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What I'm Reading: August 2007

August 22, 2007 at 2:00 PM

Here are the books I've read from June through August 2007.

  • Toast: The Story of a Boy's Hunger by Nigel Slater, memoir
  • Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life by Barbara Kingsolver with Steven L. Hopp and Camille Kingsolver, nonfiction narrative
  • Everyman by Philip Roth, fiction
  • Dog Years by Mark Doty, memoir
  • Without a Map by Meredith Hall, memoir
  • Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen, fiction
  • Alice Waters and Chez Panisse by Thomas McNamee, biography
  • Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert, nonfiction

My favorite on this list is Without a Map by Meredith Hall, a haunting, beautifully written memoir and one of the best I've read in years. I haven't been able to stop thinking about it.

What I'm Reading for Pleasure

At the end of the day, I read. I love the quiet it brings. I relish getting lost in a marvelous story. I especially love to read memoir and fiction because I am fascinated with character, why people behave the way they do, how relationships flourish and flounder, and how people overcome adversity. Lately I have been reading more nonfiction and find I like nonfiction narratives best.

Because reading for enjoyment is one of the ways I enrich my life, I share recent favorite books with you in the hopes that you will love even one book as much as I did. Books are a way I unwind, connect with others, and learn what's going on in the world. Reading also feeds my writing; I couldn't write if I didn't read. Through reading I observe what authors do and marvel at how they do it.

How I Choose My Reading Titles

Most of the books I read come from trustworthy recommendations from book-loving friends and colleagues, The New York Times Book Review, which I pore over weekly, or from the handwritten reviews on the shelves in local bookstores. I almost always buy the books I plan to read and I enjoy looking at them on my bookshelf, waiting to be plucked when the moment seems right.

I do feel guilty about not using the public library more, but I love owning books, and I choose carefully. The books I plan to buy next are Circling My Mother, a memoir by Mary Gordon (it got a terrific review in the August 26, 2007 The New York Times Book Review) and Gut Feelings: The Intelligence of the Unconscious by Gerd Gigerenzer, which sounds fascinating from the description I read about the author inScience Times: The New York Times on August 28, 2007.

I also belong to a monthly book club, and in September we meet to select the books we will read for the next year. By talking with people I enjoy and who admire books I might not choose to read on my own, my reading horizons expand. One recent example is Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West by Gregory Maguire. Typically, I am not a reader of fantasy, but I devoured and loved that book.

Category: My Reading

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