AuthorCharlotte Self

The Power of Adrienne Rich by Hilary Holladay

I wanted to read the biography of the famous poet and feminist because I know so little about this person whose name is so familiar. I am left thinking I learned about her personal life, but do not have a grasp of her influence. Adrienne’s father was determined to make her a successful and well-educated person; she turned her attention to writing poetry and in her third year at Radcliffe...

Two Moons by Jennifer Jones

This has been the most enjoyable book I’ve read in a long time. This is my fourth Jennifer Johnston book, thanks to Reading Matters. The books are quite different from each other and I love them all. One piece of business they have in common is an interesting use of sound. In one book an echo across a lake came up several times, in another Christmas carols broke out from time to time. In...

Our Shadows by Gail Jones

Gail Jones has once again hit on many wonderful moments for me, as she did in three other books of hers that I’ve read. This one is set first in Kalgoorlie, a gold mining area in Western Australia and later in Sydney. It is a busy novel, beginning with the non-fictional Paddy Hannon’s childhood in Ireland, before he spent 30 years prospecting in Australia, culminating in the discovery...

The Lying Life of Adults by Elena Ferrante

Because I loved the Neapolitan quartet by Ferrante, I didn’t hesitate to read this new book of hers. Along with intense and detailed consideration of the thoughts and actions of each party to any interaction between characters, her quartet placed those actions and thoughts in historical and moral context. I was disappointed that I didn’t see much of either framework in this one. But...

She Come By It Natural by Sarah Smarsh

Given her outstanding book about growing up in poverty in Kansas (Heartland), I was happy to listen to Smarsh read her new book about Dolly Parton. Dolly grew up in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee and left after high school to make her way in country music. Her talent as a songwriter, her business acumen, her looks, and her voice have made her a wildly successful and rich entertainer. She has become...

Crazy Brave by Joy Harjo

I listened this memoir by a Native American poet in December because it was mentioned by Laura. I am currently listening again to bring Joy Harjo’s voice back into my head. The first chapter or two is poetic, including part that she sang. She moves into a more conventional story-telling mode and we learn that she was born in Tulsa, her father was Muscogee Creek, and her mother was part...

Favorite Books for 2020

This year I read 54 books, a few more than usual. There were periods when I could not read, finding myself  too irritable and critical, and I gave up on a few books I am sure I would have loved in a different time. I read more non-fiction this year than usual (18) and find to my surprise that nearly half of my favorites are non-fiction books. Disappearing Earth by Julia Phillips. While the first...

The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett

When this book came out, I was moved to read Bennett’s previous book The Mothers and admired it; this one deserves the attention it has received. It is centered on the story of twins who came from a village in Louisiana populated by Black people  with very light skin. They preferred to avoid those with darker skin while they were themselves subject to the oppression of whites. The story...

The End of the Affair by Graham Greene

In 2015 and 2016, I listened to audiobooks of Graham Greene:  Our Man in Havana and The Heart of the Matter. I was enthusiastic about both of them, despite having expectations that the plots of both would make me uncomfortable. What I knew about the plot of this one also made me uncomfortable, and in this case, that feeling remains. In the case of Our Man in Havana I was wary that the humor was...

Books to Read

The Lying Life of Adults by Elena Ferrante. Jack by Marilynne Robinson The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett She come by it Natural by Sarah Smarsh A Promised Land by Barack Obama The End of the Affair by Graham Green. Audiobook by Colin Firth Our Shadows by Gail Jones The Power of Adrienne Rich by Hilary Holladay (an Orange County resident) An Angel in Australia by Tom Keneally. Lisa wrote about it...

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