First of all, a baby picture:
Cormac is almost two months now and is doing well. He’s even letting me get some sleep now and then. Good boy!
He’s also left me with a surprising amount of time to read, or perhaps I have that time because I haven’t yet gone back to work. That happens next week. So far this year I’ve read 30 books, which is a lot for me. A good number of them I read before Cormac was born, but I’ve been reading steadily ever since. I read while he eats, or while Hobgoblin is watching him, or while he hangs out in the swing, and now and then I read while he naps, although he doesn’t nap much, or at least not regularly. I don’t think my reading has changed much since Cormac was born. Perhaps I’ve read a few more mysteries and lighter, easier reads than usual, but not a significantly larger number. The main reason for this, I think, is that while I’m tired a lot of the time, I’m not as exhausted as I thought I would be, and I’m getting more sleep most nights than I thought I would. Hobgoblin is to thank for this: he does a lot of the work and lets me sleep in many mornings. I haven’t slept straight through the night since the night before Cormac was born, but that doesn’t matter so much when the total number of hours I sleep is high enough.
I can’t write, even briefly, about every book I’ve read, so I won’t try. But here are some highlights:
- Sven Birkerts’s The Art of Time in Memoir. This is a great study of structure in memoir, how the events of a life are organized into a meaningful, coherent narrative. It struck me as a good introduction to the genre, with in-depth discussions of many examples, but also a good book to read for anyone who is considering writing a memoir.
- Justin Torres’s We the Animals. This short novel/novella describes scenes and stories from the life of a family, told from the perspective of one of three young boys. It’s beautifully written and the voice/perspective is done extremely well. I loved it.
- Maria Semple’s Where’d You Go, Bernadette. This is a hugely entertaining comic novel. The story is told largely through emails, letters, and other types of documents, which adds to the fun. It’s about an eccentric family in Seattle. The main characters are very well-drawn and the social satire is amusing.
- Mark Doty’s Heaven’s Coast. I read this memoir after reading and loving his later book Dog Years. Heaven’s Coast tells the story of the death of Doty’s lover from AIDS. It’s a very moving, beautiful book. I think Dog Years is better, though; it’s shorter, sharper, and more focused. But still, I find Doty’s voice and authorial presence in both books warm and wise.
- Meghan Daum’s My Misspent Youth. This is an essay collection from the 1990s; many of the essays are about money, class, New York City, and finding one’s identity and place in the literary world. The title essay is great in its blunt discussion of money, giving numbers in a way that most people avoid. Daum’s writing is light and humorous and at the same time perceptive.
- Nick Hornby’s Housekeeping Versus the Dirt. These essays are addictive. I don’t share Hornby’s taste in reading material very often, and I sometimes disagree with his ideas about what’s valuable in literature, but he’s such a fun writer about books that I read him with great enjoyment anyway.
- Mohsin Hamid’s How to Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia. I got this book through the LibraryThing Early Reviewers program, and here’s the review I wrote for them: “I very much enjoyed this book; it’s a good story with interesting characters, and a light style that’s entertaining and readable. It’s sort of a parody of self-help books, and that conceit works well. The author follows the life of his main character pretending that it’s an illustration of how to become rich. But this is really a way to tell what is a traditional story of a man’s life. The self-help element is used partly to consider what a “self” really is and also as a way to say something about the state of Asia today. I can’t say it goes very deeply into these topics, but it handles them with a enjoyably light touch.”
There are more books I’ve read, more good ones too, but for now it’s time to return to reading.