What Have I Read Lately – perhaps I should say What Haven’t I Read Lately, as I’ve been reading quite a bit in order to choose JUST the right books for my book groups next season.

Now, because I’m not yet ready to release my book list (I haven’t yet completed it!), I can’t divulge some of the titles of novels I’ve seriously enjoyed recently. Sorry, but you’ll just have to wait, or better yet, sign up for one of my book groups! I can tell you about some books that I won’t be using…not because they aren’t good, but for various other reasons.

Man’s Search for Meaning by Victor E. Frankl. Wow. I am currently reading this non-fiction book about Frankl’s psychological theory, and I am thoroughly captivated. Warning: not an easy read, especially the first part about his experiences in a German concentration camp during WWII. I will WHIRL about this book again when I finish it, so stay tuned.

Summertime by J.M. Coetzee. Hmmm, I really enjoyed this book, but felt a little less than satiated at the end. The structure is unique: Coetzee, the author, writes a fiction about a dead John Coetzee, whose biographer is interviewing five important people from John’s life as research for his book. John’s notebook fragments on his own writing are also included in the fiction. At times I felt like I was in some sort of hall of mirrors…I’m still really digesting this book, figuring out what I think about it, but I wouldn’t mind chewing it over with others in order to extract more from it. Have you read it? What do you make of it?

Tender is the Night by F. Scott Fitzgerald. Again. A masterpiece. As always.

How about YOU? What have YOU read lately?


To jog your memory, WHIRL stands for What Have I Read Lately, and this blog post is my third WHIRL. I’d love to hear from you–why don’t you WHIRL too? So, What Have I Read Lately?

The Brief and Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz. Like Midnight’s Children on speed. Absolutely wonderful. Not for the faint of heart. My book groups have been discussing this, so look for my “wrap up” soon.

A Short History of Women by Kate Walbert. My personal book club is reading this novel this month, and I’m looking forward to the discussion. I found the book a wee bit on the slow side, but I think this was due to my mood more than anything else. I found the writing beautiful, and by the end of the book, I wanted more.

Ask by Sam Lipsyte. I am in the middle of this hilarious and rather exhausting book. I don’t mean to be sexist, but I keep thinking “this is such a guy’s book” as I’m reading it. Shades of Portnoy’s Complaint and Catcher in the Rye and perhaps even Confederacy of Dunces and who-knows-what-all-else all rolled into one. I almost put it down but now find that I can’t!

What about YOU? What Have YOU Read Lately?


W.H.I.R.L. Yes, that’s right. WHIRL. It stands for “What Have I Read Lately”–and I aim to be “whirling” every so often. That is, I’ll be sharing what I’ve read lately with you. And I would LOVE it if you would WHIRL back to me!!!
A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian by Marina Lewycka. Loved it. Funny. Poignant.
Midaq Alley by Naguib Mahfouz. Liked it but not my favorite from him.
The Gift of Rain by Tan Twan Eng. Liked it A LOT. Very atmospheric. Learned some history–disturbing history, I must say. Malaysia in WWII.
The English Patient by Michael Ondaatje. Stunningly beautiful. One of my favorite books.
Too Much Happiness by Alice Munro. Short stories, some masterful, some good but weird. Worth reading, though–Munro always is.
Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout. Short stories by someone whose writing reminded me of Alice Munro. Loved it!
The Story of a Marriage by Andrew Sean Greer. Started out sort of gripping but then became kind of trashy. (If you’re in the mood for trashy, you might like it.)
The White Tiger by Aravind Adiga. Loved it! A page-turner!
Between the Assassinations by Aravind Adiga. Didn’t love it. In fact, put it down half-way through and then returned it to the library unfinished.
The Thief and the Dogs by Naguib Mahfouz. Liked it a lot. Mahfouz is terribly readable, and I always feel as if I am IN Egypt while reading his books.
In the Skin of a Lion by Michael Ondaatje. Didn’t love it, but feel like I have to re-read it at some point to “get” it.
Sieze the Day by Saul Bellow. Liked it. Liked it better when I read it years ago. I don’t know why.
Lord of the Flies by William Golding. Deeply thought-provoking book. A must-read.
The Comfort of Strangers by Ian McEwan. A bizarre and disturbing story from one of my favorite authors.
Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel. Liked it A LOT although the author’s use of “he” for Cromwell became intensely annoying after a short time. This is one long book.
In the Kitchen by Monica Ali. Forced myself to finish it. This book needs an editor–with a large pair of scissors.
The Spare Room by Helen Garner. Very readable and moving. You have to be able to handle a book in which a character is dying from cancer, though.
The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri. Wonderful. What a craftswoman Lahiri is.
Blame by Michelle Huneven. Quite good. Very readable. Thought-provoking for a light to medium-dense read.

Anil’s Ghost by Michael Ondaatje. Gripping. Disturbing. Wonderful.