Monday, April 30, 2007

Finishing...and starting again

I finished The Post-Birthday World the other night, and had that bereft feeling you get when you finish a good book. The characters were people I had gotten to know and now they're gone and I miss them. I really liked this book, and I will write about it, but I have to wait a little while for it to sink in. Also, my book group discussion of the book was postponed until next week, so I'm debating about waiting to post anything about it.

I immediately started Cloud Atlas, by David Mitchell, and am liking it, though it is a challenging read. I also mooched and received Lucky Girls: Stories, a collection of short stories by Nell Freudenberger from BookMooch, so there's another book for the pile.

This pile just keeps getting bigger and bigger...

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Book Addiction Starts Early

My younger son came home with an order form from Scholastic Books in his backpack the other day. I love the days those flimsy, newsprint catalogs come home--it takes me right back to my childhood, when I used to bring them home, too.

My parents always let me choose a book or two, and there was nothing better than the day when the teacher distributed the books to us. I almost always forgot that I'd ordered any, so the books were a very happy surprise.

I still have a couple of those paperbacks from when I was little. Ellen Tebbits, by Beverly Cleary, is one, and I wrote my name on the inside cover, so I can always see how terrible my penmanship was back then.

I flipped through my son's little catalog, and was happier than I thought I'd be about the choices there. Sure, there's some junk in the catalog--they've refined their marketing strategy to the kids, so many of the books come with promotional toys, or are based on TV shows or movies--but there are still some old favorites there.

There are titles by Beverly Cleary and Roald Dahl, and The Borrowers series, and a series of books about Amelia Bedelia. There's Where the Red Fern Grows, by Wilson Rawls, which made me cry my eyes out when I was about ten years old. There's Freckle Juice, by Judy Blume. There are a whole slew of Newbery Award winners, and a whole page of decent-looking books about science and history. By the way, it's always worth looking at the list of Newbery Award winners on the ALA website--it's fun to see what you or your kids have read from this amazing list.

And there are newer authors I know are good. My kids loved Frindle, by Andrew Clements. They're offering some other books he wrote. I think I'll buy those for my son. And the two books of poetry by Jack Prelutsky. Uh oh, now whose addiction am I feeding?

Thursday, April 26, 2007

I just can't help myself...

I know, I know, I just can't help myself...I had to include a shot of the crazy rose bush in my back yard, because it's only this gorgeous for such a short period of time. I'm not a great gardener, I'm more of a wishful gardener, but I have a couple of great plants in my garden, this being one of them.

I love how all the lit bloggers I visit always post about the new books they acquire. I'm right there with them, and I get a vicarious thrill, too. I can't help myself in that department, either. I'm sure everyone in the neighborhood can hear the cheers when a box comes for me from Barnes & Noble, Amazon or Powells.

Today I got a box with two books by David Mitchell that I ordered, Black Swan Green: A Novel and Cloud Atlas: A Novel.

But I have to admit, my joy was tempered a little when I realized I have another of Mitchell's books, Number9Dream, on my shelf of books to read. I started it, and though I liked the writing style, the story, which includes many of the main character's daydreams, was a little hard to follow. So I ended up putting it down.

"Putting it down" are three of the saddest little words. I always have to give myself permission to put books down. It feels like a failure to me, but I have to keep telling myself that there is only so much time in life, and I want to make my reading count.

But I've heard great things about Cloud Atlas, and lots of people have Black Swan Green on their top books of 2006 lists.

Has anyone read them? Please let me know what you think!

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Los Angeles Times Festival of Books, a reminder

The L.A. Times Festival of Books is coming up this weekend (Saturday and Sunday, April 28th and 29th). If you’re in the L.A. area, it’s a must-see. I just checked out the list of panels at this link, and wow, there are some great people speaking. Here’s a link to the list of authors attending, too.

It’s all free, but for some events you need to get tickets ahead of time, which you can do through Ticketmaster, and parking is $8. There are panels on every genre of literature, plus all kinds of other book-related topics. Here are a few highlights, but really, check out the website.

Joseph Wambaugh and James Ellroy in conversation

Ellen Burstyn in conversation with Leonard Maltin

Ray Bradbury introduced by M.G. Lord

Jim Lehrer in conversation with Sander Vanocur

Children's Books: Creating Today's Classics, with moderator Ms. Lois Sarkisian, and Ms. Cornelia Funke, Mr. Hilary Knight and Ms. Laura Numeroff.

