Reading Room Blog
I started listing adjectives to describe My Brilliant Friend, by Elena Ferrante: visceral; violent; passionate. This is the first in a series of four Neapolitan Novels by an elusive Italian author who writes under a pseudonym. Elena and Lila’s friendship is full of envy and love as they claw their way out childhood into adolescence in a poverty-stricken quarter of Naples in the 1950s.
Her sister’s young twins came to Luce after a hard patch. Which is to say, having their mother meet her end most violently at the hands of their stepfather. They were odd children, quiet to the point of not speaking and not looking people in the eye. Ever. They had some disturbing habits, too, which spoke of far more having been done to their small selves than they would fess to. Not that they were fessing to anything, encased as they were in their eerie, shared silence. In Charles Frazier’s Nightwoods, their eccentric Aunt Luce and the North Carolina mountain she calls home promise nothing to them, yet they do provide a haven—for a while.
A gray day, perfect for revisiting a twitchy acquaintance: Edgar Allan Poe. Roderick Usher and family inhabit their cracked, creepy house in one of his best short stories, “The Fall of the House of Usher." The Poe story has been used by other authors since he wrote it, even made into an opera. One offers a different perspective from Roderick Usher’s doomed sister, Madeline; the other features the descendants of Madeline and Roderick, from a master of modern horror, Robert McCammon.
There’s the car, the landscape, the people in the car, and the baggage, both real and psychological. Americans love a road trip, but this time of year, even if gas is cheap, the weather may hinder a real road trip, so grab one of these books and travel from your couch.
“The sharper your knife, the less you cry.”
Chefs dominate the cooking industry; the big ones have TV shows, cookbooks, their own magazines. Because of them, there are cooking shows for every taste and better produce in your local market. Here is a selection of notable memoirs; two of the authors uplifted home cooking in America.
I have a challenge for readers of Speak, by Louisa Hall. Read the first chapter and stop. Ask yourself, is the narrator human?
Professor Jeremy Logan’s job title raises eyebrows on a regular basis. Logan is an enigmalogist, a scientist who investigates unexplained or paranormal events—all the while using logical, scientific methods to prove that mysterious origins may exist.
Tom Rob Smith’s debut novel, Child 44, kicks off an addicting trilogy that will leave you on the edge of your seat.
In 1955, Anne Morrow Lindbergh penned what has become one of the most inspirational books in the 20th century, Gift from the Sea. Drawing from her years of marriage and motherhood, as well as her work as a writer, Mrs. Lindbergh writes of the various stages of a woman’s life, comparing them to the different seashells she finds on the beach of her vacation cottage. Each shell, each stage, has its assets and drawbacks, but the thread of continuity is what it means to be a woman and how to approach each stage without losing one’s self.