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


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