So many books I’ve wanted to share with you. These will not be full reviews but just a few sentences of rave.
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo –Many of you may have already read this wonder but if not, put it on your list. Murder; mayhem; money; family intrigue; Lisbeth Salander, the kinky funky, irresistible and much-tattooed heroine; and a journalist whose career is temporarily in the loo. Larsson, signed a three-novel contract for what was to be a ten-book series called the Millennium Trilogy in late 2003.
In the saddest irony of all, the author died of a sudden heart attack in late 2004 before the publication of Dragon Tattoo. The next two are now out — reading The Girl Who Played With Fire or The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets’ Nest. Haven’t read them and so have no opinion other than I can’t think of anything sadder for an author than to die before knowing his work entranced millions.
Traveling with Pomegranates: a mother-daughter story — Oh what a lovely book! Sweet, insightful, rich. Sue Monk Kidd and her daughter set out for Greece. Monk Kidd is fifty and taking stock as she is “about to emigrate to a new universe.” Her daughter, Ann, has just graduated college and has her own issues of self to deal with. Both of them are trying to figure out how to relate to one another — as mother and daughter, as adult women, as creative talents.
The daughter’s chapters –those of a young woman just emerging from adolescence — don’t have the resonance of her mothers’ which have the depth of decades of life and reflection. Still, it is satisfying cadence to read back and forth between the two and whether mother or daughter there is deep recognition in each of their experiences.
My son loaned me The Emperor of Scent. I’ve always wanted to be as “nose” one of those people who plays with scents all day long and comes up with perfumes. So when Elliot handed me the book I dove right in. It’s mesmerizing.
Luca Turin, a scientist and Renaissance Man from toddlerhood, is consumed with uncovering the mechanics of our sense of smell. Scientists have long said that smell is shape, in other words molecules of scent embedding themselves in similarly shaped receptors. Along comes Luca who posits, and as far as I’m concerned, proves that scent is vibration. (Have I lost you yet?) Our noses are vibration receptors. The science industry got very angry at this upstart.
It’s way beyond me to explain this meshing of physics, biology and chemistry but taking it slowly it all did make sense. The book reads like a novel. Turin is quite a character and though I’m not done yet it is possible to have a grasp of the science behind it, even if that grasp is evanescent — much like a lovely perfume whose memory stays with you even as its essence fades.
Last one, another science book that read like wildfire — Thomas Hager’s The Alchemy of Air. Had you ever heard of the nitrogen wars? Neither had I. But fought they were, over vast stores of nitrogen-rich guano so necessary for fertilizer. Whoever cornered the market on fertilizer, cornered the market on food production.
Until two scientists (Fritz Haber and Carl Bosch) discovered how to “make bread out of air” by extracting and stabilizing nitrogen from the air. The downside of their discoveries is that the same process that turned air into bread also turned air into the explosives that fueled both world wars. Without Haber and Bosch food production would be stagnant. Without them, Hitler might also have withered on the vine. Is there a more tragic dichotomy?
Update for book lovers — two catalogs you must know about: Bas Bleu — offbeat books for adults and some for children, readers reviews, bookish gifts that I think are a bit pricy but charming.
Chinaberry Books — hands down the best children’s book catalog. Anne Reuthling, the woman who founded the company, is wise and wonderful. The books are enchanting. CD’s are great. Adult books in the back are ones you might not have heard of otherwise. Gifty items, too that nourish body and soul. Companion catalog — Isabella.