Shopping cart is empty.

Birchbark Blog

Not Winter Reading

Louise Erdrich - Monday, November 28, 2016

November rains and a stormy outlook. Time to plunge into a contradictory reading spree -- first Svetlana Alexievich's extraordinary work, Secondhand Time, an oral history that encompasses every emotion from extreme sorrow to the most tender love. This book of contemporary Russian voices and Soviet history is not for the faint of heart. So, when my heart went faint from descriptions of what is to live in that grand and tragic country, I turned to Amor Towles. His novel, A Gentleman in Moscow, is also about Russian/Soviet history but from the point of view of a most fortunate man. Our hero, Count Rostov, isn't executed in the first pages but instead is confined for life to the Hotel Metropol in Moscow. This is an old fashioned sort of romance, filled with delicious detail. Save this precious book for times you really, really want to escape reality. 

Back to reality -- I have resisted picking up Atul Gawande's Being Mortal for quite a while now because of the title, which would imply mortality. Once I began reading this important book I could not stop. It addresses, without fear, questions we all ask in our hearts but rarely voice. And it gives a person the tools to begin talking about . . . mortality. One's own, one's cherished family.  I gave this book to everybody in my family. Not as a Christmas gift -- I must admit it would be a downer to receive this book as a Christmas gift. But give it to yourself because you deserve clarity.

Somehow I missed talking about Ann Patchett's wonderfully human Commonwealth. Her first chapter is one of the best I've ever read -- leading to a kiss that is one of the best kisses I've ever read. The engaging and headlong family story that follows sweeps you up -- you won't stop reading until it puts you down.      

Dave Clemens commented on 09-Jan-2017 09:12 AM
I was disgracefully late in coming to Ann Patchett's work, but I recently started to catch up with Bel Canto, which I loved. Now based on your recommendation, Louise, I've put Commonwealth at the top of my list of next reads, to dig into as soon as my wife and I finish reading LaRose aloud together. (I read it for myself months ago.)
Barbara Suter commented on 27-Mar-2017 10:47 PM
My very special time...just for when I crawl into my bed each night and read another chapter or two of LaRose. I received the book as a Christmas gift because my husband knows how much I love your writing, Louise. When I am done, this book will join the dozen or so other Louise Erdrich books on my bookshelf. When I read your books I step into another world with characters I've grown to love. Congratulations, by the way, on winning the National Book Award. I can't think of anyone as deserving for the consistent love you share of your culture through your writing.
Post a Comment!

Canoe Family

Recent PostsRSS


The Birchbark House adventure birchbark house series More Remarkable Trees boarding school Greenland Kabul graphix Stephen Salisbury Zombies germany The Game of Silence post holiday reads ependent Gryphon Press Mankato Powwow Keystone XL Canada Jim Harrison The Blue Sky france British Navy coyote Peak Water Bleak House Ojibwe Bohumil Hrabal Master Butchers Singing Club Louise Too Loud A Solitude Dogs ireland H2Oil Too Much Happiness Aza japan green The Ojibwe monkey in a dryer support north dakota plants Pembina Fireworks favorite tree gardens Beth Dooley book and dinner club Interview thank you friends Keepers of the Trees The Royal Prussian Library incarnation Wendy Makoons Geniusz favorite book Bill Moyers Journal School Gardens Catalyst S.C. Gwynne This Green World State Troopers Minneapolis Climate Change local economy Milkweed Press peculiar touches of green and gold Women and Trees city of books Magers and Quinn leaves and snow The Wealth of Nature Alice Munro Tar Sands Botany Philip Roth Brown Dog tree books Wastepaper NACDI:All My Relations Gary Clement Ojibwemowin italy twins Small Bookstores as Commons Mohamed's Ghosts President Obama how good looking you are World on the Edge cafe closing The Transition Handbook language revitalization National Book Award spring Emily Johnson Vic Glover Tree Houses Crushing Books Gail Caldwell devoted customers Native Arts Anishinabemowin Roberto Bolano Alan Weisman Kate DiCamillo neighborhood Rare Books china Light in August the most romantic city in the world E.L. Doctorow Green Team The Resilient Gardener fresh water thanks Love Victory Gardens show your love Video Michael Jackson mississippi Minnesota gratitude Anton Treuer Nemesis Education knowledge Guthrie Theater joy Remarkable Trees friends customers Empire of the Summer Moon Dartmouth Native People post holiday The Porcupine Year Birchbark Books Wolf Hall anniversary Keeping Heart on Pine Ridge pilgrims ptsd Anishinabe buffalo Ha Jin euphoria aquifer bill mckibben photography Makoons Czech Writer Hillary Clinton trees Let's Take the Long Way Home sweden 2666 health care reform Unnatural Disasters Islam The Farmer's Daughter cafe Patrick O'Brian Up Late Again William Trevor favorite dog Aubrey/Maturin Kenwood Gardens solstice, Thomas King Peak Oil Hilary Mantel Chickadee Ice Book Review Poetry Population Nero Easter Island Chitra Divakaruni Afghanistan The Round House Collective Denial Our Knowledge Is Not Primitive