The The Books.

I just finished The Girls (thank you, Fran!) and The Road. Both were fantastic. The Road is probably one of the best books I’ve ever read. It will haunt me until I’m dead and gone (or I become a babbling old person with a deteriorating memory). It was filled with such nightmarish imagery! It’s downright terrifying and beautiful, horrific and sublime. If you haven’t read it, I suggest picking it up immediately, and do so before the movie is released. (Viggo Mortensen has been cast as the lead man. I’m not sure how I feel about that yet, but judging by what other women say, I gather he’ll bring some horny chicks and gay dudes to the box office.)

I could go on and on about this book and would very much like to, but that’ll ruin it for everyone else. The Road makes me wish Spread had made it. (Side note: I had such high hopes for that site. Yet another failed mihow project. I enjoy hating myself for online failures, which is why I’ve become so good at creating them.)

Anyway, I need a new book to read now. Maybe I should keep with the “The” theme I’ve got going. heh

Won’t you please help me (again)?


  1. I loved The Road as well. My hub is a big Cormac McCarthy fan, and we almost gave our son the middle name of Cormac in honor of the guy. (Jack just looked more like a John Calum than a John Cormac, though, so no dice. Sorry, McCarthy.) I reviewed it on my site a million years ago – you make me want to go back and re-read the book.

    I think, having read your site, that you would really like a book I’m reading right now. It’s called Having Faith: An Ecologist’s Journey into Motherhood, by Sandra Steingraber. You may find it horrifying – it is an in depth discussion of pregnancy and how environmental toxins can harm a fetus. Kind of a call to action re: our toxic earth – but (and this is what makes it such a stunning read), it is also about the mystery and beauty of pregnancy and fetal development. This woman has degrees in Biology AND English, a rare combination which gives her the ability to make complicated scientific details sound like a poem. As much as I have been scared by some of her findings, I have also been awed by the beautiful descriptions. Maybe you’ve already read it, but if you haven’t – well, it gets five stars from me.

    Other favorites that I won’t take up space describing are UNLESS by Carol Shields, THE HANDMAID’S TALE by Margaret Atwood, and ATONEMENT by Ian McEwan, which I found far and away better than the totally boring movie they made of it.


  2. Thank you! As much as I want to read that first book you describe, I think it might not be good for me at this point in my life. hahhaha I think I’ll drive Toby crazy (and myself but I can’t leave myself). I can’t handle too much stuff like that these days without losing it. That’s why I have yet to watch movies like Sicko and Big Corn (is that the name?) and finish Animal Vegetable Miracle. I really want to make change and feel crippled and unsure of how to do so. So I just freak out instead and bite my tongue.

    It’s not that I want to remain blissfully unaware, I just take things entirely too seriously and have trouble functioning because of it. I wish I were kidding, but I’m not.

    So, I think I will have to wait until I get a hold of my emotions some.

    I have read Atonement. (McEwan is a favorite) but the other two I have not! Thank you!

    Rambling. Sorry.

    Funny, I told TJ had I read that book prior Em’s birth, I’d have named him Cormac. Judging by the trends and our generation, I get the feeling in light of “No Country For Old Men” more and more boys will sport that name. But I could be wrong.


  3. My husband and most of my friends rave about The Road. I’ve been reluctant to read it—afraid it would be too violent? gorey? sci-fi? You make me want to give it a try.

    Here are some great books:

    Middlesex—Jeffrey Eugenides
    Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close—Jonathan Safron Foer
    The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay and/or The Yiddish Policeman’s Union—Michael Chabon
    Life of Pi—Yann Martel
    A Tree Grows in Brooklyn—Betty Smith
    Motherless Brooklyn—Jonathan Lethem

    Oh dear, I could go on and on. Hope this helps.


  4. Hi there. I’ve been an avid reader since i became pregnant last March and stumbled onto you and your lovely family. Thank you for sharing yourself, it’s really wonderful.
    Anyway-I am writing to tell you about – you should check it out. It’s a networking site, but for sharing and reviewing books. I find it quite intuitive and well put together. I have found some great books (and compelling reviews) on there. Based on your love and talent for writing, I imagine you may really enjoy it. Also – are you a Ken Follet (Pillars of the Earth) fan? Though I have not read it yet, his latest is supposed to be great.


