- What: The Wife
- Who: Meg Wolitzer
- Pages: 219, soft cover
- Genre: Contemporary fiction
- Published: 2003
- The lit: of 5 flames
You’d think it would be hard to find humor in a 50-year relationship coming to a close. Meg Wolitzer makes it look easy though. As someone who is known for having little emotion, I fully appreciate that skill and enjoy seeing it at work. The ability to laugh at a divorce and the messed-up flaws of a relationship that’s become way too comfortable is not only refreshing, but it’s a necessary change in literature. That’s why you need to read The Wife.
Giggles aside, Wolitzer’s 2003 novel further demonstrates an interesting conundrum and one that so many couples are familiar with: Leaving is never easy when being together is all you’ve ever known. She flawlessly presents this internal struggle in a witty drama, which details the unpleasant feelings that can develop after being with someone for half of a century. It’s the perfect combination of humor and reality, and literature could certainly use more of it.
*PSA: No disrespect to Glenn Close because I have not seen the 2017 movie adaptation of The Wife, but do not skip the book for the movie. Writing like this needs to be experienced on its own, away from the dramatics and artistry of the silver screen.*
If you live in New York and have never visited the New York Public Library‘s main branch at Bryant Park, shame on you. If you’re a non-New Yorker, add it to your future bucket list. I don’t need to justify this.
With that said, I could never say no to a literary Halloween party at this gorgeous library. I owe a big thanks to my friend Hilary for inviting me to the most lit party of the year (yes, the puns were used): The Library After Hour’s Halloween Masquerade on Oct. 26.
- What: Fahrenheit 451
- Who: Ray Bradbury
- Pages: 158, soft cover
- Genres: Classic literature and science fiction
- Published: 1953
- The lit: of 5 flames
You know that feeling when one of your favorite singers comes out with an album that you so desperately want to love, but you’re just like … no … ? You keep listening in the hope that it’ll spark some kind of desire, make the head bop just a smidgen to the left, but after five tries, still … no … ? That’s how I felt about Justin Timberlake’s Man of the Woods (I fought with myself over it!), and that same feeling emerged with Fahrenheit 451.
I’ve been immensely disappointed in myself for never reading it in my 26 years. It’s not just a classic, but it says so much about literature and society. I had convinced myself (and the world had convinced me) that I would fall in love with this remarkable book when I finally got around to it.
Until I didn’t fall in love. I fooled myself into thinking my enjoyment would commence once I started understanding it a bit more. The truth is it took far too long to really be “in the know,” and even after that happened, I realized this book did very little for me. Bradbury’s classic sci-fi novel earned an extra flame for its message, but ooh ooh I was not on fire with this one.
My Dear Hamilton was no joke. This beautiful and insightful novel about one of the most influential men in American history — from his wife’s perspective — ranks in the top three of books I’ve read this year, mainly because of the emotions it dug out of me.
“I actually think my body and mind morphed into Eliza Hamilton’s,” I wrote in my review.
Such an impactful book had me dying to know the authors who brought this creation to life. Thankfully Stephanie Dray and Laura Kamoie provided us with details about their writing process in the back of their book, including all of the research that went into writing this masterpiece. Plus, their love for Fraunces Tavern instilled an instant connection. (Stephanie and Laura, let’s get a drink sometime!)
I was lucky enough to learn more about these inspiring women after exchanging a few emails with Dray. Check out our conversation below.
Courtesy of Stephanie Dray.
- What: My Dear Hamilton
- Who: Stephanie Dray and Laura Kamoie
- Pages: 621, soft cover (637 if you count the must-read “Note from the Authors” section)
- Genre: Historical fiction
- Published: 2018
- The lit: of 5 flames
Remember my post about July 4th reads? It’s time to add one more.
What can I say about this book besides it was a roller coaster of emotions? Oy vey. I actually think my body and mind morphed into Eliza Hamilton’s. At one moment, I was praising Alexander Hamilton as the greatest American who ever lived — oh how we should bow down.
The next, he was the scum of the earth.
Then, he was OK. A typical man. Nobody’s perfect after all.
Then came the existential depression.
And just as Monroe was ushering in the Era of Good Feelings to our country, I was starting to balance out again too.
The capricious emotions this book evoked are nothing new; in fact, they symbolize America’s complicated relationship with Hamilton. We want to love him, but his many faults don’t always make it easy. I’m sure the Mrs. would testify to that.
I’ve been bitten by the travel bug. When I look back on 2018, traveling will best depict this year, and I have absolutely no complaints about that. Since January, I’ve had first-time visits to Italy; Portland, Maine; Sea Bright, N.J.; Boston; Baltimore; and, most recently, Montreal. Gah … #blessed.
Now in Boston, I was much too busy reveling in our win for independence (see: Beth living out a fantasy) to think about bookstores.
I know I know.
But I picked up my own slack in Montreal by visiting three lovely bookstores that had their own flair and charm and, of course, books on books on books.
Readers, it’s time to shop ’til you drop: Montreal style.
Many oooh and aaahs to be had at Montreal’s Old Port.
- What: The Forever War
- Who: Joe Haldeman
- Pages: 365, soft cover
- Genres: Science fiction; classic literature
- Published: 1974
- The lit: of 5 flames
I’ve always said sci-fi wasn’t really my “thing.” I don’t gravitate toward it at the library. I don’t look for the best sci-fi lists. I just click with other genres better. Enter the picture: Kyle, my partner of three years (whaaat?) and a huge sci-fi nerd. When we started dating, he was reading a gargantuan from Stephen King about a virus that wipes out the world.
Yeah. Not quite my thing.
But it is Kyle’s. Apocalyptic warfare? Intense technological enhancements? Human-erasing bugs? That’s him. I’ve read exactly one sci-fi novel in our time together (Station Eleven, ). So it was only natural that when I closed the cover on Eleanor Oliphant a few weeks ago while sitting next to BF that he suggested I read one of his favorite sci-fi novels: The Forever War. I relented, but he reminded me how I always say I’m going to read one of his books and don’t (truth) and convinced me that the story’s undertones of the Vietnam War, in which the author served, would captivate me.
Ugh he knows me so well.
Fine. For BF, I will read sci-fi. The things you do for love.
Amid Kyle’s massive sci-fi collection.