Fiction: Jumping Off the Page, with moderator Ms. Susan Salter Reynolds, and Mr. Chris Bohjalian, Mr. Peter Orner, Mr. Gary Shteyngart, and Ms. Marianne Wiggins

T.C. Boyle with an Introduction by Jerry Stahl

Gore Vidal in conversation with Jon Wiener

Mitch Albom in conversation with Frank McCourt

And many, many more interesting panels and speakers...

I often feel that L.A. is a wonderful place to live, and then there are the other times, when I feel it's a cesspool. This is one of the good times. This event is one of the perks of living in a big city, and sometimes I need to be reminded of those perks...

Monday, April 23, 2007

DailyLit is back, Book Group fun

Ah, the world is back in balance--my daily dose of The Age of Innocence came via email this morning (from DailyLit) and I read it immediately. One reason, at least, to like Mondays (besides the fact that the kids are back in school--ahhh).

My book group meets this week, and I'm very excited, because we'll be discussing The Post-Birthday World, by Lionel Shriver. I don't think we've had enough time to read it, so I'm pretty sure not everyone will be finished. But we never postpone meetings, because we love to get together, even if we don't talk about books.

This book should be really interesting to discuss, though. It's about a 40ish woman making decisions about her romantic relationships, and reading it has been a bittersweet experience. I'm very curious about my fellow book groupers' opinions on this one. And I'm happy to have anyone else weigh in...

And we have a policy that if you haven't read the book, you have to throw five bucks into the kitty. At some point, when we have enough cash, we'll all go out to dinner. My husband thinks that is just too much incentive NOT to read the books!

Does anyone else have any book group rules or policies they want to share? Any interesting ways to pick books?

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Age of Innocence, LibraryThing, and other stuff

I woke up this morning and checked my email, and--oh no! There was no little chunk of The Age of Innocence waiting for me. Then I remembered that when I signed up for DailyLit (explained in an earlier post), I only signed up for weekday emails. I actually missed my Wharton this morning!

I haven't read Wharton in years, so I had forgotten how accessible she is. And in The Age of Innocence, she hooks you in the first few pages. She's sort of like your Victorian aunt, formal in her language, yet gossipy, and very sharp in her observations of the foibles of the society she lives in.

I am enamored of LibraryThing now, too. You all probably know more about it than I do. I saw it on other book blogs, so I was really excited to get my own little LibraryThing widget for my blog. It shows random books from my library (showing the cover art), and of course it's hooked up to Amazon (they don't miss a trick).

Its larger purpose, other than being cool on people's blogs, is for people to catalog their books using the internet. I'm sure if you visit the site you can see all the potential in this tool. But I have to admit that I haven't catalogued nearly my whole library on it. That's because I've only scanned in books that I'm proud to have show up on my little "random books" widget. How pathetic is that?

So now I have to start a new LibraryThing account so I can catalog all my crappy books that I don't want to admit to publicly, too. Then it might be an even more useful tool for me. If you know of any other cool uses for LibraryThing, please let me know.

My picture today is of the bougainvillea in my front yard. It's a beautiful plant, and it was here when I moved in. I take no credit for it whatsoever. They grow like weeds around here, and they are showy and fantastic. After yesterday's post showing my English rose, I thought I should somehow prove that the bounty of my garden is not due to any talent on the gardener's part, just the luck of the climate.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

My book group, a wonderful bunch of women, chose The Post-Birthday World by Lionel Shriver for our next meeting, which is convenient for me, since I already had a copy. I've started it and I'm really enjoying Ms. Shriver's writing style. She is an American living in London, and that's what she writes about--and there is a wonderful awareness of the clash of British and American English usage, as well as an exploration of the clash of these two cultures, in the book. I also love it when writers describe things in ways that make me say, oh, yes, I've felt that way. And it looks like Shriver is one of those writers for me. Even little descriptions like this one make me smile: "The air was the temperature of bathwater whose heat was beginning to fade, but still warm enough for a lingering soak."

