Well, I did manage to do some reading in the last couple months. Highlights:
The Invention of Air by Steven Johnson. Nonfiction, and I read it practically in a single sitting! Biology, chemistry, American history, and religion, all wrapped up in a biography of the most charming, likeable Enlightenment dude ever, Joseph Priestley. Who knew??? I highly highly highly recommend this one.
Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand by Helen Simonson. This was a book group pick, and I must confess I was a hard sell because of the cutesy title and the fact that it’s a love story. But it also has gender, race and class issues with no easy answers; excellent writing; and the main characters are engaging and three-dimensional. The supporting characters are a bit heavy-handed and the big climactic scene at the end is a little too tidy, but even so I would recommend this one without reservation. Oh, and the cover art is AWESOME!
The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-time Indian by Sherman Alexie. I’ve been hearing about this book for years and I finally got around to it. I didn’t realize it was YA, and I might not have bothered with it if I’d known. I loved YA fiction back when I was a YA myself, but now in my 40s, not so much. Sooooo, Native American kid on the rez goes to all-white high school in next town over. Includes complex race and class issues (big time!) and also coming of age. No easy answers here, either. It does feel like a teen book, though. I found the short declarative sentences, the single-sentence paragraphs, the numerous exclamation points, and the cute illustrations tiresome after a while.
Two People by A.A. Milne. Believe it or not, he wrote novels for grownups! I am not, repeat not, a fan of Winnie the Pooh, but I was curious to read this nevertheless. Actually it has a bit in common with Major Pettigrew. It’s also a very British love story and it also takes place in a small village and deals with gender and class issues, again with no easy answers. And it is also written in a light, charming, humorous style. Published in 1931, this book has a lot of period details, and although it’s not going to change your world view, it’s definitely a pleasant story to while away a few hours with.
When I ordered Two People via interlibrary loan, I was hoping for the recently re-issued Capuchin Classic edition. I was disappointed when this volume arrived instead, but when I opened it I found a nice little surprise. Click on the image to see…