It’s time for your monthly book update, just in time for the holiday season when (I hope) you may have a bit of extra time to read some of these works along with me.
I just finished… Fates and Furies, by Lauren Groff, while I was in Prague. I was slow to warm to this book, but once I was hooked, I was all in. Groff tells the story of a marriage from its dizzy, impetuous inception until the relationship ends over 20 years later. In the first half of the book, she narrates the couple’s life from the husband, Lotto’s, point of view. In the second half, the same years are relayed through the eyes of Lotto’s wife, Mathilde. Here’s what I loved about it: This couple possesses some unusual characteristics that may remind you you’re reading a story and that you don’t actually know these people, but the all-consuming love, the moments of frightening confusion, the silent sacrifices, the heartwrenchingly real way Lotto and Mathilde navigate decades of growth together as individuals while remaining dedicated to each other as a couple (something that is much easier at times for each of them) is universally familiar. I struggled sometimes in the first half of the book to understand what Groff was getting at – but as the novel continued I realized the author was purposely nebulous since at that point she was only telling one side of the story – and that, as we all know, is almost always fuzzy and selectively told. I highly recommend this novel – I feel wistful for it even weeks after finishing.
On my agenda… I recently started A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara. The book was shortlisted for the Booker Prize and a finalist for the National Book Award – as I’ve mentioned, I usually like books acknowledged by both of these award committees. Next on my list is The Boston Girl by Anita Diamant, which is not a recent release but it somehow escaped my attention until now. Diamant’s book The Red Tent is one of my very favorite novels of all time, so I’ll try to read almost anything with her name on it. And last, I purchased Elizabeth Gilbert’s (of Eat, Pray, Love fanfare) new book Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear, because, really, who wouldn’t want that? Her creative living seems to have led her to big places, so I’m interested in her message.
My favorite reads this week…are from last Sunday’s T Magazine (the style magazine for The New York Times). The theme is “Welcome to the World”, and I particularly loved Pico Iyer’s essay Keeping It Real, where he addresses the modern day traveler’s obsession with the “authentic” and what that actually means. I spent my 20s and 30s believing I sought the “real, local experience” when I traveled, and have since considered if that’s actually what I’m looking for when I go somewhere else. Iyer’s essay nails it. I also drooled over Modern English, a short piece about the gardener Charlie McCormick’s wild and traditional gardens on his estate in the English countryside.
What should I add to my reading list for December?