Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Three Books

The Slow Regard of Silent Things by Patrick Rothfuss

I did not expect to like this book.

Yes, I loved the first two books in his Kingkiller Chronicles, but the author freely admits- both on his blog and in the foreword of the book itself- that this book is not for everyone.
Now, I'm hoping that if you're any kind of fan of the fantasy genre, you've already read his first two books, and if you haven't, I'm actually a little jealous, because you now get to experience them for the first time.  They're also a kind of prerequisite to any understanding of this book, because although not really a full volume within the series, it still exists within the world of Kvothe and Denna and the Four Corners, except this one is... different.  It's strange and dreamy and Other.

But if you like beautiful language, and words being used in an unexpected, playful, evocative way, and are able to unclinch enough to try a story that doesn't flow within the normal banks of storytelling, then I'd highly, highly recommend this one.  I finished it, then flipped right back to the beginning, just to wallow in the wordplay and mystery.  It's not for everyone, but perfect for a few.

Small Victories:  Spotting Improbable Moments of Grace by Anne Lamott

What will I ever do if Anne Lamott stops writing her essays on tiny things like faith and prejudice and hypocrisy and surviving life?  Just... quit, I guess.  Go on strike?  A life strike?  I like plenty of other current Christian nonfiction authors just fine, I guess, but when you're trying to not only identify but also extract eye-planks, tweezers just aren't going to cut it; no, you need Lamott-shaped pliers.  A curious thing happens when I read her stuff:  I simultaneously feel as though I've got a long way to go, like I've got my work cut out for me when it comes to this Jesus stuff, but also like I maybe shouldn't be so hard on myself.  I checked this one out from the library, but have already decided I need to go and buy a copy of my very own so I can underline a word or thirty here and there.

The Man Who Mistook His Wife For a Hat: And Other Clinical Tales by Oliver Sacks

When I started reading this book, I imagined it was going to be an intriguing if relatively detached romp through the annals of some doctor's case histories.  Loopy but fun, right?  Well.  Dr. Sacks shamed me with the depth of his compassion and empathy for his patients, relating their, yes, highly unusual symptoms and behaviors, but never without giving the reader context, a brief look into the life of the patient.  He is unabashedly fascinated by his own work, but the part that struck me was the overall teaching tone, that of a striving to educate the reader, give them a glimpse into what it must be like for those suffering from these unique but not always rare diseases.  I enjoyed every piece, and it actually helped me a bit; at the time I read it I was at the height of my own (slightly insane) belief I was going to lose function of my right hand at some point (I had absolutely no reason to believe this aside from my own completely unfounded but deceptively charming paranoia), and I was doing as many things as possible with my left, all of which did expand my ambidexterity, with the notable exception of putting my contacts in my eyes, which turned out to be frankly dangerous with my left hand.  Aaaaaanyhoo, I felt much less crazy after reading this.  Whatever it takes, man.


  1. Thanks for the suggestion of Patrick Rothfuss. He sounds like the perfect author to take my mind off (and even look forward to) my exercise hour. Also, Anne Lamott? My hero. I was a total fangirl when she came to Wichita earlier this year.

  2. Anne Lamott is always wonderful :-)

    I read the Oliver Sacks book some years ago, and remember feeling the same way --his compassion and empathy were so strong. It stopped the stories from being like a circus tent, and made all the patients so human. I heard him interviewed some time in the last few years on NPR, which was also wonderful.

  3. Seriously!

    MUST you add so many titles to my want-to-read list?

    Sigh. I think I"ll send my kiddos to your house for a week and take a Staycation here at home with a pile of books.


Studies show that that people who leave comments are kind, intelligent, generous, creative, and have really nice hair.