  5. Tara: Too funny. The only books on your list I haven’t read are Michael Cabon’s books. Heh. I have tried The Amazing… and can’t seem to get hooked! Maybe I’ll try again.

    (Middlesex is one of my all time favorites. Isn’t he about due for another book? Damn! What’s he doing? Teaching too many classes at Brown? GET WITH IT, JEFFREY!)

    Amie! I am a member of Good Reads. I should get my ass in gear and figure out my password again. When I was still pregnant, I spent a lot of time on their reviewing books I had read. (As if anyone cared!) heh

    Also, haven’t heard of Follet. I will check him out.


  6. If you are going to read Follet – start with Pillars of the Earth. It’s quite something – history, architecture, juicy characters, juicy plot, great sex scenes, the works! One of my all time faves. His latest is apparently set in the same town only hundreds of years later….Oooo, another all time fave is A Prayer for Owen Meany. Great book.


  7. Hi Mihow!
    I’ve been lurking for a while now (actually ever since I moved from Denmark to London six months ago). I’ve never really been into blogs before, but yours was/is so great that I got addicted and now the blogs are accumulating in my Google Reader :-)

    So just wanted to say hi and also recommend a couple of books (I’ve also just read The Road and found it to be one of the darkest and most amazing books I’ve ever read – Viggo M. seems like an odd choice for the main character, I’m glad I didn’t know that when I read it).

    So here goes (hope you haven’t read them all yet):

    MIDDLESEX (Jeffrey Eugenides)

    THE LOVELY BONES (Alice Sebold) – It’s going to be made into a movie next year with Rachel Weisz and Susan Sarandon, directed by Peter Jackson.

    WHAT I LOVED (Siri Hustvedt)

    I also really liked The Bell Jar (Sylvia Plath), The Hours (Michael Cunningham), To Kill a Mockingbird (Harper Lee), The History of Love (Nicole Krauss), The Trial (Kafka), The Falls (Joyce Carol Oates), Choke + Fight Club (Chuck Palahniuk), Everyman + Exit Ghost (Philip Roth)



  8. How about THE GARGOYLE? It’s out next month (I had an advance copy) and it opens with a brutal car crash (very brutal, which is not usually my thing), but then it turns into this sweeping, epic, entirely unconventional love story. So good!

    Other recs:
    THE SECRET HISTORY by Donna Tartt / perfect compulsive summer read

    NEVER LET ME GO by Kazuo Ishiguro—so moving

    THE STORY OF EDGAR SAWTELLE by David Wroblewski (just out and on the bestseller list)—I recommend this one because I know you’re an animal lover, and it’s about the comfort a young mute boy finds in the company of the family dogs after tragedy strikes. It’s a long one, but gorgeous writing and it made me cry.

    Bonus: I work in publishing and can send you a comp copy of almost any of these books. If you’re interested, send me an email.


  9. Am with you on the Eugenides. I was just asking at the local bookshop if he had a new one yet—just an anthology that he edited. That fellow sure takes his time. Middlesex is one of my all time favorite books, too. If he never wrote another book, I would understand why. Tough act to follow.

    Re: Chabon I really love Kavalier and Clay, but Yiddish Policeman’s is more fast-paced. It is a classic detective story. You might give it a go.

    Okay, now on with Round 2 (now that I know we’re reading the same books, I can’t stop myself!):
    Drop City by T.C. Boyle (also The Tortilla Curtain); Paris to the Moon by Adam Gopnik (nonfiction); White Boy Shuffle by Paul Beatty; The Memory Keeper’s Daughter by Kim Edwards; Geek Love by Katherine Dunne; The Brief and Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz; A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Housseini

    If you like graphic novels, Persepolis is worth checking out. If you like plays, well that’s a whole other list.

    BTW-I feel like I’ve been lurking around for awhile. I live in Greenpoint—the northern part. I found your site via twitter and really enjoy your writing. Cheers!


  10. OMG, can all of you be my new best friends? Except I sort of hate you all for adding to my MUST READ pile which is already enormously enormous and I will never get through. Whichever commentor that was, I’m going to check out Good Reads now.

    I forgot – Ann Patchett is a new fave – I devoured BEL CANTO and then THE MAGICIAN’S ASSISTANT.


  11. Bel Canto was wonderful. I agree with that suggestion as well.


  12. NO ANGEL, by Penny Vincenzi. It is the first book in her Lytton Family trilogy and I swear you will be hooked from the first chapter. All three are in paperback. So, so, so good. Set during WWI and totally engrossing – and juicy. But smart!


