Posts Tagged: books

Happy Lorrie Moore Day!

lorrie moore

This is truly the most wonderful time of the year (or the most wonderful time of the past many years). The absolutely flawless Lorrie Moore’s new short story collection releases today! If you’re reading this during the day, I’m at work wishing I was home reading it. And if you’re reading this in the evening, I’m reading it. I cleared my work schedule for the evening specifically for this book.

I think there’s a law that all female creative writing majors have to love Lorrie Moore. In college, I read a lot of boring short stories. I mean, there were a lot of good ones, too, but so many of them were the same “old white dude” story told over and over again. Lorrie Moore stood out. Her characters were weird and unique. Her sentences were hilarious in a quiet way. And she created these crazy images and scenes that still stick in my head now. I read all of her books and then sat around thinking about how I would never be the writer she was (I’ve now come to terms with it).

After I graduated, she released her first novel, which I still remember walking to the library to pick up from the hold shelf. I won’t say it wasn’t good, because it was great! But it was one of the only things I’ve ever read that made me so upset that I almost had to stop reading it. It dealt with a very specific fear/paranoia of mine, which is that one little action you unthinkingly take can have catastrophic actions and/or result in death. Which is sort of a “Lorrie Moore theme,” honestly, but I can’t stop reading her.

Are you guys going to be reading Bark today? If not, what is even wrong with you? Never mind, I don’t want to know. Let’s close this out with some of my favorite Lorrie Moore quotes.

“She was not good on the phone. She needed the face, the pattern of eyes, nose, trembling mouth… People talking were meant to look at a face, the disastrous cupcake of it, the hide-and-seek of the heart dashing across. With a phone, you said words, but you never watched them go in. You saw them off at the airport but never knew whether there was anyone there to greet them when they got off the plane.”

“It was like the classic scene in the movies where one lover is on the train and one is on the platform and the train starts to pull away, and the lover on the platform begins to trot along and then jog and then sprint and then gives up altogether as the train speeds irrevocably off. Except in this case I was all the parts: I was the lover on the platform, I was the lover on the train. And I was also the train.”

“I feared Sarah was one of those women who instead of laughing said, ‘That’s funny,’ or instead of smiling said, ‘That’s interesting,”‘or instead of saying, ‘You are a stupid blithering idiot,’ said, ‘Well I think it’s a little more complicated than that.'”

Lorrie Moore image via Vanderbilt;

What I’ve Been Reading

It’s been awhile since I’ve talked about what I’ve been reading. I mean, sure, I do that every week on HelloGiggles, but I do read other things occasionally. If you’re looking for a new book to pick up, here are the things I’ve read and loved recently. Also, if you’re on Goodreads we should totally be friends!

Tasteful Nudes by Dave Hill
dave hill tasteful nudes
Do you like laughter? What about happiness? Then get this book. I’m not exaggerating when I say that this is one of the funniest books I’ve read in a LONG time. If you like David Sedaris, David Rakoff, or Tina Fey’s Bossypants, I would definitely recommend Tasteful Nudes. Also, you can get a signed copy if you order it directly from Dave Hill’s website. I did and this is what he wrote in my book: “Dear Kerry, I know things have been really crazy between us lately but we WILL get through this. I just know it. Love, Dave Hill” Go buy it now! What are you waiting for?

The Shining by Stephen King
Okay, so I was under the mistaken assumption that the book wouldn’t be as scary as the movie. I was wrong. Like, really wrong. I was so terrified, and then I had a nightmare that my dad was an alcoholic. I actually liked the book better than the movie (I know!) because my favorite character didn’t die in the book. I guess that might be sort of a spoiler, but you know what? The Shining came out roughly 5 million years ago, so this one’s on you. It’s a quick read and it’s legitimately horrifying, so I would highly recommend it.

The Spectacular Now by Tim Tharp
the spectacular now
This one’s YA, but I’m not writing about it in my column because it upset me too much. Which isn’t to say that it’s bad! I did really enjoy it. The voice is great and unique, and it was really interesting to read the voice of such an unreliable narrator and think about the work that the filmmakers had to do to translate that to the screen. But…well, the ending of the book is pretty different from the ending to the movie. I’m not going to say it’s hopeless, but okay, I’m going to say exactly that. It’s sort of hopeless! I’d recommend reading the book AFTER seeing the movie.

