What's everybody reading?

I just finished KITCHENS OF THE GREAT MIDWEST by J. Ryan Stradal. I enjoyed  it! So if you're looking for the perfect summer (or end of summer) reading, pick this one up. It's a great story and I love how it's told (a different POV every chapter)... Warning: it literally makes you want to cook.  

By the way, reading the reviews I assumed the book was going to be more fairy-tale-ish than it is -- or a sort of myth, an allegory. But it's not that way. This was not a disappointment for me, since I'm not always a fan those kinds of books. I did enjoy the writing greatly -- it's warm and funny.


And, like the title suggests, it's about the midwest! Yay -- more books about the midwest please. This one actually had the name of my hometown (Hudson, WI) in it too. I think it was the source of an ingredient for one of Eva Thorvald's famous dishes. Ha! Oh yes, I enjoyed that too.

Also, I've gotta recommend KITCHEN by Banana Yoshimoto. That is a lovely, lovely book. It's quirky, and a perfect examination of grief (but in a funny, sad way). Oh yes -- lovely. And her writing voice -- wow. And this is a translation from the Japanese... 

What's up next on my list? 

I see David Allen on my last book update too. Yup, I'm still working through it. He's good, but I need in him small doses so I can take it in. (I've read all of his other books too. I love his system for "getting things done," which is also the title of his first book.) 

As for THE ELEMENTS OF STYLE, I read that book in college and I need to read it again. It didn't hit me very hard in college. I think I didn't want to think about those details then -- just wanted to express myself in a textual Jackson Pollock sort of way. (There's a big limit to that metaphor since Pollock was a master at what he did, and the writing I did in college? Ah NO -- not masterly, not at all.)

And for all of you who've been put off by the heft of the Thomas Merton -- you can read this thing in chunks. Yes! I've been reading this thing on and off for three years -- three years! But yet, every time I pick it up it's like meeting an old friend. That astonishes me. How does Merton do this? Merton is another writer for me to emulate.

Okay, that's it. I'd love to hear what you've been reading, so feel free to tell all. I hope all is well with all of you!

Okay, I'm working on my novel. Back to work, back to work, back to work. 


Spotted at my local Chicago Public Library branch

I got spotted at my local public library branch in Chicago. I love the librarians the work there -- they are always so helpful, and are clearly working hard way beyond the call of duty! They were sweet, and decided that ONE CAME HOME should be one of their raffle prizes for kids reading books this summer. I came into my branch yesterday to pick up my Inter-library loans (LOVE ILLs) and the librarian asked if she could introduce me, and if I'd sign one of the prize books for this reader. Really? Yes! Of course! 

By the way, Kathryn (age 10) has also tried to write a book and found it tough going, but she persisted and got a draft done. Wow! We talked about what she had written and it turned out she had combined memoir and fiction, which is very sophisticated and interesting, so I definitely wanted to know about her process:  How did she decide when to use fiction and when to use memoir? A good writerly conversation!

I'm back to writing (fueled with inspiration from Kathryn). Thanks to the lovely librarian Mary Jo O'Toole for the photograph. Our branch is lucky to have such wonderful librarians. Thank you for all the work you do! 

Go Chicago Public Library Go!