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The Quarterly Reading Report

It's been waaaaaay too long since I posted a Quarterly Reading Report. I'm about to amend that situation. I have lucked on some pretty spectacular reading in 2018 so far--some recent publications but most not--and I'd be a bad friend if I didn't share these titles with you.

In the excellent crime detective/thriller department, we have Yrsa Sigurðardóttir's THE SILENCE OF THE SEA, which I've already posted about. It was the perfect book for atmospheric Iceland. I also loved Tana French's THE TRESPASSER. Set in Dublin, Ireland (I think 80% of what I love best about a crime detective/thriller is that it is placed in an incredibly interesting setting), the protagonist is a difficult (and therefore interesting) woman in a man's world working the hardest case of her life. The writing is super in this engrossing page-turner.

I got to fill in some sad gaps in my consumption of books written in the 80s and 90s and early Oughts. Also a thriller, Peter Hoeg's SMILLA'S SENSE OF SNOW made me actively angry, it was so good. Set in Copenhagen and Greenland, with rich and transportive writing, this book stars another interesting, difficult woman. It is notable how much of this story's suspense would have been killed by the presence of cell phones.


Another story that would have been ruined if the characters all had smart phones was HIGHWIRE MOON by Susan Straight. A quintessentially Californian tale of family torn apart by deportation. Beautiful and heart-breaking, and fundamentally filled with strength. 
Rounding out my books I can't believe I missed is RUNNING IN THE FAMILY by Michael Ondaatje. I came across this gorgeous, spare memoir of the author's exploration of his roots on Sri Lanka (including a wild cast of family characters) while staying on a houseboat last summer during a personal writing retreat. I read a few pages before bed, savoring the writing and the intoxicating tropical setting of the book. I made a point of buying my own used copy as soon as my retreat was done, and I've been slowly savoring ever since. I finally finished a few weeks ago. I love when people leave treasures in used books: when they are marked and highlighted, showing you what someone else thought important. This one actually came with a San Francisco Examiner newspaper article from 1994: On a quest for elusive connections in Sri Lanka, by Jan Morris. Why had it been included? It wasn't about the memoir, it was someone else's story of visiting Sri Lanka. Was the author of the article significant to the previous owner of my book?   
Another nearly-accidental find was CHILDREN OF THE NEW WORLD by Alexander Weinstein. I found this collection of near-future short stories in the remaindered section at Green Apple Books. Each story is a quirky, bleak-yet-still-somehow-hopeful depiction of something resulting from technological advancements. A little bit George Saunders, a little bit Black Mirror. A whole lot fun. 
In the self-help department of things I read THE SUBTLE ART OF NOT GIVING A FCK by Mark Manson and recommend it if you want to examine the values you live by from an entirely new lens. 

Finally, I'm currently reading a delicious novel: ONCE A RUNNER by John L. Parker, Jr. This was originally self-published in 1978, sold out of the back of his car at road races, and passed around within the running community. It's fantastically interesting...I'm only 59 pages in and I'm not even sure there's a plot. But I am so thoroughly enjoying meeting all the characters and living in their unique world. 
current read with bookmark from my nephew
Sometimes when I need to scare myself into a perspective shift I pose this scenario to myself: what if there were no books? (chilling to consider, no?) These books greatly enriched the first three months of my 2018. What have you read so far this year that you loved?




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