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


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