Once again, the latest issue of Bookmarks has been very hazardous to my to-read list. I am going to have to become immortal to be able to read all of the books on that list! Maybe if I stopped adding titles right this minute, I might be able to finish before I die – but we all know that’s not gonna happen. Here are the titles that caught my attention this this time around.
Kraken by China Mieville: In a London filled with magic and sorcery, a rare squid specimen disappears – it’s an embryonic god with huge potential, don’t you know – so beware the sect of squid worshipers or the Londonmancers who can see the future in the city’s entrails.
The Three Weissmanns of Westport by Cathleen Schine: In Schine’s latest endeavor, Jane Austen’s beloved classic Sense and Sensibility undergoes a modern day makeover. Wealthy businessman Joseph Weissmann decides to divorce his sweet wife Betty (a.k.a. Mrs. Dashwood), citing irreconcilable differences (i.e., a younger woman enters the picture). He is 78, she is 75, and their marriage has lasted almost 50 years. Betty suffers further insult when she is turned out of their elegant upper West Side home and forced to relocate to a small cottage in Westport. Along with her daughters, the sensible Annie and the high-strung Miranda, Betty must learn to forge new relationships and adjust to a world of vastly reduced circumstances.
The Girl Who Fell From the Sky by Heidi W. Durrow: In the 1980s, 11-year-old Rachel Morse is sent to live with her paternal grandmother in Portland. Raised mostly overseas by her Danish mother and African American father, she is the only survivor from a mysterious tragedy that resulted in the death of her mother and younger siblings. Rachel doesn’t quite fit into her grandmother’s predominantly black neighborhood: her light brown skin, striking blue eyes, and bookish ways instantly brand her an outsider. As she learns to adjust to her new surroundings and navigate the perils of adolescence, she must also come to terms with her family’s sad, complex history.
The Possessed: Adventures with Russian Books and the People Who Read Them by Elif Batuman: In these engaging and quirky essays, Batuman chronicles her academic misadventures in the field of Russian literature. A conference on Isaac Babel that she helps organize at Stanford University goes hilariously awry in “Babel in California.” In “Who Killed Tolstoy?” she concocts a theory that Tolstoy was murdered in order to secure the grant funds necessary to attend a conference at his estate. She explores Dostoevsky’s enigmatic masterpiece in the title essay. Using Russian novelists and their works as a springboard in her quest for meaning, Batuman observes: “Tatyana and Onegin, Anna and Vronsky, Ivan and Vera: at every step, the riddle of human behavior and the nature of love [appear] bound up with Russian.”
And a couple more:
~ The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot
~ The Poisoner’s Handbook: Murder and the Birth of Forensic Medicine in Jazz Age New York by Deborah Blum