Year in Reading

A Year in Reading: Julie Klam

By posted at 3:02 pm on December 1, 2009 3

coverSarah Vowell, The Wordy Shipmates: Reading a Sarah Vowell book is like getting the coolest, smartest and funniest person in the world to take you on a tour of the kind of places you’d go to if you weren’t held down by a nagging wife, whiny kids, and demanding cats*. Sarah Vowell is like that commercial “where history comes alive.” In The Wordy Shipmates, as she does in all of her other books which you should read, too, she writes about the Puritans or Early Americans or whatever you want to call them (I think of them as non-Jews) with dishy intimacy and poignancy. Ms. Vowell is monstrously entertaining and there’s the added benefit that you walk away knowing some obscure historical facts that would be a hit at the cocktail parties you’d go to if not for the wife, and kids and cats.

(*this is not me as I have a husband, only one child and dogs, not cats)

coverHyatt Bass, The Embers: Who wants to read a book about a dead kid? Not me! I have depressing-book-a-phobia, especially one where a child dies. I’m glad I didn’t know that before I picked up The Embers, because I never would have found out that that isn’t what the book is about at all. It’s the story of a family – complex, dysfunctional, totally normal characters, except they’re insanely engaging. Ms. Bass is the rare kind of storyteller whose lush, elegant prose keeps pace with her riveting page-turning plot. The one thing I had a hard time believing was that this was Ms. Bass’s first book.

covercoverThe Books of Kate Christensen: At an introduction at a reading, Maud Newton said, “If you haven’t read Kate’s books, well you must read them all.” I always listen to Maud so I read The Great Man first. I gobbled it up and went on to The Epicure’s Lament, In The Drink, Jeremy Thrane, and Trouble. This was where I became convinced her talent was otherworldly. Who is this writer who inhabits every character so absolutely? Never for a minute do I doubt that each book is being told by an aging man, a twenty-something assistant, a young gay guy, or a middle-aged divorcee, respectively.

In 2009, I also loved (lerved, loaved, luffed): Fly-Over State by Emma Straub, The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane by Katherine Howe, Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout, Dog Years by Mark Doty, The Melting Season by Jami Attenberg, Best Friends Forever by Jennifer Weiner and Queen Takes King by Gigi Levangie Grazer.

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3 Responses to “A Year in Reading: Julie Klam”

  1. James Kaelan
    at 4:27 pm on December 1, 2009

    How wonderful that you chose FLY-OVER STATE!

  2. Paria
    at 7:54 pm on December 1, 2009

    I have depressing-book-a-phobia too! It is the reason I will probably never be able to read “Precious” (or see the movie, for that matter).

    ALso, I’m so glad you picked books by Sarah Vowell and Kate Christensen — I adore them both!

  3. Kim
    at 3:17 pm on December 2, 2009

    I read Wordy Shipmates to see if it was a good book to recommend for Thanksgiving reading and I loved it! Her voice, insight and inclusion of quirky facts made the entire era come alive. She impressed me with her realistic view of the people embedded in real compassion for them.

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