What I Read This Week: -7/12 – 7/18/12

18 Jul

Before I get into our regularly scheduled program, I just want to welcome everyone who found me through Freshly Pressed. Being featured is such an unexpected honor, and I’m blown away by the number of new visitors, comments and views I’ve been receiving. And best of all, I’m getting so many fantastic non-fiction recommendations! I can’t wait to add some of them to the never ending to be read pile. Thanks again for stopping by, and I hope you stick around for a while! 


The marathon reading has begun! As I’m packing up my moving boxes, I’m reading as many books as possible so I can give them to friends instead of trying to stuff them all into my tiny car. Yes, it’s sad to leave  them behind, but I’m trying to view this as a chance to simplify my life. You know, get all zen. Right.

Anyway, I managed to get through three books this week.

The 19th Wife by David Ebershoff

Things I like include historical fiction, murder mysteries, dogs in literature, and fiction about polygamists. This novel hits all those points! Woo!

This novel follows two equally compelling plotlines. In one, a young man who had been cast out of a fundamental Mormon sect returns to his hometown, as his mother has just been accused of murdering her husband. He finds himself having to navigate the terrifyingly insular and protective society in order to figure out what really happened to his father.

The second plot centers around Ann Eliza Young, Brigham Young’s 19th wife, and her mission to end polygamy. I had no idea before reading this novel, but Ann Eliza was a real woman, who filed for a divorce from Young in the 1870’s and then took to the stage to tell her story around the USA, finally testifying in front of Congress.

I picked this book up on a whim, since it only cost $1 at a used book store, and I’m so glad I did. Fun, breezy read, while still being somewhat informative!

The Elementals by Francesca Lia Block

Francesca Lia Block’s Weetzie Bat books are kind of legendary in the YA world…and I haven’t read any of them. So, The Elementals was my first introduction to her writing, and I was left a little disappointed. I just read The Secret History recently, and this book is EXTREMELY similar to that one. A girl is mysteriously murdered when she’s visiting a college. Ariel, the disappeared girl’s best friend, goes to the college a couple years later and tries to figure out what happened. While she’s there, she falls in with a group of mysterious, artsy, bohemian graduate students. Nothing is as it seems. Yep. Definitely The Secret History territory, and, unfortunately, The Secret History does it better.

That being said, it isn’t all bad. Ariel is sympathetic, and there are some beautifully written descriptions throughout. I think the book particularly does well when it’s describing her relationships with her parents, rather than her life at college. As someone who is only five years out of college AND works at a large public university, the descriptions of college life rang false to me. The conversations between Ariel and her parents’, though, were sadly real.

Lastly, authors of the world, please stop referring to genitalia as “his/her sex”. No one says that. It’s weird and gross and old-fashioned, not sexy. Stop it. Thank you.

The Salmon Carol Ann Duffy: Selected Poems by Carol Ann Duffy

Poetry is a huge blind spot in my English literature education. In college, any time I got the choice, I took a novel course instead of a poetry course. I like poetry, but it just has never captured me the same way novels do. I tried to fix this a bit by reading some Carol Ann Duffy, who I was introduced to in a big English lit survey course years ago. I highly recommend her to the “I don’t do poetry” type people out there (I certainly include myself in this group). Her poetry is relatable and very easy to read.

Here’s a sample: “Valentine”


What’s everyone reading out there? Anything good?


8 Responses to “What I Read This Week: -7/12 – 7/18/12”

  1. Cassie July 18, 2012 at 11:47 am #

    I’ve never read any of these books, but I love each of these authors for other books they’ve written. I’m really interested to read The 19th Wife, I had no idea his 19th wife was on a mission to end Polygamy and got a divorce in 1870! GOOD FOR HER. This sounds like a great fictional retelling. If you haven’t read Under the Banner of Heaven by Jon Krakuer – you should, it’s a nonfiction story about a polygamous family.

  2. The Hook July 18, 2012 at 12:08 pm #

    More great choices!

  3. PotterPhilosophy July 18, 2012 at 1:30 pm #

    I love your blog! I just discovered non-fiction and I love all your recommendations! I just read the most amazing memoir by a local author her in Eugene Oregon. His name is Peter Hoffmeister and he wrote this wonderful book called The End of Boys. I absolutely devoured it. You should put it on your list of books to read! Enjoy! Keep the recommendations up!

  4. inked2ways July 18, 2012 at 1:33 pm #

    I love that you keep your notes short. So many bloggers want to re-tell the whole book, which half the time negates my need to read it at all! So, thanks!

    • ohdizzle July 20, 2012 at 10:06 am #

      Thank you! I can chalk that up to…well, laziness. 😉

  5. Laura July 18, 2012 at 1:52 pm #

    “In college, any time I got the choice, I took a novel course instead of a poetry course.” Snap! Only I went so far as to do a joint honours degree in English AND Philosophy so I could pretty much guarantee I wouldn’t have to read any poetry, and it totally worked! I think all I read was The Rime of the Ancient Mariner (and I’d studied that twice before so it was fiiiine 🙂 ). Oh, and Walt Whitman and Emily Dickinson, but come on, they’re pretty awesome!

  6. constantquantum July 19, 2012 at 9:19 am #

    Wish I could still read two or three novels a week! My eyes gave out a few years back (I blame Neal Stephenson’s Cryptanomicon). Enjoyed your posts, particularly the lists and short reviews of non-fiction. Have to say it makes me kind of sad that so many people (even English majors) avoid poetry. I love poetry…. well certain types. The best poems are like the finest of French cuisine: densly layered, explorative, rich and flavourful, broken into courses, small portioned, and meant to savour. Or maybe like a Zen garden: designed for contemplation and multiple encounters, where you make and find patterns in yourself as you read. Either way, it is totally different reading experience. Perhaps that’s what puts people off.

  7. rorypond2020 July 23, 2012 at 10:28 am #

    Just read “The Uninvited Guests” by Sadie Jones – very good, nice blend of genres (comedy of manners and horror to name two) that made an impact.

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