Books, For Readers

Book-Sloth Saturday(ish), #3

Greetings fellow imbibers of inertia! Welcome back to our weekly round-up of reading lassitude.  Please note that the “(ish)” in today’s Book-Sloth Saturday(ish) title stands for, “Yes, I know it’s not Saturday!” However, the reason this post is late is the direct result of some serious sloth-like reading behavior.

Just like a sloth will close his eyes for a 10-minute catnap and then wake up in March of 2034, I took a break from writing this week’s post to read for “just 10 minutes.” But, 10 minutes led to 40 minutes. Which led to a really late night. And, then oops! It was suddenly Sunday afternoon, and I had bags under my eyes big enough to carry the problems of any Blues singer.

As if that wasn’t enough, my husband then hypnotized me with a previously filmed Billy Joel concert featuring a duet between Joel and Tony Bennett where they both talk/sang, “New York State of Mind” while reminding each other whose turn it was next:

But now…I need a little give (pause) and take…Tony!

The New York, ah, Times…You, Billy!

The Daily News…Now, Tony!

Could. Not. Look. Away.

Well, I finally snapped out of my gaper’s delay, and am eager to share…

Remember, if I finished the book, I liked the book. Here we go:

Books Attempted Books Read
3 3

This Week’s Pick

What My Mother And I Don’t Talk AboutFifteen Writers Break the Silence, edited by Michele Filgate (Simon and Schuster, 2019)

For Readers: Publisher’s Weekly said, “A fascinating set of reflections on what it is like to be a son or daughter…The range of stories and styles represented in this collection makes for rich and rewarding reading.”

I normally shy away from nonfiction, much preferring to reside in the imagined worlds of others. However, the title and buzz surrounding this book intrigued me, and as a sucker for the New Books table at my library, I thought I would give it a try.

Well, I was blown away.

The idea for this book was born from an essay by the book’s editor, Michele Filgate, after it received nationwide reaction via social media and from prominent writers, including Anne Lamott. Filgate had begun writing this essay about her abusive stepfather, but in the process realized she was actually focusing on how this abuse changed the dynamic and her understanding of her relationship with her mother. How could her mother choose this cruelty over her own child’s safety? It was something they never talked about.

After the flagship essay, we hear from 14 other writers as they examine, explain and exhume their own memories and questions regarding their mothers and family life. Some essays hold sweetness alongside the hurt. Author Cathi Hanauer writes about how she had to go to extreme measures just to speak one-on-one with her mother for this essay, because of her parents’ joint email account, group speaker phone calls and a father who likes being the gatekeeper for his beloved wife. We read about mothers who tell their daughters/sons everything and those who try to forget the past. We read about abusive mothers and abused mothers. Relationships that are fraught with pain, and those that are so filled with love, you need to catch your breath before going on to the next paragraph.

Anyone who has had a mother or mother figure in their life (most of us) will find something to recognize and reflect upon regarding their own experiences. And, if you’re are a mom or parent yourself, you may start questioning which moments your children may equate with your very core, or conversely, the ones they feel are shrouded in mystery. Are there some things you never talk about? At times, these are difficult essays to read because of the pain. Because you know mothers are supposed to be protectors and champions. But sometimes they’re not.

For Writers: The writing in this collection is so, so good. Essayists, nonfiction writers, literary fiction authors…you will find sections of deeply descriptive prose that bring you straight to the moment, as well as sparse phrasing that gives you a punch in the gut. Read this book for excellent examples of flashback writing that is seamlessly interwoven with present-day tales.

*******

Other Books Read This Week:

The Girl Who Drank the Moon by Kelly Barnhill (MG Fiction) – A witch accidentally “enmagics” a baby she is trying to save from a sorrowful fate of sacrifice, and must then try to keep the baby’s enormous power under wraps in order to avoid dangerous consequences. There is a bad witch in this story, too, and a dragon, and a walking-talking swamp, and a people who have been forced to accept a painful existence for over 500 years. Fantasy, magic, humor, rich writing…this book was the winner of the 2017 Newberry Medal, and I recommend it for any age.

Where’d You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple. Bernadette Fox (former winner of the “Genius Award”) has a biting and intense personality and just can’t seem to deal with her past failures and current dealings with overzealous moms and Canadians. She is a character that is often difficult to like, even though you do care about where she went when she suddenly vanishes off the grid. This book was entertaining – funny and unique – but also a little depressing at times. I will be interested to see what angle the movie takes.

Currently Reading…The Next Great Paulie Fink by Ali Benjamin (MG Humor), and Wanderers by Chuck Wendig (an 800-page mammoth). There’s a lot of great feedback surrounding both of these books, so I’m getting ready to face-plant on the couch during my final days of freedom from the classroom.

Hope you all find a few cozy moments to read whenever your Sloth-Day may fall. See you in a week(ish)!

Have you read any of this week’s slothy picks? If so, what did you think? And, would you have been able to turn the channel during the Joel/Bennett duet? Please share your inner secrets in the comments!

Find me on Twitter @amandahoving

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