Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Great Reads

I made a conscious effort to read more books this summer, and to try some things I might not normally pick up. Sometimes that worked, and other times not. But here’s a short list of some recently-read books that I would strongly recommend, in no particular order:

Dear American Airlines by Jonathan Miles. This books starts as a complaint letter to American Airlines about a bad flight delay and ends up as an exploration of a man’s lost life. Funny and fast—probably perfect for your next flight!

The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson. I’m probably the last person to get around to reading this excellent non-fiction account of the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair, but if I’m not, and you haven’t read it either, do! This book gave me a new appreciation of one of my favorite cities.

The Post-Birthday World by Lionel Shriver. I previously wrote about Shriver’s other fabulous novel, We Need to Talk About Kevin, here. I was worried that this one might seem gimmicky: a woman has a key moment when she could be unfaithful to her long-time lover or she could not, and the book follows her life both ways, if she were unfaithful and if she wasn’t. Rest assured, it wasn’t gimmicky at all, and offered amazing insight into the nature of relationships. Helpful if you’re one of those people who always second-guesses yourself with “should-haves.”.

Generation Loss by Elizabeth Hand. A creepy, horrifying novel set in “real” Maine—away from the tourists—that asks tough and fascinating questions about art. Not for the squeamish….

Bad Girls: 26 Writers Misbehave, edited by Ellen Sussman. Women writers were asked to contribute essays about being “bad”—whatever that might mean to them. Two of my favorites were the essay by Katharine Weber about climbing to the 99th floor of the World Trade Center when it was under construction and Pam Houston’s account of her estranged father’s death and funeral.

Before I Die by Jenny Downham. I already wrote about this one here, but it’s worth mentioning again. A 16-year-old girl dies of cancer—yet it’s a beautiful exploration of life and death, not at all sentimental or sappy, but obviously very, very, very sad.


DC-area author Leslie Pietrzyk explores the creative process and all things literary.