Tuesday, December 30, 2014

2014 Favorites

It's time once again for me to pick my three favorite books of 2014, and once again I have had trouble narrowing down my list. But I have to go with the ones that really knocked my socks off, each for a very different reason.

The Son by Phillipp Meyer (Texas Saga), a multi- generational story that held me in its grip from the very first chapter, which ended with this foreboding line from the family patriarch: “The only problem was keeping your scalp attached.”

Can't We Talk About Something More Pleasant by Roz Chast (The Graphic Truth), a graphic memoir that is hilarious and heartbreaking at the same time.

All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr (A Girl and a Boy), the haunting story of two young lives that cross amidst the chaos of war.

My books are already stacking up.  I'm looking forward to hours of great reading in 2015.  Happy New Year to all!

Friday, December 26, 2014

A Year-end Present to Yourself

Run, don't walk, to the nearest library, bookstore, computer or e-reader and get a copy of Dear Committee Members by Julie Schumacher.  Then set aside an afternoon or evening (it's a small book) for a joyride.  But be sure it is in a place where you will not be embarrassed to laugh out loud (really out loud, not just a smile) again...and again...and again on almost every page.

The structure of this novel is a series of LORs (letters of recommendation) written by a college English professor for his students, his faculty colleagues and a few fellow students from his graduate school days.  These are unlike any recommendation letters that you might imagine.  It makes me wonder what those letters are really like.

Julie Schumacher herself is a faculty member in the Department of English at the University of Minnesota and admits to writing "more letters of recommendation that she cares to recall."  Included in the letters are large doses of college politics, driven by the increasing tensions between the arts and sciences resulting from the pervasive budget constraints affecting most colleges these days.  But it is her arguments supporting the study of English and writing that will stay with you long after the laughter ends.

And if you are familiar with Melville's Bartleby, the Scrivener then so much the better (but not necessary.)

I am desperate to talk with someone who has read this book.  If that is you, please leave a Comment below.