Thursday, 28 July 2016

№ 3 late summer reading list

I felt it was time for another reading list, for late summer. I haven't finished the Virginia Woolf books on my last one; I don't read her letters and diary entries in one go. My new list contains two books I wanted to read again, Love in the Time of Cholera, which I had only read in Icelandic, and The Sheltering Sky (earlier this summer I watched Bertolucci's film again and had to re-read the book). I'm loving Patti's memoir, Just Kids. Her writing style is pure joy. This is my late summer list:

· Just Kids by Patti Smith
· Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel García Márquez
· My Life on the Road by Gloria Steinem
· Memoirs of a Dutiful Daughter by Simone de Beauvoir
· The Sheltering Sky by Paul Bowles
· Prayers for the Stolen by Jennifer Clement

I just finished Gloria Steinem's memoir My Life on the Road and, oh my, was I disappointed. I hadn't read any reviews and had the feeling I was about to read a thought-provoking masterpiece, given her calibre and the publicity of this book, a NYT bestseller. Don't get me wrong, her message is very important but the book has large sections of chaotic and surprisingly bad writing. What a shame! I was expecting more from an experienced writer and editor like Steinem. (Something must have gone wrong during the editing. I'm guessing there were too many yes-people involved.) There is no chronological order (fine by me) but such memoirs demand a well-constructed text to help one connect the dots. Sometimes it reads like a memoir, sometimes like an article, and sometimes like a PowerPoint document with a bullet list. It's filled with anecdotes, random moments in her life, that are disorganised. I often wanted to toss it but I think I continued reading in the hope it would get better. For those who have read it, I have to mention the taxi driver chapter: Apart from teaching one the importance of really listening to people, it was pure agony. There are little gems in between, e.g. a beautiful passage about a friend who died of cancer, but I'm sorry to say that I cannot recommend this book. Just watch interviews and lectures with Steinem online if you want to learn about her pivotal role. There are plenty and they will leave you much more inspired.

It is wonderful to be re-reading Gabriel García Márquez, which I'm reading in English for the first time. I'm starting with Love in the Time of Cholera and moving on to One Hundred Years of Solitude. I got the former at the library but I was thinking about buying this beautiful hardback edition of the latter.

And, yes, go Hillary Clinton!


  1. You are my go-to blogger for book recommendations, Lisa!! Have a great day!!

    1. Thank you, Igor, just stay away from Steinem's book ;-) And a great day to you!

  2. You have one of my favorites on your list: The Sheltering Sky.

    I am leisurely working my way through You Can't Go Home Again by Thomas Wolf, and finding it surprisingly relevant to what is happening now.


    1. Thank you for leaving a comment. Unfortunately, they don't have a single book by T.W. at the library in my town. I checked quite recently when looking for 'Look Homeward, Angel', which was on my to-read list. I have added the other title as well ;-)


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