A quick rundown of the books I read (or am currently reading) during this month, and also just a few of the online articles that intrigued me in some fashion.
The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating, Elisabeth Tova Bailey (memoir). I had wanted to read this one a few years back and it’s lingered on my TBR list for some time. It’s a lovely short book about the author’s ability to cope with a debilitating chronic illness that forces complete bed rest for a lengthy amount of time. She is able to cope better during the ordeal all because of a tiny wild snail that lives in a potted plant (and eventually terrarium) next to her bed. Note: it does get a bit deep into the science of snails (which I personally liked). To me, the ending felt like it came up too quickly or was rushed at the “end” of the author’s story, but overall I really liked this book.
Blackass, A. Igoni Barrett (novel). I’d been seeing this book all over the place in various social media feeds, reviews, etc. and so I was intrigued. The simplistic version of the story: a black man living in Nigeria wakes up one morning to find that his skin has turned white, and it creates a new kind of lens for seeing life around him, including the inequities that existed but of which he was previously unaware. The dialogue/dialect were really well done, as was the creation of various scenes in Lagos, the Nigerian city where the story primarily takes place. Great book with a bit of satire, and I’m still thinking about its themes.
At Large and At Small, Anne Fadiman (essays). I became a fan of hers when I read Ex Libris (which I highly recommend if you are a book lover/buyer/collector!) and this book is equally stunning with its prose and the wide ranging topics she covers. I might need to binge read more of her work soon, that’s how much I like her work. As an essay writer myself, I also find her to be very inspiring and she makes me want to up my game.
[currently reading] The Good Death: An Exploration of Dying in America, Ann Neumann (part memoir/part research-essays). I am reading this for two reasons. First, I’m working on a collection of short stories where the central theme is all the various ways death affects those left in its wake, and I wanted a nonfiction source of inspiration/focus. Second, it dovetails so nicely into another recent read of mine, Atul Gawande’s Being Mortal. Neumann’s prose is exquisite and she is a compassionate storyteller. I am about halfway through this one now.
[currently reading] What Is Not Yours Is Not Yours, Helen Oyeyemi (short stories). What a treat it was to see Oyeyemi in person at an author reading of this book a few weeks ago. She is completely lovely as a person, and she is a stellar, creative storyteller too. I’m halfway through this one as well. It is a series of nine stories where a central theme is keys, all told with a fairy tale like approach. This book has received a tremendous amount of great press and I can see why.
I only had to read the title of this Atlantic piece to know I’d completely understand and relate: Why I Like to Instagram the Sky
This AGNI piece also lured me in because of the title: Why I Write Essays
I imagine many of you already saw this Katrina Kenison essay about solitude on On Being, but in case you didn’t…
Remember two weeks ago when I wrote my Writerly Bits: What I’ve Learned in 5 Years post (a popular one, surprisingly!), and I talked about whether I aim for print or online publication? Here’s another great take on that topic from The Review Review.
Solitude is a topic I think about quite often, as is one day living in Vermont. And so I was ecstatic when I read this essay and discovered that there is a new relevant memoir out there (The Point of Vanishing: A Memoir of Two Years in Solitude, by Howard Axelrod), which I will be adding to my TBR-PDQ shortlist.
What have you read this month that I should too?
Copyright (c) 2016 Kristen M. Ploetz
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