Books | News

What Are You Reading?

Smith I thought I'd put this question out there partly for selfish reasons. I finished Patti Smith's Just Kids over the holidays and am looking for my next book. I like switching between fiction and non- but sometimes stick in the same area for a while.

I also thought it might interest folks to hear what their fellow Towleroad readers are reading.

I thought Just Kids was a really fascinating picture of New York City in the late 60's and early 70's and it's really interesting to see NYC places that have undergone change through Smith's eyes. For instance, a loft she and Mapplethorpe lived in over what was once the Oasis Bar on 23rd street is now a nail salon over a place called Jake's Saloon. West 23rd street (along with the Chelsea Hotel) is practically its own character. Smith's memories of Mapplethorpe are also incredibly poignant. It's also a book to be read by anyone who is a struggling artist.

So, what book are you reading, or what have you just finished? Give us a brief summary and let us know if you like(d) it or not.

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  1. What am reading? A Commissario Montalbano story, The Snack Thief by Andrea Camiller. This is just one of a series of detective stories situated in a small Sicilian city. They can only whet ones appetite to visit Sicily.

    Posted by: Gene | Jan 18, 2011 8:28:37 PM

  2. Jennifer Egan's "A Visit from the Goon Squad"

    Paul Murray's "Skippy Dies."

    Tom Rachmann's "The Imperfectionists" (as it involves news writers, I suspect it'd ring very true for you, Andy).

    And I second your recommendation of "Just Kids." An achingly beautiful portrait of friendship.

    Posted by: MrRoboto | Jan 18, 2011 8:28:49 PM

  3. Voltaire's Bastards by John Ralston Saul...reading it for the 3rd time actually.

    It's a complex book but the basic thesis is that "reason" as has been understaood for abt. 500 years has proved to be no more a solution to problems than The Church did in ages prior to...well, Voltaire. It surveys everything from Voltaire to Marie Antoinette to Thomas Jefferson to the Holocaust to Henry Kissenger to Robert McNamara to the Harvard Business School to Walt Disney.

    I don't agree with the entire thesis but I kinda sorta forgot why which is why I'm rereading. It's giving me some insight as to the problems that we are faced with today (the book was written 20 years ago).

    Posted by: Chitown Kev | Jan 18, 2011 8:29:36 PM

  4. I am savoring David Rakoff's new collection of essays "Half Empty." I prefer him to Sedaris any day of the week. Also reading the touching/funny/bizarre book "Overqualified" by Joey Comeau. It's a collection of fake job cover letters.

    Posted by: Dan | Jan 18, 2011 8:30:05 PM

  5. "Nixon and Mao: The week that changed the world" by Margaret Macmillan. Loving it! Great preparation for "Nixon in China" at the Met next month.

    Posted by: John | Jan 18, 2011 8:30:16 PM

  6. I also recently read Patti Smith's book over the holidays and was totally taken in. She is an intelligent and sensitive artist and the book was written from the heart. I put down The Secret Lives of Somerset Maugham by Selina Hastings to read the Patti Smith book and now need to get back to it. He is a fascinating character and the book is very well written.

    Posted by: Roy | Jan 18, 2011 8:34:30 PM

  7. Just finished The Silmarillion, by J.R.R. Tolkien, and about to start The Poison Throne, by Celine Kiernan.

    Posted by: Talisman | Jan 18, 2011 8:37:44 PM

  8. I'm working my way through the Band of Thebes Best of 2010. Currently starting THE SECRET HISTORIAN by Justin Spring. The other one I'm currently reading is MARY ANN IN AUGUST. The latest edition of the TALES OF THE CITY saga by Armistead Maupin.

    Posted by: Donald | Jan 18, 2011 8:38:11 PM

  9. My book club and I just finished reading THE HELP - by: Kathryn Stockett.

    The Help is about a young white woman in the early 1960s in Mississippi who becomes interested in the plight of the black ladies' maids that every family has working for them. She writes their stories about mistreatment, abuse and heartbreaks of working in white families' homes, all just before the Civil Rights revolution.

    It's amazing. AND it's being turned into a movie as we speak, produced by a fabulous (and gay) production team.

    Posted by: Rob | Jan 18, 2011 8:39:31 PM

  10. I just finished "The Hunger Games" last week and expect to finish "Catching Fire," the second book in the series, tonight. They are terrific young adult adventure novels, set in a post-apocalyptic future where the government annually forces 24 children to battle to the death as a means of entertaining their citizens and keeping down rebellions. They move so fast and are incredibly hard to put down - you'll want to read each one in a single gulp, like I mostly have.

