Reading List: Waiting & Watching the Future

happy thanksgiving to fellow US readers; happy autumn to the world// art by jungho lee

happy thanksgiving to fellow US readers; happy autumn to the world// art by jungho lee 

lately, energy seems to constantly hum under my skin. my fingers can’t stay still, and something whispers go go go! into my ear. i feel like i’ve stayed patient for a lifetime and i’m on the verge of freedom, about to burst into the air and really live. i guess it’s because i’m young and ready to define the vast, unknown future ahead of me. i want to learn new things, meet new people, and explore new cities. here are five books that i think embody this rush of adrenaline and the accompanying promise of limitless possibilities and dreams, this feeling of inevitable change.

WAITING & WATCHING THE FUTURE: A READING LIST

Tell the Wolves I’m Home, Carol Rifka Brunt:

I thought of all the different kinds of love in the world. I could think of ten without even trying. The way parents love their kids, the way you love a puppy or chocolate ice cream or home or your favorite book or your sister. Or your uncle. There’s those kinds of love and then there’s the other kind. The falling kind.

Slouching Towards Bethlehem, Joan Didion:

…quite simply, I was in love with New York. I do not mean “love” in any colloquial way, I mean that I was in love with the city, the way you love the first person who ever touches you and you never love anyone quite that way again. I remember walking across Sixty-second Street one twilight that first spring, or the second spring, they were all alike for a while. I was late to meet someone but I stopped at Lexington Avenue and bought a peach and stood on the corner eating it and knew that I had come out out of the West and reached the mirage.

The Secret History, Donna Tartt:

“What if you’d never seen the sea before? What if the only thing you’d ever seen was a child’s picture – blue crayon, choppy waves? Would you know the real sea if you only knew the picture? Would you be able to recognize the real thing even if you saw it? You don’t know what Dionysus looks like. We’re talking about God here. God is serious business.”

A Little Life, Hanya Yanagihara:

Why wasn’t friendship as good as a relationship? Why wasn’t it even better? It was two people who remained together, day after day, bound not by sex or physical attraction or money or children or property, but only by the shared agreement to keep going, the mutual dedication to a union that could never be codified. Friendship was witnessing another’s slow drip of miseries, and long bouts of boredom, and occasional triumphs. It was feeling honored by the privilege of getting to be present for another person’s most dismal moments, and knowing that you could be dismal around him in return.

Fangirl, Rainbow Rowell:

“How do you not like the Internet? That’s like saying, ‘I don’t like things that are convenient. And easy. I don’t like having access to all of mankind’s recorded discoveries at my fingertips. I don’t like light. And knowledge.’”

Never Let Me Go, Kazuo Ishiguro:

I half closed my eyes and imagined this was the spot where everything I’d ever lost since my childhood had washed up, and I was now standing here in front of it, and if I waited long enough, a tiny figure would appear on the horizon across the field and gradually get larger until I’d see it was Tommy, and he’d wave, and maybe even call.

The Bell Jar, Sylvia Plath:

I saw my life branching out before me like the green fig tree in the story. From the tip of every branch, like a fat purple fig, a wonderful future beckoned and winked. One fig was a husband and a happy home and children, and another fig was a famous poet and another fig was a brilliant professor, and another fig was Ee Gee, the amazing editor, and another fig was Europe and Africa and South America, and another fig was Constantin and Socrates and Attila and a pack of other lovers with queer names and offbeat professions, and another fig was an Olympic lady crew champion, and beyond and above these figs were many more figs I couldn’t quite make out. I saw myself sitting in the crotch of this fig tree, starving to death, just because I couldn’t make up my mind which of the figs I would choose. I wanted each and every one of them, but choosing one meant losing all the rest, and, as I sat there, unable to decide, the figs began to wrinkle and go black, and, one by one, they plopped to the ground at my feet.

happy reading! i hope we all enjoy a few more books before 2016 draws to a close.

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tell the wolves i’m home

 

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seen at wellesley books, summer 2016.

tell the wolves i’m home

author: carol rifka brunt

goodreads summary:

1987. There’s only one person who has ever truly understood fourteen-year-old June Elbus, and that’s her uncle, the renowned painter Finn Weiss. Shy at school and distant from her older sister, June can only be herself in Finn’s company; he is her godfather, confidant, and best friend. So when he dies, far too young, of a mysterious illness her mother can barely speak about, June’s world is turned upside down. But Finn’s death brings a surprise acquaintance into June’s life—someone who will help her to heal, and to question what she thinks she knows about Finn, her family, and even her own heart.

At Finn’s funeral, June notices a strange man lingering just beyond the crowd. A few days later, she receives a package in the mail. Inside is a beautiful teapot she recognizes from Finn’s apartment, and a note from Toby, the stranger, asking for an opportunity to meet. As the two begin to spend time together, June realizes she’s not the only one who misses Finn, and if she can bring herself to trust this unexpected friend, he just might be the one she needs the most.

i don’t know where to start. all i can say is that tell the wolves i’m home is a lovely, lovely book, and the best i have read in a long time. the novel is full of smooth, poetic prose, beautiful and not overdone. i won’t include any excerpts here, but i will tell you that there are many – too many – that are quote-worthy, and that you should read this book. there are vibrant characters and an engrossing story overshadowed by certain realistic issues that can’t be ignored.

i can relate to june. i can relate to her passion for her interests, her loneliness, and what she thinks is “wrong love, embarrassing love.” the characters are so alive. not just june, who matures naturally throughout the book, or toby, finn’s lover. the sister dynamic between june and greta is so real that the tension leading up to their reconciliation punched me in the gut. i loved their relationship, and its ups and downs, the most. and june’s parents are there as well, developed and fleshed out and not cardboard caricatures at all. even ben dellahunt, who takes an interest in june, has his own life and hobbies outside of june’s story. and toby. toby is my favorite character. he’s seemingly ordinary and drab, but is actually amazing in his own quiet way. he has golden hands, and can make all sorts of what he calls his “fiddly-hand things.” i wish there had been more focus on toby and finn’s relationship before finn’s death because they seemed to be so happy and in love – i want to know more. finn seems to come alive, too, through june’s flashbacks and stories told by toby and june’s mother. i loved how finn and june always listened to mozart’s requiem, and how it only added to the beautiful closeness they shared. toby and june first come together and bond over memories of finn, then slowly move on to cherish each other as themselves, and not as extensions of their first love. june’s revelation about her relationship with toby was just another stab to the heart, along with everything else that happens in this book. there are so many fine details here, mixed with emotions and truths that the characters learn to accept by the end.

it took me a day to read this book, and i was an emotional wreck when i finished. it is now one of my absolute favorites. this review doesn’t do the book any justice (so it will probably be edited over time as i try to properly express my thoughts). please, please read it and tell me what you think.

also, please listen to mozart’s requiem while reading. it fits the atmosphere perfectly.

rating: 5/5 stars.