We Were Liars by E. Lockhart
Sorry, this book doesn’t come out for a long while and I’m just being obnoxious by bragging that I’ve already read it (perks of being a book blogger). Everyone’s been talking about it and it has a huge publicity campaign, but it’s for a good reason! This is a really weird, dreamy, creepy, great book. I started it expecting to just read a few pages and finish it later, but I ended up getting sucked in and I read it all in one day. I’m not supposed to say a lot about it, because it’s (sort of?) a mystery, but just know that you should totally read it when it comes out.

Steal Like An Artist by Austin Kleon
steal like an artist
You’re either the kind of person who likes reading books about creativity or you’re not…and, duh, I very much AM. Even if you’re not into the typical “creative life” stuff, though, you’ll probably like this book. It’s inspiring while also being extremely practical about what you need to do to get creative work done (I’m very fond of the “Be boring” rule). Also, I read somewhere that Austin Kleon went to my alma mater (Miami University), which makes me automatically like him.

So what about you guys? What have you been reading lately? I always love hearing your recommendations.

What I’ve Been Reading

I always love reading (duh), but over the past few weeks, I’ve been reading even more than usual. Here are the books I’ve read and loved over the past month or so:
Tenth of December by George Saunders
It’s no surprise that this was good. I mean, George Saunders is always good. I read the last story one morning before work, and the whole walk there all I could think was, “Everyone is just trying their best!” It was pretty emotional.

no one else can have you
No One Else Can Have You by Kathleen Hale
Okay, sorry to be annoying because this book doesn’t come out until January, so you can’t read it right now. BUT IT IS SO GREAT! It’s funny and weird and I actually got scared near the end.

someday someday maybe
Someday, Someday, Maybe by Lauren Graham
Obviously if Loralei Gilmore writes a book I’m going to read it. Fun fact: I decided to wait out the library hold list for this one instead of buying it, and it took a couple of months! So just reading it felt like a small victory. Anyway, this was a fun, feel-good book, and y’all know I love a feel-good book.

tapestry of fortunes
Tapestry of Fortunes by Elizabeth Berg
Everything I love: a house full of women who learn something from one another, a road-trip, and copious amounts of pie. So much pie. I made a pie after I finished this book, actually.

open road summer
Open Road Summer by Emery Lord
Now I’m being even more obnoxious because this book doesn’t come out until April, but YOU GUYS. I loved this book so, so much. There’s country music, a dreamy dude, and so. much. romance. Seriously, I loved it, and it’s definitely going on my Best YA Romance list.

Case Histories by Kate Atkinson
Somehow this book managed to be slow and interesting. Also sad and hilarious. Kate Atkinson is some sort of miracle worker, apparently. Anyway, I really enjoyed it and I’ve already ordered the next Jackson Brodie book from the library. Basically, if you like British detectives then you’ll probably be into this book (although I seriously didn’t understand ANY of the references in this book…I might as well have been reading another language).

What have you guys been reading? Let me know, and have a great weekend!

The Time I Went to a Cheryl Strayed Reading

By now, you should know that I rarely do things on work nights. My schedule basically looks like this: wake up, do some work, go to work, come home and eat dinner, get back to work, go to bed. But when my friend Carrie texted me and asked if I wanted to go see Cheryl Strayed read on a Monday night at Ashland University, how could I resist? Since graduating from college, I rarely see readings, and I had a feeling that Cheryl Strayed would probably be pretty inspirational. So I left my house on a work night (on a work night!).

The universe conspired to keep us away from Cheryl Strayed. First we got stuck in near-standstill traffic, and then Ashland University ended up being a labyrinth of confusion and poorly named buildings. But we gave double middle fingers to the universe and ended up at the reading anyway.

Even though we were half an hour late, I felt like we got a pretty complete picture of Cheryl Strayed. She was as warm and engaging as she seems in her writing. She seemed to radiate compassion and wisdom, like George Saunders or Dolly Parton. Also, she talked like a real person. Have you ever noticed how some writers inexplicably speak with this not-quite-placeable, almost-British accent even though they’re from the Midwest? Or they pronounce human “yoo-min”? Cheryl Strayed didn’t do that.

We got to hear her read a bit from Wild, as well as a letter from Dear Sugar. And then she answered questions from the audience and was so shockingly articulate that I could hardly believe it. I mean, if I had to answer questions on the fly like that, there’d be a lot of stammering and “likes” and “you knows.” But Cheryl Strayed carries herself with the composure and calm of someone who’s met Oprah.

