Printer’s Row Lit Fest and Summer Reading

Last weekend I got to experience the Printer’s Row Lit Fest here in Chicago. It is the biggest book fair in the midwest. I signed up to volunteer, although I did more shopping than volunteering! It really was a great festival with more books than I could have imagined. There were all sorts of author events, readings, and music. I was just a “greeter” this year, which wasn’t a very demanding job, but next year maybe I’ll take on a more active role.

I bought a handful of used books while there including:

  • Amy and Isabelle by Elizabeth Strout
  • A Long Way Down by Nick Hornby
  • Personal Injuries by Scott Turow
  • Love Walked In by Maria de Santos
  • Back When We Were Grownups by Anne Tyler
  • Empire Falls by Richard Russo

I’m really looking forward to diving into some of these this week. I’m going on a cruise with my entire family, 18 of us. It will be busy and we will be doing lots of the excursions, but hopefully there will also be some time for some quality reading, preferably by the pool! There is also a beautiful two story library on board that I’m looking forward to checking out!

I’ve been reading a decent amount since school ended, but I really want to make it a goal to read at least a book a week this summer, but hopefully more. I have so many books sitting on my shelf just waiting to be read. In addition to the ones listed above, I also have Old Filth by Jane Gardam, The Stormchasers by Jenna Blum, To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee, The Double Bind by Chris Bohjalian, Innocent by Scott Turow, The Sugar Queen by Sarah Addison Allen, and Columbine by David Cullen. Not to mention I still have to buy and read The Girl Who Kicked The Hornet’s Nest by Stieg Larsson. There have just been too many good book sales lately!

Ah, so much reading to do, so little time. I probably won’t update for over a week since I’ll be cruising, but I hope to have many reviews to write when I return home!

Olive Kitteridge

Book: Olive Kitteridge

Author: Elizabeth Strout

Short Summary:
Olive Kitteridge book coverThis is a book of 13 short stories taking place in the small coastal town of Crosby Maine. Although each chapter is its own story, there are reoccurring characters that we meet that weave these stories into a novel. The one thread that holds the entire story together is the retired school teacher, Olive Kitteridge. Although she is only briefly mentioned in a few of the stories, we get to know her, her family, and her world through the pages of the book. The story is told in a linear manner, showing the aging and growth of the characters through the years.

My thoughts:
This was one of the best books I read this year. Even the characters we meet only briefly are extremely well developed and real. Olive, the main character, made such a great point to revolve this book around. I didn’t always love her character, in fact sometimes I wanted to flat out yell at her, but this just contributed to making the book that much more real to me. I found her most endearing moments to be when she was interacting with teenagers or former students. Since she was a retired school teacher, although often a feared one, this appeared to be the population she somehow connected with the best. She could be harsh, but beneath the rough exterior, I do believe Olive had a good heart. One theme I found throughout the book was the power of living. Life in this small town could be very difficult for the characters we meet, but each character still clung to life with all they had. This book makes for a great book club discussion and I would highly recommend it.

My Rating: 4.5 stars

Books I Read in 2009

As I browse through other book blogs, I am amazed at how many books some bloggers read in a year. I am finishing 2009 having read a mere 18 books, but it’s quality over quantity, right? I don’t know what my exact goal for 2010 is yet, but it’s definitely more than 18. Now that I have completed my master’s work, which involved a lot of boring text book and article reading, this should be a much easier task. Here is my 2009 list:

1. Marley and Me by John Grogan
2. American Wife by Curtis Sittenfeld
3. The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
4. Still Alice by Lisa Genova
5. In The Woods by Tana French
6. Under The Banner of Heaven by Jon Krakauer
7. The Likeness by Tana French
8. The Hour I First Believed by Wally Lamb
9. We Need To Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver
10. The King of Torts by John Grisham
11. Exile by Richard North Patterson (audio)
12. Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout
13. The 19th Wife by David Ebershoff
14. 4th of July by James Patterson
15. The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery
16. The Truth About Forever by Sara Dessen
17. Eclipse by Richard North Patterson (audio)
18. Testimony by Anita Shreve

There were some really great books in this bunch, but my top three would be Olive Kitteridge, The Hour I First Believed, and We Need To Talk About Kevin.

I hope to write a brief review of these three books soon!