Rereads

Running Girl and The Major would like to introduce you to some of the books that they like so much that they have read them on more than one occasion.

(TM) Portofino by Frank Shaeffer.  Calvin Becker is a teenaged boy who lives with his whacky, missionary family in Switzerland.  Each year they take a vacation in Portofino on the Italian riviera.  Calvin’s misadventures are so funny that you will be reading through tears of laughter at times.  The octopus story is one of the most humorous things I have ever read.  There are two further books that chronicle Calvin’s attempts to survive his dysfunctional family while trying to land the beautiful Jennifer.

(RG) The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan.  The title refers to a group of four Chinese immigrants who become friends in San Francisco and play mahjong together.  The story is separated into chapters told by three of the women, the fourth has died, and by their four daughters.  The mothers and daughters struggle to understand and accept one another. The Major and I have a special link to this book.  If you know us, you may know what it is.

(TM) Independence Day by Richard Ford.  Frank Bascombe is an exceptional everyman.  This novel is a follow-on to Ford’s earlier work, The Sportswriter, at the conclusion of which Frank submerges his complex life as a consequence of tragic circumstances.  In Independence Day, Frank resurfaces in real estate.  His inner monologue is rich, humorous and one of the most accurate portrayals of the thoughts and circumstances affecting a real person I have encountered in fiction.  This is the middle book of a trilogy.  It achieved both the Pulitzer and Penn-Faulkner prizes.

(RG) Rocket Boys by Homer Hickam, Jr.  This is the first in a series of memoirs by a former NASA engineer, Homer Hickam.  Hickam grew up in Coalwood, WV, a dying mining town.  He followed his interest in amateur rocketry in 1957 while dreaming of becoming a rocket scientist.  Did you know the title of the movie October Sky, based on the book, is an anagram of Rocket Boys?

(TM) Seasons of Sand by Ernst Aebi.  A man seeks to save a village in the Sahara named Araouane.  Seven days from Timbuktu by camel, Arouane is completely isolated from the rest of the world, with the exception of passing desert nomads.  The villagers had never seen, let alone tasted, vegetables. It hadn’t rained in over 30 years, and the water level had sunk to 170 feet below the sand. An ancient class structure kept the locals from progressing socially. Little by little, though, Aebi achieved success — only to lose it all in the end.

(RG) Two-Part Invention by Madeleine L’Engle.    I adore Madeleine L’Engle and was sad when she died in 2007.  I have read and re-read all of her books.  Two-Part Invention is a love story about L’Engle’s 40 year marriage to actor Hugh Franklin.  Her children have disputed their mother’s glowing memories of her relationship with her husband.  L’Engle was an amazing story teller and this account of her life with her husband is no exception.  Her faith guides her through her husband’s cancer and ultimate death at the age of 70.

(TM) Nobody’s Fool by Richard Russo.   Hands down, Russo’s greatest work.  Sully is a lovable screw-up.  Although he may fall asleep in bed with a lit cigarette, he can always be counted on to shovel his landlady’s walk.  In short, he grows on people.  We all have a Sully somewhere in our life.  For my money, this is one of the best-constructed novels ever written.  Paul Newman played Sully in the 1994 movie.  Need I say more?

(RG) Little House series by Laura Ingalls Wilder.  This series is so well loved that it needs no accompanying description.  My maternal grandmother was a librarian who grew up in Kansas.  She bought me the books when I was a young girl.  My mother began reading these to me until I was old enough to take over and finish the books.  This might be my most re-read set of books, as I have revisited them throughout my life.  I am currently reading Laura Ingalls Wilder A Writer’s Life by Pamela Smith Hill.  It is fascinating to see the comparisons between Wilder’s journals, personal correspondence, unpublished autobiographies and her famous series.  Wilder’s daughter, Rose Wilder Lane played a big part in encouraging, guiding and editing her mother’s writing.

(TM) Saturday by Ian McEwan.  Henry Perowne is a talented neurosurgeon.  Spend a fascinating and oh-so-meaningful day in his life of this fictional character.  McEwan is a master storyteller who takes the reader through a complex brain operation to the making of Perowne’s family’s favorite soup to his unintended show-down with London underworld figures.  All the while, we are privileged visitors to Henry’s inner thoughts, strengths and weaknesses.

(RG) Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen.  The cover here says, “A Classic Romance.”  Yes, indeed.  Elizabeth Bennet, Mr. Darcy, Jane Bennet, Lydia Bennet, Wickham, Charlotte and Mr. Collins.

(TM) On The Rez by Ian Frazier.  Renowned New Yorker writer Frazier takes his readers on a first-hand account of his time spent on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota.  The scenery was so well described that I accurately pictured it in my head before I even arrived in South Dakota.  It is obvious that Frazier has great fondness for the characters he introduces.  Yet, he paints them with such honesty that the reader is free to form his or her own opinions.  I was left longing for more time in South Dakota and on the rez.

(RG) She’s Come Undone by Wally Lamb.  The main character, Dolores, is a smart, witty, strong female character.  She is from a dysfunctional family and experiences trauma during adolescence.  This book reads like several books in one.  Each part is thoroughly engaging.  It is surprising to find a young woman’s character so well written by a man.

So tell, what are your favorite rereads?

— Running Girl & The Major

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One response to this post.

  1. Posted by Anna on September 4, 2011 at 2:13 am

    Madam Secretary by Madeleine Albright is one of my absolute favorites! I love how she intertwines world history, the story of the Clinton administration and her personal history together to tell a story. I originally bought this book as a birthday gift for my best friend, snuck a peek before wrapping it, and eventually had to go buy her a new copy. I also sent a copy to my history-loving grandmother.

    Reply

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