Tuesday, November 5, 2013


My "Fiction Written During My Lifetime" shelf - not kidding! The one below (not pictured) is pre-1983 novels.

About a month ago, my friend Beca posted a link to this article asking men who only read male writers to branch out. There were a couple of comments on Beca's post from men asking who to start with in terms of female writers -- indeed there are men who steer clear of 'women writers' because of general and generic connotations or stereotypes. I myself have heard some offhand comments from guys stating they just don't read female writers.

I think what irks me the most is that female writers as a whole being written off because they are grouped together as if they are all the same. As if the bleak, compact prose of Joan Didion is anything like the colorful, culture-straddling observations of Jhumpa Lahiri. I love them both, but not because they're women. Because they write well and like most books I read, I want to invigorate myself with a perspective I don't know or necessarily think about all the time. I enjoy escaping into my books every day.

Some of my favorite novels are by men; I don't judge a book based on the gender of who wrote it. I want all of the stories! Also, I may be the last person on earth who hasn't read J.K. Rowling. To each their own... but I do think there's something off about closing yourself off to an author because of gender.

The author of the post, Alanna Okun, wrote:
But it is a real waste to spend a lifetime never reading too far outside yourself. It’s shortsighted and limited to think that sticking to a single swath of perspective, one canon of many, won’t stunt your ability to be a thoughtful, open person in the world. It does a disservice to everyone involved, from the authors whose voices are never heard to the readers who never have the chance to hear them to the vast populations on this planet who still have to explain the very basics of their experience to those who haven’t ever stopped to consider them.

I read this article in the middle of reading Kate Atkinson's book Life After Life - and recommending it to nearly everybody who would listen! Here's how I recommended the interesting structure of the book in my review --
I've explained it simply by telling them what happens in the first two chapters: a baby is born in England on a snowy day in 1910 but dies because it choked. In the next chapter, that same baby is born in England on a snowy day in 1910 and the doctor arrives in time amidst the snowstorm to snip the cord choking the baby. The baby lives.
It's definitely one of my favorite books I've read this year! I'm not sure if there is anybody reading here that realizes they don't read a lot of female-authored books, but in case you need some more recommendations here's a few other greats I've read this year:

The Night Gwen Stacy Died by Sarah Bruni (surreal, nerdy)
The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller (a retelling of the Greek myth)
Where'd You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple (hilarious, endearing)
The Liar's Club by Mary Karr (non-fiction recommended by Stephen King while I read his On Writing)

I should note that two of these above were personally recommended to me by my friend Adam, a guy who definitely doesn't let gender dictate what he reads.


Right now I'm in the midst of Jhumpa Lahriri's latest The Lowland about two brothers in India during the '70s. Simultaneously, I'm reading a book I received yesterday that's more 'interactive.' My friend Rick recommended it to me because we both love J.J. Abrams, and he created the novel, along with Doug Dorst. The interactivity reminds me a bit of House of Leaves, but I'm not sure it's supposed to be frightening like that novel. The book is called S, but the novel inside is called Ship of Theseus. I started it last night, and it took about an hour to get through ten pages with all the notes in the margins between two characters and the letters and notes between pages. I'd describe the super heavy book more, but perhaps only photos will work to show off this production:

That's a napkin.

I usually read on my commute, but this one I'll have to strictly read at the poker table (that's a fact: Jesse bought a dining table that doubles as a poker table) lest the inserts fly out. It's a mystery unfolding, and I'm completely enthralled. I'm considering pushing off the plans I made tonight in order to stay in and continue reading this...


I also learned this morning, true to the theme of this post, that Jesse's best friend, one of the best men in our wedding, has his book available for pre-order now. Jesse met Brian Diaz when they were on tour, and I'm sure Jesse will find many of those memories documented in this non-fiction book filled with tales from the touring life. Diaz talked about it here and there when we hung out in the past few months (sporadically, given how much he is on the road!). It's called 1800 Miles to Nowhere: Two Decades Of Life on the Road and it's available for pre-sale HERE. I will definitely be reading!


Sidenote: here's a picture of Pee Wee enjoying the time with me on the couch last night while I ate dinner. He models the great Red Sox blanket made for us by my future sister-in-law! He likes to watch tv, too.


Any book recommendations for me?


  1. Ooh that book looks fun! I'll have to pick it up for sure. I was sold at JJ Abrams.

    Give Pee Wee a little pat for me. He looks adorable as per usual.

    1. Yeah!!! Read it!

      Pee Wee is really good at being a little cat that is cute. He's only not cute when he's waking me up at 4 in the morning to feed him.

  2. Thanks for the book recommendations! Have you ever read "Wish you well" by David Baldacci? It's one of my favorites, set in the area where my father grew up.

    1. Nice -- I'll have to check it out! Thanks!

    2. no problem - we can talk books anytime - I can't read enough!