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  • What I'm Reading, Part 1

    Here's how I get all my reading done these days--with a sleeping baby on my lap. It's not bad.

    As it turns out, there are lots of things babies won’t always let you do, including but not limited to: cooking, eating breakfast, cleaning, eating lunch, going to the gym, eating dinner, watching TV, sleeping soundly, showering, having a conversation with your partner when he gets home from work, writing.

    But reading! There is so much more time for reading than I could have ever imagined. Here is part one of what I’ve read recently:

    • Wise Blood by Flannery O’Connor- A truly bizarre and brilliant novel about Hazel Motes, a young atheist who begins his own religion: the Church of Christ Without Christ. I read this for my graduate lecture about made-up cults and religions in literature, but if that’s not your thing, read this for the crazy zookeeper, a charlatan street minister, the mummified dwarf, at least one person who willingly blinds himself, and a man in a gorilla costume.
    • The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro- Stevens, a butler in post-war England, takes a drive through the countryside—his first holiday in years—and reflects on his time of service at Darlington Hall. This sounds incredibly boring, but it isn’t! It’s a heartbreaking portrait of regret and self-denial and the unrelenting quest for dignity. Fun fact: literally ten minutes after I finished this book, my water broke, and eleven hours after that, Margaux was born.
    • Us by David Nicholls- Douglas and Connie, a middle-aged married couple in the suburbs of London, take their seventeen-year-old son Albie on a Grand Tour of Europe. The only problem is that right before they are scheduled to leave, Connie tells Douglas, who narrates the novel, that she isn’t sure she wants to be married to him anymore...but off they go on vacation anyway. This is one of my favorite books I’ve read recently. It’s equally funny and sad, hopeful and painful. It will ignite your wanderlust too, though you won’t want to be on this particular trip.
    • All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr- This won the Pulitzer, and probably everyone you know has read it. Here, Doerr tells the story of a blind French girl and a German boy in occupied France during WWII. Read with a pen in hand--to underline all the beautiful sentences--and tissues within arms’ reach.
    • The Secret History by Donna Tartt- This book may not have a mummified dwarf, but this novel about a group of Classics students at a small college in Vermont has lots of other things to recommend it: a murder, a bacchanal, at least one sociopath, and all the Latin and Greek phrases you can translate, you pretentious nerd.
    • The Department of Speculation by Jenny Offill- A lyrical, dreamy slip of a book about a marriage and all the things, good and bad, that come with it.
    • California by Eden Lepucki- Another book about marriage! The United States is slowly crumbling, and Frida and Cal have escaped a deteriorating L.A. and established a homestead out in the remote wilderness. When Frida becomes pregnant, they have to make a drastic choice about what they will do, and where they will go, next. But in their years away from civilization, their marriage has changed as much as the world around them, and this next change threatens to undo them entirely.
    • Dare Me by Megan Abbott- With this novel, centered on a cheerleading squad ruled first by Beth, the team’s awesome and awful captain, and then the new coach, whose reign inspires a fanatical devotion from the girls, Abbott takes us into the dark, luscious, devious, and utterly complex corner of the world inhabited by teenage girls.

    And there's more, but I'll wait and make that part two. :) In the meantime, anyone have any good recommendations?