Friday, March 30, 2007

Read Any Good Books Lately?

To counteract my series of American Idol posts, I thought I'd talk about a couple of the books I've been reading lately. Because I do read. Really. I do.

Scott first recommended Fun Home by Alison Bechdel to me after receiving it for Christmas this year and loving it. Bechdel is the cartoonist behind the popular gay comic strip Dykes to Watch Out For. She bills her book as a "Family Tragicomic" and tells it in comic book form. What I expected to be a light-hearted fun read was actually Bechdel's moving memoir of her father's death and supposed suicide, his closeted homosexuality and her coming of age as a lesbian. The characters are true to life and Bechdel tells a compelling and intelligent story rich with literary references from Greek mythology to F. Scott Fitzgerald.

In a recent article Bechdel describes having to tell her mother that she was writing a memoir about one of the most painful and devastating times in their family's history. Her mother took the news surprisingly well and followed up by sending Alison a quote from William Faulkner which read "The writer's only responsibility is to his art. … If a writer has to rob his mother, he will not hesitate."

Speaking of mothers, my own mother recommended Dan Savage's The Commitment to me which I also read recently. You may be familiar with Dan Savage's regular sex advice column "Savage Love" and his prickly editorials for The Stranger, a Seattle based alternative newspaper. (Check out his...ahem..."colorful" response to Garrison Keillor's recent homophobic remarks.) Savage's book, also a memoir, recounts the story of organizing an anniversary-party-pretending-to-be-a-wedding-reception after a secret Canadian wedding ceremony with his boyfriend.

I think my mother could relate particularly well to the role of Savage's own mother who shows up periodically throughout the book with strategically timed visits and phone calls always with another bullet proof argument for why Savage and his boyfriend should get married. The story is told with much good humor and love. Savage also presents a very well researched and balanced argument in favor of gay marriage. It's a good read.

So that's what I've been reading. How about you? Read any good books lately?



At 10:54 PM, Blogger LSL said...

I'm currently going back and forth with several books, not really finding anything that is grabbing my interest. I hate it when this happens! I am finishing up "Fugitives and Refugees" by C. Palahniuk about my beloved Portland, OR. And I'm reading "Happy Cruelty Day!" by B. Powers, which has a lot of sick humor in it. I recently finished M. T. Ford's "It's Not Mean If It's True" which was a fun, easy read. :)

At 8:04 AM, Blogger Y | O | Y said...

The last book I read was Night by Elie Weisel when it was Oprah's Book of the Month. I only read books with fewer than 200 pages, and then rarely ever. I have poor comprehension.

It's weird though that I read constantly, just things in short bursts. Everyday I read the local paper, the Wall Street Journal...and if I get to the market, the NY Times and USA Today. I subscribe to BusinessWeek, NewsWeek, The Advocate, Nature Conservancy, Motor Trend, Car and Driver, Road and Track, Metropolitan Home, and Smart Money. Generally if I get a subscription offer of <$10/year, I sign up. And I read on the computer practically from morning til night. Yep, I read plenty!

At 2:44 PM, Blogger Matt said...

What have I read lately?

"Homegrown Democrat" by Garrison Keillor. Non-fiction, a mix of his growing-up-in-a-small-town persona and his liberal philosophies. I like the juxtaposition of small-town Midwest (with which I'm quite familiar) and open, live-and-let-live ideals. Plus, I love the way he writes and speaks.

"Beachglass" by Wendy Blackburn. Fiction, but based on her experiences as a recovering addict. It's about returning to her old hometown to care for a friend dying of AIDS. More recent than the old 80's-90's AIDS sagas, it's actually very well-written, fresh, and an interesting look into many aspects of recovery from all issues in life. HIGHLY recommended.

And an all-time favorite I've re-read, "If A Place Can Make You Cry" by Daniel Gordis. He's a rabbi and teacher who uprooted his family from LA to move to Israel in 1998 for a year-long sabbatical - and ended up staying there with his wife and children. Very interesting read about how different people view homelands and violence, and how people in Israel go about daily life in the midst of turmoil. Also very highly recommended.

Oh, and everything by David Sedaris.

At 6:08 PM, Blogger Donnie said...

I love to read! I just finished "Lisey's Story" by Stephen King and am currently reading "Heart-Shaped Box" by his son Joe Hill.

At 3:25 PM, Blogger TCho said...

I've been reading a lot of foodie books, like Kitchen Confidential and Jeffrey Rosengarten's books.

At 9:21 PM, Blogger Red7Eric said...

I too loved Fun House and am currently having a wonderful time reading Middlesex (by Jeffrey Eugenides).

At 1:15 PM, Blogger Vinnie G. said...

I enjoyed The Commitment but I LOVED The Kid by Dan Savage. I thought it was a lot more insightful and humorous. I just finished White Night by Jim Butcher as part of my geek out Sci-Fi/ Fantasy geek-out.


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