Julia Steele, BookPage Associate Publisher
Just listened to Daughter of Fortune by Isabel Allende. It’s a great story set during the gold rush years and takes the reader from Chile to China to the new world full of ‘easy gold.’ The audio is read by Blair Brown, and she does a wonderful job—I will read or listen to more books by this author. Next I’ll be starting on People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks for my book club—I think it will make for great discussion.
This month’s choice for my book club, Kathryn Stockett’s The Help, has lived up to its billing as one of the buzz books of the year. For anyone who grew up in the South in the 1960s (like me), Stockett’s novel will definitely hit home. I’ve been especially struck by the author’s ability to capture characters on both sides of the racial divide and to focus on the rare and poignant times when Southerners managed to bridge the gap.
I’m flying to Denver for the long weekend, so I’m going to try to finish the ARC I have of A Friend of the Family by Lauren Grodstein. It’s a quiet family drama in the tradition of The Ice Storm and Little Children and even though nothing big has happened yet (I’m only about 50 pages in) you get the distinct feeling that things are going to go very wrong for our man character very quickly. It’s a page-turner! But unfortunately it doesn’t go on sale until November.
The Guinea Pig Diaries by A.J. Jacobs is on my bedside table —I read a chapter every once in a while when I need a laugh. Jacobs is a journalist who has made his living turning his life into an experiment. In this book he outsources his life to India, poses as a beautiful woman on match.com, tries being “radically honest” at all times, and poses nude—among other things. It’s the perfect book to read in a chunk at a time.
I’ve been working my way through Tom Vanderbilt’s Traffic, an insightful look at what happens to us when we get behind the wheel of a car, and what that means for other road users. (As a bike commuter I find it especially interesting.) The extra day off should give me a chance to finish it up. My backup fiction selection is Nancy Mauro’s New World Monkeys—I was intrigued by our review. Any book that opens with the death of a town mascot, continues with a murder mystery and inspires comparisons to Zadie Smith gets my attention.