Category Archives: Books

Reads (and Listens) for July 2018

“A capacity, and taste, for reading gives access to whatever has already been discovered by others. ” Abraham Lincoln

Reading keeps me sane. Highlighted here are some recent reads, some not-so-recent, but all ones that made an indelible impression on my heart and mind.

The One Man


The One Man kept my up long past midnight, pushed  my heart into my throat—Andrew Gross made real every cliche used in book blurbs. Yes. I could not put it down.

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How Readers Discover Books

This is going to be one long post! I tried to organize the answers to my survey, “How Do You Discover Books” in a way that will be most useful, but, wow! I was overwhelmed, not by the number of people who responded to the survey—that was a respectable 213—but by organizing and reading the over 110 comments. The devil really is in these details.

First: This was an unscientific venture. I sent it to a mailing list of book clubs, writers and friends. I wrote a post with a link to the survey (that was open to the world) and asked friends to share that post, which I and others put on FB and Twitter—so most certainly this swayed the answers. But those who answered were, like me, readers to the core.

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How Do You Discover Books? (Let Me Know; Maybe Win a Prize!)

If you’re anything like me, your need for books is second only to water, food and love—but how do you find your books? For some of us it’s a mysterious process, with something similar to a divining rod leading up to the right novel at the right time. Others turn to aunties and friends. I want to find out your method!

Click here to take the survey and not only will you soon see the results here , you’ll be entered to win an early hardcover copy of my new novel (releasing April 11) The Widow of Wall Street (and helping with an article for readers and writers.)

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Tethered: A novel by Amy Mackinnon

tethered-cover-250x3801
Death is the last frontier in so many ways. In my circles, even friends who talk about sex, politics, and that most forbidden of topics, paychecks, rarely talk about the nitty gritty of death. That’s something we save for our own private hells or heavens.

“I plunge my finger between the folds of the incision, then hook my forefinger deep into her neck. Unlike most of the bloodlines, which offer perfunctory resistance, the carotid artery doesn’t surrender itself willingly. Tethered between the heart and the head, the sinewy tube is often weighted with years of plaque, thickening its resolve to stay. More so now that rigor mortis has settled deep within the old woman.”

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Novels About Novelists

Does everyone have sub-genres within genres for which they hold an unusual fondness?

I can’t resist a good infidelity story (really, can anything beat Presumed Innocent by Scott Turow?) I can rarely refuse the intricacies of inter-racial love (Meeting of the Waters by Kim Mclarin,) or a memoir about substance abuse (Drinking: A Love Story by Caroline Knapp. I treasure reading about the layers of an unknown (to me) culture (A Fine Balance by Rohintin Mistry) or the heartbreak of emigrants navigating a new world (my current audio/car book is Shanghai Sisters by Lisa See,) but for a real roll in schadenfreude reading, I pick up a juicy novel about novelists.

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Worshipping at the Library Alter

atreegrowsinbrooklyn

“The library was a little old shabby place. Francie thought it was beautiful. The feeling she had about it was as good as the feeling she had about church.” A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, by Betty Smith.

Some books etch themselves on your soul. I don’t remember how old I was when I first read A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. Perhaps eleven? (Francie’s age when the book begins.) How many times did I read it after that? Ten? Twenty? Enough so that every scene, every character indelibly marked me.

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THE TAKING OF PELHAM ONE TWO THREE By John Godey: The Book

 

THE TAKING OF PELHAM ONE TWO THREE

 

Before there was the movie, and the other movie, there was, The Book.

I liked the first movie.

I loved the second movie. Denzel Washington. John Travolta. Luis Guzman. What’s not to like?

But the book, ah, I loved the book.

“Steever stood on the southbound local platform of the Lexington Avenue line at Fifty-ninth Street and chewed his gum with a gentle motion of his heavy jaws, like a soft-mouthed retriever schooled to hold game firmly but without bruising it.”

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The Push and Pull of Mothers and Daughters

 

2 Mom in GownI never met a book by Ruth Reichl I haven’t loved, and my adoration continued with this book. Where others were hearty meals, Not Becoming My Mother (retitled for the paperback as For You Mom, Finally) was a deceptively simple snack. (I’m certain that Ms. Reichl, editor of Gourmet Magazine, would find a more elegant food analogy, but I, alas, am but a quick and dirty cook, though one who loves reading the work of educated ones—like Ruth Reichl)

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Give Mom Some Schadenfreude for Mother’s Day!

Two years ago ago, at an event at the incredibly wonderful Reading Public Library (in Reading Massachusetts) one of the librarians bought my second novel book, The Comfort of Liesfor her mother. For Mother’s Day. Using a large amount of not-usually-available-to-me control, I didn’t say any of the following:

“Nothing says Happy Mother’s Day like a cheating, anger, and hating-being-a-mother book!”

In fact, that’s true. Who the heck wants to get Little Women on Mother’s Day? Not me. Does anyone want  to psychically compete with Marmee?

No. I. Don’t.
I want to be feted with a pile of books that say:

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The Book I Miss this Week: Ice Bound a Doctor’s Incredible Battle For Survival at the South Pole, by Dr. Jerri Nielson with Maryanne Vollers

icebound book

(first published in 2009)

In the continuous stream of NPR that is my life, I just learned that Jerri Nielson died of breast cancer. Dr. Nielson wrote a book I’ve read more than once, and that has now become the final solidification of my vow not to lend out well-loved books.

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