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


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