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When she's not working in her garden, Gayle is usually reading or watching reruns of West Wing and ER. She loves contemporary fiction, mysteries and memoirs. Occasionally you'll find her reading essays by people like Malcolm Gladwell, Paco Underhill, Daniel Pink or John McPhee.
Each section of this brilliant novel is told from the perspective of a different character in a different voice. Harrison has created complex characters dealing with loss and love in the landscape of the Upper Peninsula in Michigan and through the rituals of Native American life. When I finished this book, I immediately read it through for a second time. This is one of the best novels I've read in years. If you're discovering Jim Harrison for the first time, this is a great book to get you started on his work—you'll want to go back and read everything he's written. (This book is also strongly recommended by Bob.)
Lee Smith knows the South, but I had no idea how well she could capture the aftermath of the Civil War and those it left devastated in its wake. Through a beautiful patchwork of journal entries, letters, poems, recipes, songs, catechism and court records, On Agate Hill follows the life of self-described “ghost girl” Molly Petree, whose parents and brothers have been killed by Union soldiers. This is a moving record of one woman’s life, and I was deeply touched when it ended. Excellent writing, insightful perspectives and a wonderful story.
"Can't cook but doesn't bite." This newspaper ad offering the services of a housekeeper draws the attention of a Montana widower with three sons in the fall of 1909. Ivan Doig is one of my favorite authors and his writing in this novel is exceptional. Like Wallace Stegner before him, he captures the West in his novels, and its landscape becomes one of the book's characters. It's an affectionate, heartwarming tale that also celebrates a vanished way of life. You will read this and then want to share it with all your friends.
This is a stunning novel, filled with art, mystery, spirituality, and love. The power of family history as it both haunts and educates family members drives the plot, transporting us back and forth in time in the best storytelling tradition. Marc Chagall and his paintings play pivotal roles in this wonderful novel. I found myself wanting to read it aloud to anyone who would listen. It was good to the last word.
If you like Malcolm Gladwell, you’ll love Daniel Pink. Like Gladwell, Pink uses stories, websites, book recommendations, exercises, and his own philosophy to encourage us to use our right brains to understand our world. The eras of "left brain" dominance, and the Information Age that it engendered, are giving way to a New World in which "right brain" qualities—inventiveness, empathy, meaning—predominate. That’s the argument at the center of this provocative and original book, which uses the two sides of our brains as a metaphor for comprehending and functioning well in our daily work and play lives.
While looking at the roles women are expected to play in both Mexico and the United States, this novel is a moving story of one woman engaged in a very personal struggle. Growing up in extreme poverty in the Mexican cities of Teatl´n and Sinaloa, Magda uses her feminine wiles and her sharp mind to build a new life for herself. I loved the relationships between the women in this novel. They learn to stand up for themselves, and with help from a porcelain Baby Jesus who cries real tears and their own abilities, they realize their dreams. This book left me feeling like I'd gone to Mexico and visited with people who would become life long friends.
This is one of my favorite books. I loved it so much that it sent me to museums looking for Vermeer paintings of which there are so few in existence. It begins with one of his masterpieces hanging in the private study of a school teacher. He knows that the painting came to his father in an unethical, if not immoral way, but he can't bear to part with it. We follow the painting backwards in time through a series of its owners to Vermeer, himself. The cast of characters we meet along the way is memorable and when you're finished reading, you have a history of the world seen though one work of art.