You know when you read a book that you do not want to end and your heart goes, thump, thump, thump every time a character you cherish is about to mess her/his life again. You cheer the antagonist all the way until the end. And when you get to the last page, you wish her well even you know she is only a fictional.
For the past two days I went through all ups and downs of Madeline, a main character in South of Superior by Ellen Airgood. I didn't plan to pick up this book when I went to return the DVDs a few days ago at BPL I was already in the middle of two books, but as usual I couldn't help myself to browse New Fiction section every time I go to BPL which is quite often. The title, South of Superior caught my four eyes because lately, Rohana and I have been talking about someone we know who has an unusual overload superiority complex. The interesting part, the book has nothing to do with superiority complex at all. Loved the book. thank you Ellen for writing such a lovely book.
The tittle on its cover intrigued me. KNOCKEMSTIFF? . Is it place ? I wondered. I flipped to the last page and in Acknowledgements, the author wrote that the stories were inspired by a real place called Knockemstiff in Ohio.
I wasn't disappointed because the characters in this book were sure interesting like the tittle of the book and they were pretty much messed up like some of us too.
A bookslut like me always looking for reasons to keep the books after I read them.
"I feel connected when I read this book."
Who didn't feel connected with one of many characters we've come across if we love reading?
"I love the main character. She reminded of me when I was in high school. A rebellious. Always got into trouble."
Who were not rebellious when they were younger?
I choke myself with excuses to keep them until they take over my tiny apartment. They were all over the place.
I think I sold almost a hundred books on ebay since 2006. I read those books but they didn't move me, so I didn't have separation anxiety everytime I mailed one or two books to a respective buyers.
Between a long Christmas lweekend ast year and a new year holiday I built two book shelves. I asked the housing management about their regulations. They gave me a thumb up.
While holiday shoppers rushed to Macy's, TJ Max, Marshalls and Filene Basement, I was pushing a shopping cart up and down on aisles at Home Depot with a list in my hand.
I bought my first toolbox when I moved into my apartment many years ago. A few years later I bought a Black &Decker cordless drill that came with high torque screwdriving and high speed drilling when I wanted to do some fixing around my aparment.
I wanted to build something simple, something didn't require too much of my time but it would last.
Shopping at Home Depot turned out to be a lot of fun. Besides getting a bunch of gracious offers from guys (shoppers)to help me to choose types of drill bits, anchors I learned that shopping for tools could be confusing (for me) too.
A young man who adivsed to get 1.5" anchor looked perplexed when I insisted to sales person to get me blue anchor instead of grey.
"Why?" he asked.
"Because I like blue."
His friend who asked me if I already had a stud finder rolled his eyes goodnaturedly when he heard my response.
"Young man, don't you roll your eyes at me." I pretended to scold him.
They chuckled and continued their shopping.
By the end of first week year 2009, I got tw0 book shelves on the wall. Up until now, they are still up there on the wall.
Call me a pickle-brain booklover, a scattered brain bookho or a navel- fuzzy book hoarder, but sometimes I pick up books off the shelves not because they are on the best sellers list, best reviews, award winners or a solid recommendation from another fellow book lovers.
I pick them out because I like the book covers, like Small Island by Andrea Levy, A Fruit of Lemon by the same author (still on my waiting-to-be-read-bookshelf), The Baker by Paul Hond (a cover picture of bread store). For some reasons I'm trying to understand why a book cover of sidewalk cafe' fascinates me., or pomegranate, orchid, seahorse, frog, swan or mushroom.
I never heard of Maile Meloy before, but when I saw her book, A Family Daughter sat on the shelf at Target, I said out Maile Meloy loud enough that I could hear my own voice. I rolled and flipped Mai le Me loy on my tongue for a second time, picked up the book, ran my hand over the cover, gave the book a quick scan and dropped it my shopping basket. And I was right about her. I couldn't put the book down when I got home.
Her writing style was simple, but it has strength that I drew immediately to the characters. At the end of the book, I felt like giving Abby a warm hug and tell her: I'm so glad we met.
