march 2011 reading

Half in Love by Linda Gray Sexton — Sexton’s mother was the poet Anne Sexton. The younger Sexton has already written one book about dealing with her mother’s death, so a second might seem unnecessary, but if you are interested in the way that suicide plays itself out in families over time, this is worth a look.

Poser: My Life in 23 Yoga Poses by Claire Dederer — Half the reviews I’ve read of this call it a yoga memoir and the other half call it a mommy memoir. I might be inclined to call it a recollection of your parents splitting up memoir, if I were to call it anything, but I very much enjoyed it. If you do yoga, you’ll like the funny parts about the sort of ridiculous nature of yoga. If you have kids, I would guess you might enjoy the parts about the inanity of raising kids in a time of über-politically correct parenting. And if you’re interested in the changing demographics of families and how one thoughtful person thinks about them, you will certainly like it.

[reread] The Cold Dish by Craig Johnson — My first selection for our mystery book discussion group. I’m not generally much of a mystery reader, which makes for an interesting time now that I’m in charge of a mystery book discussion. Since I’ve just moved from Wyoming, I thought I’d give the group a little taste of what it’s like there. They seemed to enjoy it.

Bad Mother by Ayelet Waldman — This is sort of a book-length response to the people who were trying to flagellate Waldman after her 2005 essay about loving her husband more than her children appeared in the New York Times. It’s occasionally tedious, as collections of essays that end up being a bit repetitive sometimes are, but it’s also hysterically funny. Well. At least it is hysterically funny if, like me, you fall off the sofa when you read “It is kind of remarkable how little housework the men who marched next to me at the Take Back the Night vigils have ended up doing.”

Among Others by Jo Walton — My favorite novel of this year so far. It’s about a fifteen year old girl from Wales who is in boarding school and reads a lot of science fiction and tries to find a karass. Wonderful. I’ve read maybe 10% of the books she talks about, and even that little bit gave me shivers of remembering what reading them was like. If you’ve read more, the effect could only be intensified.

Orange is the New Black by Piper Kerman — I’ve been wanting to check this out ever since reading about it over at Jenna’s place. Actually, just go read her review, which says pretty much everything I would want to.

Happy Trails to You by Julie Hecht — I picked up The Unprofessionals by Julie Hecht at the La Grange Public Library some years back because it had a nice looking cover. I started reading it and was hooked immediately by the voice and later by the story. I’ve been saving her latest collection of stories for just the right occasion, and apparently that occasion was now. The narrator — the same in all her work — is a cranky, misanthropic devotee of Dr. Andrew Weil who is sort of anti-immigration, and yet somehow she still manages to make me want to hang out with her. That seems like an accomplishment in of itself.

[reread] Fire and Hemlock by Diana Wynne Jones — RIP, Diana Wynn Jones.