Book #7

all about loveFrom Goodreads: All About Love offers radical new ways to think about love by showing its interconnectedness in our private and public lives. In eleven concise chapters, hooks explains how our everyday notions of what it means to give and receive love often fail us, and how these ideals are established in early childhood. She offers a rethinking of self-love (without narcissism) that will bring peace and compassion to our personal and professional lives, and asserts the place of love to end struggles between individuals, in communities, and among societies. Moving from the cultural to the intimate, hooks notes the ties between love and loss and challenges the prevailing notion that romantic love is the most important love of all.

Visionary and original, hooks shows how love heals the wounds we bear as individuals and as a nation, for it is the cornerstone of compassion and forgiveness and holds the power to overcome shame.

For readers who have found ongoing delight and wisdom in bell hooks’s life and work, and for those who are just now discovering her, All About Love is essential reading and a brilliant book that will change how we think about love, our culture-and one another.

Why This Book: This book has been on my “to read” shelf for a very long time. How long you ask? When I pulled it off the shelf, I found a receipt tucked inside from 2001 when I purchased the book in Northampton, MA. I’d say 13 years is long enough…

Advertisements

Book #6

enders gameFrom Goodreads:

In order to develop a secure defense against a hostile alien race’s next attack, government agencies breed child geniuses and train them as soldiers. A brilliant young boy, Andrew “Ender” Wiggin lives with his kind but distant parents, his sadistic brother Peter, and the person he loves more than anyone else, his sister Valentine. Peter and Valentine were candidates for the soldier-training program but didn’t make the cut—young Ender is the Wiggin drafted to the orbiting Battle School for rigorous military training.

Ender’s skills make him a leader in school and respected in the Battle Room, where children play at mock battles in zero gravity. Yet growing up in an artificial community of young soldiers Ender suffers greatly from isolation, rivalry from his peers, pressure from the adult teachers, and an unsettling fear of the alien invaders. His psychological battles include loneliness, fear that he is becoming like the cruel brother he remembers, and fanning the flames of devotion to his beloved sister.

Is Ender the general Earth needs? But Ender is not the only result of the genetic experiments. The war with the Buggers has been raging for a hundred years, and the quest for the perfect general has been underway for almost as long. Ender’s two older siblings are every bit as unusual as he is, but in very different ways. Between the three of them lie the abilities to remake a world. If, that is, the world survives.

Ender’s Game is the winner of the 1985 Nebula Award for Best Novel and the 1986 Hugo Award for Best Novel.

Why This Book: I’ve recently signed onto an amazing science fiction project called Reality Breaks with Charles Barouch of HDWP Books. I’ve had Ender’s Game on my shelf for an embarrassingly long time and decided that while I’m getting myself ready to launch into the shared world of Reality Breaks, it was past time to check this book off my “to read” list.

Book #5

american godsFrom Goodreads:

A storm is coming . . .

Locked behind bars for three years, Shadow did his time, quietly waiting for the magic day when he could return to Eagle Point, Indiana. A man no longer scared of what tomorrow might bring, all he wanted was to be with Laura, the wife he deeply loved, and start a new life.

But just days before his release, Laura and Shadow’s best friend are killed in an accident. With his life in pieces and nothing to keep him tethered, Shadow accepts a job from a beguiling stranger he meets on the way home, an enigmatic man who calls himself Mr. Wednesday. A trickster and rogue, Wednesday seems to know more about Shadow than Shadow does himself.

Life as Wednesday’s bodyguard, driver, and errand boy is far more interesting and dangerous than Shadow ever imagined—it is a job that takes him on a dark and strange road trip and introduces him to a host of eccentric characters whose fates are mysteriously intertwined with his own. Along the way Shadow will learn that the past never dies; that everyone, including his beloved Laura, harbors secrets; and that dreams, totems, legends, and myths are more real than we know. Ultimately, he will discover that beneath the placid surface of everyday life a storm is brewing—an epic war for the very soul of America—and that he is standing squarely in its path.

Relevant and prescient, American Gods has been lauded for its brilliant synthesis of “mystery, satire, sex, horror, and poetic prose” (Michael Dirda, Washington Post Book World) and as a modern phantasmagoria that “distills the essence of America” (Seattle Post-Intelligencer). It is, quite simply, an outstanding work of literary imagination that will endure for generations.

Why This Book: When I put the “ask” out to my Facebook friends to help me choose my list of 42 books, this came up more than once. Given my love for Neil Gaiman’s writing both in the literary world and in the world of Doctor Who, adding this to the list was a no brainer.

