Earlier this month I asked her what she was reading. Her reply:
I've been on fire lately -- or just extraordinarily lucky to pick up a series of books that socked me. Books generous in their judgments, imbued with patience for flawed characters and other fools, but never saccharine, or -- far worse, in my mind -- willfully naive. Their generosity is all the more remarkable because that l-o-v-e is coupled with a fierce, unblinking intelligence. In their own way, they're all works of highly refined moral sensibilities, but as I type that I realize it makes the lot sound twee and dull and sanctimonious, which they're decidedly not, so I'll shut up and get to the list:Read an excerpt from How to Be Useful, and learn more about the book and author at Megan Hustad's website.
Zadie Smith's On Beauty. It's been reviewed everywhere, so I'll spare you a recap and say only that she made me a believer with this one.
Geoff Dyer's Out of Sheer Rage. This came recommended by a friend, and it wasn't until p. 78 that I figured out why. From time to time you hear an author referred to as a "writers' writer," and it always struck me as a smug, damning charge. (A sure path to topping out at 4,000 copies net!) Dyer may be a writers' writer, and Out of Sheer Rage may be a writers' book. But few contemporary authors can make me wait for it, and wait for it, and get so irritated with him or her that I audibly scoff, and then finally, starting at the bottom of p. 224, and through the end (p. 232, so not long), swallow whole a rousing affirmation of...well, read it. I was smiling for days afterward.
Carl Wilson's Let's Talk About Love: A Journey to the End of Taste. A Toronto rock critic and snob immerses himself in a study of Celine Dion, emerges a better man.
Next up, if I can get my hands on it, a $60 coffee table book about the Heidelberg Project in Detroit.