Guide Books, Literature, and Trashy Novels
I want a place to keep track of what we’re reading during this year long adventure. George will mostly be responsible for the literature side of things, and I will make sure trashy novels get fair representation. I also want to provide you with places to leave recommendations for us, so please feel free to comment.
- Eva Luna by Isabelle Allende. This novel, set somewhere in South America, is magical and imaginative. It was in the apartment, so I picked it up and brought it into the bath with me (being very careful to keep it dry) and finished it in a few days time. Although it wasn’t about Italy, it felt very exotic and culturally different.
- Mirror, Mirror by Gregory Maguire. This retelling of the Snow White story by the same author who gave us “Wicked” is set in Tuscany during the time of the Borgia papacy. It was recommended by my friend, Jed. I got half way through it before we left and am now looking for a used copy here in Florence so I can finish it.
- Juliet by Anne Fortier. This is a re-imagining of the Romeo and Juliet story set in Siena. It turns out that this is truly historical fiction – the original Romeo and Juliet story actually came from the town of Siena before it reached Shakespeare. The novel intertwines two stories: one of Julie from Virginia whose mother left her a key to a safe deposit box in Siena that will perhaps contain a treasure of some sort; and the other a tale of two lovers, Romeo and Giulietta, set in Siena in 1340. It is a grand adventure in both the past and the present. Every time I see Shakespeare’s play, I secretly hope it will all turn out differently this time. This book was a wonderful catharsis for me – a salve for my romantic soul.
- Playing for Pizza. George read this book on the plane on the way over here. It’s about a football player who gets kicked out of the NFL and reassigned to the football league in Italy. He’ll have to fill you in on the rest.
- The Creation of Eve by Lynn Cullen. Historical novel about a woman artist in the renaissance. She is a former student of Michaelangelo and now serving in the Spanish court as “drawing teacher” to the queen. I hoped it would go somewhere with the female artist aspect, but it seemed to kind of fizzle out. Too much description of too little plot, for my taste.
- Storm of Swords by George R.R. Martin. This is the third book in the Song of Ice and Fire series. I really should be reading other books right now, but this one is captivating and provides me with plenty of plot twists and turns.
- Feast for Crows also by George R.R. Martin. Now that I’ve finished these two I really should turn to something else, but I really want to read the next one in this series to find out what is happening to the other characters.
- George has read two Donna Leon novels featuring the character Inspector Brunetti and set in Venice.
- A Dance with Dragons, 5th in the George R.R. Martin “Song of Ice and Fire” series. This is the last one he’s published, so I’m out for now. Enjoyed it. Looking forward to more.
- The Sky Hears Me and the Hills Don’t Mind. A young adult novel recommended to me by my friend, Katie. I liked it, but didn’t love it.
- No Country for Old Men. Excellent writing. Glad I didn’t see the movie because the violence would have been too much for me.
- Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman. Fantasy story about a whole world below London where magical and crazy things happen. Great fun.
- La Divina Commedia. Dante’s masterpiece about hell, purgatory, and heaven. George is reading this, since he is in charge of serious literature. He seems to be loving it.
- Under the Banner of Heaven by John Krakauer. I don’t often read non-fiction, but I loved this book about Mormonism and its sometimes violent past (and present). Some of the descriptions of the belief systems and practices of the Fundamentalist LDS church were harrowing. These are the groups that believe in plural marriage, and the men take wives as early as age 13 (usually men in their 40s or older.) I also appreciated learning the history of Joseph Smith and the early church. It has been pretty wild and crazy from the very beginning.
- Christ Stopped at Eboli by Carlo Levi. George is reading this book about life in Southern Italy in the 1930s. Levi is a gifted writer. His descriptions of the poverty in this region prompted governmental intervention to raise the standard of living (at least in some cases.) I would like to finish this book sometime soon.
- Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishigura. Distopian novel set in modern day England which tells the story of children conceived (more like created) and raised for the sole purpose of donating their vital organs as adults. Excellent book.
- Fifty Shades of Gray and Fifty Shades Darker – I joined the pop culture bandwagon and read these two novels (which I consider to be one story) of sex and learning to relate. I can see what all the fuss was about, although by the end I was skipping the sex scenes because I didn’t feel they needed to be on every other page. Trashy but educational and interesting.
- Several novels by Janet Evanovitch featuring bounty hunter, Stephanie Plum. Pure trashy summer reading.