on reading: let's catch up

o dear readers, i apologize. this silence has gone on too long! and so i am back, and i am going to be posting far more often than i have been in the last month or so. i went on a nice long minnesotan hiatus and it made me have summer vacation brain. now that it is nearly labor day and schools are starting up again, i suppose i should join everyone else and snap out of it.

so let's talk about reading. while i've been a mere shadow in the blogosphere lately, i've been catching up on reading lots of wonderful things, and i wanted to share my small reviews with you. some are books that are brand-new, others are old as the hills. bookgirl has to keep up with the changing times and changing reading preferences of the people, so a mix is necessary. here's what's in my reading past—i'll just talk about a few of them; some are still lying around, unfinished:

i've already talked briefly about after midnight, by irmgard keun (i love that name). it is a story about german society during the beginnings of world war II, as seen through the eyes of a young german girl named sanna. it is somewhat of a satire; sanna is vaguely supportive of hitler's regime, yet she criticizes it under her breath, almost without knowing she's doing so. an example:
herr kulmbach had been saying the führer had united the whole german nation. which is true enough, it's just that the people making up the whole german nation don't get on with each other. but that doesn't make any difference to political unity, i suppose. (33)
keun's story also provides a writer's critique of the political times, which, at the time, was absolutely unacceptable. it's a brilliant book, written in that kind of ladylike, proper language that i love so much. and what i love about melville house's neversink library edition is that they include irmgard's life story (as well as a section of literary analysis, ooh), which is so interesting and sad and strange. after her books were burned in the 1933 "burning of the books" and her writing made her a target for the gestapo, she escaped germany and lived in exile throughout europe. her husband divorced her on grounds that she made anti-nazi remarks. after staging her suicide, she slipped back into germany and lived in hiding. later on, her work was rediscovered and her reputation brought back to life. for me, this is one of those cases where the author's own story completely influences the way you read their work.

i loved the heart is a lonely hunter. it's a classic, so i won't talk too much about it, but carson mccullers' writing is both evocative and uncomplicated, effective at summoning up the dry, stagnant air of the depression years. her characters were each so different, but mccullers handles their individual voices deftly. highly recommended.

and the dark tale of wildwood! coming soon to bookstores near you. i was glued to this book by the last hundred pages. i couldn't stop reading! my advance reading copy was missing some of the illustrations, but the scenes described by colin meloy were such that i could imagine it all on my own... an owl prince, evil coyotes, rugged bandits, trees that respond to wishes, animals that get drunk on blackberry cordial. it is comparable to brian jacques' redwall series, except meloy includes human characters in his story. he also makes use of his amazing vocabulary. i love seeing young adult novels that employ words even i need to look up.

right now, i'm getting through an alphabet for gourmets (i'm on "e is for exquisite"), by m.f.k. fisher. it is probably going to land on my top-5 list of best food books ever.
shortcomings by adrian tomine is totally engrossing so far, exploring a dying long-term relationship and its effect on the (extremely unsympathetic) male half of the couple.
and finally, the family fang, on which i am still forming an opinion, but which is keeping me interested thus far, at the very least.

oh dear, well, this was long. but it was about time. perhaps you've gotten some good idears on what to read in your spare time... or perhaps what not to read. at any rate, thanks for reading this post!

i'll be back.
hasta la vista...

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