What I Read This Fall: Recommended Books

Since July, when I last posted my recommended reading list, I've read some books I enjoyed that I can suggest. (Disclosure, as always, book links are to Amazon. I participate in a program where your clicks can give me revenue, at no cost to you.) 

I had mentioned in the July post that I had reread The Meadow by James Galvin, a poetic book of prose stories about a difficult landscape in Wyoming, and realized that I had never read his poetry. From the library I was able to get three poetry books, and I binge read them, then sat down and wrote a baker's dozen of my own. That was a surprise! I think any and all of his work can be inspiring, but the three I read were: Xand Lethal Frequenciesand God's Mistress.

A friend reads fiction only and recommended The Bad Muslim Discount: A Novel by Syed M. Masood. The title is curious, but the reader comes to understand what it means. The book contains two interwoven stories about coming to America from Pakistan and Iraq (from the point of view of one male and of one female and how they meet), and how they accept who they are as well as change their lives. I felt I got a better understanding of what it means to be Muslim and an immigrant. The subject matter is serious, but it is balanced with humor, some of it laugh-out-loud hilarious. Even in the tense places I was able to trust the author and know that everything would come out all right.

A review of Motley Stones (New York Review Books Classics) by Adalbert Stifter, translated from the German by Isabel Fargo Cole, got my attention, as it talked about how fond Stifter was of landscapes and nature. Each of the short stories hinges on a particular landscape or natural phenomenon like rain, snow, mountains, and rocks, and how people cope with them. Each chapter is titled with a kind of stone name, which explains the title. The stories take place in Europe, near Germany and Vienna, in the 19th century, so there are interesting historical details as well, such as the "oil man" who comes to each town. Stifter seemed to use the stories to dive deep and describe the landscape in detail, as if it were a character itself, influencing the actions of the humans.

Harper's Magazine had an excerpt, which I realize now was a condensed and different version of the novel by Miriam Toews, Fight Night. The short story made me laugh out loud, although it may not strike everyone so, and what prompted me to find the novel. (It's not what I would publish in Star 82 Review, but I enjoyed reading it.) The novel is irreverent, full of misfits and how they cope, primarily the story of the narrator (as if talking to her absent father), who lives with and cares for her lively elderly grandmother and high-maintenance mother. It can be slightly vulgar and frank, but there is love underneath it all, and the characters do and say extremely wild and crazy things and appear to love language as much as the author.

And I reread two from my shelf: The Long-Winded Lady: Notes from the New Yorker by Maeve Brennan and Earth Abides by George R. Stewart. Brennan's essays are short, funny, and sharp observations about characters in the New York City of the 1950s, '60s, and '70s: in restaurants, on the subway, and on the streets. I can reread them forever. I have some thoughts on Earth Abides to save for another post, and why I am not sure I can recommend it.

I have placed holds on several new novels that I am looking forward to reading. More soon. Take care, happy end of Fall, and happy reading!