I'm also almost through David Shapard's The Annotated Pride and Prejudice. I bought it more or less as a reference but of course I couldn't resist reading it (again!) every night at bedtime. Pride and Prejudice is one of those books I read over and over again--it's like a security blanket for me. Reading with the notes is fun for me, but for a first-timer to P and P, I wouldn't necessarily suggest it, since reading the notes definitely takes away from the flow of the narrative. However, I'm happy that it's forcing me into a more close reading. I'm finding the notes are informative for me about half the time--I'm pretty familiar with much of the language by this point, so the definitions and clarifications aren't generally very surprising, but Shapard's citations from Austen's life and letters, and much of his literary analysis, is really helpful.

Stefanie at So Many Books, in her post about what book to bring on an upcoming plane ride, reminded me I have to pick a book or two for the long flight I'm making at the end of May. We'll be on the plane for almost 6 hours, and since I'll be entertaining three kids the whole time, I probably won't have much time to read. But I can't imagine not bringing a book. I need a book as a security blanket, since I hate to fly. So maybe I'll bring Pride and Prejudice, just to make me feel better.

A while back, Stefanie also mentioned coveting David Austin English roses, which are some of my favorites, so I've included a photo of our English rose in the back yard.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Bits of Wharton

My friend Jen (another of my book peeps) is reading Hermione Lee's well-reviewed new biography of Edith Wharton, which she says is really good, and better still, she will lend me when she's finished. Thanks Jen!

So in preparation for Lee's book, I'm going to read The Age of Innocence. But I'm going to do it in a new way--via email. I'm thankful to Matt at A Variety of Words for a link to DailyLit, a service that provides bite-sized chunks of books delivered via email. Each portion can be read in about 5 minutes (I'll vouch for that--just finished my first bit of Wharton from this service). If I only read one emailed portion per day, I'll be done with The Age of Innocence in 124 days! But if I get antsy and want to read ahead, I can request the next portion any time. I'll let you know how it goes.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

A.M. Homes article and genealogy

I don’t read magazines very often, unless I’ve somehow walked out of the house without a book and I’m captive in a hair stylist’s or dentist’s chair. But the other day I was flipping through O Magazine (one of Oprah’s many media) at the supermarket checkout, and I threw it in the cart when I saw that A.M. Homes had an article in it called “Finding My People”.

I’ve never read A.M. Homes, but I’ve been meaning to, because one of my book peeps, Cousin Rog, says I should. And I listen to Rog.

The article is from her new memoir (with a great title), The Mistress's Daughter: A Memoir which is about her search, as an adoptee, to find out about both her families, adoptive and birth.

I’ve heard Homes’s work described as “shocking” and “twisted”, but the article (which I can’t find an online link to, but which is from the memoir) is neither—it is a lovely piece. In it she says, “Along the way, it becomes apparent to me that I am searching not just for biological history but for my combined history—the intertwined narrative of how I became who I am.”

She talks about the addictiveness of genealogical research, which has become a very popular on-and-off-line hobby in the U.S. I know this myself, because my mother is such a hobbyist.

And like Homes, I’ve become intrigued by my own past, by the many stories of the many people I had no idea that I was connected to, but whose collective experiences have in some way shaped me.

Homes writes: “I am back in time, wading across a clear running creek, I am a farmer on a plantation, I am captain of a ship, I am the woman in a long white dress, my curly hair high up on my head…I am conjuring sea captains and drinking glasses of bloodred wine. This is the stuff of poems and strange fever dreams.”

I’ve been inspired that way, too. My mother’s research tells me that I’m related to several women who were executed as witches during the Salem witch trials in 1692. The little bits I have pieced together of their lives has inspired me to write about them. Like Homes, I’m inspired by digging through this history, listening to the stories my family tells about itself, and finding the narrative.

I’m also inspired to read A.M. Homes, finally. Her most recent works are The Mistress's Daughter: A Memoir and This Book Will Save Your Life. Here’s a link to an interview she did with Powell’s books about her book This Book Will Save Your Life.

Friday, April 13, 2007

New books and a Vonnegut memory

I got new books in the mail, and it made my day! First of all, I got my first book mooched from BookMooch. I mooched Call It Sleep: A Novel by Henry Roth, something I've wanted to read for years and years. It's a nice, heavy paperback, and it came in perfect condition--for those of you, like Matt, who were wondering :)

Then I got something I ordered from the Huge House of Books (Amazon), a novel called The God of Animals: A Novel by Aryn Kyle. I'd heard it was a good book about life on a horse ranch in Colorado. One of the blurbs on the back reads, "No novel in recent memory has captured the West so well. Kyle is an absolute discovery, her book a perfect read." Well, that's a lot to live up to!

