Hey Lou Writes

The Grey Matters

Summer Reading Sunday {2}

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(and it’s not midnight yet in New Mexico, so it still counts as Sunday)

Today is special because not only am I in NYC…

but because today’s reading list will be given to you by the letter W.

Yes, the 3 Williams siblings will be sharing a book they love with YOU and giving you some info as to why they love it.

{I know last week I said I wanted to read one book a week, but this week is the one exception. I mean… I’m in New York City. I have only made it half way through Her Fearful Symmetry. Will report back next week :) }

Here goes nothing.

{Also, along with traveling, and NOT having a smartphone, there are often technical difficulties. The way I usually upload photos from my camera is not working, therefore, the photos with the books won’t be up until I get home. This will have to do! Below is a reminder of what these beautiful people in my life look like.}

writer, short stories, go pokes, author

Melissy, me, Greg, and Chris

Melissa’s Pick:

The Mambo Kings Play Songs of Love by Oscar Hijuelos

This is one of my all-time favorite books because I love music and I love New York. It’s a story of two Cuban brothers who become moderately famous musicians and is set in a neighborhood just south of where I live near Columbia University. The story weaves its way through the memories of Cesar Castillo as he reminisces and reflects upon his life and he poignantly takes the reader on a journey through his experiences at each stage: self-assured and hopeful ideals of youth, the longing for greater meaning and purpose, the desire for a mate vs. sexual freedom, self-doubt in middle age after experiencing success,  insecurity upon the realization that age has set in, and finally the questioning of the worth of ones accomplishments in the final days. This book will make you intensely feel love, desire, passion, doubt, pain, and longing but it ultimately makes you stop and reflect about the meaning and value of your hopes and dreams.

Chris’s Pick:

Birdsong by Sebastian Faulks

I select Bridsong by Sebastian Faulks in part because it is an outlier among books I love.  


My favorite novels tend to either engage social or political ideas (American Pastoral by Philip Roth) or enable me to vicarelously experience another emotional life, and deepen my feeling of empathy with human beings at large (The Tenth of December by George Saunders). 


Birdsong stands apart from this in its pure visceral intensity.  It is the story of Stephen Wraysford, an English Boy sent to France to learn industrial management techniques in 1910, and returns again in 1917 in WWI because of the French he learned in his first stay.  The bulk of the novel is devoted to Wrayford’s time in the trenches, with prominent subplots devoted to a love which is subsequently lost.


The novel comes as close as I can imagine of experiencing the terror of mine warfare, where mining units try to tunnel under enemy lines and destroy the opposing trenches from below.   These units also face off against opposing minors, each side seeking out and blowing up the others’ tunnels, and often burying each other alive.  This was an aspect of the war I had not known existed and can’t imagine the courage required to descend into.   It makes for a powerful reading experience. 

Greg’s Pick:

Any Human Heart by William Boyd

This book is one of my favorites of the last year. It tells, in a series of intimate journals, the story of Logan Mountstuart-writer, lover, art dealer, spy- as he makes his often precarious way through the twentieth century. The book quickly sweeps through Logan’s earliest years growing up in Montevideo, Uraguay, to his years attending public school and Oxford where he is studying to become a writer. Mountstuart strikes quick and easy success giving him newly discovered financial capabilities to travel thoughout 1930’s Europe in hopes to find a inspiration for his second book. Logan is soon thrown through a whirl wind of a journey succeeded by 50 years of personal and professional mediocrity, disappointments, and setbacks.  I would recommend this book to anyone who finds fascination with European travel, WWII, and what it may be like to live and write amongst the classic writers and poets of our time.

Sounds good, eh? I know I have three more books to read this summer.

Love, Lou

Author: Melinda Haas

Melinda is a writer, blogger, artist and teacher. She lives in Wisconsin with her family.

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