Friday, September 12, 2014

Recommended Reading: The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion.

If you are looking for a funny, breezy, sweet read, definitely check out The Rosie Project by Australian writer Graeme Simsion.

The book's protagonist is a professor of genetics who likely has Asperger's syndrome. The professor, Don Tillman, has decided to take a scientific approach to finding, at long last, a wife. While pursuing this, The Wife Project, he meets Rosie Jarman. Rosie is not at all what Don has defined as the perfect life partner. But he likes her and decides to use his scientific skills and resources to help Rosie find her biological father. Quirky adventures follow for Don and Rosie. And for Don, it seems that just when you stop trying to find love, love appears.

This is a creative, up-beat, and enjoyable novel. Check out The Rosie Project.

Monday, September 8, 2014

"Delicious: A Novel" by Ruth Reichl

Delicious: Girl moves to New York, finds her niche, gets a makeover, gets a new boyfriend, solves a mystery, and comes to terms with a sorrow from her past. Food is involved.

This plot appears to make Delicious what they call "women's fiction". I found it to be a perfectly fine beach or airplane read from Reichl, who is a food writer, the last editor-in-chief of Gourmet, and author of numerous memoirs including the excellent Tender at the Bone.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Recommended Reading: "Can't We Talk About Something More Pleasant?: A Memoir " by Roz Chast.

The dreaded parent-in-crisis call: From Can't We Talk About Something More Pleasant?

Roz Chast is a cartoonist. You're probably familiar with her work for The New Yorker. In her graphic memoir Can't We Talk About Something More Pleasant?, she turns her talents to chronicling her experiences helping her parents as they physically and mentally decline from old age to old-old age and ultimate death.

If you've gone through this same experience with a parent, as I have, you will immediately recognize the book's truth. Roz copes with it all, including emergency phone calls, hospitalizations, the need to move her parents into a new living situation, coping when the first parent dies, dealing with institutions, paperwork, and worrying about money (will it last?). The messiness of all of this is cleanly presented in Chast's signature drawing style, some photos, and a succinct narrative.

For those of us in the United States, the familiarity of Chast's experience is both comforting and frightening. I found it striking that what Chast went through with her parents in Brooklyn and Connecticut so closely mirrored my experiences with my elderly parents who lived a world away in Manitowoc, Wisconsin. Many times while reading this memoir I wished I could call Roz Chast on the phone and tell her 'that happened to me too, and I felt the same way.'

My mom died last March at age 89. In January, when I was visiting her in her room at an assisted living facility, she said, "It is a terrible thing to get this old." Well, it for sure is not easy. And Roz Chast does a brilliant job illustrating the experience from an adult child's perspective.


Sunday, August 24, 2014

Highly Recommended Reading: "Any Other Name: A Longmire Mystery" by Craig Johnson.

This horse in southern Arizona is a long way from Sheriff Walt Longmire's Wyoming home.
But the vibe is similar!

Any Other Name: One of the best Longmire mysteries yet
 in this excellent series.

I greatly enjoy the Sheriff Walt Longmire mystery series by Craig Johnson. In Johnson's latest book, Any Other Name, Longmire is outside his jurisdiction, investigating the suicide of a law enforcement officer as a favor for his friend and former boss, Lucian Connally. I found it to be an exciting and highly entertaining read.

Any Other Name has all the classic characters and elements we now associate with a Longmire mystery: Walt unwaveringly pursues the truth, with a touch of humor and against all the odds (and the elements). And he is aided in the investigation by Lucian, his great friend Henry Standing Bear, and his colleague Victoria Moretti. In Any Other Name, Longmire is also under the pressure of time to both solve the mystery and keep an important commitment to his daughter.

If you are already a fan of these books, just dive right into this one. It is terrific. If you are new to the series, start with the first book and build your way up to this one; it's a great ride!

Longmire newbies: Get volumes one through four in this set.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Happy Summer Saturday

Pictured here are Stargazer lilies from our garden; I love their perfume. Sitting at our dining room table admiring the flowers, I hear the cicadas in the yard, singing their song. The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) page on cicadas says that the bugs are humming to attract a mate.

Charles Fonaas, author of the DNR article linked above, wrote: "If the robin is to many the harbinger (messenger) of spring, then the cicada is perhaps an advance scout for autumn warning all who hear it to 'enjoy the summer while you can for the end is near.'" On that advice, get outside if you can and enjoy a happy, summer day!

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

2014 Man Booker Prize Longlist

This year's Man Booker Prize Longlist is now available. The short list is announced on September 9; the winner on October 14. Click here for a link to the longlist page.