It's been awhile since I have posted a 'to be read' list here on the blog so here goes ... (note: all synopsis are taken from Goodreads)
How to Breathe Underwater by Julie Orringer
Synopsis: The stories in How to Breathe Underwater, Julie Orringer's debut collection, swim with tragedies both commonplace and horrific. A fall from a treehouse, an ailing mother, a near-drowning, a premature baby, a gun--each is the source of a young woman's coming-of-age, which we witness through Orringer's lovely, driving prose. The author possesses an uncanny ability to capture scenes and complex emotions in quick strokes. In "Pilgrims," young Ella is taken to a hippie household for Thanksgiving, where her mother joins several other cancer patients in search of natural remedies: "Some of them wore knitted hats like her mother, their skin dull-gray, their eyes purple-shaded underneath. To Ella it seemed they could be relatives of her mother's, shameful cousins recently discovered." Shame is as omnipresent as water in this collection, sadly appropriate for stories about girls becoming women. Orringer possesses an acute understanding of the many rules of girlhood, in particular the uniquely childish importance of "not telling" (for fear of becoming a traitor, and consequently, an outcast). But though her subjects may take us to the murky depths--submerging us in the cruelties girls and siblings commit against each other--Orringer's nimble writing and subtle humor allow us to breathe.
My thoughts: I'm not a big short story collection fan but I'm hearing wonderful things about this collection so I'm going to give it a shot. I've heard that the writing is wonderful so I'm looking forward to it!
Every Last One by Anna Quindlen
Synopsis: In this breathtaking and beautiful novel, the #1 New York Times bestselling author Anna Quindlen creates an unforgettable portrait of a mother, a father, a family, and the explosive, violent consequences of what seem like inconsequential actions.
Mary Beth Latham is first and foremost a mother, whose three teenaged children come first, before her career as a landscape gardener, or even her life as the wife of a doctor. Caring for her family and preserving their everyday life is paramount. And so, when one of her sons, Max, becomes depressed, Mary Beth becomes focused on him, and is blindsided by a shocking act of violence. What happens afterwards is a testament to the power of a woman’s love and determination, and to the invisible line of hope and healing that connects one human being with another. Ultimately, in the hands of Anna Quindlen’s mesmerizing prose, Every Last One is a novel about facing every last one of the the things we fear most, about finding ways to navigate a road we never intended to travel, to live a life we never dreamed we’d have to live but must be brave enough to try.
My thoughts: I listened to an interview with Anna Quindlen last night about this book and found it so intriguing so I immediately added it to my TBR list. I'm a Quindlen fan. I find her to be a great writer with an interesting perspective! I'm looking forward to digging into this one!
Color: A Natural History of the Palette by Victoria Finlay
Synopsis: In this vivid and captivating journey through the colors of an artist's palette, Victoria Finlay takes us on an enthralling adventure around the world and through the ages, illuminating how the colors we choose to value have determined the history of culture itself.
How did the most precious color blue travel all the way from remote lapis mines in Afghanistan to Michelangelo's brush? What is the connection between brown paint and ancient Egyptian mummies? Why did Robin Hood wear Lincoln green? In Color, Finlay explores the physical materials that color our world, such as precious minerals and insect blood, as well as the social and political meanings that color has carried through time.
Roman emperors used to wear togas dyed with a purple color that was made from an odorous Lebanese shellfish–which probably meant their scent preceded them. In the eighteenth century, black dye was called logwood and grew along the Spanish Main. Some of the first indigo plantations were started in America, amazingly enough, by a seventeen-year-old girl named Eliza. And the popular van Gogh painting White Roses at Washington's National Gallery had to be renamed after a researcher discovered that the flowers were originally done in a pink paint that had faded nearly a century ago. Color is full of extraordinary people, events, and anecdotes–painted all the more dazzling by Finlay's engaging style.
Embark upon a thrilling adventure with this intrepid journalist as she travels on a donkey along ancient silk trade routes; with the Phoenicians sailing the Mediterranean in search of a special purple shell that garners wealth, sustenance, and prestige; with modern Chilean farmers breeding and bleeding insects for their viscous red blood. The colors that craft our world have never looked so bright.
My thoughts: I first heard about this one during a recent Books on the Nightstand podcast and thought it sounded fascinating. I'm leery about non-fiction sometimes because it can be so difficult for me to find what I feel is 'good' non-fiction. However, the concept of this book sounds so interesting to me that I think I'll give it a chance!
The Lost Summer by Kelly O'Connor McNees
Synopsis: Millions of readers have fallen in love with Little Women. But how could Louisa May Alcott-who never had a romance-write so convincingly of love and heart-break without experiencing it herself?
Deftly mixing fact and fiction, Kelly O'Connor McNees imagines a love affair that would threaten Louisa's writing career-and inspire the story of Jo and Laurie in Little Women. Stuck in small-town New Hampshire in 1855, Louisa finds herself torn between a love that takes her by surprise and her dream of independence as a writer in Boston. The choice she must make comes with a steep price that she will pay-for the rest of her life.
My thoughts: As I may have mentioned before, Little Women is one of my favorite all time books. It's the book that sparked my love of reading. I still love it and have read it a number of times. So, this book is intriguing to me as a fan of Louisa May Alcott & of Little Women.
Major Pettigrew's Last Stand by Helen Simonson
Synopsis: You are about to travel to Edgecombe St. Mary, a small village in the English countryside filled with rolling hills, thatched cottages, and a cast of characters both hilariously original and as familiar as the members of your own family. Among them is Major Ernest Pettigrew (retired), the unlikely hero of Helen Simonson's wondrous debut. Wry, courtly, opinionated, and completely endearing, Major Pettigrew is one of the most indelible characters in contemporary fiction, and from the very first page of this remarkable novel he will steal your heart.
The Major leads a quiet life valuing the proper things that Englishmen have lived by for generations: honor, duty, decorum, and a properly brewed cup of tea. But then his brother's death sparks an unexpected friendship with Mrs. Jasmina Ali, the Pakistani shopkeeper from the village. Drawn together by their shared love of literature and the loss of their respective spouses, the Major and Mrs. Ali soon find their friendship blossoming into something more. But village society insists on embracing him as the quintessential local and her as the permanent foreigner. Can their relationship survive the risks one takes when pursuing happiness in the face of culture and tradition?
My thoughts: I am hearing so many good things about this book that I had to add it to my TBR. And isn't that cover wonderful! It makes me want to pick the book up and read it! Very compelling cover! And the story sounds so wonderful!
Matterhorn by Karl Marlantes
Synopsis: The novel is set during the winter monsoon season of 1968-69 on and around a fire support base called Matterhorn, located in the mountains of the remote north-western corner of Quang-Tri Province. The protagonist, a young and ambitious Marine lieutenant, wants to command a company to further his civilian political ambitions. Two people stand in his way. The first is a well-loved, combat-weary lieutenant of his own age, who desperately wants out of the bush, but who does not want to leave his Marines with an inexperienced and overly ambitious officer. The second is an angry young leader of the company s radical blacks, who has all the political skill, savvy, and ambition of the protagonist. As the protagonist experiences the costs of combat, he sees the terrible results of his ambition and starts to change, learning that compassion and heart are more important than ambition and skill.
My thoughts: I first heard about this book during a Books on the Nightstand podcast and found the premise to be intriguing. Since then, I've seen a couple of interviews with the author that made me want to devour this book even more!