Main image
1st March
written by Steph
By now apologies about sporadic postings here seem to be rule rather than the exception, which I truly am sorry about. It was really exciting to hear from so many of you regarding my last post where I outlined our plans for our RTW trip (and I promise I will respond to all of your comments and will certainly be emailing some of you too!), so even though reading has been somewhat sketchy around these parts of late, I am definitely hoping to cobble together some more pre-trip posts where I go into more detail about the various countries we plan hope to visit, as well as keep you all abreast of the less theoretical/research-based elements of trip planning as well. But of course, I know all of your are book-lovers at heart, so when I do have bookish content to post, I certainly will do that too! Now, is one such instance, because even though I have hardly read anything in the past three months, my gig reviewing things over at BookPage has made it so that I still read at least one book a month. In the case of March's issue, two books were simply irresistible to me, so I pulled double duty and covered something for both the fiction and the non-fiction section (a first for me!).

Look! A book! And I read it!

On the fiction front, I read and wrote about Heidi Julavits' trippy new novel called The Vanishers, which you can read here. This was my first Julavits novel, and boy was it weird! Given that I knew it revolved around psychics and astral adventures, I don't know why I ever would have thought otherwise, but this book really did surprise me at every turn. I think I really hit the proverbial nail on its head when I compared this book to the films of David Lynch, so if unusual, mindbending stories that question the limits of reality are your thing, this is the book for you.

I read this one too!

The Vanishers was a very good book, but my other read, I absolutely loved. I absolutely use nepotism to my advantage and put in a personal plea to the non-fiction editor to let me cover Jeanette Winterson's memoir, Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal? and I have absolutely no regrets on that front. At a time where reading has often felt like a chore, this is a book I could not stop reading. Even though I was reading a completely unfancy galley copy of this book, I would cradle it like it was the most precious thing whenever I picked it up because there were times when I felt like I was staring into the very contents of someone's soul (perhaps my own?) as I read it. I seriously cannot say enough positive things about this book (if I could have its babies, I would!), but if you want to read some of my adulatory thoughts on it, you can check those out here. Ultimately, I may not read very many books this year, but I kind of think 2012 will be known as the year I read this book no matter how many other books I wind up finishing, so there is that. Hurrah for books! I'm desperately trying out many different books on a daily basis hoping to find one that sticks, so fingers crossed that one of these days you see me posting about something that I read for personal, not professional, reasons!


  1. Wow! That is high praise for a memoir (which I can be a bit wary about), so I will definitely add it to my list.

    The cover of the other is definitely trippy, and that’s not really my favorite kind of book, so I’ll steer clear.

  2. 03/01/2012

    I love that line: If I could have its babies, I would! LOLOL

  3. 03/01/2012

    I am off to check out BookPage. Both of these books sound tremendously interesting to me for very different reasons, and I need to hear more!

  4. 03/02/2012

    Wonderful endorsement of Winterson’s work; I’d wanted to read it anyway, but certainly praise like this makes the idea that much more appealing. And, as you say, even if you don’t read a lot of books this year, reading some truly memorable ones like this will make it a stand-out year anyhow!

  5. 03/05/2012

    So glad you enjoyed the Winterson memoir — I need to get it. I’m not always a memoir fan but I adore Winterson’s novels and I’m thrilled you liked it. (Also, I sent you an email about my copy of Q, which I never sent you. (Sorry!) I brought it in and would be happy to send it now if you haven’t already gotten it!)

  6. 03/07/2012

    @ jenn: I am definitely not a regular memoir reader, but this was SO GOOD. Yes, it has some of those crazy moments that so many memoirs are known for, but it is beautifully written and incredibly honest and also a testament to the power of books and writing so really it’s just something you have to read. It will break your heart and put it back together in the best possible way!
    @ rhapsody: And that is not something I say glibly since I don’t think I even want real babies never mind book babies! 😉
    @ zibilee: I really think you would appreciate both of these books! They are in many ways very different from one another, and yet both were about the bond between mothers and daughters and so interestingly written.
    @ Buried in Print: Yes, it’s all about quality, not quantity! I read a respectable number of books last year, but there weren’t any books that I fell madly in love with, so it’s nice that just a few months into 2012 I’ve already found one that speaks to me so deeply! The Winterson is really a must read!
    @ Audra: I have to admit, this was actually my first Winterson and I ADORED it. Now I must read everything else she has ever written. Including her shopping lists.
    (Also, thanks for the email! I have stopped being such a slug and have written you back!)

  7. 03/09/2012

    Good luck and have fun with the RTW trip. I have just returned from Hong Kong with my friend Rick (whom you and Tony met in San Francisco). We had a blast visiting local attractions and eating nonstop. Food coma. Anway, I’m not sure if you and Tony are on Facebook so maybe we can keep in touch whenever you can get your hands on the computer while you’re on the go.

    Bookwise I have read voraciously beginning this year as I have set a goal of 100 books for 2012. While I have tried to maintain regular posting on my blog, I have been sporadic with blog reading. Work has also made my reading time more precious so I have to cut down on blogging time.

    Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal? is on my list for the recent trip but I didn’t get to it. I fell asleep almost for the entire flight back to San Francisco from Hong Kong!

    If you’ll need some great books for the trip, I suggest The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes, The Lost Language of Cranes by David Leavitt, and Freedom by Jonathan Franzen. These are my recent favorites.

  8. JoV

    For Why be Happy? I felt as if I was staring into my own soul. So that was the scary bit. I am glad that you love it so much, because I would hug this to sleep, every night. 😉

Leave a Reply