THE READING/GIVING TIME OF YEAR – GIVE A BOOK

 

I don’t know how Stephen King has enough time to read hundreds of books. I don’t, though if I stopped watching television I might. But among the several books that came out in 2018 that I have read, I have not found any that captivated me. Here is a list of reading pleasures that did delight.

Off the beaten track

Suite Française, by Irene Némirovsky: A book about war with only a quick glimpse of soldiers. Némirovsky was a Russian refugee who sheltered in France, where she became a lauded author. This was meant to be the first in a series of books chronicling the war years, but Némirovsky was Jewish and was killed in Auschwitz in 1942. What a tragic loss to the literary world.

An Unexpected Light, by Jason Elliott. A journalist writes poetically, vulnerably, insightfully about his travels in Afghanistan.

Memoir

The Hare with the Amber Eyes: A Hidden Inheritance was written by a world famous ceramicist, Edmund de Waal. An artist is an artist is an artist, and this artist has transferred his exquisite sensitivities from ceramics to to writing.  It is, coincidentally (see Suite Française), a memoir written about the trajectory of a Jewish family during the wartorn first part of the twentieth century, part of it in France.

What the Stones Remember: a Life Rediscovered, by the Canadian poet Patrick Lane. When great poets write a whole book it’s just all that much more sumptuousness. He could have written about a single stone with his genius, but he wrote about a whole garden, and all of life. Prepare for beauty.

Classics

The Book of Tea, by Kakuzo Okakura.  It’s about tea, also history, art, architecture, morality, cooking, Japan, America, humanity…I could go on. The world’s best long essay.

The Portrait of a Lady, by Henry James. A restless young American woman goes to Europe for stimulation and inspiration, perhaps for love. The story has a tense ambiguity throughout, including the ending. Today, there are a lot more restless young American women; they might learn something from Isabel Archer’s story.

Huckleberry Finn, by Mark Twain. Have you forgotten what a splendid writer Mark Twain was?

Extra:

Invite your friends and loved ones to begin a writing habit of their own by offering them a lovely journal or diary.