Saturday, January 30, 2010

Sunday Salon: What I'm reading

I love juxtaposing two seemingly unlikely books against each other as I read them at the same time by chance.

This week we have:

East of Eden, by John Steinbeck vs. One Week in December, by Holly Chamberlin

Steinbeck starts off with long descriptions of the setting that leave readers breathless with the essence of time and place. Chamberlin describes the furniture in every room and each item of clothing the characters wear.

Steinbeck gives us broad, sweeping strokes that take a character through decades with a few key moments. So does Chamberlin, but she breaks into her scenes in order to do so.

But both books deal with complicated family relationships, jealousy between siblings, and errors in judgement made by well-meaning parents. And both are getting on my nerves just a little bit. One because it keeps switching points of view between a multitude of self-centered characters wallowing in their personal emotional muck. The other, because it's taking forever to get going (partly because I'm also reading another book, perhaps?) and it's too fat to sling around town in my knitting bag. Bonus points to the first reader to correctly guess which is which.


  1. Ha, I just returned East of Eden to the library last week because it was too slow getting going and I wasn't in the mood for a hefty book.

  2. East of Eden would be that chunkster you can't really carry with you. I hope it's grabbing you by now, though...I loved it, even though I didn't think I would. Of course, that California connection really helped.

  3. If I did read 2 books at time, they'd have to be totally different like that.

  4. I'm guessing East of Eden, too. Chunky is the word. I loved it though and hope you hang in there. It inspired me to take my first lit class at community college and now I'm graduated with an English degree.

  5. Glenda, I'm hoping I'll be able to renew it a few times, because at this rate 3 weeks won't be nearly enough time.

    Fizzy gets bonus points for being first to guess right! (Bonus points for what? Who knows. A donut next time you're in Portland, perhaps.)

    Kathy, I don't usually get books mixed up for some reason--not while I'm reading them, anyway. Afterwards, it's a different story! But these two would be impossible to confuse with each other, LOL.

    Chelle, what a cool story, I'll think of you next time I pick up East of Eden. And I'm definitely sticking with it, though I'll probably finish the Chamberlin book first because I fear if I set that one down I'll never pick it up again, and it's one I agreed to review for Library Thing.

  6. I was re-reading EAST OF EDEN a few years ago while visiting my parents on their farm. I had just gotten to the part about the mark of Cain. Not five minutes later, my dad comes in with a gash on his forehead. He'd been cutting tree branches and one had fallen.

    The similarity was too funny.

  7. Ahh, East of Eden! It's one of those (many) books I started and then life got in the way, and it was needlessly set aside and has been ignored for years. I feel bad about it, but I know I'll return to it one day. Sooner than later, I hope.

  8. I am supposed to be reading East of Eden myself... I am slacking!

  9. ha - all you've done is convince me to not pick up either.