What We’re Reading: May 2012

On the first Friday of each month, we’ll share what we’re reading, which may include everything from magazines and blogs to novels and books for work or pleasure.

This week I finished Toni Morrison’s remarkable new novella Home, which will be published on Tuesday, May 8. It’s the story of a black Korean War veteran and his reacclimation into a racist, divided society.  I read it in a single sitting, and its structure was so perfect, I started it over as soon as I finished it and gained better appreciation for the literary journey she takes her readers on. Her talent is extraordinary. I’m still reading my way  through the twenty titles on this year’s Orange Prize longlist. I’m nearly done with Esi Edugyan’s Half Blood Blues, the story of a black jazz band in Paris in 1940, and it’s exquisite. This novel has already one the Scotiabank Giller Prize and was shortlisted for last year’s Man Booker Prize. My only regret is waiting for it to make the Orange Prize shortlist to read it. I have six titles left to read. The winner will be announced May 30th in London. – Carrie

This month, I have been enjoying Christopher Moore’s Sacre Blue: A Comedy D’art. It is a wonderfully rich, imaginative and funny exploration of the late French Impressionist movement, infused with magic and mystery. It focuses on the death of Vincent van Gogh, the investigation into that death by his friends baker-turned-painter Lucien Lessard and painter Henri Toulouse-Lautrec, and the strange and exotic world of color- paint color- especially the ever enigmatic blue.  Moore’s novel is rich with historical information and exquisite descriptions, and his characters, both real and imagined, are achingly human.  Moore did extensive research in creating this novel and has provided, both  online and as an app ,a reading guide, filled with all the fascinating information and details regarding the history of the French art movement- including pictures and paintings- that he couldn’t fit within the confines of his book. A truly remarkable read. -Heather

I’m raiding the oversize stacks this week. Katy Grannan captures portraits of strangers, bathed in the unforgiving light of California at high noon, in Boulevard. Find Grannan’s book, or take a peek at the online exhibit. Japanese photographer, Rinko Kawauchi, published her twelfth book, Illuminance, in a binding so beautiful that it will remind you why you love real books. James Casebere: Works 1975-2010 presents a mid-career survey of this playful and important artist-photographer. -Amy

I just started reading From the Folks Who Brought You the Weekend. This book gives an illustrated overview of the history of labor in the US. I’m only a few pages in but am already intrigued by Priscilla Murolo and A.B. Chitty’s framing of the changing relationship between organized labor organizations, individual workers, and the US government. And it seems like an appropriate reading choice for Mayday!  My Instapaper queue is full of articles on the French election and a Lifehacker article promising a method to learn languages remarkably quickly.  -Sarah

I recently finished reading Await Your Reply by Dan Chaon. The book was nearly impossible to put down. The novel is three interconnected stories; a high school history teacher runs away with one of his students, a man searches for his missing twin, and a college dropout discovers that his criminal uncle is really his father and goes to work for him. As the novel progresses, the stories start to collide in strange and unexpected ways. It’s fabulous.- Emily

Now tell us: what are you reading this month?

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