Books

Lily’s Literature #7


This batch of books took me a while to read. They were very descriptive and I always want to make sure that I don’t miss anything when I’m reading. There’s nothing worse than the feeling of forgetting what happened in a story or forgetting the book entirely. I’m not a re-reader so I want to make sure I have a full grasp and then be done with it. I’m making it sound like reading is painful and I just want it to be over with. Not so. I just don’t want to re-read stories because I want to read new ones! Plus, ain’t nobody got time fo dat.

The first book I read since my last literature post was The Red Tent by Anita Diamant. If you’re into learning more about women in the bible, this is your book. Diamant weaves the tales and lineage of those mentioned in Genesis 34 and by doing so, brings life to that biblical chapter. It was really amazing to get a different perspective on what happened to Abraham and Issac and his children after that. I have no idea how Diamant did her research, and some of it is “historical fiction”, but she really takes the audience into the ancient Middle East and Egypt.The-Red-Tent

The story’s narrator is Dinah (pronounced Dee-nah…like from Jersey Shore!) who is the youngest child and only girl born of her mother Leah. Dinah’s family is big and has many members (about 14 kids) all raised by her father and his 4 wives who all happen to be sisters. FUN TIMES. So Dinah is raised by her mother and aunts and is welcomed into their red tent at a young age simply because she is the only girl. The red tent is where women would go to “be in their moon” or menstruate in the company of other women away from men. It is there that Dinah hears the gossip and stories from her mother and aunts and learned to become the strong woman that she was. The book follows Dinah through her entire life of hardship and struggles but she finds happiness in the end which is comforting.

After that I picked up Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim by David Sedaris. At the beginning of the year I read Sedaris’ Naked and really enjoyed it. This one was good and very similar but I think I enjoyed it less than the other one. It’s just my personal preference I guess. Don’t get me wrong though, some stories in this one were great and made me laugh out loud (which is rare). But overall I thought the stories in Naked struck a chord with me more. Corduroy and Denim just didn’t seem as succinct. I guess it’s not fair for me to compare both of them. If I’m just looking at this one on it’s own then yes, it’s a good book.DressYourFamily_hires

What makes David Sedaris’ snippets from his life enjoyable is his wit. And his family. I especially like whenever he talks about growing up with his 4 sisters and brother in rural North Carolina. It brings me a lot of joy. Especially when he sprinkles his stories with lines from his abusive mother, it becomes extra comical. He also talks about growing up gay and how no one knew, yet everyone knew.

Some of the stories that he includes don’t captivate me that much, but that also happened in Naked as well. I guess that’s something that I like about his books. It’s very real. Not every story that someone tells is going to appeal to everyone in their audience. But most of his tales have an endearing quality to them. In fact, a movie is being made from some of his stories in Naked. It’s called C.O.G. And if any of you say that I need to read Me Talk Pretty One Day, I already know.Β 

And the book that I most recently finished was The Birth of Venus by Sarah Dunant. Β This one is also a historical fiction novel that my mom picked out for me. I feel like I know a lot about early European history and ancient history, but I know almost nothing about the Italian Renaissance era. And that’s when this book takes place. Because I was unfamiliar with a lot of the names of key political players of the time, I had to pay extra attention. But besides that, it’s pretty easy to follow.

Nothing I hate more than when illustrators put a women on the cover who looks nothing like the character in the book. Have you ever seen any blonde Italian women?

Nothing I hate more than when illustrators put a woman on the cover who looks nothing like the character in the book. Have you ever seen any blonde Italian women?

The story is of a privileged fourteen year old girl named Alessandra Cecchi. She is a strong headed teenager who is more interested in the arts and literature than getting married or learning to dance. Because of the approaching French armies, Alessandra will be forced to join a convent and leave Florence or get married because it’s dangerous for single women to be around during such times. Alessandra’s brother arranges a marriage for her and the secrets begin to unravel.

I can’t really say any more than that because it will ruin some of the juiciness of the story. I liked this book but I thought Dunant could’ve expanded on some parts of the story line. There’s a whole murder aspect that nothing really comes of. But otherwise it was good–and you learn a lot about Florence and how unruly the townspeople become when they blindly follow leaders in their church.

Have you read any good books lately?

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24 thoughts on “Lily’s Literature #7

  1. You read a ton. I couldn’t finish the Red Tent, it was grueling for me. Love me some Sedaris, did we talk about that at dinner? I have all the books you mentioned does Corduroy and Denim have the story where the Sedaris kids made their little sister lie in the road when their mom wouldn’t let them in the house during a snow day? one of my faves. I will find the Venus book.

    Thanks for this. I have been pining, as you know!

    • LOL Maggie. You flatter me. I felt like a celeb at dinner when you asked when I would do another one of these posts. So funny.

      The Red Tent was grueling in what way? Like, too emotionally draining? Or just too intense of a read?

      I don’t think we talked about Sedaris over dinner! But I’m glad we have mutual love for him. YES that story is in Corduroy an Denim and that was probably one of my faves in the entire book.

