Wednesday, April 29, 2009

hello again...just wanted to share my love for one of the most interesting but many times forgotten genres of literature and that is the short story. Of course we all have experienced the anthologies filled with short stories (among other works) that we would receive and read all through school and even college. But, I've taken to choosing a short story collection sometimes when I need a break from the novel. A mixed bag of smaller, intense tales worth telling. Sometimes, there is one writer but the ones I enjoy the most are from various authors pulled together under some theme.
My absolute favorite anthology is Gotham Writer's Workshop Fiction Gallery. Gotham's Writer's Workshop is a creative writing school and I suppose that is the reason why this book is GOOD! The book has work from Chekhov, ZZ Packer, Lahiri, Dorothy Parker, Chopin, Danticat and many, many more. A few stories that I truly enjoy and recommend are the following:

1. Going for the Orange Julius by Myla Goldberg (truly funny, abt a fascinating, Pink Cadillac driving grandma and the dating tips she has for her granddaughter at the mall).

2. Crazy Life by Lou Mathews (a street smart/ book smart chola trying to save her boyfriend from livin la vida loca).

3. The Palace Thief by Ethan Canin (a well-written long short story about moral choices).

Another collection of short stories I love is This Is Not Chick Lit. I wasn't as familiar with the authors in this text. Curtis Sittenfeld was a name I recognized and love, so I bought it. Plus, I did judge the book by its cover (which is simply black with the title in big block pink letters, oh the irony). Favorite stories from this collection include The Thing Around Your Neck by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, a second person account of a Nigerian immigrant adjusting to American life while balancing a connection to home. Loves it. Ava Bean by Jennifer S. Davis is hilarious. Also loved The Red Coat by Caitlin Macy. Fantastic characterization.
I could go on and on but I won't. If you want to stick with one author, try Jhumpha Lahiri's Interpreter of Maladies and even better Unaccustomed Earth. Of course, you can't go wrong with The Portable Dorothy Parker. I'll talk you to more about those two in future entries. In addition, I'll keep you posted on other great short story collections as I remember and read more. Hope this was helpful!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

So I joined a few book clubs... my first time ever. For so long, I have been trying to set up a book club. It never works. I've now come to accept that my peers are just not readers. Anyhow, I signed up for a neighborhood book club. They have chosen Chinua Achebe's Things Fall Apart. I read it before in college and enjoyed it but now in my old age (30) don't remember much. It will be interesting to hear different people's opinions and experiences with it and other books. I also joined another one that seems to deal with African-American experiences. This one meets in the city. Their choice is The Soloist and another one is by J. California Cooper (can't recall the title). I'll be joining them with their June choice, Miracle at St. Anna's by James McBride. I'll keep you posted as the meetings come up.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

The library is just not what it use to be. I remember days in school where instead of going out to play kickball or the other recess activities, I would shrink away to myI favorite place. The library has always been my oasis, filled with books, peace and quiet. Its one of the few places where small talk is not necessary; in fact, its shunned. Or at least, it was....Lately, my trips to the library have been chaotic, uncomfortable. It seems that the quiet requirement is a thing of the past. I find that even the librarians talk in an unusually and unnecessary loud tone. The old people take up all of the tables reading newspapers. There is a huge, disgruntled line for the computers. The entire layout of the library makes it difficult to look for books. Then, there is the caliber of people who now frequent the library. Overall, they seem to be annoying, confused souls who are always in my way. Once, I came across a mentally ill woman cursing out her invisible friends at the top of her healthy lungs. The day before yesterday, I was assaulted with the stench of an old drunk who chose to take a nap in the fiction section. I miss my library, where I could escape my troubles, not add to them. Sorry if this sounds too Mike Rooney...

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Eat, Pray, Read-how books guide my spiritual life

Hello to all. This blog is really about my love of books, my relationship
with literature. Ironically, Im not really reading anything right now. I
just came off a real binge and decided to take a breather. However, something that I realized lately is that a lot of my "spirituality" is reinforced
through books. Since I can remember, I have been drawn to fiction and considered non-fiction boring (although i hadn't given it a chance). All of a sudden, I really got into
self-help books and they have really changed my outlook on life. I know people who must go to church to find their inspiration (and sometimes i do go). But, many times I read something inspirational and I am blown away. I feel like (at the moment) life will always be great now that I know this. I am much better at dealing with people, much more accepting of the different attitudes and perceptions they may have. I am a thousand
times more positive and open-minded. I am even more self-reflective than I was before.
And I owe it all (well not all) to reading.
Some books that stand out in my memory as having made a difference in my spiritual outlook...

1. The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz

my first new agey type book but taught me valuable lessons, esp. the agreement
of don't take anything personally.

2. The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey

Im sure this book is not necessarily meant to be a spiritual guide. In fact, I found
it in the business section of Barnes & Noble. However, I felt so inspired by so many
parts of this book. What type of person do you want to be? What legacy do you want
to leave behind? Who and what are most important to you? These are the types of
questions you will have to evaluate when reading this. You will be forced to get your
act together.

3. Eat, Pray, Love

I know that everyone has probably heard of this one by now. Yet I know that
all won't have the same experience I had with it. This book made me think about
my own spirituality. I was able to realize that the way I pray does not have to be like
the way my mother or my husband prays. It retaught me to appreciate the beauty of
the world and those who inhabit it. I remembered to be grateful for what I have no matter
my circumstances.

So my point is that reading is one of the ways that I add to my spirituality. Even through fiction,
I come across characters and situations that I draw lessons and inspiration from. That, to me, is sacred.