Looking at the temperature outside (18 degrees) today, I keep thinking of my dad who is in Florida right now enjoying a 70 degree day. I’m tempted to look at Florida real estate, but my husband has an alligator phobia so we will stay in the polar vortex!
A good book is the key to a dark and cold evening – and I’ve read two good ones since the beginning of the year.
Dept. of Speculation by Jenny Offill
An introspective and demanding novel about marriage. Offill’s novel was one of the New York Times Book Review’s 10 Best Books of the Year. I loved it and find myself thinking about it enough that I may want to read it again, but it’s a hard book to describe. Told from the point of view of a married narrator, Dept. of Speculation is like reading someone’s private journal. The short novel is written in short entries – a stream of consciousness by a woman whose marriage is in crisis. There are snippets of information about her daughter and Russian cosmonauts and the demands of an artistic life. I’m not doing the book justice, but it stays with you. The word that best describes Offill’s novels is “real.”
On Immunity: An Inoculation by Eula BSI
Continuing my reading of the Book Review’s 10 Best Books of the Year, I am now reading Biss’s acclaimed book-length essay about vaccines, particularly the growing fear of vaccines for our children. Another hard book to describe – Biss writes about our anxieties and motherhood and science. One of my favorite passages in the book is this one:
“One of the appeals of alternative medicine is that it offers not just an alternative philosophy or an alternative treatment but also an alternative language. If we feel polluted, we are offered a “cleanse.” If we feel inadequate, lacking, we are offered a “supplement.” If we fear toxins, we are offered detoxification.” If we fear that we are rusting with age, physically oxidizing, we are reassured with “antioxidants.” These are metaphors that address our base anxieties. And what the language of alternative medicine understands is that when we feel bad we want something unambiguously good.”
I stopped after reading that – and thought about the labels I read in Whole Foods and how many of them give me a comforting perception that I am lowering my risk of illness and aging and heart problems and…..the list goes on.
My next book is one I’ve been looking forward to since reading Edith Pearlman’s collection of short stories, Binocular Vision, a couple of years ago. Her new collection, Honeydew, was reviewed on the cover of last Sunday’s NYT Book Review. Here’s a link to the glowing review: