Saturday, December 03, 2005

Holiday book shopping

Maggie says:
Sitting at Winning's putting together my "what books will I buy for whom?" list for the holidays, here's what I'm come across so far. Notice how these excursions inevitably become "books I would like to buy myself" lists, but anyway...
  • Dance Dance Dance, Haruki Murakami. All I know about this book is what I got in an e-mail from Erik, who said to me "What a great f*cking novel." And I notice that his newest, Kafka on the Shore, is also getting some attention. Now Erik and I do have some passionate disagreements about Philip Roth, but maybe this one is worth a try. Hmmm....
  • Prep, Curtis Sittenfeld. Is it lame or downright brilliant that a single sentence in an excerpt makes me want to buy this one for myself? In a classic, "outsider goes east/prep to make her way in a supposedly smarter world" story, how's this: "I'd pretended it was about academics, but it never had been. . . . I imagined that if I left South Bend, I would meet a melancholy, athletic boy who liked to read as much as I did and on overcast Sundays we would take walks together wearing wool sweaters.'' Isn't it funny, our perceptions of how things will be (like, you know, going to college in Boston instead of your home state of North Carolina...) versus how they actually are?
  • Lately I have no patience for men writing epic tales about women. I wanted to get my mom a great novel that's not already on her Christmas list, but I kept running into the same thing: "Man Writes As Woman." Sigh. Take Widow of the South by Robert Hicks, for instance. Sounds like a compelling read, is maybe even very good, but I just have no patience for how he'll inevitably be describing her with less-than-real terms, not really getting the female perspective at all, yet drawing grand, sweeping conclusions about the lives of women after the Civil War. Sorry, can't go there right now. And to pre-empt the remarks that I loved Shopgirl although it was written by Steve Martin, sure, I hear you. I also loved Oldest Living Confederate Widow Tells All, written by a man and possibly having similar elements as Widow of the South. I know I'm not consistent. But at this moment, men writing about women bug me. Write about yourselves, and let us write about ourselves, okay? Enough said.
  • I usually get my dad nonfiction or history for Christmas. We both loved - and read together - John Adams, Locked in the Cabinet, All Too Human, any Al Franken, and Founding Brothers. This year, I've gotten him something besides a book, but I'm thinking he still needs What's the Matter with Kansas?, A People's History of the United States, and maybe the newest Jimmy Carter.
How about you guys? What books top your list this year?


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