Geek Love By Katherine Dunn Vintage, $13.95/paperback Perfect for: Escaping the daily doldrums.
This book, not for the faint of heart, both terrifies and
delights. Art and Lily, the owners of a traveling carnival,
decide to breed their own freak show by creating
genetically altered children through the use of
experimental drugs. By blending her knowledge of
journalism, poetry and fiction, Katherine Dunn explores
the dynamic of family, sacrifice and choice. Once
ushered into this bizarre, yet believable world, you'll
never want to leave.
Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch
of the West Gregory Maguire Harper, $16/paperback Perfect for: Rainy days.
In this clever, imaginative tale, author Gregory Maguire
turns our vision of the Land of Oz on its head. In this
land before Dorothy, the Wicked Witch of the West is
shown as you've never seen her intelligent, sensual
and misunderstood. A raw satire of political and social
behavior, this book works to defy our thoughts on the
nature of good and evil.
Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas: A Savage
Journey to the Heart of the American Dream Hunter S. Thompson Vintage, $12.95/paperback Perfect for: A vicarious drug trip.
Hunter S. Thompson, the creator of Gonzo journalism,
gained widespread popularity in this tale of a writing
assignment gone very wrong. Thompson explores the
denouement of the '60s counterculture movement while
he and his attorney induce themselves into a drug frenzy
that would put Keith Richards to shame. After you read
the book, rent the movie to see Johnny Depp's amazing
depiction of Thompson.
The Lovely Bones Alice Sebold Back Bay Books, $13.95/paperback Perfect for: Lazy Sundays.
When we meet Susie Salmon, Lovely Bones' lead
character, she's already in heaven. Susie, a 14-year-old
victim of rape and murder, watches helplessly as her
death takes its toll on the family she left behind. Author
Alice Sebold's first attempt at fiction writing invokes a
myriad of emotions, and her version of heaven with
entrance counselors and swings is enchanting.
Hell's Bottom, Colorado Laura Pritchett Milkweed Editions, $14.95/paperback Perfect for: A camping trip.
I had the great pleasure of meeting local writer Laura
Pritchett earlier this year. Pritchett, who is as accessible
on paper as she is in person, makes a point of focusing
on the idea of place in her writing. In this collection of
interwoven short stories, that place is a ranch in
Colorado where Pritchett blends her knowledge of farm
activities with carefully chosen words and loving
character development. It's a must-read for any nature-
loving Colorado native.
The Things They Carried Tim O'Brien Broadway, $14.95/paperback Perfect for: Study breaks.
This combination of a memoir and short stories profiles
the hardships of an American platoon in the Vietnam
War. The stories within are loosely based on author Tim
O'Brien's own military tour in Vietnam, and focus on the
dichotomy of war and the men who fought it, blurring
the lines between truth and reality. In The Things
They Carried, a 1990 Pulitzer Prize finalist, O'Brien
created a masterpiece.
The Time Traveler's Wife Audrey Niffenegger Harvest Books, $14/paperback Perfect for: A plane ride.
Being that Niffenegger's book is a love story more than a
fantasy, The Time Traveler's Wife is usually the
type of chick-lit that I refuse to read. Thankfully, though,
I stepped out of my comfort zone on this one and soon
fell under first-time author Audrey Niffenegger's spell.
Never mind that time travel is realistically impossible;
this story of Henry and Clare is about the patience of
love and its ability to transcend all barriers including,
Ella Minnow Pea: A Progressively Lipogrammatic
Epistolary Fable Mark Dunn MacAdam/Cage, $22/hardcover Perfect for: Semester breaks.
Long ago, the fictional people of the fictional city of
Nollop erected a monument to Nevin Nollop, the fictional
author of a real sentence carrying all the letters of the
alphabet. That sentence: "The quick brown fox jumps
over the lazy dog." So when the tiles that bear each letter
begin to fall from his statue, the city's High Council,
convinced that what's happening is a direct message
from Nollop himself, promptly bans each falling letter
from being spoken or written. And as the letters drop
from the statue, author Mark Dunn also removes them
from his novel. The result is ingenious mastery of the
As a student, reading is mandatory. But, as we all know, textbooks and literary classics can turn boring and stuffy. For those days when you feel like curling up with a good book, check out these thought-provoking, but easy, reads: