It is always a pleasure to welcome my friend Jen of When Pigs Fly and her book recommendations to Great Thoughts. I really think she is one of the funniest women I know and one of the best read. I love that she chooses books that are different than I do so that we can always recommend books to one another. Here’s Jen:
Winter Reading To Ignore Sports By
It’s that time of year again when the days are short, the nights are long and being able to curl up with a good book is the best way to ignore yet another football game. I’ve been doing it since the weather turned cold in the Upper Midwest and there seemed to be a college football game on television every hour on the hour. Let’s just say my Kindle hath overfloweth.
Over the past couple of months, I’ve managed to make my way through an interesting assortment of titles. Some fiction here, a little non-fiction there, I bounced around from memoirs and short stories to novels and just about everything in between. I thought it might be a perfect time to share some of my finds with Andrea’s readers. After all, we haven’t even made it to the Super Bowl yet.
Brain on Fire by Susannah Cahalan
I was rather upset when the television show House went off the air. I looked forward to watching each week as the Vicodin addicted doctor with a bedside manner from Hell pulled some strange and random diagnosis out of his hat. In Brain on Fire, we encounter a real life Dr. House of sorts who is the only person to put the pieces together to save a 25 year old journalist losing her mind along with her life.
The author recounts her true story of descending into madness, ending up in a New York hospital for nearly a month and the long journey back to health after her very rare auto-immune disease is discovered. It’s a compelling story that touches on the power of memory and what it means in shaping how we not only see ourselves but our world.
The Orchardist by Amanda Coplan
I wasn’t entirely sure how I felt about this novel when I first started it. Turn of the century Pacific Northwest, a story dealing with an orchardist that finds himself with two young pregnant girls on his doorstep didn’t seem like it would be my cup of tea. Let’s just say, I’m glad I stuck with it.
The Orchardist weaves the lives of the solitary figure of the orchardist with these women that by default become his family. Coplan has an ability to place just the right words together to create imagery that comes to life. Sad in places, life affirming in others, The Orchardist is a remarkable debut novel.
Better Living Through Plastic Explosives by Zuszi Gartner
I have become a fan of the short story. I never thought I would. Now, I can’t believe what I was missing.
This book is a compilation of ten short stories by a Canadian author who writes what has been called “experimental fiction.” This is an intellectual read filled with pop-cultural references and witticism that borders on the surreal. Gartner tackles everything from the Hollywood movie machine to home grown terrorists in such a deft way as to shine a light back onto ourselves as she does it. These are not stories for everyone. There are hilarious moments within a darker commentary but if you’re up for a challenging read in every sense of the word, it’s a book worth picking up.
All Cry Chaos by Leonard Rosen
I like a good thriller once in a blue moon. Here’s one that will keep you guessing.
It’s an international mystery that revolves around fractals and chaos theory. Rosen brings in the tension between religion and science as he has his detective, Poincare, track down the killer of an imminent mathematician. Even the quantitatively challenged, like myself, can follow along. All Cry Chaos is a riveting ride and the best part is that you don’t have to be able to do any math to read it.
Never Say Neigh by Noah Vail with Mary I. Farr
As a horse owner and animal lover, it’s tough for me to pass up a chance to read about the wisdom animals can bestow on us. The wonderful thing about this book is the fact that it’s been told from the horse’s point of view.
Each chapter is a different story of a year in the life of Noah the horse. It’s witty and humorous, written in a way that’s reminiscent of Damon Runyon. The best part is that you don’t need to be a horse person to enjoy this book. Never Say Neigh is at it’s base an exploration of hope and the power of yes. Everyone can do with a bit more of that. (In the interest of full disclosure, Mary Farr is a colleague and friend. Yet, if I didn’t fully enjoy this book, there would be no way I would recommend it.)
This list should keep you busy for a while. Remember, once football season is over, baseball isn’t too far away. You can find Jen at When Pigs Fly.
What are you reading and where are you going?