Where the Truth Lies by Rupert Holmes
Where The Truth Lies was one of those movies where I didn’t realize it was based on a novel until the title card came up in the film’s credits—I just wanted to watch it because This Film Is Not Yet Rated promised me that there would be some level of dudes making out. (A promise which was broken. Although it does sport an NC-17 rating for the sheer fact a woman appears to be enjoying herself too much during sex, so, you know, there’s some progress being made.) But while I didn’t enjoy the film, the story stayed with me, so eventually I just had to pick up the novel just to get out of my system, which resulted in spending three hours utterly absorbed in it while I should have been studying for midterms. Lord preserve the second semester college senior.
Eighty Days by Matthew Goodman
When I was a but a wee lass (or, to be more specific, the wombat that walked as a girl), there were a select few philosophical conundrums I chewed on constantly. The concept of mortality occupied much of my time, but, in my considerations, I occasionally expanded to extreme distances. The idea that I could go all the way right and end up right back where I started boggled my (metaphorically) little head. I’d forgotten about these recess ponderings until I ran across Matthew Goodman’s Eighty Days. Initially, I picked it up because c’mon, lady reporters racing around the world in the late 1880s! But reading it, it reminded me of those recess ponderings—in a good way.
The Rolling Stone Illustrated History of Rock & Roll edited by Anthony DeCurtis and James Henke with Holly George-Warren
I have always had a camp—some might say hideous—taste in music; I’m only half-joking when I mock Jedward (look, their cover of “Ice Ice Baby” is actually a lot of fun!), I often prefer covers to originals, and the more over-produced something is, the more starry-eyed I get. My only excuses are that I am not a musically inclined person and that I was reared on ABBA. So when I decided to hurl myself into the depths of the best cheesy rock the ‘80s had to offer after seeing Rock of Ages (twice!), I realized that I knew absolutely nothing about rock music. But there’s no excuse when you’ve got the Internet and libraries at your fingertips, hence today’s title.
The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet by David Mitchell
As I’ve mentioned before (in great detail), I loathe the term “literary fiction”—semantically, it’s meaningless, and I’ve never seen it used in a way that didn’t denigrate “genre fiction” as unworthy of study or love. (Or both, in my case, since the two practices generally conflate for me.) However, what it’s supposed to denote—fiction focused on the internal lives of its characters more so than their external lives—is particularly useful when stepping back from The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet. There’s plenty of movement and action, but its true interest is in the emotional lives of its characters.
The Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas
When I was little, my favorite song was “All For Love”, the theme song from Disney’s 1993 adaptation of The Three Musketeers. This summer, I actually watched the film, which was so thin and hilarious that I was surprised it got a theatrical release. (Music is great, though.) But at one point, my brother asked me if a scene was faithful to the book, which I have never read. I resolved to correct that oversight, and it was the first book I picked up as the semester started. (Okay, first book for personal reading.)
The Irresistible Henry House by Lisa Grunwald
I saw Lisa Grunwald’s The Irresistible Henry House reviewed in The New York Times Sunday Book Review, and the concept of a “practice baby” absolutely blew my mind. Who on earth thought it was a good idea to let college home economics departments adopt children and use them as practice for students? I almost thought it wasn’t true. But it absolutely is, as Grunwald points out in a note at the end, and she wanted to explore how much that screws up a person. (In reality, the babies were adopted by real families when they were two, but still, you know, that’s messed up.) While I had to return the book the first time I rented it from the library (somebody else wanted to read it), I finally managed to get my hands on The Irresistible Henry House.
The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay by Michael Chabon
As I’ve mentioned, I’m not the greatest comic book reader. My diet consists of a comic book series about literature and keeping tabs on Harley Quinn. However, my brother owns a massive tome that I believe to be Marvel: The Characters and Their Universe. I flipped through it a lot as a wee lass, and so internalized a vague, dreamy conception of the Golden Age of comics, spanning from the late 1930s to the late 1940s–young illustrators leaning over massive draft boards, their hair falling into their face. That’s what came to me when I picked up The Adventures of Kavalier & Clay as I volunteered at the library this past summer.
The Satanic Verses
by Salman Rushdie
Salman Rushdie has been recommended to me a few times, but I wanted to see exactly what got him in all that trouble–his depiction of the Prophet Muhammad. The librarian who checked the book out for me warned me she hadn’t been able to finish it. Soon after, the Answer Bitch made a passing comment about Rushdie’s fatwah on a podcast, and her current Bitchling piped up that she hadn’t been able to finish it. Naturally, I was determined to read it and finish it. I have never backed down from a book before–not even Slaughterhouse Five, which I absolutely loathe. (But not as much as I hate Samuel Beckett.)