Hop, Skip, and Jump Reading

I’m an all-or-nothing sort of reader.  When I get into a series, I start at the beginning and binge straight through. But recently I find myself sampling broadly among one-offs.


There’s still fiction. On Kindle I just finished What Comes Between Cousins. I find Jane Austen fan fiction enjoyable escapist reading. This particular one has a fresh story line, so I read it through—though I must admit it could use a good edit. I’ve nearly finished The Mad and the Bad, a fascinating mix of craziness and gore. And then I will move on to Elizabeth Strout.
I loved Olive Kitteridge, so the Strout is pretty much a sure pleasure. The DeStephano book is an unknown quantity. A friend passed it on, saying it’s a well-written, creepy tale of genetic engineering. I’ll keep you posted.


hop skip jump reading sister age fisher among friends
At the same time, I’m involved with nonfiction—memoir, for example. I’ve long been enamored of M.F.K. Fisher as a food writer. Recently I came across two memoirs by her: Among Friends, about growing as a non-Quaker in the Quaker stronghold of Whittier, CA, and Sister Age, a collection of fifteen stories she wrote over the years about the art of aging and living and dying.


And then there is Sherman Alexie, poet and story teller, about whose You Don’t Have to Say You Love Me the San Francisco Chronicle declared, “Emotionally spring-loaded, linguistically gymnastic, and devastatingly funny.” And besides that, my husband loved it!. He often laughed aloud and read excerpts to me. It’s an impressive blend of narrative, dialogue, and poetry.
[Source: Feminist Texican Reads]
If memoir doesn’t appeal to you, consider some of these other Sherman Alexie books.


hop skip jump reading
Of course my food reading continues. I recently acquired collectable copies of these two books.The Art of Eating is actually a collection of her first five books:


hop skip jump reading
How to Cook a Wolf is a long-time favorite, but Consider the Oyster is gaining ground. Who would ever have thought a whole book about oysters could be enthralling?


Last but not least on my current revolving bookcase is The Physiology of Taste—which I admit doesn’t sound like entertaining reading. Originally published in France in 1825, this work by Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin is the most famous book about food ever written. If you search online, you can find several sites that offer from a few to as many as 1567 quotes. Many are already familiar, such as, “Tell me what you eat and I will tell you what you are.”


M.F.K. Fisher’s translation, published in 1949, is incredible, not only because of the readability of the 30 “Meditations” and the 100+ pages of “varieties” but also because Fisher’s annotations themselves are informative and enjoyable.


So, for the time being, I am happily hopping, skipping, and jumping among these eight books. How many books do you have in progress? And what are they?

Worth the Wait!

elizabeth strout anything is possible
A friend gave me Anything Is Possible for my birthday. At the time, it wasn’t yet published. When it actually arrived, I was reading something else and my husband—a great Strout fan—eagerly enjoyed my present. He just finished, and I interrupted what I was reading and took it up. And as the headline says, it is worth the wait.


This book is another gripping example of linking short stories to form the whole. Remember Olive Kitteridge? It won the Pulizer Prize in 2009, and has since sold over a million copies.
olive kitteridge elizabeth strout
[Source: Amazon]
That was my first exposure to Strout. I love that book. It inspired me to put together a collection of my short stories with a working title of Almost Family. Well, my book is still almost, but in the meantime, Strout wrote The Burgess Boys (among other things).


worth wait elizabeth strout burgess boys
[Source: Goodreads]
Frankly, although well-written as always, I didn’t like The Burgess Boys so much; it’s much darker than Olive Kitteridge. So far, Anything Is Possible is promising a great read.


It starts with Tommy Guptill, who inherited a dairy farm from his father. The barn and house burned down one night, and Tommy is still haunted by nightmares of the trapped cows. Okay, so that sounds pretty dark. But he moves into town and takes a job as a janitor in the local school and… well, I won’t tell you too much about it. No spoiler alerts here.


long homecoming ariel levy
I mentioned recently that The New Yorker of May 1 had an article about Strout by Ariel Levy titled “A Long Homecoming.” The article provides interesting insights about the relationship between the writer and her writing. Her take on Anything Is Possible is “The tone of Strout’s ficton is both cozy and eerie, as comforting and unsettling as a fairy tale.”


I’m taking Anything Is Possible on a road trip this weekend. I’ll check back in when I’ve finished the book!