At one point, she said, “Nonfiction is things that really happened. Fiction is things that really happened plus shit I made up,” which kind of sums up why she’s so great.

And then we got books signed by her. I bought a copy of Torch because I felt weirdly drawn to it, although after the fact I figured out that, duh, it was her first novel and of course that was the reason I wanted to get that one signed. Carrie was very nice and told Cheryl Strayed that I was an awesome writer, and Cheryl Strayed was very polite and pretended to care. Cheryl Strayed looked sophisticated and comfortable in this purple flowy top that I now want to buy 7 of and wear every day of the week. That top said, “I am way too busy writing to wear restricting clothing. I have better things to do with my time than be uncomfortable.”

After that we went to Denny’s (Carrie and I, not Cheryl Strayed), which is what everyone should do after a literary event. I ordered a bacon avocado cheeseburger because Cheryl Strayed said to feed yourself, and maybe this wasn’t exactly what she meant, but I decided to go for it anyway.

That night when I went to bed I felt weirdly energized yet relaxed, the way I do after yoga. I sort of forgot how much I enjoyed going to reading, how just hearing words spoken out loud and seeing the real human who wrote them is often so much more filling than just reading those words on a page. But, I don’t know, it might’ve just been the cheeseburger.

Image via The Great Discontent

Ladyville Book Club: Rainbow Rowell

Now that I’ve finished all of Rainbow Rowell’s books (even Fangirl, which doesn’t come out for a couple more months, because being a book blogger sometimes leads to awesome perks), I’m sort of depressed. Okay, really depressed, because she doesn’t have any more books I can read. However, I want to channel that reading-related depression into something positive, which mostly means I’m not going to stop until I’ve convinced all of you to read Rainbow Rowell’s books, even if it means I have to literally push them into your hands. Don’t think I won’t do it!

My first foray into the wonderful world of Rainbow was her YA novel, Eleanor & Park. Just like everyone else who read it, I loved it. It was real and romantic, smart and funny, and full of music. Also Park’s dad was repeatedly compared to Tom Selleck, which was a detail I just really loved. After I posted my review, I got a copy of Fangirl and fell in even deeper love. I mean, it might be one of my favorite books ever. It’s about a girl who writes fan fiction. And is a twin. And is in college but really bad at being social. And is in l-u-v with a ridiculously friendly guy (not a brooding guy, not a sensitive bad boy, not a rebel). It’s hilarious and just plain wonderful.

So, naturally, after all that I needed to pick up her adult novel, Attachments. YOU GUYS. IT WAS JUST AS GOOD! Good romantic comedy books can be difficult to find. I’m not saying they’re not out there, because they are, but it’s difficult to sort through the cliches and the generic smut (not that there’s anything wrong with generic smut). It’s always a delight to find a book that’s like a Nora Ephron movie, one that gives you hope and comforts you while also being clever and smart and creating unique characters. That’s what this book does (not to oversell it). Also, Lincoln is great. Oh, Lincoln.

One of the things I really like about Rainbow Rowell’s writing is that she always sees overweight women as people. Yes, sometimes they complain about their weight (just as we all, no matter what we look like, can always find SOME element of our bodies to complain about) but it is not the defining factor of their lives and it CERTAINLY doesn’t make them unattractive or undateable. They don’t have to lose weight to be happy or to get a guy; their weight is just another aspect of who they are. There aren’t a ton of other authors that can do this (although, if you want some recommendations, I would suggest Meg Cabot and Jennifer Weiner).

Also, Rainbow Rowell just gets what makes people attractive. It’s not their perfection or their movie-star good looks; I mean, when you’re in love with someone, you love the weird little imperfections in their face. Their slightly-too-big nose, their ears that stick out, their hair that doesn’t lay flat ever. Rainbow Rowell’s romantic leads have weak chins and widow’s peaks. They feel real in a way that many leading dudes just don’t.

Basically, Rainbow Rowell writes perfect books and I just want you guys to love them the same way I do. Go buy Eleanor & Park and Attachments right now, and FOR SURE get Fangirl when it comes out! And after you read them all, come talk to me about how great they are! Until then, I’ll just be rereading Attachments and getting overly emotional at the ending.

Image via Novel Sounds