I’ve read a lot more books lately than I’ve listed here, but these are the memorable books I want to share:
Memorable Books #1: Little Fires Everywhere (2017) by Celeste Ng
I’m not going to lie. The only reason I picked this one up was because the author’s name appeared in the New York Times crossword on October 27.
The clue was: Author of Little Fires Everywhere. The answer had 9 letters. And I needed all the crosses to get the answer.
See: Title Image, 19 Across (no copyright infringement is intended)
If you’re an author and you are a clue in the NYT crossword, then I need to know about you.
I have already admitted that I suffer from Crossword Clue Envy.
There’s already a limited series movie of the book. So clearly, I’m late to the party. And not only that, when I went on the hunt for an image of the October 27th puzzle, I discovered that Celeste Ng had already been a NYT crossword puzzle clue for August 1, 2021. No, really, I’m super late to the party. And I very likely did the August 1, 2021 puzzle!
Memorable Books #2: Empress of the Nile (2023) by Lynne Olsen
The subtitle tells the story: The Daredevil Archeologist Who Saved Egypt’s Ancient Temples from Destruction
This is the biography of a real-life Indiana Jones, Christiane Desroches-Noblecourt (1913-2011). I enjoyed the account of her life mostly because it filled in my previously sketchy knowledge of the history of the relationship between France and Egypt. For instance, I had no idea that Napoleon wanted to make Egypt part of France.
Lynne Olsen is an excellent researcher and writer. I could see her interest in undertaking the study of such a colorful character. However, I got the feeling that once she started writing, she couldn’t find enough cuts in the gem to make the whole thing sparkle. However, she stuck with the project and produced a readable biography of a remarkable woman.
Memorable Books #3: Party Girl (2007) by Anna David
This is a novel about a young woman with a quasi-successful Hollywood writing career who is addicted to cocaine. She eventually gets herself into rehab. It’s fun and engagingly written.
I’ve read a lot of non-fiction literature about addiction and recovery and am personally fascinated by twelve-step programs. I’ve also read quite a few personal accounts of addiction and recovery. So, I figured a novelized version of the subject might give me a new perspective. Indeed, I got one in Party Girl. It’s a whole lot lighter than the dark addiction and recovery narratives I’m used to.
In the story I’m currently writing, I have a secondary character who is a recovering addict. I like to research my characters from different perspectives. Did Party Girl help? I’m not sure, but it didn’t hurt. For me it was worth reading.
By the way, the novel is semi-autobiographical. It seems to have kicked off the “quit lit” genre.
Listen to Anna talk about her book and her sobriety:
Memorable Books #4: The Plot: A Novel (2021) by Jean Hanff Korelitz
A literary satire that’s (mostly) tons of fun. You need to suspend your disbelief that there is a plot so jaw-dropping amazing that it will produce a can’t-miss, sure-fire, bona fide bestseller. I had no trouble suspending my disbelief, and I got a kick out the story of what happens when someone steals this fabulous plot.
Creative writers especially will like this story, but you don’t have to be a creative writer to get caught up in it.
My book mentions are not book reviews. And I wouldn’t bother mentioning a book I didn’t like. Or didn’t think others might enjoy. However, I did read at least one review of The Plot: A Novel that pointed out that the pivotal clue was dropped in the middle of the story and was unfortunately obvious.
I read the ebook version. And when I came across the piece of information I thought was the give-away I was at at 49%. So, yes, half-way through.
Memorable Books #5: Barbarian Days: A Surfing Life (2015) by William Finnegan
This autobiography/memoir won the Pulitzer Prize for Autobiography.
I don’t surf. I’ve never surfed. But surfing is mesmerizing to watch. So, I figured reading about it would give me the same thrill. If you’re super into surfing, you’ll love this book. Me, I began reading and then found myself dipping into it here and there to get the overall arc.
Two things I can say about it. 1) It’s long. And 2) I understand why it won a Pulitzer Prize. It is a finely observed account of surfing culture and Finnegan’s friendships with his fellow surfers.
Amazon now has a 2023 4-part documentary Surf Girls Hawai’i. It’s pretty good.
The grandaddy of surfing movies is, of course:
This post was written by Julie Tetel Andresen