Thursday, April 30, 2009

My own literary diversity

I love books. I love the opportunity to talk about books. I came across a series of questions designed to identify whether or not one's reading is diverse from a blog, Alone With Each Other, that I occasionally drop in on. Many of the books listed below were selections from book clubs I’ve been in or am currently in. However, in many cases I've enjoyed the author's writing so much that I continued to read other books by those same authors.

So when I came across this list of questions in another blog, I couldn’t resist posting my own here – and added the books I listen to on tape (I have an 85 minute commute):

Name the last book by a female author that you've read.

Audio: Gosh, most of my recent audio books have been by women! To Kill a Mocking Bird by Harper Lee; Monsters of Templeton by Lauren Groff; Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte; Paint it Black by Janet Fitch. I’ve listened to all of these from September 2008 up to two weeks ago – when I finished To Kill a Mocking Bird.

Every one of these books was a wonderful experience to listen to.

Books: The Lace Reader by Brunonia Barry (January 2009); The Daily Coyote by Shreve Stockton (December 2008). I tend to read more books by women. It’s not a deliberate choice – I just seem to be drawn in more by the story.

Name the last book by an African or African-American author that you've read.

Audio: Always Outnumbered, Always Outgunned, Walking the Dog, Devil in a Blue Dress all by Walter Mosley (Fall 2006); The Number 1 Ladies Detective Agency by Alexander McCall Smith (February 2007)

Books: One of my favorite authors is both African-American and a woman. I love Zora Neale Hurston’s writing. I was first introduced to her through a book club pick – Their Eyes Were Watching God (August 2006). I loved her writing so much that I later picked up Seraph on the Suwannee (October 2007). I’ve also read and enjoyed The Known World by Edward P. Jones (May 2005), and Tears of the Giraffe by Alexander McCall Smith (June 2007).

Name one from a Latino/a author.

Audio: Zorro by Isabel Allende (December 2006)

Books: Another easy one for me. Isabelle Allende is another one of my favorite authors. I started with her book The House of Spirits (another book club selection August 2003). This one is on my list to read again. I was so thrilled with her writing I went on to read Daughter of Fortune (May 2006) and Portrait in Sepia (April 2008).

How about one from an Asian country or Asian-American?

Audio: The Good Earth by Pearl S. Buck.

Books: I just finished reading SnowFlower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See. It was last months book club selection. One book that I have read by choice was A Good Scent From a Strange Mountain by Robert Olen Butler. This is a compilation of short stories about Vietnamese immigrants in New Orleans. Vietnamese immigrants in New Orleans? Who could resist that? I read this book in July of 2006 and I am still haunted by images from some of the stories within. From Spring of 1995 to 2001 I read a lot by Amy Tan.

What about a GLBT writer?

Well – I didn’t know what GLBT meant. And I live in Ithaca. And I couldn’t even make a guess based on the blog I found these questions in. So I googled GLBT and found it stands for Gay Lesbian Bi-Sexual Trans-Gender. Okay – but I still didn’t know of any authors I read that fit into this category – until I found a list of GLBT authors.

Books: Willa Cather. I love her writing and have been working my way through all of her novels since I first read My Antonia in October of 1999. Another book I still think about and want to read again is The Country of the Pointed Firs (August 2004) by Sarah Orne Jewet. Like Cather, Jewet is a master at creating vivid descriptions of the setting her novels take place in. Other authors include, but are not limited to, David Sedaris, Anais Nin, Virginia Woolf, William Carlos Williams. Tennessee Williams, Truman Capote, Edna St. Vincent Millay, and Gregory Maguire.

Lastly, there is another blog I follow, You Would Think. I love the author's writing style and point of view on life and am eagerly awaiting to read her first published work.

Why not name an Israeli/Arab/Turk/Persian writer, if you're feeling lucky?

I read Reading Lolita in Tehran by Azar Fafisi in Spring of 2005. Middle East novels seem to be a popular theme with both the book clubs I’m currently in – and I’m beginning to feel like I’ve been reading the same story (albeit well-written) too many times. In the past year alone I’ve read The Kite Runner and A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khalid Hosseini, The Space Between Us by Thrity Umrigar

Any other "marginalized" authors you've read lately?

Books: If Native American is considered marginalized, then I’d include Louise Erdrich. I read The Master Butcher’s Singing Club in July of 2002, The Painted Drum in September of 2006, and have her Love Medicine in the queue.

Your turn....


Feeling Overwhelmed

It’s been a long while since I last posted. There are several reasons for this.

First, I’d been experiencing a feeling of overwhelming doom that started after my oldest son died that just kept getting worse. I’m learning that this is a common symptom of grief. I’m starting to feel better. It was gradual – where I’d have a day or two each week where I didn’t feel that way. The past month or so has been much better.

The other reason is because this semester has been an extremely busy one for me. I was asked to serve as Interim Chair of our department while our Chair was on sabbatical. In addition, I kept my normal course load because we needed the extra money. I’ve had very little time for anything extraneous.

I’ve turned the corner on my work load and am managing my grief better – so I’m ready to return to the things I love. Spending more time with my family, my artwork, and my new blog.