Friday, January 11, 2013

New Year, New 30 Day Book Challenge, Day 9

Day 9: What book did we surprise ourselves by loving?


I am sure that there were many books that I liked more than I thought I would. In my former job I was often assigned books to read and sometimes lacked enthusiasm for books I thought “weren’t my thing.”  Three or four books come to mind right away: Welcome to Utopia by Karen Valby (I thought small town America, who cares?), Imperial Life in the Emerald City by Rajib Chandrasekaran. I thought it was going to be dry and difficult to get through. Very, very wrong.

Ah, I had no intention (and actually very little desire) to read American Wife by Curtis Sittenfeld. I was in fact told by my manager at RH that I had to read it due to the fact it was loosely based on Laura Bush and unless I planned on moving my ass out of Texas, the book was a priority for me. Ok, so that is embellished, she just told me to read it.  So I fact, I read it in one sitting. It had just enough literary chops and gossip to pique my interest. 

The book that took me by the most surprise though, was Patti Smith’s absolutely amazing memoir, Just Kids.  I know, ridiculous, but the thing is, I really don’t care for her music and I didn’t think the book would be of any interest to me.  I picked it up on the way home from my dear friend’s funeral, read the first few pages and had to put it down.  It took me about two weeks to finish because of the timing, but it became an instant favorite, and I cannot wait for her next book. 


I'm struggling a bit with this topic.  I do have to read a bunch of books that assigned for work, and sometimes these books surprise me because I love them more than I expected. Netherland by Joseph O'Neill, for example, was much better than I'd anticipated for a post-9/11 novel about cricket, written by a guy I'd never heard of before. I hope that I'm pretty neutral about books before opening them (except for Twilight).

One book that definitely surprised me was Look at Me by Jennifer Egan. I'd never heard of Jennifer Egan before this book was nominated for the National Book Award. If I recall, it was a year with several nominees I didn't know, and I confess that for some reason I was confusing Egan with Susan Isaacs (the woman who wrote Shining Through). Don't ask me; my brain does odd things sometimes. I just looked it up, and the 2001 NBA nominees introduced me to Dan Chaon and Susan Straight too; the other finalist was Louise Erdrich, and the winner was Jonathan Franzen for The Corrections. Anyway, I couldn't imagine how the author of a book that was turned into a movie starring Melanie Griffith could be an NBA finalist (because, as I said, I thought she was Susan Isaacs).  I really went in thinking that Look at Me would be the biggest travesty in awards nominating history.

I'm an idiot sometimes. Look at Me remains one of my favorite books, and Jennifer Egan is one of my favorite authors (and now a Pulitzer Prize winner). I love this book so much that I'm willing to guarantee that you'll like it too. If you hate it, tell us, and Gianna will bake you cookies as an apology for my confidence. [Gianna will not bake you cookies.]

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