I got to thinking about Kurt Vonnegut, remembering how much fun it was to read Slaughterhouse Five when I wasn't even really old enough to understand it, except to know that it was subversive. And my husband reminded me of one of our favorite stories from Welcome to the Monkey House, "Who Am I This Time?", which was made into a movie with Christopher Walken and Susan Sarandon, directed by Jonathan Demme. A nice way to remember Mr. Vonnegut.

Goodbye, Mr. Vonnegut

I was greeted this morning with the sad news that Kurt Vonnegut died...

Here's the appropriately long article in the NY Times.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Sometimes a non-fiction gal

I always think of myself as a fiction kind of gal, happy to read a few compelling (and generally lightweight) works of non-fiction, but mostly a novel-reader. But I was gathering up books to give away on BookMooch, and I realized I have quite a stack of non-fiction that I’ve either read or started in the last year or so.

The Omnivore's Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Mealsby Michael Pollan
Matt at A Variety of Words posted about this book, reminding me that I had put it down before finishing it. That’s not because it’s not a fascinating book, but because it’s a scary book that was making me overthink every piece of so-called food I put into my mouth. But I am going to finish the book…and probably worry about how industrial farming and high-fructose corn syrup are taking over the world…

Heat: An Amateur's Adventures as Kitchen Slave, Line Cook, Pasta-Maker, and Apprentice to a Dante-Quoting Butcher in Tuscanyby Bill Buford
A New Yorker writer gives up his day job to enter the crazy but fascinating world of fancy restaurant kitchens and works as a line cook for one of Mario Batalli’s restaurants. Then he goes to Italy to learn the arts of pasta-making and butchery. Buford’s self-deprecating humor and his anecdotes about high-end restaurant kitchens make the book. Hint: don’t order pasta after 9pm—read the book to find out why.

Eat, Pray, Love: One Woman's Search for Everything Across Italy, India and Indonesiaby Elizabeth Gilbert
Another memoir of a writer making life-changing decisions. Gilbert breaks off her marriage and goes on a journey of self-discovery, eating her way through Italy, praying in an ashram in India, and falling in love in Indonesia. At first I found her whiny, but then she grew on me. And I found the stuff about yoga and meditation fascinating.

The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair that Changed Americaby Erik Larson
Larson weaves together the story of the nearly impossible task of building and landscaping the Chicao World’s Fair of 1893, with the story of a serial killer who preyed on women who came to see the fair’s spectacle. I found the stuff about the fair much more interesting than the story of the serial killer, but all in all, it was an entertaining read.

Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinkingby Malcolm Gladwell
This is one of those books with a great concept—it’s about how quickly people make judgments, and how deeper analysis sometimes leads to worse judgements, not better ones. It’s about how we process information subconsciously—what Gladwell calls “thin slicing”—like how we “read minds” by actually reading tiny changes in people’s facial expressions. Gladwell provides lots of entertaining examples of this from the worlds of art, business, the military, policing, even love. It’s a great read, though I’m not sure what the big picture is—it’s interesting information, but is it really useful?

I also have a few on the pile that I haven’t started, but have heard good things about:
Teach Like Your Hair's on Fire: The Methods and Madness Inside Room 56by Rafe Esquith
A memoir about teaching in inner city Los Angeles, sent by my public radio station (KPCC in Pasadena) when I joined their book club—looking forward to their future choices, too!

The Knife Man: Blood, Body Snatching, and the Birth of Modern Surgeryby Wendy Moore
The story of the 18th century Scottish medical innovator, surgeon John Hunter.

Will in the World: How Shakespeare Became Shakespeareby Stephen Greenblatt
A well-reviewed biography, with all of the usual speculation and more, that I bought because I liked the writer when I heard him on NPR.

Has anyone read any of the ones I haven’t gotten to yet? What did you think? Have any other good non-fiction suggestions for me?

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

The Art of Fred Marcellino at L.A. Central Library

For those of you in the Los Angeles area, my friend Miss Julie told me about an exhibit at L.A.'s Central Library that I am going to check out soon. It's called "Dancing by the Light of the Moon: The Art of Fred Marcellino", and it includes the covers of record albums, contemporary fiction, and children's books illustrated by Fred Marcellino, and it runs through July 29.