Once, I talked with another book lover/hoarder about a similar trait we share. We love reading book about dysfunctional family. And this was our conclusion: We try to understand each character in our family, we're making an effort to make sense of the past actions of our grandparents, parents, siblings that have shaped and molded us into who we are.
I hate to admit it but sometimes I make a bias judgment by picking up books off the shelves by their covers. Of course the first thing I would do after I pick up a book is to caress my fingers on its cover before I open the first few pages and sniff the pages.
Why would I want to inhale dried ink and papers that I know come from some printing machines? But books addicts do weird things.
When the first time I saw The Thirteenth Tale in hardcover sitting pretty at New Hardcover Fiction section at Border, the cover that magnetized me to pick it up. When I caressed my fingers on its cover, I was home. The book in me wanted me to pick it up and walked to a register line. Boy, my hands were ithcy. But I held my desire. And I did.
I was into chapter four of Small Island, another good book when The Thirteenth Tale came out in softcover. I was at Target with a friend when I saw it. You get 20% of all books at Target. This time I let my desire burst out of its seams.
For five days I switched between Small Island and The Thirteenth Tale. Go and get them both. You'll love them.
The weather has been beautiful for the past weeks, plenty of sunshines on some days, cloudy and windy on the others. I squeezed my lunch hour into 30-40 minutes walk along Tremont Street or Washington Street. It was good to get a clear head before I stepped back into sometimes-chaotic-workplace.
Whatever book you have in your hands, put it aside, go to a nearest bookstore and get yourself a copy of All the Fishes Come Home to Roost, an American Misfit in India by Rachel Manija Brown. I was waiting for an old friend from university at Border Book Cafe. I couldn't think any other better place to meet friends. Anyway, he called me from his office that he would be 15 or minutes late. "Fine", I told him, " you know where to find me."
"I know, you'll have your face in a book somewhere between the aisles."
I got to the bookstore 30 minutes early, plus 15 extra minutes, I'll have 45 minutes to read. I picked All the Fishes.......... because the word misfit caught my eyes. I can identify myself with the word. I was misfit when I was a kid, at boarding school years and most of all during my 20's and 30's.
45 minutes later and 53 pages later, I wouldn't mind if my friend didn't turn up at all. I knew he must be in the store by now. I stood up, brushed the back of my skirt and quickly walked to the most hidden part of the store. Between two high bookshelves, cramped with technical books, I slid on the floor trying to squeeze the last a couple of pages of chapter 5 before he found me.
"You think you can hide from me, you sneaky woman!!!" He stood at the end of the aisle trying to look angry.
"I can always try." I stood up, picked up my backpack, looked at the page I was reading, memorized the page and closed the book. "Lets's go."
I bought the book because Rachel Manija Brown's way of sharing her life living in ashram in India when she was a little girl hooked me from the beginning.
Go and get the book, you'll enjoy it. That's all I can say.
Daylight Saving begins today and I oversleep. I didn't go to bed until 3.00 this morning. I got greedy. I finished False Witness and started another book by the same author, Investigation. I read both books for the first time 28 years ago, and I read them again 10 years later.
Last night I read them again for the third time. I'm sure sometime in the future, when I'm not too busy wandering around in an underground bazaar in Istanbul, or searching for Lemur in Madagascar, and traveling to Corsica or simply get my hands dirty in my garden I will read again any of her books.
Dorothy Uhnak's books are the only detectives/crimes books I enjoy to read. The first time I read her books was back in 1979 when I was in San Jose, California.
I've always wondered why didn't she write any more books after the last book she wrote in 1993, The Ryer Avenue Story. With my eyes half-opened I googled Dorothy Uhnak and it turned out she died in summer last year.
Try to get False Witness or Investigation or The Ledger for a start, your eyes will be glued on the pages.
Anyway, I skip the gym, get myself a cup of coffee, sit on the bench and enjoy the lovely morning.
I've just started this book during my lunch hour, Shadows in the Sun by Wade Davis. I found myself repeated the phrase from the page 11 over and over again when I walked home in 4 degree temperature, ".........when the temperatures fall so low that the breath cracks in the wind,............." I forgot how cold it was when I was trying to spot the cracks as I was breathing out.