  13. Oh, I wholeheartedly second Tara’s suggestion of THE BRIEF WONDROUS LIFE OF OSCAR WAO. I can’t believe I forgot that one!


  14. I have been checking out this blog for some time now. (It all started with a search for birthing experiences when I was nearing the end of my pregnancy) At any rate, I just wanted to let you know that your work & resumé is very impressive. I followed you ‘Spread’ link. As a fellow art director I truly appreciate your talent.

    Very impressive.


  15. Another vote here for Having Faith: An Ecologist’s Journey into Motherhood, by Sandra Steingraber. I read this during the early stages of pregnancy with my daughter, and while it was eye opening, it also just made me so much more mindful about what I was putting into my body. I really love the way Steingraber writes. The first commenter on this post, Gillian, really describes her writing perfectly.


  16. I came to recommend but I saw most of my favourites have already been recommended! Shows the quality of your readers. Last time I was asked on a blog to recommend, all the other recommendations the girl received were, um….I don’t want to be rude. Anyway, kudos to your readers for having such good taste.

    I have to second ‘What I loved’ by Siri Hustvedt. Seriously. Amazing. My mother-in-law (who is the biggest reader I have ever met) was given it (and a boatload of other books) after her hysterectomy, and this was the only one she could read. She immediately gave it to me and i devoured it while I was supposed to be working on my PhD. I gave it to the husband (who hates fiction…other than Cormac McCarthy and Michael Chabon) who finished it in a week. It is beautiful, interesting, poignant…..probably one of my favourite books.

    I agree on Carol Shields – Unless is great. I also really like The Stone Diaries and Larry’s Party. Atwood’s the Handmaid Tale MUST be read. Get it now. Atwood is great in general – I have read all her stuff now, but back in the day, whenever I was needing a book, I would just grab one of hers. I knew they would be quality and have never been disappointed (well, I wasn’t a fan of Oryx and Crake, but I know a lot of people who liked it, so never mind).

    Michael Chabon’s Kavlier and Clay is probably also in my top ten. Again, the husband LOVES this book.

    So many others…you have to let us know which ones you choose. And I am going to have to go through this list and pick out some books I haven’t read to get some ideas (the stack next to my bed is getting smaller, which worries me…).


  17. Man! We should start an online book club or something…
    I love The Flanders Panel by Arturo Pérez-Reverte. (The movie the Ninth Gate is based on his book The Club Dumas.)
    I also love magic realism, and will read anything by Gabriel García Márquez, Isabel Allende or Julia Alvarez.


  18. I just finished the Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold, also being made into a movie. It is a haunting account from the point of view of a girl that is murdered. She watches her family struggle to move past her death while unknowingly living next to the man that killed her. I couldn’t put it down.

    Two other books that are autobiographical, A Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion. A very sad book but it will give you amazing insight into grieving. The other one is What Remains by Carole Radziwill, she was married to John Jr’s cousin and was the first one to know something had happened to them the night that their plane went down.

    My all time favorite is A Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Patterson. It is a book that can be read during naptime, short and sweet!


  19. I’m so glad you asked for book suggestions. I’m in need of something new, too, and I’m writing a lot of these down. I don’t know why I’ve been avoiding Cormac McCarthy, but it may finally be time to dive in. I’m also going to check out “The Girls” (which sounds like you’d also like “Geek Love” suggested by Tara,) and I think I have to check out “What I Loved,” too!

    I have to second the recommendation for “A Thousand Splendid Suns.” That is the best book I’ve read so far this year. I also love Chabon. He wrote a fantasy book aimed at young adults a few years ago that I still enjoyed called “Summerland.” When Sarah mentioned “Club Dumas” it also reminded me of “The Instance of the Fingerpost” which might not be a light summer read, but was really interesting.


  20. The Handmaid’s Tale was AWESOME. Another good one I’ve read recently is You Remind Me of Me by Dan Chaon. Next on my list is the new James Frey novel – I’ll let you know if it’s good!

    I saw a sign in the window of my local independent bookstore yesterday: “Eat. Sleep. Read.” With the exception of wine, that pretty much sums up my weekend! : )

    Happy Fourth!


  21. Blindness by Nobel-laureate Jose Saramago has the same apocalyptic feel as The Road.


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