I Need a Good Read

Sunday, September 28, 2008

I'm in a bit of a panic because I need something good to read. I'm leaving on a bus trip to Kansas City in a week, and a week after that I'm taking the train to Kalamazoo. My Shuffle will only get me so far, so I need to have something with substance that I'm eager to dig into and pass the time.

When I went to New York recently I brought along The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffeneger. On the flight out I noticed that a woman in the seat in front of me was reading the same book. When I commented, she stated that she hoped I was enjoying it as much as she was. I had only just begun reading it, but Margaret loved it and recommended it to her friends. The book got me through the trip, but when I passed the half-way mark I gave up. I found it too sappy with romance and too plodding with the story line.

I picked up another book called Merle's Door that doesn't hold much promise either. I loved The Story of Edgar Sawtelle, and thought this would be a good followup. But the first few pages put me off. I found it condescending and self-important that the author described how he and his companions smelled when a stray dog wandered into their lives (garlic, onions, tomato sauce, basil, oregano, and anchovies from the pizza they ate), and then pointed out that he was describing their smells because that's what a dog would notice. Anybody that observes dogs knows that they are good at smelling things. He goes on to mention the dogs brow, and corrects himself by saying that dogs don't have brows because they don't need them. He says they only sweat through their paws and therefor don't need a brow to keep sweat out of their eyes. Humans, on the other hand, need brows he says because their foreheads sweat. This seems like a  really far fetched idea to me. A quick search tells me I'm not the only one to think so. I closed the book and closed my mind to the treasures it might offer.

I need to start looking at books by authors I've liked in the past. I've read everything by Anne Patchett, and loved it all. Actually, I haven't read her latest novel called Run. I saw it in an airport a year or so ago and didn't buy it. I already had something to read and besides, I didn't want to ruin a good streak if the novel didn't live up to her others. I guess I can put it on my list now though.

I liked The Secret History and The Little Friend by Donna Tart, but she hasn't written anything else, so I guess her work is out.

I was on a good streak with stories by Mark Jenkins. He writes great pieces for Outside Magazine, and has compiled some of his stories into books. I got a couple of them from the library, but had to request them via interlibrary loan. I didn't have time to finish the last one before returning it. Unfortunately I can't request it again because I returned it without the little pink slip they tape to the cover to mark its library of origin. The tape they use isn't secure enough to withstand daily use, and it had fallen off before I returned the book and it turns out that the pink slip is critical. Now they think I never returned the book at all and it is lost forever.

Annie Proulx is a great author. I love her Shipping News and thought Close Range: Wyoming Stories was a perfect collection of short stories. Either of those would be worth a second read. But she's got others I haven't touched yet, including a new one called Fine Just The Way It Is: Wyoming Stories 3

OK, I'll stop panicking. Surely I can find one of these at the library or the bookstore in the next week. Feel free to send me more ideas though, you never know in a small town.


  1. dmarks said...

    Several bloggers I know list "Time Traveller's Wife" in their favorite books in their profile. I took along the audio book in my recent trip east, but did not get a chance to listen to it.

    I did read Michael Crichton's "Next", and have started on reading juvenile vampire novels.

    There is no zoo in Kalamazoo.

  2. Melinda said...

    Have you read "The Lives of Rocks" by Rick Bass? (Short story collection)

    I'm short on authors, but here are some titles I've loved in the past year:
    "Song Yet Sung"
    "Someone Knows My Name"

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