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Wednesday, December 7, 2011

November Reading

November fell short in the reading department. I never got a great rhythm going and most of the books I read were filled with highly dysfunctional families and adultery. I always find that a bit of a downer. In addition to my completed reading list, I read partway through a couple Christian growth books. And I finally started (after nearly the entire year has passed by!) tackling my goal of reading a Russian novel this year. So, I'm about a quarter of the way through The Brothers Karamazov and hoping I will finish by the end of December.

Loving Frank is the story of Frank Lloyd Wright's years long affair with a married woman. They were both from Chicago, where Wright had designed a home for Mayma Cheney and her husband. It was a tragic story filled with desertion, betrayal, and so much selfishness! The story is based on fact, though I don't know how much liberty the author took. After I finished the book I thought to myself, Should I pass this book on to anyone? While it is an interesting, well-written story, I just decided it's not a story that I wanted to pass around. So, into donation it went.

White Truffles in Winter is the story of a famous French chef Auguste Escoffier, who apparently was very influential in the creation of restaurant dining as we know it today. He and his wife lived apart for the majority of his career. And throughout many of those years, he and Sarah Bernhardt were lovers (according to the book, she had scads of them). Food is an ever-present focus. Particularly as portions of the story follow the remaining days in the life of the chef and his wife as they wither from illness and old age. Their memories spark with remembrances of foods and meals that sparkle in their twilight. Again, this story is based in fact.

A Reliable Wife is the story of a woman who answered an ad to become the wife of a businessman in rural turn-of-the-century Wisconsin. Nothing and no one is quite as it seems as there are so many deceptions from every character. I picked up the book because I've always been a bit fascinated by mail-order brides. And I found the book somewhat hard to put down, mostly because it was like watching a train-wreck and I wondered which character was going to meet their fate in the end because it could have easily been any one of the three main characters.

The Family Fang is the story of Annie and Buster, the grown children of performance artists. As children, Annie and Buster were used as "props" in their parents weird displays of performance art (which essentially involved creating scenes of chaos in public places and observing the results). Needless to say, these two grow-up in a rather dysfunctional home and find themselves as struggling adults, who both end up back at their parents house trying to sort through layers of confusion, which is made more difficult when their parents go missing.

Found and Sent were probably my favorite books of the month. (Even though I read them for work.) They are the first two books in a science-fiction series for kids. The gist of the story is that a plane full of babies appeared from nowhere one fall day at an airport; the government got involved; once the babies were taken off, the plane simply disappeared; those who witnessed the bizarre impossible pretended like nothing happened. All the babies were adopted into families. And 13 years later, the kids start receiving mysterious letters saying, "You are one of the missing." and "Beware! They are coming to get you."

November Reading List:

Loving Frank by Nancy Horan
White Truffles in Winter by N.M. Kelly
A Reliable Wife by Robert Goolrick
The Family Fang by Kevin Wilson
Found by Margaret Peterson Haddix (work)
Sent by Margaret Peterson Haddix (work)

5 comments:

jeremy said...

I like all your blogs but this one has some good stuff. Weird books...Family Fang sounds really good and I don't remember you telling me about it.

liz nelson said...

i had heard of Family Fang and have been keeping an eye out for it at work. the premise of parents as performance artists intrigued me. did you end up liking it? would you recommend it?

Amanda said...

I read Found when I was still teaching 4th grade, but I didn't realize she had published the sequel. Does it wrap up the story or will there be more?

stephanie said...

Liz--
I was somewhat fascinated by The Family Fang. It's not a book I'd likely read again or find myself recommending; however, I think you would enjoy it, especially the vignettes of the performance art performances that are included at the end of each chapter. So, I'd give it a try.

stephanie said...

Amanda--
The Missing series is tentatively set to have 7 books in it. Currently 4 are published (Sabotage and Torn being #3 and #4). I liked Found better than Sent, but in general think it's a great kids series.

 
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