There’s been less writing and more reading in my life lately, and I’ve been remiss in recommending some of my recent favorites. If you follow me on Goodreads, you can see all of my ratings and recommendations. Recently I’ve begun reading outside the genres that I write, with growing appreciation for authors who make their craft seem so natural and easy, even if they aren’t writing about aliens, elves, vampires, or alien vampire elves. I’ve even thrown in some non-fiction for good measure.
House of Sand and Fog by Andre Dubus III
As someone who likes to claim he’s a writer, I read fairly critically. I appreciate well-crafted plots, believable characters, and the artful use of language. With those in mind, please appreciate it when I say that I am, quite frankly, completely in awe of Andre Dubus III’s mastery of all of these and more. In House of Sand and Fog, he creates a plot based around a bureaucratic mistake that unleashes chaos into his characters’ lives. It is these characters, at once strong and frail, who propel this plot through the simple act of believing they are right, from opposite sides of their conflicts. They perceive their weaknesses to be strengths, they act out of passionate emotions: fear, pride, love, hatred. They fluctuate between admirable and deplorable, and this turmoil creates an emotionally gripping and compelling read. Well outside my usual genre reading preferences, I couldn’t put down this novel, and I can’t recommend it enough.
Yes, Please by Amy Poehler
I seldom watched Saturday Night Live during Poehler’s tenure, but I fell in love with her work on Parks and Recreation and have been an enthusiastic fan of her work since. In “Yes, Please”, I was treated to satisfying autobiographical pieces from her childhood through her career highs and lows, and I found myself laughing hysterically and, just as easily, moved by some very emotional points in her life as a comic actor, improviser, and mother. There’s wisdom from what she’s learned, and laughs at her own mistakes. She portrays fame and all the hard work it required with honest, self-deprecating humor that endears her to me and gains my respect for her and other women struggling in the same arena. It’s easy to see why she has become beloved by so many fans and peers.
Even for those unfamiliar with Poehler’s work, I recommend this book as a funny look at comedy, television, motherhood, and growing older in an unforgiving industry. She has earned my respect for her creative vision and determination, and the book is worth reading for those qualities alone.
As someone who loves to read, I always feel like I should dedicate more time to it. Sometimes I have a crushing realization that I won’t have time to read everything that I want in my lifetime. Does this happen to any of you? Leave me a comment and let me know what’s at the top of your “to read” list. Better yet, let me know if you’re on Goodreads, so I can follow you.