2015 in books, March

March is weird. This past weekend I helped with a neighborhood clean up and it started snowing. The next day was 72 degrees and sunny. Similarly, my reading choices have been all over the place.

  • On This Day in Memphis History by G. Wayne Dowdy
    • I could have listened to Willy Bearden read me this book during the WKNO segments of NPR’s All Things Considered, but I decided to read it. It’s exactly what the title would lead you to believe– a historical blurb about things that happened in Memphis for each day of the year. It’s a good jumping off point for some of the research I’m doing at the museum.
  • The Hero and the Crown by Robin McKinley
    • I forgot how much I enjoy reading fantasy. Nothing makes me vacate the ordinary like a new world with its own vocabulary and operating instructions. Robin McKinley creates a place with cohesive rules that provide structure and move the story forward. Rather than bog you down with the details, she jumps right in and lets the reader do some of the work of figuring out how Damar runs. I loved this story. Major thanks to my LibraryThing Secret Santa for the reminder.
  • Black No More by George Schuyler
    • Harlem Renaissance. 1931. Satire. Biting, unforgiving and funny.
  • Burton Callicott: A Retrospective by Ray Kass and the Brooks Museum of Art
    • This exhibition catalog from the Brooks Museum explains “…Callicott’s artistic development, which has always emphasized specific content, originally drawn from the physical, social and moral ‘backyard’ of contemporary Memphis…” I’m doing research about his early PWAP murals at the Pink Palace, which is what prompted me to read my first art catalog.
  • Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell
    • Fantastically well written love story. Rowell’s descriptions of both main characters’ thoughts and feelings about their relationship rang intrinsically true. The way they over thought every aspect of sitting together or holding hands flew me straight back to my first boyfriend. It was a nice thing to remember. And it was even nicer to realize how far I’ve come.
  • 9 1/2 Narrow: My Life in Shoes by Patricia Morrisroe
    • I read this book for the LibraryThing Early Reviewer program. Patricia Morrisroe tells her personal story by reflecting on the shoes that she wore at certain points in her life. She is at her best when describing the history of particular shoe styles and relating that history to her memories. Some of the chapters work significantly better than others, but it is an overall worthwhile read if you like reading about style.
  • Vampires in the Lemon Grove by Karen Russell
    • I first read Karen Russell a few months ago when my boss loaned me Swamplandia! Much like that novel, this collection of short stories is well conceived and nicely written. The common theme throughout these stories is an element of the fantastical, whether it is vampires attempting to sate their thirst by sucking on lemons or several United States presidents trying to come to terms with their reincarnated horse selves. I especially liked her story that was set on the prairie a few years after the passage of the Homestead Act. The Act itself drove each person’s and phantasmagorical creature’s actions, and the end results are horrifying and thoughtful. All of the stories can stand independently, but it was nice to read them as a collected whole.
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