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What Are You Reading?

The Reading Head in La Rochelle, France.

The Reading Head in La Rochelle, France.

Do you sometimes find yourself in a book slump?  You could have a truckload of books at your disposal, but just can’t seem to find the right one?

That was me at the end of this summer.  I was stuck in a rut and searching for a good book to pull me out of it, but nothing seemed to work.  What I often find, after these slumps have passed, is that I discover a multitude of books to feed my craving.  Then the problem becomes finding time to read them.

Currently, I have a rotation of three wonderful books on my nightstand, each very unique and satisfying.  If I could read them all at once, I would!

The Road to Wellville

The Road to Wellville by T.C. Boyle

The first is T.C.Boyle’s The Road to Wellville.  I really enjoy this author.  He has a dry wit about him, and I often imagine him telling the story with a wink.  His stories lean towards exaggeration and sometimes fall into the extreme.  (I’ve also read his book Tortilla Curtain, which has more of a social justice slant, but was equally satisfying in it’s extremism.)

This novel tells the story of the real life character, Dr. John Harvey Kellog, best known as the creator of cornflakes; but in this novel it appears as if he would rather people remember him as the purveyor of healthy living.

It centers around his Sanitarium in Battle Creek, MI, which he runs with precise attention to detail using his holistic methods of nutrition, enemas, and exercise.  Many of his methods are highly experimental, and his vegetarian concoctions are enough to drive any Vegan back to carnivorism!

There are a cast of quirky characters surrounding him:  a married couple who attend the sanitarium and begin to stir up trouble, as well as a group of “gentlemen” who arrive in Battle Creek to promote their new breakfast cereal, backed by Dr. Kellog’s estranged son, George- who is up to no good!

T. C. Boyle’s novels are like riding a roller coaster.  They begin with a series of wild twists and turns, followed by a gripping climax and free-falling ending.  I must admit, I haven’t gotten all the way through it yet, but from all the book reviews I’ve read, it promises to be quite a ride!

What Are You Looking At? by Will Gompertz

What Are You Looking At?: The Surprising, Shocking, and Sometimes Strange Story of 150 Years of Modern Art by Will Gompertz

Next on my nightstand is the nonfiction title What are You Looking At?: The Surprising, Shocking, and Sometimes Strange Story of 150 Years of Modern Art by Will Gompertz.

The author is a former board director of the Tate Gallery in London, and now a commentator for the BBC.

I find his take on art refreshing, not stuffy and pretentious like many art history books I’ve read.  The author is a little geeky (not that there’s anything wrong with that!) and academic, but his tone is friendly and he seems to revel in showing us all the hidden nooks and crannies of the modern art world.

There is a plethora of art, artists, and the stories behind them crammed into this novel.  I would hate to be a student forced to remember it all.  But I’m not, and therefore can let it all run through my brain, grasping at interesting bits and pieces.  (Which are abundant!)

What I have been enjoying the most is how he ties everything together.  He gives brief historical references and reveals how the artists are interconnected; what the artwork meant to that moment in time and how it is still relevant today.

My copy also has full-color plates of some of the art mentioned throughout the book.  I’m glad I decided not to buy it on my Kindle!

Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel

Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel

Lastly, I’ve enjoyed sinking my teeth into the historical novel, Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel.  It feeds into my obsession with the English and, in particular, the fascinating King Henry the VIII!  (Are you like me?  Have you streamed the BBC miniseries, The Tudors?  Love.)

This is one of the most well-written books I’ve read in a rather long time.  I feel as if the author is weaving a tapestry as she writes.  The characters slowly begin to emerge with each scene, in rich threads of dialogue, innuendos, and description.  Yet, the author is very cunning and only bestows enough to leave one wanting more.

That, coupled with the fact I know some of the history behind the characters and their eventual demise (i.e.: when King Henry falls madly in love with Anne Boleyn, I know it won’t end well!) makes this a page-turner!

That this novel is written from the point of view of Thomas Cromwell makes it even more fascinating.  Thomas Cromwell, you may recall, became one of Henry VIII’s closest confidants and a devious conniver of the royal court.  He started off as the son of a blacksmith, so his journey to prosperity is quite captivating; and Hilary Mantel’s portrayal of his developing talents and skills to become so powerful is masterful!

Ahh, how I love to read!  Yet often I only manage to squeak in a few pages at the end of the day.  I need a book club where everyone gets to read what they want, dishes out recommendations, and keeps each other accountable.  (i.e.: makes sure we are all reading!)  Would you like to join it?

What are you reading and what is your favorite book from the past 6 months?  (and what is it about?)  I’d love to hear your book recommendations and add them to my list.  Perhaps I can prevent my next book slump from happening!

Have an Engaging Week!

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