heartbreakingly funny. Far from being made noble with impending death, Ariel’s mother—like most of us—only becomes more herself, which those who have dealt with a mentally ill family member know is no picnic in the park. At one point Ariel is forced to unfriend her mother on Facebook. “Did I really just unfriend my dying mother?” she bemoans.

This is a memoir without a smidge of self-pity. But it comes with huge servings of empathy: for her mother, and most importantly, Ariel herself.

The redemption in this slim book is not the redemption of remorse, but the redemption of acceptance, which is so much easier for us to obtain, because we can give it to ourselves.

Someday, when I do have enough wisdom, I may write that memoir. And when I do I will look to Ariel Gore to show me the way. I have a feeling we have a few stories to share.

Interested in The End of Eve? You can learn about Ariel Gore by following her on Twitter. Or, you can purchase the book now here or here. 

You can also learn more about Rene Denfeld by liking her on Facebook, following her on Twitter, or purchasing her book here or here.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

This Week Wins

Y'all. Work is just nutty. I think it really might be the root of all my woes lately whether they be insomnia-related, reading and blog slumpiness. It's a lot. And then yesterday I woke up feeling terrible, stayed home from work for the day, and recharged. It was just...vital.

On the up side, I finished White is for Witching, by Helen Oyeyemi. While it wasn't as frustrating to read as Boy, Snow, Bird, I ultimately had a few issues with it. More to come in a review for #Diversiverse! This one also counts for RIP IX!

I also taste-tested a couple of books, ultimately sticking with The Night Guest, by Fiona McFarlane.

Books coming up on the stack:

I hope you're all reading. A lot. I'm going to eat fried chicken for lunch because this is a day that screams for fried chicken.