My Towering Pile of To-Reads

This is what my “to read” pile looks like at the start of this year. This is just the starting pile and is in front of the bookshelf that I have of books to read in the upcoming year.

So far, I’m reading the two on the top – A Moveable Feast by Hemingway and Last Night at the Lobster by Stewart O’Nan.

Last night at the Lobster is a great little book about the closing of a Red Lobster and the people who work in it. I got it as a gift because it takes place in the area I grew up in and at the mall I used to work at. O’Nan does such a fantastic job of capturing that area and that mall parking lot, in particular, that I felt like I was back there, ready to get out of my car and open the store I used to work at. He begins the book with:

Mall traffic on a gray winter’s day, stalled. Midmorning and the streetlights are still on, weakly. Scattered flakes drift down like ash, but for now, the roads are dry. It’s the holidays – a garbage truck stopped at a light has a big wreath wired to its grille, complete with a red velvet bow. The turning lane waits for the green arrow above to blink on, and a line of salted cars takes a left into the mall entrance, splitting as they sniff for parking spots. . . 

The characters who work at this doomed “Lobster” are sympathetic and real. The mood of the book is somber, but enjoyable and I look forward to reading the rest.

A Moveable Feast is a both geographically and atmospherically a world away from the dirty-snow-packed mall parking lot in O’Nan’s book. Every time I pick it up, I’m transported to Hemingway’s Paris, quaint cafes, and Gertrude Stein’s apartment crammed with artwork. The worlds of these two books couldn’t be more different, but they are both filled with engaging characters and wisdom on being human, whether working a shitty mall job or writing in Paris.

After I finish these two, I intend to change worlds again, this time traveling to the ’70s landscape of teen hookers and trashed out pimps in the long lost Steffie Can’t Come out to Play.

 

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