      The Birth of Venus is okayyy but she has a few other titles that are supposed to be good too. But yeah give this one a try.

      So glad I have a fan in you Mags.

  2. I started “Gargoyle” recently and am enjoying it so far. It’s utterly fascinating the detailed way the narrator describes being terrible burned on over 50% of his body. I’ve never read such an emotional account of something medical. I’m not super far into it yet though, so I don’t have much further to say!

    The Red Tent has been on my list (I’m a sucker for religious fiction). Guess I’ll have to bump it up a couple spots πŸ˜‰

    • “Gargoyle” gets some good reviews on goodreads. I’ll have to check it out. I love descriptive stuff where you can almost see it. So crazy good.

      Yeah I think you would like The Red Tent. At first there are so many family members to keep track of, but it’s kind of awesome. And then you feel like a bible pro afterwards. And it’s especially cool because I feel like its rare to know a lot about women of the bible.

      • Excellent! Women & Religion was one of my favorite classes in college πŸ™‚

        Let me know what you think of Gargoyle if you end up checking it out!

  3. Addie says:

    I love, love, love Sedaris, and, if I were a gay man and he were single, I’d marry him. I remember when I was reading one of his books while sitting outside in a Big Urban City and I was laughing so hard, bored Urbanites stopped to ask what I was reading. I am also not one for re-reading, but, currently, I’m working my way back through Bullfinch’s Mythology and The Age of Napoleon/. I had such a crush on him when I was 12. Napoleon, not Bullfinch.

    PS. Northern Italians are often blonde or red headed–dark hair is found more often in the south and Sicily because of the Moor invasions. It’s the same way in Spain.

    • Hah yeah Sedaris is great. Did you watch that trailer? I think it looks good. I did the worst thing though because I listened to David Sedaris’ voice in an interview and it’s the worst thing ever. It almost ruined everything for me because I can’t stop thinking about how much I hate his voice. UGHHH.

      Love Mythology. I have some mythology books sprinkled around the apt. They just look so impressive. I know most of the big stories but I always forget about the minor characters. Echo and Narcissus are my faves I think. And the judgement of Paris. πŸ˜€
      I know almost nothing about Napoleon other than he was short and French.

      I’ve never seen a blonde or light haired Italian. I guess I’m just more mad that they describe her hair as “black as lava” soooo it just doesn’t make sense. The illustrators should at least read the book!

      • Actually, ole’ Nap was Corsican.

        With that description of ‘black as lava’ hair (who makes up this stuff?), I understand your irritation on the book jacket. Those designers should be made to read the book to get it right!

  4. Continuing with the theme of learning about the role of women in important periods in history, I recently read a book called Spitfire Women of World War II (http://amzn.com/0007235364)

    I’m a bit of a WWII nut but I simply had no idea that there were 166 female pilots who flew Spitfires, Harriers, and massive bomber planes during WWII. They didn’t ever go into combat – they weren’t allowed to – but their jobs were in some ways more dangerous as they weren’t given proper instrument training, didn’t have radios, and would have to fly even when the weather was bad (the fighter pilots didn’t have to do this.)

    These female pilots came from all over the world, including the US, and the prejudice they faced was appalling.

    It’s a non-fiction book, but it’s written in an easy way that at times feels like a story. It was fascinating stuff.

    • That’s so cool. I love hearing about books from people who loved them because they’re so enthusiastic–like you are!
      That’s very interesting about the women who fought. It’s crazy how much women’s history has been erased and forgotten about over the years.
      I’m not crazy about books on war (only because I can’t keep everything straight in my mind—war is complex and confusing!) and I usually find non-fiction books dry, but this one sounds great! Thanks for the recommendation! I will have to check that one out because it will make me feel smart!

  5. I love sedaris, he just did a book tour here which I was scrambling for tickets and failed. Although seeing you said about his voice maybe that’s a good thing. I recommend me talk pretty one day. It has a fair chunk of stories when he lived in France which I liked.

    • That would be cool to see him in person. But yeah the whole voice this just really turned me off. I guess because I imagined it so differently. Me Talk Pretty One Day is on my list so I will definitely read it one of these days. There were some France stories toward the end of this one, but yeah, I’d like to hear more of his time there so that would be perfect! Thanks Joe πŸ™‚

  6. I bought a book back in June. It’s right next to me. Still in the bag I bought it in. It’s only not in my backpack because I needed room for my sound machine in there.

    I remember my mom reading Naked and I thought it was porn.

    • Dude, read your book! Which book did you buy? I always check on goodreads to see what kind of rating the book got before I purchase. There’s nothing worse than buying a book and hating it. Well, maybe murder is worse than that?

      I also thought Naked would be porn-y. It’s mostly about David Sedaris being in a nudist colony for a week or so.

      • No time to read. It sucks too because I always have to stand on the train ride to work and it’s always so crowded there’s no room for a book. The next long trip I take I’ll read it.

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