    Posted by: Chris | Jan 18, 2011 8:41:58 PM

  11. As a former Mormon, "Under the Banner of Heaven" by Jon Krakauer was incredibly insightful, disturbing, and addictive. It's a f***ed up faith and everyone should read the true story behind it before you let the missionaries in.

    Posted by: Nathan | Jan 18, 2011 8:45:10 PM

  12. If you're looking for an AMAZING non-fiction book, I'm in the middle of The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks. It's RIVETING and one of the most brilliant non-fiction books I've ever read. Stunning.

    Posted by: Matt | Jan 18, 2011 8:45:39 PM


    Posted by: brenda | Jan 18, 2011 8:45:57 PM

  14. Just finished MaryAnn in Autumn by Armistead Maupin. New characters almost as interesting at the old ones, a fun read for fans of the original saga.

    Posted by: MJS | Jan 18, 2011 8:47:22 PM

  15. Four Fish: The Future of the Last Wild Food by Paul Greenberg. It's terrific. Anyone who eats fish should read it. Very interesting.

    Posted by: Scott | Jan 18, 2011 8:48:05 PM

  16. I'm reading Team of Rivals by Doris Kearns Goodwin. It's an account of Abraham Lincoln and his rivals for the Republican nomination for President, and how he later put them in his cabinet and together what they accomplished. It's a great book not just for the history and insight but how in some ways America's struggle to come to terms with slavery and morailty around oppression has resonance today with our struggle for equality. Clearly, it is not the same thing, but the bravery of Lincoln, Seward, Chase et al. is inspiring, even today.

    Posted by: JonS | Jan 18, 2011 8:48:15 PM

  17. I'm finishing up Annie Dillard's 'The Writing Life.' Though it's candid and obtusely beautiful--Dillard circles around and around a subject (like a moth to a flame, one could even say?)--it's not the most inspiring since her beliefs and suggestions can feel defeatist.

    I'm also just starting Robert Fagles' translation of 'The Odyssey', which is so succinct and beautiful it could probably captivate a flat-out hater of reading.

    Posted by: Ethan | Jan 18, 2011 8:51:38 PM

  18. Currently reading: "How I Killed Pluto and Why It Had It Coming," which is completely great, and "The City and The City" which is good but not spectacular.

    Posted by: Michael | Jan 18, 2011 8:52:41 PM

  19. I've been reading a lot of Anne Rice, who has gotten my attention lately for being somewhat of an activist for our community against organized religion. I'd seen all of the movies based on her vampire books, and they of course don't do her books justice... the depth with which she writes blows my mind. I also started reading one of her more recent novels, which is about the childhood of Christ; it pails in comparison to her vampire books, but it is interesting.

    Posted by: JC | Jan 18, 2011 8:53:52 PM

  20. You simply have to read: CITY BOY by Edmund White--along the same lines as Patti Smith--did he know everyone? Also of note: THE CITY OF FALLING ANGELS by John Berendt, a great non-fiction visit of the city of Venice--couldn't put it down. CLOUD ATLAS by David Mitchell--again, every page a surprise!

    Posted by: MAZZAM | Jan 18, 2011 8:57:47 PM

  21. ‎"Playing By the Rules" by Justin Crockett Elzie (Foreword by David Mixner) and "Secret Historian: The Life and Times of Samuel Steward, Professor, Tattoo Artist, and Sexual Renegade" by Justin Spring.

    Posted by: David John Fleck | Jan 18, 2011 8:59:13 PM

  22. Andy you should get a guest-poster to do a monthly LGBT book review!

    Posted by: Paul | Jan 18, 2011 9:01:42 PM

  23. Just finished Kristin Hersh's "Rat Girl". This is a truly unconventional memoir by one of rock's most raw and intelligent deranged women. It is not the name droping poetic beauty of Patti Smith's book (which I also loved), but there is also the gay friend in this book...

    Posted by: encantospeed | Jan 18, 2011 9:02:09 PM

  24. I'm reading, Portia de Rossi's, Unbearable Lightness... a chronicle of her eating disorder.

    On Oprah, it was a really compelling interview. On the page, it's just pain.

    Posted by: pete N sfo | Jan 18, 2011 9:03:15 PM

  25. "The Coming Storm" by Paul Russell (fiction). Engrossing story line, fine literature, complex characters. I'm almost done, and have started reading slowly so it will last longer!

    Posted by: Mark | Jan 18, 2011 9:05:38 PM

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