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Restless seemed to be the reading theme of November, making it seem like a complete 180* from October. I believe I was wrapping up a third Tana French novel at the beginning of the month Faithful Place She’s the punchy Irish writer I mentioned in last month’s breakdown. The first week of November, I had a slew of utterly fatiguing days wherein all I wanted to do was fall into bed and listen to a book with my tired eyes closed. I wanted easily digestable comfort food reads, requiring little mental engagement. Without hesitation, I downloaded two Donna Leon novels back-to-back so I could be read to sleep. Suffer the Little Children (Commissario Guido Brunetti Mystery) and Through a Glass, Darkly: A Commissario Guido Brunetti Mystery I am quite accustomed to the accented, Italian vibrato of her male narrator from having sleighed my way through the bulk of her 20+ books set in Venice. The current day Italian life, Italian culture, and the existential debates, with only a moderate amount of detective investigation seemed soothing. I’ve just been alerted she has a new book out. I’m anticipatory.
As of December 1st, here’s where I am:
In the beginning of
My Struggle: Book 1 was exquisite. Why did it take me so long to get ahold of his honest everyday prose, his truth and vulnerability?
In the middle of
As North Korea’s State Poet Laureate, Jang Jin-sung led a charmed life. With food provisions (even as the country suffered through its great famine), a travel pass, access to strictly censored information, and audiences with Kim Jong-il himself, his life in Pyongyang seemed safe and secure. But this privileged existence was about to be shattered. When a strictly forbidden magazine he lent to a friend goes missing, Jang Jin-sung must flee for his life.
Never before has a member of the elite described the inner workings of this totalitarian state and its propaganda machine.
Just finished last night
This is both a coming of age story and a behind the scenes look at coming up in the server ranks of a very high-end restaurant in New York city. She speaks very little of food. She’s very forthright about her naivety, drug addiction, lustfulness, and navigation of relationships though. If you’ve worked in the restaurant industry in any capacity, whether cook, chef, bartender, front of house, back of house, sommelier, etc… you’ll resonate with this; especially if you are into wine. Her learning in this latter area taught me a bit too. There is an interesting dichotomy in the writing. She can sound both whiny and profoundly, newly realized.
Closing out the month, just started a library loan audio version of
After reading Salman Rushdie’s memoir last month, her memoir fell into perfect place. She was once married to Rushdie (his 4th wife?), and the beginning of her book is entirely about how they met, romanced, lived and flamed out. Once upon a time, I was quite fond of the Food Network and became familiar with Padma and her rise as host of Top Chef. It’s been a few years since I’ve watched the Food Network, but I was still interested in her story. In December I’ll be reading a third chef-food industry book I can’t wait to not put down then share with you!
Keeping Tabs. Something dawned on me over this past month. Where have all my bookmarks gone? I used to have a great collection and especially covet those I’d bought during travels. Curiously, I have no idea where they ended up, as I’m otherwise so organized and deliberate about where my belongings are. I’ve come to use any’ole thing to mark my place: torn scraps of paper, gum wrappers, pieces of string, paperclips, and unlit matches. Yes, matches.
Noteworthy. I recently came across Blinkist, an app or email which gives access to key insights from 2000+ bestselling nonfiction books, transformed into powerful packs you can read or listen to in just 15 minutes. You pick via categories of interest or by authors and book titles specifically. Blinkist distills popular works to quickly digestable blurbs. I signed up enthusiastically. Will report back next month.
Interesting. Virginia Woolf on Leo Tolstoy and the Superb Sincerity of the Russian Writers -February 1, 1917.