Friday, October 3, 2014

The Unbearable Lightness of Being by Milan Kundera. So the Wind Won’t Blow It All Away by Richard Brautigan. The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner by Alan Sillitoe. The End of the Affair by Graham Greene. Franny and Zooey by J.D. Salinger. Interpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri. West With the Night by Beryl Markyhm. Madame Bovary by Gustauve Flaubert. Coast of Chicago by Stuart Dybeck. The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood.

Those are my top ten. For now.

I didn't have easy access to the internet or TV in Honduras. I panicked before going and found a way to pack ten paperback books into my one suitcase for the year but when I arrived, I was soon consoled. There was a library in my house filled with twenty years of visitors' books. It was there I found Margaret Atwood, Dorothy Day, Jhumpa Lahiri. Female voices that made me wonder why I spent so long reading stories by old, white men.

My list is nothing compared to the book suggestions of Junot Diaz. Lily Stockman (here and here) has a list I'd like to make my way through as well.

Right now though I'm mostly reading issues of the New Yorker and last week I stumbled on Meghan Daum's essay "Difference Maker". It reminded me of what I love most in good writing; things that seem confessional but in the end, as the writer points out in an interview, are often "attempting something much more nuanced and generous, something outward-looking rather than navel-gazing." She has a collection of essays coming out in November (!!).

And to follow in the theme of females and essay writing, my heart fluttered a bit when I stumbled upon Vela magazine, an online magazine publishing female voices in long form. I hope to spend some of my weekend printing out a handful of those essays (because I just can't read longer essays on a screen nor do I want to) and enjoying my first fall in two years.

Pictured above: the messy but abundant volunteer library

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