All this reading for the two term papers and now a dissertation had made me forget what it's like to read for fun, to read for pleasure, to read without thinking of making notes. So here in Urbana, while I've a stack of 9 books from the main university library (which has a glorious 10 floors and several half floors - very Being John Malkovich), I've managed to take some time out to do some reading:
Don Delillo – Cosmopolis
Alain de Botton – The Art of Travel
Marjane Satrapi – Chicken with Plums
Elliot Perlman – The Reasons I Won’t be Coming
Alain de Botton is always such a dream to read, whether he's writing about architecture or travel. He writes about such everyday things, things that most of us give nothing but a fleeting glance at. But he looks at them in a different light, and writes about these everyday occurrences in such a simple, beautiful way.
I gave up on the Delillo after about 20 pages. I see where he's going with it, but it's just not something I want to read right now - it's about a young billionaire taking a ride across town to get a haircut and various things interrupt him, such as encountering his new wife. It's supposed to be Delillo's musing about the 21st century but I didn't give him much of a chance to tell me about it.
Marjane Satrapi's work always fascinates me - she's an Iranian graphic novelist, who writes and draws about life in Iran. Her first two books (Persepolis 1 and 2) were about her childhood in Iran and studies in Austria when she was a teen. Chicken with Plums is instead about her great-uncle Nasser Ali Khan, a musician whose instrument is damaged and he can't find one to replace it. In despair, he decides to die and takes to his bed.
Elliot Perlman's an Australian writer whose book Seven Types of Ambiguity I just loved. It was a story written from seven different perspectives and just beautifully written. The Reasons I won't be Coming is a short story collection and I was far less enamored with it but there were good moments, such as the first story, a man's late night conversation with his ex.
Other stuff I read last month:
Madhur Jaffrey – Climbing the Mango Trees
(recommended by mt and definitely a fun read - it's the autobio of the famous Indian food writer)
Kurt Vonnegut – Cats Cradle
(my first Vonnegut - yes, it took me quite some time and was a result of reading about his death)
Gary Shteyngart – The Russian Debutante’s Handbook
(quirky story. Russian immigrants)
Truman Capote – The Complete Stories
(It's Capote before In Cold Blood)
Amy Tan – Saving Fish from Drowning
(not entirely sure why I picked it up as I'm not really an Amy Tan reader but it was a nice easy read while working on papers. And a bit of a departure from her Joy Luck Club kinda genre, although it has been said that she should stick to what she knows)