This is a new page for me and nothing directly related to photography, but directly related to great reads and great friends – a way to share books which have the ability to make all of our lives richer. Three years ago I sent out a request to my friends asking them to share a favorite book that I could read during recovery from surgery – and I ended up with one of the most wonderful and eclectic set of reads imaginable. Some are deep, some are funny, some will make you look at life with fresh eyes, all are worth a look.
Many of my friends are always asking each other, “what are you reading?”. I am always reading something, but half the time I forget what it was I really liked six months ago, so I am hoping this list will help me remember. Hey, maybe you will add your favorites along the way and suddenly we will have the benefits of a book club without having to joining a book club! I have nothing against book clubs. Someday, I may even join one, but right now on top of photographic pursuits I have a marriage, three kids, a snake, a bird, a dog, a cat, a mouse, a horse and a weed infested vegetable garden. That is really about as much commitment as I can possibly handle right now. The great thing about joining this book club, the “best-book-club-ever!” Is that you can read any, all or none of the books on your own time frame. The only requirement is that you add a title or two of your own at the bottom of the list.
Lastly, to all my friends that shared, cared and indulged my habit of sending books to you over the years – and those that have sent and shared books with me – I love you for it! Because of the pages I have turned, I have lived many lives, courted adventure, endured broken hearts, explored new worlds, pondered many thoughts deep and wide. You encouraged me to live lives that I would have missed had I never cracked open a book.
I will annoy you with short comments on the books later, but here is what you shared, and I read in no particular order:
Dear Sugar by Cheryl Strayed
The Painted Canoe by Anthony Winkler
Open Secrets by Alice Munro
Brideshead Revisted by Evelyn Waugh
Teaching a Stone to Talk, and For the Time Being by Anne Dillard
The Places That Scare You by Pema Chodron
50 Shades of Grey ( Can’t say why this came to mind right after the above title!)
The Power of One by Bryce Courtenay
For the Love of Physics by Walter Lewin
Let’s Explore Diabetes with Owls by David Sedaris
An Abundance of Katherine’s by John Green
Fault in Our Stars by John Green
Searching for Alaska by John Green
A Thousand Mornings by Mary Oliver
What is the What by David Egger
Life in the Valley of Death by Alan Rabinowitz
The River Why by David James Duncan
A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving
The Worst Thing I’ve Done by Ursula Heggi
Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte
Consider the Lobster by David Foster Wallace
9 1/2 Seconds by ????
The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer
Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintaince
1491 by Charles C. Mann
Longitude by Dava Sobel
The Elegant Universe by Brain Greene
The Thousand Autumns of Jacob De Zoet by David Mitchell
A Mercy by Toni Morrison
Good Poems for Hard Times by Garrison Keillor
Ok, Time to add some new favorites!
Lately I have been on a short story binge. Binge is the right word. I read short stories like I eat potato chips, just one more, just one more, wait- they are small, just one more, until the bag or entire book is gone. Short stories are greatly underrated in my opinion; they are perfect for travel or sitting in your car while your kid plays soccer or hockey, and you can read the entire story without falling asleep.
One of the undisputed masters of the form is Alice Munro. If you want to dispute that comment, well, we are going to have to step outside. I returned to a great collection from 2001: Hateship, Friendship, Courtship, Loveship, Marriage
Anything by Alice Munro is worth the read.
Second pick for a short story collection: This is the Story of a Happy Marriage, by Ann Patchett.
If you have enjoyed any of her novels -(State of Wonder, Bel Canto..)and you will if you read them, you will really enjoy this collection of stories. You will put it down and immediately feel like she is now your newest/oldest best friend and you want to have coffee with her tomorrow. The stories offer keen insights about the process of writing, the vagaries of love, and the simple joy in being human. This is a tears and laughter book. If you have ever loved a dog- or man- or parent- or nun- or friend, well pull up a chair and dive in.
Fun Fact: Not only is an Ann Patchett an award wining and talented author, she is also the co-owner of Parnassus,an independent bookstore in Nashville, TN. If you love books, and love brick and mortal independent bookstores, don’t forgot to buy some books from one whenever you can. Yes,there is most certainly a place for Amazon Prime, but the world would be a sadder more sterile place without the Eagle Harbor Books, the Powell’s, the Strand’s of the world. Do you remember being a little kid and heading to the Children’s Section, or leafing thru the huge photo books that held the whole world between the covers? What about going into a local bookstore where the person selling the books has actually read them, and knows you and what you like to read? It’s hard to put a price tag on those things, but to me they are invaluable.
There is a nice article in The Atlantic about Ann Patchett deciding to open a bookstore in the age of Amazon. Check it out – it is well written, by Ann herself: www.theatalantic.com/magazine/archive/2012/the-bookstore-strikes-back/309164
So, send me your favorite recent reads. I am doing a “friends picks” list to end 2014. So far Boys in the Boat is leading ….
And, while you are at it, send me the name and town of your favorite local bookstore, that would be a neat list to have as well. That way whenever I am on the road, or you are, you can find the bookstore – while there still is one to find…
Oh, and a huge oversight, as several of you have pointed out:
All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr
H is for Hawk – a memoir by British author Helen Macdonald. It won the 2014 Samuel Johnson Prize in 2014. One of the best books I’ve read this year by far.
Keep them coming!!!