I’ve read (or read enough of) four of the sixty to make decisions. The stacks don’t look any smaller…

The Year of Reading Proust, Phyllis Rose
There are books I read in college because I had to, because they were required for some course or another. Others I read because they were recommended, by respected professors or beloved friends. Still others seemed appropriate for my course of study. And there were a few that I picked up because I felt foolish being unable to converse on certain subjects. The Year of Reading Proust was one of the latter.

Thankfully, I dropped academia and left the pretensions thereof behind. I’m pissed as hell to have wasted an hour reading the first few chapters of this self-important collection of navel-gazing, searching for a valuable comment or two.

Life’s too short to read lousy books—this one gets packed for Ursula.

Girl With a Pearl Earring, Tracy Chevalier
Stunning.

The premise may be a little precious; I know nothing about art of the period and less about Vermeer, so I’m not sure how authentic Chevalier’s take on the history really is. BUT. The story she does tell is marvelous. More important than the action or the characters revealing and being revealed by it, there is a haunting quality to the tone of her prose. The same degree of loneliness and longing that underscores Chinua Achebe’s essays on Exile, Monique Truong’s The Book of Salt, and some of Mary Oliver’s best poems, clings to the language of Girl With a Pearl Earring — the yearning, hope, resignation and unmistakable otherness of an exile.

This one goes back on the shelf of keepers.

Plainsong, Kent Haruf
It turns out I’ve read this before and have no recollection of doing so—clearly it was memorable enough to be adored. It’s now packed in a “give away” box.

Oh My Stars, Lorna Landvik
A lovely read, but not one I’ll need again. Passing this one along to my sister.

Score, for those of use keeping track:
Keep: 1
Give: 3

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