Books I’ve read lately

I feel guilt in so many ways, it’s rather pathetic that one of my profoundest guilts is that I read so many books and never post about them. This list doesn’t include a host of recent reads, but it is at least a first step!

The Vacationers, by Emma Straub
I started this, fittingly enough, in an airport. It’s an incredibly enjoyable read about a family of New Yorkers (plus friends, lovers, etc.) on a two-week vacation in Mallorca. Settled into the world’s most glorious vacation house, they work out their fates in a setting of primal beauty, their interactions observed with a sharp but compassionate humor that reminded me strongly of Meg Wolitzer. Incredible descriptions of food; this book is almost impossible to read without craving ham.

The Blackthorn Key, by Kevin Sands
A middle-grade novel about alchemy and derring-do set in mid-Seventeenth Century London. I loved how this book convinced me of its time period and setting without creating any distance with the characters or language. It’s full of puzzles and clues, danger, plots, and a very touching friendship. Highly recommended!

A Court of Thorns and Roses, by Sarah J. Maas
Sarah J. Maas is incredibly successful with YA fantasy, and though her books aren’t exactly my cup of tea, she’s hard to put down. I admire her storytelling, though I admit, I have a hard time with books where all the guys are hot, and where the girl somehow performs amazing feats against adversaries who should by all rights crush her immediately. Right there, you can see that I am totally missing the point! Sexy fairies!

Gold Fame Citrus, by Claire Vaye Watkins
Apocalyptic, literary, compelling, and beautifully written (gorgeous, gorgeous), but in the end, hard to warm to. I should have loved it, as it’s all about the desert and water and crazy, damaged people.

Underworld, by Don DeLillo
I don’t know why I picked this up. (Well, I do know, but the reasons are complicated and involve hard-to-articulate dislike for David Foster Wallace. I will stop there.) But it really is amazing. It is big and stuffed, and filled with things that feel like digressions (the Texas Highway Killer! OMG!) but actually are intrinsic, because they all fit together into American life. Before Underworld, I sometimes found DeLillo chilly. But the people in this book feel absolutely human and vital. And the baseball game prologue. That alone. Wow.