Book #4

dixie lullabyFrom Goodreads:

In Dixie Lullaby, a veteran music journalist ponders the transformative effects of rock and roll on the generation of white southerners who came of age in the 1970s–the heyday of disco, Jimmy Carter, and Saturday Night Live. Growing up in North Carolina, Mark Kemp burned with shame and anger at the attitudes of many white southerners–some in his own family–toward the recently won victories of the civil rights movement. “I loved the land that surrounded me but hated the history that haunted that land,” he writes.Then the down-home, bluesy rock of the Deep South began taking the nation by storm, and Kemp had a new way of relating to the region that allowed him to see beyond its legacy of racism and stereotypes of backwardness. Although Kemp would always struggle with an ambivalence familiar to many white southerners, the seeds of redemption were planted in adolescence when he first heard Duane Allman and Ronnie Van Zant pour their feelings into their songs.

In the tradition of Nick Tosches, Peter Guralnick, and other music historians, Kemp maps his own southern odyssey onto the stories of such iconic bands as the Allman Brothers, Lynyrd Skynyrd, and R.E.M., as well as influential indies like the Drive-By Truckers. In dozens of interviews with quintessential southern rockers and some of their most diehard fans, Kemp charts the course of the music that both liberated him and united him with countless others who came of age under its spell. This is a thought-provoking, searingly intimate, and utterly original journey through the South and its music from the 1960s through the 1990s.

Why This Book: I asked Jenella what book she recommended I add to my Project 42 list, and she gave me her answer in gifting this book to me for Christmas. This, in itself, is enough of a reason for me to include it, but when you add in my own journalistic proclivities and my love of music, this seems like the perfect next book for my project.

Book #3

#3 Middlesex (Eugenides)From Goodreads:

 I was born twice: first, as a baby girl, on a remarkably smogless Detroit day of January 1960; and then again, as a teenage boy, in an emergency room near Petoskey, Michigan, in August of 1974. . . My birth certificate lists my name as Calliope Helen Stephanides. My most recent driver’s license…records my first name simply as Cal.

So begins the breathtaking story of Calliope Stephanides and three generations of the Greek-American Stephanides family who travel from a tiny village overlooking Mount Olympus in Asia Minor to Prohibition-era Detroit, witnessing its glory days as the Motor City, and the race riots of 1967, before they move out to the tree-lined streets of suburban Grosse Pointe, Michigan. To understand why Calliope is not like other girls, she has to uncover a guilty family secret and the astonishing genetic history that turns Callie into Cal, one of the most audacious and wondrous narrators in contemporary fiction. Lyrical and thrilling, Middlesex is an exhilarating reinvention of the American epic.

Why This Book: Several reasons. It comes recommended by several friends, I saw it sitting on the shelf at one friend’s house (and promptly borrowed it, deciding this was the next book for the project), and I’m currently living in the town of… (wait for it) Middlesex.

Book #2

prodigal summerFrom Goodreads: Prodigal Summer weaves together three stories of human love within a larger tapestry of lives inhabiting the forested mountains and struggling small farms of southern Appalachia.

From her outpost in an isolated mountain cabin, Deanna Wolfe, a reclusive wildlife biologist, watches a den of coyotes that have recently migrated into the region. She is caught off-guard by a young hunter who invades her most private spaces and confounds her self-assured, solitary life. On a farm several miles down the mountain, Lusa Maluf Landowski, a bookish city girl turned farmer’s wife, finds herself unexpectedly marooned in a strange place where she must declare or lose her attachment to the land that has become her own. And a few more miles down the road, a pair of elderly feuding neighbors tend their respective farms and wrangle about God, pesticides, and the possibilities of a future neither of them expected.

Over the course of one humid summer, these characters find their connections to one another and to the flora and fauna with whom they share a place. Prodigal Summer demonstrates a balance of narrative, drama and ideas that is characteristic of Barbara Kingsolver’s finest work.

Why This Book: When I asked people to tell me what books they thought I should add to my list of 42, this book came up more than once. I’ve enjoyed several of her other books over the years and am excited to read this one.

Book #1

on writingFrom Goodreads: Long live the King hailed “Entertainment Weekly” upon publication of Stephen King’s “On Writing.” Part memoir, part master class by one of the bestselling authors of all time, this superb volume is a revealing and practical view of the writer’s craft, comprising the basic tools of the trade every writer must have. King s advice is grounded in his vivid memories from childhood through his emergence as a writer, from his struggling early career to his widely reported, near-fatal accident in 1999 and how the inextricable link between writing and living spurred his recovery. Brilliantly structured, friendly and inspiring, “On Writing” will empower and entertain everyone who reads it fans, writers, and anyone who loves a great story well told.

Why this book: For one thing, it’s been sitting on my shelf staring at me for several months and it’s about time I picked it up to read it. Also, I wanted to include the genius of Stephen King somewhere in this project without reading horror – I read Pet Sematary in high school and didn’t sleep for weeks.