The split-peas and sweet potato soup was sensational. It won't be this good if I had it yesterday. Some dishes taste better when they're freshly prepared but dishes like rendang, curry, pajeri (or paceri) are unbelievable phenomenal on the second day.
Let me tell you, I got my sensational soup from Pomegranate Soup. I wonder if Masha Mehran wrote her book while she was sitting in her kitchen, sipping her herbal tea or stirring abgousht in a big pot in her warm aromatic kitchen.
Set in a small village in county Mayo Ireland, Marjan Aminpour and her two younger sisters fled Iran seven years ago. They lived in London and later set up a small eating place called Babylon Cafe' on the Main Street beneath a holy mountain , Croagh Patrick.
Marsha Mehran had a way to pull me into her delicious Persian dishes and hectic life. The amazing thing was, I felt a tranquility in her kitchen every time I got to the part when Marjan began to prepare her dishes. I was right there in her kitchen watching her chopped the onions, rolled the dough and made a cup of mint tea. I finished the book in three hours. I have one word for Pomegranate Soup: Charming.
Sigrid Nunez is one of my favorite authors. The first time I read her book a few years ago, I fell in love with it. For two months I hunted down all the bookstores in the city (used and new) to get her other two books For Rouenna and The Naked Sleeper. I could've ordered from Amazon or even from the bookstores, but hunting down the book I wanted so badly is an exhilarating experience especially when I am in used bookstores.
Bending down to the lowest shelf, gradually move my eyes to a higher shelf until I hurt your neck. And when my and my neck give me in, I grab an empty chair or a stool and climb on it. I never know what will I see between the cramp, overflow bookshelves. Sometimes I find the book I made a mental note to get it, but I completely forget about it until I see the title on its spine on the top shelf. And I get this rush and warm feeling in my heart, "aahahhh....."
Okay, back to The Last of Her Kind which was about two freshman girls meet at Barnard College in the 60's. Ann Drayton the only child, a brilliant girl from old money family and Georgette comes from working class family. Getting to college was Georgette's way to escape from her dreadful life, while Ann an idealist longed for underprivileged life and despised her family. Race and class are the major theme of this book.
I flipped the pages pretty fast in the one third of the book, but when Ann was convicted for murder and sent to prison for life, reading a personal essay came close to mind. Ms. Nunez distanced herself from the characters. It was pretty heavy but the story didn't depress me as The God of Small Things did to me a few years back. I placed The Last of Her Kind on TO KEEP shelf.
Since I returned from vacation, between catching a commuter train to Worcester at 7.15 AM at Back Bay Station to accampony one of the Residents to district court, accompanied another resident to Dorchester District court, attending workshops,hanging out at bookstores, working out at the gym, hanging out at the bookstore, work, bookstorehopping, watching all the season five Star Trek Voyager dvds(I'm a number wahid of SevenofNine and Chakotay fan and I'm getting there to complete my Voyager dvds collection.....dipidadipididu), hanging out at the booktores again and some more, and some more, prepared my dinner, out with friends and all that craps, I managed to read Love and Longing in Bombay, Mistress, Pomegranate Soup, Slapboxing with Jesus and The Last of Her Kind.
If you didn't crunch down the numbers and hours you'd probably thinking I'm busier than our prime minister, or is he busy? But trust me between those chai sipping and writing my journal at the book cafe', I still have plenty of time to see me in batik wrap swaying in a hammock on a sandy golden beach somewhere. I felt the salty air on my tounge, the heat on my skin, sands sprinkled back on the ground from my feet. Boy oh boy daydreaming is heaven.
I tried to read The Wind Up Bird Chronicle, but gave it up when I got to page 134. Not that I didn't try. I did. A woman at the gym and a man, a browser like myself at Rodney said all the wonderful things about Haruki Murakami's books, but somehow I couldn''t get myself to read past 135. To get to 135 was a struggle. I put aside. Perhaps I'll try some other time.
I'm going to have my dinner: lentils/sweet potato soup. I'll write about those books when I'm full.