From the press release:
The exhibit features some of Marcellino’s most prominent artwork including book covers for Tom Wolfe’s “The Bonfire of the Vanities” and Milan Kundera’s “The Unbearable Lightness of Being”; album covers for artists such as Loretta Lynn, Manhattan Transfer and Fleetwood Mac; and children’s book illustrations from Charles Perrault’s “Puss in Boots” and Hans Christian Andersen’s “The Steadfast Tin Soldier.”

Click here to view a couple of his children's book illustrations, one from Puss in Boots, the other from I, Crocodile...

Monday, April 9, 2007

Travels in the Scriptorium, by Paul Auster--a review

I just finished Paul Auster’s latest novel, Travels in the Scriptorium: A Novel. Before this, I had only read one of Auster’s novels, The Book of Illusions: A Novel, and little did I know when I started, but this is quite a handicap when reading his new book. The ideal reader here is a tried and true Auster fan.

The Book of Illusions was mesmerizing; while reading I felt like I was listening to a master storyteller. This book is a totally different experience. It’s very sparely told, and it gives an obvious nod to Samuel Beckett. It’s about one day in the life of an old, enfeebled man. This man wakes up in a small, white room where he is constantly monitored by cameras. The man, named by the narrator Mr. Blank, doesn’t know who he is or why he’s here, and he feels he is a prisoner, but never has the energy to check the door to see if it’s locked.

Throughout the day, various people visit Mr. Blank, some to nurse him, and provide pills that are part of a mysterious “treatment,” others to confront him about his part in ruining their lives. Mr. Blank feels guilt about this, but he isn’t sure why.

It turns out that these visitors are characters from Auster’s previous works. It’s clever, clever, clever, but it doesn’t work for me. I admit that I might have been more engaged in the story if I had read the books, known these characters, and understood more about their backgrounds. But for me, they are mere types: Anna and Sophie the nurses, Farr the doctor, Flood the policeman, Quinn the lawyer. And perhaps if this book filled in the blanks about what happened to these characters in the meantime, or more fully explained their various attitudes to Mr. Blank, I would have been more interested in them.

On the desk in Mr. Blank's room is a typescript, which he picks up and reads. It’s about another prisoner—but a prisoner in an unnamed country in the nineteenth century, who tells part of the story of why he is imprisoned and condemned to death. This story within the story is more entertaining to me than the prescribed world of Mr. Blank, whose struggle to get through the day left me feeling as listless as the character seems. Mr. Blank reads the unfinished manuscript, and finishes the story in his head, manipulating the characters in the callous way that writers do when they are trying to make their story come out satisfactorily. This proves Mr. Blank is a writer, and perhaps proves the point of the characters who visit, who accuse him of cruelty.

It’s metaphysical territory, about the torment of being a writer—Auster seems to be wondering what has happened to his characters after he’s done with them, and what happens to writers after they have arranged and rearranged their characters’ lives. I’m interested in the questions he raises about the writer’s responsibilities, and I like the way Auster plays with reality, but this book is a little too spare, and too postmodern, for me.

Sunday, April 8, 2007

BookMooch update

I'm loving this BookMooch thing, and I haven't even gotten books from them yet. Earlier, I posted about BookMooch, a book swappin' service where you can get rid of your old books and get some new ones, and it's all designed on a fairly straightforward point system (kinda like my local babysitting co-op).

Iliana at bookgirl's nightstand said she loves it, so I signed on up. And lo and behold, about 5 minutes after I listed a bunch of books I was willing to give away, I got two emails from people who wanted my stuff. I'm loving this! I've packed up my books and am about to send.

Now, it's not easy for me to part with my books. Even the ones I don't like, I usually hang onto. I always think I'm going to reread things (yeah, right) or I'll find the perfect charity to give them to. But the first book someone wanted to mooch from me was one of my least favorite genre, the "funny gift book". You know the type of thing, the kind of book people give your husband for his birthday because they think he'll love it, he's got such a "wacky" sense of humor. So we get the one-second guffaw when we open the present, and then they're cluttering up our bookshelves forever. (Not to mention the fact that these books are always glossy hardbacks that cost somebody at least $15.95. What a racket.)

So I'm listing every funny gift book I ever got on BookMooch -- sorry friends. And we'll see if I get any more takers!

