Literary Mama writing about the many faces of motherhood
Now Reading: July, 2007

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Rebecca Kaminsky, Reviews Co-Editor and Columnist, reports, "My current reading list includes the memoir Teta, Mother And Me: Three Generations of Arab Women by Jean Said Makdisi."

Helaine Olen, Profiles and Reviews Associate Editor, is also reading non-fiction right now: "On my bedside table: Katie Roiphe's Uncommon Arrangements, a look at seven unconventional marriages in 1920s literary London, and 60 on Up, a merciless take on aging by the incomparable Lillian Rubin."

Caroline Grant, Literary Reflections Editor and Columnist, is reading about writing: "Ariel Gore is such a terrific, funny writer that I was reading her essays long before I became a Breeder or a Hip Mama. Now with a regular writing gig and a book coming out, I'm soaking up the lessons in How to Become A Famous Writer Before You're Dead: Your Words in Print and Your Name in Lights. With section titles like "Give Yourself a Lit Star Makeover" and "Play With the Big Dogs," Gore offers great advice to any writer, whether you're just starting out or trying to increase your visibility."

Suzanne Kamata, Fiction Co-Editor, is reading historical fiction with The Mercury Visions of Louis Daguerre by Dominic Smith. "This debut is inspired by the life of the inventor of photography, Louis Daguerre, who was driven mad by the chemicals used in the photographic process. His buddy the poet Baudelaire shows up in these pages as well. Great period details. Hard to believe it's a first novel."

Senior Editor Marjorie Osterhout is also reading a first novel: "Last fall I bought a lovely painting by Andrew Hersey, a cancer survivor and self-taught artist from Virginia. He told me that reading As Simple As Snow by Gregory Galloway had changed his life in fundamental, hard-left-turn ways, that it was a huge part of why he was an artist. With an endorsement like that, how could I not read it? I'm halfway through it now, and although I can't say it's changing my life, I'm definitely sucked in. It's a fabulous debut novel about a small-town, white-bread young man who is trying to unravel a puzzle that his missing goth girlfriend may (or may not) have left behind.

Kate Haas, Creative Non-Fiction Co-Editor, is reading Tamar by Mal Peet. "This is a wonderful British novel in which a 15-year-old girl attempts to discover the truth about her grandfather's experiences in WW2. Told in alternating viewpoints, we get the story of the grandfather, an agent with the Dutch resistance, and the granddaughter, who never knew the extent of the secrets he took to his death. Mystery, adventure, history, deceit, betrayal: all the big descriptors apply. I cannot put it down."

Columnist and Creative Non-Fiction Co-Editor Shari MacDonald Strong, who put David James Duncan's, The Brothers K on her Father's Day essential reading list, notes: "In keeping with my David James Duncan-as-literary-hero theme, I'm currently rereading Duncan's most recent book (nonfiction, this time), God Laughs and Plays: Churchless Sermons in Response to the Preachments of the Fundamentalist Right. A gift to folks of every spiritual stripe (and, I'd venture, to complete humanists, too), God Laughs and Plays is an antidote, a soothing balm, an arc of golden hope for those of us who are sickened by what the Religious Right has done in the name of a "Christian nation" and by the way religion has been, and continues to be, misused in the contemporary political arena."

Columnist Libby Gruner says "Next on my to-be-read list (I think) is The Year of Magical Thinking, by Joan Didion. I just did a 48-hour reading challenge, trying to read as much as I could in a single weekend. I had this one from the library but didn't open it, wanting to give it whatever time it needs. I'm also about to start re-reading the is Harry Potter series, in preparation for HPVII: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, coming out next month. This is both work and pleasure, as my next academic project has to do with children's fantasy, and this is the series that revived public interest in the genre."

Finally, Violeta Garcia-Mendoza, Literary Reflections Editorial Assistant comments, "My to-read list is two feet high on my bookshelf, erected as a literary Jenga. It topples almost daily as I bend to thumb the spines of books, trying to determine which world to sink into next. I like to believe that there's a reason why certain books come to us at certain times; that books, among their many powers, can also function as both barometers and crystal balls. So I can't say exactly what title I'll be reading next yet.

It might be Tender Hooks: Poems by Beth Ann Fennelly, Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides or Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life by Barbara Kingsolver. It all depends. Tonight or the next night, after the kids are in bed, I'll hold my fingers over the stack and try to divine a tingle that will cause me to lower my hands to a certain book, take it outside and crack it open on the patio, ready to let it speak to my life."

Joan Didion, The Year of Magical Thinking
David James Duncan, God Laughs and Plays: Churchless Sermons in Response to the Preachments of the Fundamentalist Right
Jeffrey Eugenides, Middlesex
Beth Ann Fennelly, Tender Hooks: Poems
Gregory Galloway, As Simple As Snow
Ariel Gore, How to Become A Famous Writer Before You're Dead: Your Words in Print and Your Name in Lights
Barbara Kingsolver, Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life
Jean Said Makdisi, Teta, Mother And Me: Three Generations of Arab Women
Mal Peet, Tamar: A Novel of Espionage, Passion, and Betrayal
Katie Roiphe, Uncommon Arrangements: Seven Portraits of Married Life in London Literary Circles 1910-1939
J. K. Rowling, the Harry Potter series
Lillian Rubin, 60 on Up: The Truth About Aging in America
Dominic Smith, The Mercury Visions of Louis Daguerre


Caroline M. Grant served on the editorial board of Literary Mama for over ten years, including five as Editor-in-Chief. She is currently Associate Director of the Sustainable Arts Foundation, which provides grants to writers and artists with children.

She is the co-editor of two anthologies: The Cassoulet Saved Our Marriage: True Tales of Food, Family, and How We Learn to Eat (Roost Books, 2013) and Mama, PhD: Women Write about Motherhood and Academic Life (Rutgers University Press, 2008). Her column, Mama at the Movies, ran on Literary Mama for six years; she has published essays in a number of other journals and anthologies.

She lives in San Francisco with her husband and two sons; she writes about food and family on her blog and at Learning to Eat. Visit her website for more information, including clips from her radio and television events.

Caroline is former editor-in-chief for Literary Mama.


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