What We’re Reading


Out Stealing Horses

Out Stealing Horses

Per Petterson’s Out Stealing Horses shimmers with blue: the bright blue of a Norwegian summer sky, the dark blue of a moonless night, the blue-black of a flowing river, even the faded blue flowers on the cloth of a woman’s dress. From his perspectives as a 67-year-old man and a 15-year-old boy, Trond Sander tells [...]

The Circle

The Circle

I’m a little late to the party on this book, and it’s maddeningly shallow, but what a lucid, fast take on a timely, important subject. Extremely readable, if it weren’t for a few graphic sex scenes and liberal profanity it could (should?) be compulsory reading for every seventh grader. The book’s message is as crystal-clear [...]

The Bell Jar

The Bell Jar

“It was a queer, sultry summer, the summer they electrocuted the Rosenbergs, and I didn’t know what I was doing in New York.” The opening sentence of Sylvia Plath’s The Bell Jar reflects the ambivalence of her main character, a young and talented woman who’s discovering that what she wants (to be a great writer) [...]

All the Happiness You Deserve

All the Happiness You Deserve

In All the Happiness You Deserve, Michael Piafsky tells the story of a life in small details and crystalline moments. Scotty, a dreamer and drifter, seems punished for every initiative, every step forward. Yet in the end Scotty’s story, precisely because it is, in its bleak ordinariness, rendered so lovingly, takes on a luminosity. It’s [...]

Ballroom

Ballroom

Alice Simpson’s unique art book Marc Ballroom, which she created while attending a workshop at Haystack Mountain School of Crafts in Maine, has a hardcover that includes carved feet. Actually, they’re feet wearing dancing shoes; his and hers, which were carved by a local wood worker then painted. The book pages are watercolors of various [...]

Cain

Cain

After giving the Pulitzer Prize committee a piece of my mind for The Goldfinch, I can only heap kudos on the Nobel people awarded the intoxicating, maddening, brilliant Jose Saramago the Prize for Literature in 1998. Saramago’s last book was Cain, a dark yet whimsical take on the human relationship with God that is literate, ironic, [...]

The Safety Godmothers

The Safety Godmothers

I wanted a fairy godmother when I was a young Cinderella. A fairy godmother has your happiness in mind. But fairies are hard to find. But now we have The Safety Godmothers, Ellen Snortland and Lisa Gaeta, who have our safety in mind. Their book, The Safety Godmothers: The ABCs of Awareness, Boundaries and Confidence [...]

The Goldfinch

The Goldfinch

Theo’s life turns upside down on a morning visit to the Metropolitan Museum with his mother, setting into motion events that are both traumatic and transcendent. Without giving away this Pulitzer Prize-winning novel by Donna Tartt, it’s impossible to say much more than this: a 400-year-old painting called The Goldfinch provides the anchor (in that [...]

The Elegance of the Hedgehog

The Elegance of the Hedgehog

Madame Michel, the concierge at an exclusive hotel particuliere in Paris, believes the rich people she serves think her ugly and dull. She’s wrong. They don’t notice her at all. Madame Michel, in Muriel Barbery’s The Elegance of the Hedgehog, does her best to keep it that way by playing the stereotypical concierge. She wears [...]

The Amado Women

The Amado Women

From its shocking opening to its dream-like ending, Désirée Zamorano’s The Amado Women dishes out secrets, lies, and hurts as fast as we can gobble them up. Mercy, the family matriarch, rules over her three daughters not with an iron hand but with a constant hope that they’ll find happiness. Mercy’s secrets are old ones. [...]

Maude Woods - Opening October 22nd in Pasadena

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