I’m looking forward to the leftover-laden holiday weekend to catch up on my stack of books, including Kitchens of the Great Midwest and My Paris Kitchen, which satisfy my desire for meal-based reading material. I am especially excited to finish Elizabeth Gilbert’s The Signature of All Things. I’m halfway through the historical novel and enjoying myself so much that I often pause to reflect between chapters. A well-researched book, this novel is full of discovery—emotional, physical, botanical—and Gilbert’s writing style is distinctive and witty.
Fiction Editor Suzanne Kamata writes, “I have just begun reading Untying the Moon by Ellen Malphrus, which is part mother-daughter story, part road trip novel, and part hymn to nature, among other things. At the start of this slender book, Bailey, the main character, is in her car on her way to meet a childhood friend, with a bunch of live lobsters. She is remembering her native Alaskan mother who once jumped into icy water to attempt to save a woman from drowning. Malphrus is a published poet, and her prose is lush and worth lingering over. I’m looking forward to plunging deeper into the world she has rendered in this impressive debut.”
Profiles Editor Christina Consolino suggests, “I started substitute teaching for the local high school this fall, and had the pleasure of being reintroduced to The Crucible, by Arthur Miller. I picked it up this time with the thought that reading it as an adult would most likely be a very different experience for me than when I first read it as a high school student. Miller’s fictional account of the Salem Witch trials centers around a group of teenage girls who (falsely) accuse several men and women of Salem, Massachusetts, of consorting with the devil. John and Elizabeth Proctor, two of the main characters, are sadly caught up in the hysteria that surrounds the town when John’s ex-lover, Abigail, accuses Elizabeth of being a witch. John tries to clear his wife’s name but also becomes one of the accused. Miller does a brilliant job of giving life to these characters and creating an elegantly nuanced play with multiple layers of meaning.”
Literary Reflections Editor Andrea Lani recommends, “Inspired by one of last month’s Literary Reflections essays, “Bernadette and Me” by Natalie Singer-Velush, I just read Bernadette Mayer’s epic poem Midwinter Day. While the phrase ‘epic poem’ conjures images of metered verse extolling wartime exploits and ancient mythological deities, Midwinter Day is more of a stream-of-consciousness ramble through one woman’s dreams, memories, and thoughts, tumbled together, as these things are in real life, with the chores and activities a mother goes through in a single day. It’s a dreamy, thought-provoking work that makes me wonder: if I wrote down everything I dreamed, day-dreamed, and did on a single day, what would come out the other end?”
Creative Nonfiction Editor Kate Haas adds, “I am reading Geraldine Brooks’ new novel, The Secret Chord, which takes readers back to ancient Israel and David, its legendary ruler. Narrated by the king’s prophet, Nathan, who wants to leave a true record of David’s life, the tale weaves between past and present, sifting truth from myth. Here is David the shepherd, the poet and musician, the cruel warrior, adulterous lover, betrayer and betrayed. We see him through the eyes of his mother and wives, his jealous brother, and most of all through those of Nathan, the counselor who first prophesied David’s kingship. Brooks is a master storyteller, and this book is richly evocative, bringing to life the dusty towns, the heat of battle, the smell of new-baked bread and crushed grapes, the glow of moonlight on a palace roof. I’m staying up way too late with this one.”
What are you reading, dear readers? Are your library holds coming in fast, faster than you can read them? Tell us about it! Add a comment below or tweet your current favorites to us @LiteraryMama using the hashtag #AmReading.