Sunday, December 27, 2009

The Sunday Salon... Books You May Have Missed & One You Shouldn't!...

What is the Sunday Salon? Imagine some university library's vast reading room. It's filled with people--students and faculty and strangers who've wandered in. They're seated at great oaken desks, books piled all around them, and they're all feverishly reading and jotting notes in their leather-bound journals as they go. Later they'll mill around the open dictionaries and compare their thoughts on the afternoon's literary intake...

I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas with family & friends! Ate wonderful meals, and amazing desserts! This is the last Sunday Salon of the year! But I'm not ready to look at the year behind yet, I'm still looking ahead! And this week I'd like to look at a few of the books I am looking forward to reading!

One Amazing Thing by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni... Like an extra Christmas present that Santa tucked in my mailbox yesterday, an ARC of One Amazing Thing arrived in a plain manilla envelope from the publisher. Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni is a new author to me, but she is an accomplished writer and poet. Her published books span almost 20 years! I had read a blurb about this book and thought it sounded so interesting... "Late afternoon in an Indian visa office in an unnamed American city. Most customers have come and gone, but nine people remain. A punky teenager with an unexpected gift. An upper class Caucasian couple whose relationship is disintegrating. A young Muslim-American man struggling with the fallout of 9/11. A graduate student haunted by a question about love. An African-American ex-soldier searching for redemption. A Chinese grandmother with a secret past. And two visa office workers on the verge of an adulterous affair...When an earthquake rips through the afternoon lull, trapping these nine wildly individual characters together, their focus first jolts to a collective struggle to survive. There’s little food. The office begins to flood. Then, at a moment when the psychological and emotional stress seems nearly too much for them to bear, the young graduate student suggests that each tell a personal tale, “one amazing thing” from their lives, which they have never told anyone before. As their surprising stories of romance, marriage, family, political upheaval, and self-discovery unfold against the urgency of their life-or-death circumstances, the novel proves the transcendent power of stories and the meaningfulness of human expression itself." As I opened the envelope and reached inside for the book, little did I know what a treat I was in for. I found out when I opened and started to read... Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni's prose is simply lyrical. And I find myself unable to put the book down. I'll save the rest of my thoughts for a proper review following the turn of the last page, but suffice it to say I am enjoying the time spent reading this! It's official release date is scheduled Feb. 2010.

2666 by Roberto Bolano... I had heard so many great things about this book that it's been on my wish list for a while... And I found it under the tree this year! (Thanks mom!) This is suppose to be Bolano's masterpiece. Poetic & complicated, with a bit of wicked humor tossed in... Three academics on the trail of a reclusive German author; a New York reporter on his first Mexican assignment; a widowed philosopher; a police detective in love with an elusive older woman--these are among the searchers drawn to the border city of Santa Teresa, where over the course of a decade hundreds of women have disappeared. The book is divided into 5 parts, all pieces of the story that intersect in the city of Santa Teresa. It's translated from the Spanish and weighs in at a whopping 893 pages! Winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award, I'm hoping that it will not disappoint! And from leafing thru the pages, I don't think I will!

The Help by Kathryn Stockett... I had picked this book up soon after it was published and have been patiently waiting to absorb all it's wonder. A book about women and the invisible lines that are crossed in order to save one another... Three ordinary women are about to take one extraordinary step. Twenty-two-year-old Skeeter has just returned home after graduating from Ole Miss. She may have a degree, but it is 1962, Mississippi, and her mother will not be happy till Skeeter has a ring on her finger. Skeeter would normally find solace with her beloved maid Constantine, the woman who raised her, but Constantine has disappeared and no one will tell Skeeter where she has gone. Aibileen is a black maid, a wise, regal woman raising her seventeenth white child. Something has shifted inside her after the loss of her own son, who died while his bosses looked the other way. She is devoted to the little girl she looks after, though she knows both their hearts may be broken. Minny, Aibileen's best friend, is short, fat, and perhaps the sassiest woman in Mississippi. She can cook like nobody's business, but she can't mind her tongue, so she's lost yet another job. Minny finally finds a position working for someone too new to town to know her reputation. But her new boss has secrets of her own. Seemingly as different from one another as can be, these women will nonetheless come together for a clandestine project that will put them all at risk... they are suffocating within the lines that define their town and their times. And sometimes lines are made to be crossed. I picked this for my reading group choice for January. Look for a post about The Help as a book club choice with a reading group guide. And of course a review... *P.S. This Book is Kindle Ready!

Of course these books are just the tip of the iceberg, but I wanted to share these with you this week! What are you looking forward to reading? What are you reading now?! Share your reading pile! And let me know if you've read any of these books yet and what you thought! In the meantime, have a wonderful weekend! And a Happy New Year...

Happy reading, Suzanne

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