Sunday, June 24, 2012

A Travel Buffet of Books

When I travel, nothing I pack seems more important than books. When I fly, I always make sure I have two in my carry-on luggage since nothing is worse than running out of reading material. Obviously, I haven't made to switch to an e-reader yet (maybe some day). Here are short blurbs about four of the books I read on a recent trip to NY. Looking for a metaphor to describe this assortment of books, I kept thinking of a Dagwood sandwich -- everything but the kitchen sink went into this reading feast. If so, the bread was the nonfiction Alzheimer's book. It kept me grounded. Most substantial lterary protein was probably the Freudenberger novel, followed by  Carlson-Voiles' fine YA book. And the relish would have to come from Jennifer Weiner, sweet and spicy. Interesting how varigated our reading tastes can be. My moods change quickly and I can't stay with one genre or subject. All these books hit the spot!

Journalist Lauren Kessler takes a minimum wage job in a memory care facility, and learns most everything there is for a layperson to know about Alzheimer's. She also starts to care deeply. Her own mother went through dementia in the last years of her life, and Kessler felt she never dealt with it then, so her foray into this field serves purposes of both mind and heart. I passed this book on to my mother's live-in health aide, and also hope my brother will read it soon. Dancing with Rose: Finding Life in the Land of Alzheimer's was published by Viking in 2007 and remains one of those word-of-mouth books everyone tells you to read if Alzheimer's touches your life.

Got my galley of Summer of the Wolves Houghton Mifflin, 2012) by Polly Carlson-Voiles at the TLA conference  a couple of months ago. Intended for ages 10 - 14, but that didn't matter to me. Strong writing & characterization, with lots of good factual background. Plot elements that spoke to me: orphans, wolves, Minnesota; need I say more? 

If you enjoyed The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri, you'll probably enjoy The Newlyweds (Knopf, 2012) by Nell Freudenberger. Here the wife-to-be moves from Bangladesh to Rochester, NY, having met her husband-to-be online. She is Muslim, he is not. Can this marriage succeed? Perhaps a little overwritten, but I persevered and was glad I did. 

Then Came You (Washington Square Press, 2011) by Jennifer Weiner was an impulse buy at the airport, and really kept me entertained on my flight home. An emotionally-laden tale of surrogacy, involving a college student who sells her eggs, the woman who carries the baby, the wealthy wife who hopes this baby will cement her marriage to a wealthy man, and her step-daughter who suspects the worst of new new stepmother's motives. Get out your hanky....

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