January 14, 2013

Improving Mind Through Reading: Winter Book List

Lists are awesome. They reduce hospital mortality rate (fact) and it is unthinkable to shop for groceries without a list unless you want to end up with a pineapple, jar of mustard, and tea bags. But reading lists are best of all, hence my addiction to Goodreads. I spend a good bit of time reading about books, trying to find treasures that toe the line between 7 lb literary gems, important but dreadfully difficult to read, and trashy chicklit, too embarrassing to read even in the privacy of one's home. My summer reading list served me well (though Jane Austen Addict regrettably fell squarely into chicklit if truth be told). So this is my winter reading list that should take me right into April.

I've written before about both A.S. Byatt and Stella Gibbons and am returning to these favorites. Lets be clear, A.S. Byatt is never a light read but I have been steadily making my way through Angels & Insects, a seriously subversive book in a gentile Victorian way. There are two novellas under one cover. First, Morpho Eugenia, looks at the society through the lens of entomology. You will be left befuddled and whiplashed, wondering did this really just happen? The second novella, Conjugal Angel, is all about mediums contacting spirits from a dimly lit drawing room. Enough said.

A.S. Byatt Angels & Insects Morpho Eugenia
On a much lighter note is Stella Gibbons (primarily known for Cold Comfort Farm). Will we finally know what nasty thing granny saw in the woodshed? The title story alone makes this book worth your while. At the Christmas celebrations at the Starkadders' farm (before Flora Poste's arrival) the entire clan cheerfully digs into their holiday pudding in search of predictions of future misfortune: coffin nail for death, coin for loss of money, blinding headache, you get the idea.

Stella Gibbons Christmas at Cold Comfort Farm Modern Klatch
Very first story, A Little Christmas Tree, is charming and comforting like a favorite movie.

Yes, I know it isn't "Harry Potter for grown ups" but I will still eagerly read J.K. Rowling's Casual Vacancy.  From the e-book sample I've confirmed that this will be every bit worth its salt. At least a dozen of copies are rumored to be in circulation by our library, but as the book is unlikely to make an appearance anytime soon and I will be picking up a copy on my next Barnes & Noble visit (ebook version just doesn't get me as excited).

J.K. Rowling Casual Vacancy Modern Klatch
I am not sure that a cookbook, even one with a lot of narrative, really qualifies for the reading list but lets go with it. I've been on a diy kick lately (homemade marshmallows, anyone?) and am beyond excited about Make the Bread, Buy the Butter. Jennifer Reese does what we all dream of doing, an objective pain/reward analysis of tasks from making homemade apple sauce to raising chickens. About half-way through I heart Jennifer, I wish she lived in my neighborhood. I have ruled out chickens and beekeeping but will be browsing seed catalogues before the winter is out. Get your hands on this book ASAP.

Jennifer Reese Make the Bread Buy the Butter

Special Topics in Calamity Physics is a dark horse. The reviews are mixed from terribly clever to overworked and done before. And it is a hefty 500 pages. But I am drawn to literary references and the premise reminiscent of Heathers are intriguing.   If you have read it and were not enamored, speak now!

The Lost Art of Mixing by Erica Bauermeister is a late addition to this list. You see I won what is said to be advance copy from Good Reads. While I try to be choosy about what to enter but still, one never knows. And this was a pleasant surprise. Only a few chapters in and as I get to know the cast of characters I am finding myself drawn in. Stay tuned for a full report.

What's on your reading list these days?


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