Books read over break:
The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery (fiction) - Really amazing. About an apartment full of rich people and a brilliant thirteen-year-old and self-educated concierge who are searching for meaning amongst all the shallowness. The book is pretty much a theory of aesthetics woven into an engaging story.
The Kingdom of Ordinary Time by Marie Howe (poetry) - Also amazing. One of my favorite poets. She writes about the beauty of ordinary life. Makes me ache with sharply-focused details.
Number9Dream by David Mitchell (fiction) - I love David Mitchell and enjoyed this book, but not as much as his others. About a 20-year-old boy, Eiji, in Tokyo, looking for his father whom he has never known. But it's really unusual, all techno/cyber adventuring and underground plots. It reminded me of a shonen manga.
Norwegian Wood by Haruki Murakami (fiction) - Wonderful and dreamlike. I love Murakami. This book is delicious in the way that really delicately flavored food can be delicious. About a college-age boy, Toru, and his first love, Naoko, who has become mentally unstable after the death of her boyfriend, also Toru's best friend.
The Lost Art of Keeping Secrets by Eva Rice (re-read) (fiction) - One of my old favorites. Kind of similar to I Capture the Castle except perhaps more lighthearted. Set in the 50s in England, all about pop and glamor and modernity taking the place of old traditions. A charismatic and incredibly witty narrator, 18-year-old Penelope, lives in a centuries-old grand house in post-WWII England with her young mother (bereaved after the death of her husband in the war), and an American pop music-obsessed brother Inigo. Penelope meets new friends who introduce her to a world of wealth and parties and youth.
For One More Day by Mitch Albom - Sweet by kind of cliched. It was around the house and I decided to read it. About a man who has ruined his life with a drinking problem, who decides to commit suicide, then miraculously meets the ghost of his mother, who died years ago, and straightens his life out.
On Beauty by Zadie Smith - Another author I love, and a brilliant book. About a family in a posh New England college town, with a professor father. Set right outside Boston. All about issues of race and class in the academic world, really interestingly articulated.
The Sugar Queen by Sarah Addision Allen - So adorable and enjoyable. Reminded me very much of The Blue Castle by LM Montgomery (woman in late twenties living a stagnant life and longing for adventure and romance). Also touches of magic throughout the book, that make it really lovely. Ghosts and books appearing from nowhere to help people out and an air of delicious fantasy.
Traveling with Pomegranates by Sue Monk Kidd and Ann Kidd Taylor - Loved it. A memoir by mother and daughter, mother coming to terms with growing older, daughter afraid of her future and figuring out what she wants to do with her life. Lots of really interesting Jungian musings about the divine feminine, Greek mythology, and Mary as a nontraditional figure.