Per Petterson -- Out Stealing Horses
Quiet and lovely. Not a lot happens, but I couldn't stop reading.
Mark Dunn -- Ella Minnow Pea
For my book group. After 100 Years of Solitude, The Road, and Middlesex as our last three books, it was time for something lighter. I read it in about a day, and it's both fun and serious at the same time. The book is set on the fictional island of Nollop, named after the man who invented the sentence "The quick brown fox jumped over the lazy dog," which includes all letters of the alphabet. The trouble begins when a letter falls off the statue of Nollop in the town square. The town council decides that this is a sign from beyond the grave and bans use of that letter in all writing and speech. As more letters fall, the citizens' language is restricted further, and the letters also disappear from the book itself. It's totally clever and fun, even as it tackles the dangers of censorship.
Joan Didion --The Year of Magical Thinking
Honestly, I don't get the hype. Not at all. The book is the story of the year after her sudden death of her husband and her daughter's terrible illness. The idea, I think, is that Didion is looking death and grieving straight in the face and writing about it in a way that no one else has. I really wanted to like this book. I did. But I find Didion so freaking annoying that I couldn't even pay attention to the book. I couldn't feel even a lick of sympathy for her, couldn't empathize with her (which seems like sort of the point of the whole book). I dunno. Maybe it's just me, since the whole world seems to think this book is amazing. I've never much liked Didion's writing, though. Way back in high school, a teacher gave me a copy of Slouching Toward Bethlehem, thinking I would really enjoy it. But I couldn't even make it through the first essay there.