Friday, April 6, 2007

Someday list

I have a secondary nightstand--a stack, really, of more books to read, when I find the time (hah!). Sometimes they move up to my nightstand, sometimes they get reshelved, and go into a sort of limbo. I still have one eye on them, but it gets less and less likely that I'll pick them up. Sad, really.

Right now, my secondary "To Be Read" pile includes:

When We Were Orphans, by Kazuo Ishiguro
The House of the Seven Gables, by Nathaniel Hawthorne
Marie Antoinette, by Antonia Fraser
That Old Ace in the Hole, by Annie Proulx
13 Ways of Looking at the Novel, by Jane Smiley
The Echo Maker, by Richard Powers
Suite Francaise, by Irene Nemirovsky

Then there's the list of someday reads--books I didn't read in high school or college, but it seems that everyone else did, books I feel I should read, books I have an interest in, but they're just too daunting, thick, or whatever. And you never know, so I keep them around, too.

The ambitious pile includes:

Cape Cod, by Henry David Thoreau
A House for Mr. Biswas, by V.S. Naipaul
The Wind-up Bird Chronicle, by Haruki Murakami
Waverley, by Sir Walter Scott
Scarlet and Black, by Stendhal
Our Mutual Friend, by Charles Dickens
War and Peace, by Leo Tolstoy

What's on your someday list?

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

Medicine Men

I'm very excited because my two favorite medical writers have books coming out! What does that say about me, that I even have two favorite medical writers? My husband, who used to write for the TV drama ER, would say that Americans are endlessly fascinated with medicine--that show, for example, has been on the air since 1994. And we are all patients at some time in our lives. As my husband says, nowadays in America, most people have a hospital bracelet put on them when they're coming into the world and when they're going out of it.

I'm not sure if that's it, but I'm always interested in what doctors have to say about the world of medicine, it's strengths and its failures.

Dr. Jerome Groopman, a Harvard professor and physician whose essays I always enjoy in the New Yorker, has written a new book, How Doctors Think. His book was reviewed Sunday in the New York Times Book Review (by doctor-turned-writer Michael Crichton). Groopman's book is mostly about the doctor-patient relationship, and how it affects the doctor's diagnosis. According to the review, Groopman talks about how communication between doctor and patient is key to making a good diagnosis, yet doctors don't always receive training to help them communicate with patients.

Today's New York Times has an article about my other favorite doctor and New Yorker essayist, Dr. Atul Gawande, a Rhodes scholar and surgeon whose new book Better: A Surgeon's Notes on Performance, comes out this week. This book is mostly made up of Gawande's essays from the New Yorker, and the review says it's theme is the "imperfection of modern medicine and the need for doctors to strive to do better." Hmmm...seems to have something in common with Dr. Groopman's book.

It's a bonanza of medical writing by the smart guys. Looks like I'm going to have to read both.

Monday, April 2, 2007

The Book on Motherhood

I'm raising three kids, so much of the time reading, for me, is an escape from the demands of motherhood. But occasionally I like to read about it, too. You know, to touch literary base with other mothers. It's nice to know there are mothers out there thinking, since I often have trouble remembering my own...hey, don't hit your sister! Sorry, mothering intrudes. I remember one writer in a story in the New Yorker (sorry, can't remember the name of the writer or the story...see?) who talked about the "warm vegetable soup" of young motherhood, and I really related to the phrase.

In this Sunday's NY Times Book Review, there's a review of Deborah Garrison's new book of poems, The Second Child: Poems. She's gone from single Manhattanite to suburban mother of three, and her poetry has followed. The article made me want to read her poems, and it made me want to reread Anne Sexton and Sylvia Plath. The reviewer (Emily Nussbaum) calls Plath "the great unsung poet of motherhood". Boy, I do not remember her like that! Maybe because I read her as a college student, and the references to birth, lactation, and the like didn't resonate for me then--only the sadness made an impression!

I do love poetry, but for me it's a condiment in my reading diet. So I thought I'd mention a few of the other types of good books I've read about mothering.

Of the memoirs, I liked Anne Lamott's Operating Instructions: A Journal of My Son's First Year, which I found hilarious and poignant, and Louise Erdrich's The Blue Jay's Dance: A Birth Year, which was interesting on mothering and writing at the same time.

I also remember really liking a collection of short stories by the British writer Helen Simpson, called Getting a Life: Stories. I know I've read others, but this fuzzy mommy brain doesn't remember. Does anyone have any recommendations for good books on motherhood?