Literary Mama writing about the many faces of motherhood
December, 2008

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One gift that all mothers would appreciate this month is spare time. So, we asked Literary Mamas: If given the gift of time, what book would you choose to enjoy in your spare time?

Download the list to find it fast at your local bookstore or library.

Literary Reflections Editor, Kathy Moran, writes, "Mine would be Carl Sandburg’s Lincoln. I've been interested in Abraham Lincoln almost my entire life, having received a book about him (which I still have) for my ninth birthday. Lately, I've been drawn back to reading about him and his wife; but if I had the time, I'd delve into Carl Sandburg's Pulitzer Prize-winning biography. Originally a six-volume set (The Prairie Years -- 2 vols. and The War Years -- 4 vols.), Sandburg later distilled the work into one 800-page book. Some have criticized his work because it lacks documentation and because much of the writing leans toward the poetic, but others have deemed it 'the greatest historical biography of our generation' and 'the definitive life of Lincoln.'"

Ezine Co-Editor, Jessica DeVoe Riley, says, "If I had all the time in the world, I'd read Les Miserables by Victor Hugo. This classic isn't exactly a pick-up-and-read-whenever-I-want kind of book, and when I do try, I have to start over every time. (I've basically read the opening 30 - 50 pages about ten times.) In part, I want to read this book because I love the musical. But as a writer, I want to read the book Hugo thought he’d never finish and then refused to edit for length. (Sounds like my kind of writer.) Besides, redemption, rebellion, unrequited love, Napoleonic France? What's not to love?"

Caroline Grant, Senior Editor and Columnist, says, "I've always wanted to read Proust! I don't know anybody who's read every installment of In Search of Lost Time, and I'm not sure that I would really love the project -- perhaps I would find his writing tiresome or self-indulgent? I don't know. Reading Proust just represents the height of luxury to me, to have the time to dig in to such an immensely long and leisurely novel. For now, it hovers out there as something to enjoy when my kids are grown and my days are quieter, like finishing a cup of tea while it's still hot."

Shari MacDonald Strong, Senior Editor and Columnist, writes, "Every time someone brings up James Joyce's Ulysses, I hang my head in shame because I haven't read it. But without a gift of extra time, I'm not likely to tackle its 736 pages anytime soon. With three children under the age of nine, I just haven't got the attention span for it. But someday!"

Kristina Riggle, Fiction Co-Editor, shares, "I would read Infinite Jest by the late David Foster Wallace. His tragic, too-young passing and the subsequent coverage of his genius (or indulgence? depending on your point of view, perhaps both) reminded me of this book and since it is so massive and not necessarily an easy read, I would indeed need a gift of time to plunge in. It's sad that so often it takes the untimely death of an artist, poet, or musician to bring his or her work to a greater number of people."

Alissa McElreath, Columns Editor, writes, "If I had time I would read Freakonomics by Levitt and Dubner. I can always squeeze time in my day for indulgent, pleasurable reads that keep me hooked (isn't that what bathrooms are for when you're a busy mom?), but I need a special block of time for Freakonomics . While anything to do with economics and money and math makes my eyes glaze over, this book has been mentioned to me so many times by people who know me that I feel I really need to sit down and read it. I find myself intrigued by the book, and the interest it seems to arouse in those who have read it."

Finally, Literary Reflections Editorial Assistant, Christina Speed, would choose Larousse Gastronomique. "Cookery, the sciences of working with food, and the glorious results brought forth in the kitchen have always fascinated me. Larousse Gastronomique is a beautiful and definitive source of ingredient descriptions and uses, step-by-step instructions for essential cooking techniques, and traditional recipes. While the text itself may not satisfy the writer in me, reading about cooking and the act of cooking stirs my creative side deeply. And at over 1300 pages, a hefty serving of spare time to actually enjoy and use it would be in order. Nonetheless, it will remain on my must-read list!"

Christina Marie Speed writes poetry and creative nonfiction. Her work has appeared in a variety of online and print publications, including Caper Journal, The Minneapolis Star-Tribune Online, and The View From Here. She lives with her husband and two sons in a sunny fourth-floor walkup in Brooklyn, New York.

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