Reading with ‘Rona

Well, I must admit, I’m tired of reading with ‘Rona. I’m also tired of yard work, Martha Stewart projects and cleaning out with ‘Rona too. I’m doing more jigsaw puzzles these days- keeps my hands busy and my mind easily in a bit of a zone. I do have three books to mention, however…

The first one is Inheritance: A Memoir of Genealogy, Paternity, and Love by Dani Shapiro. Like many of us, Shapiro submitted her DNA to a site to learn more about her genealogical roots. Sadly, she discovered she was not her beloved father’s biological daughter. As her world spins out of control, she begins digging into family secrets which begin to explain why she is a fair skinned blue-eyed blonde in a family of dark haired Orthodox Jews. Shapiro writes, “Once in my twenties, I actually kept a log of how many times I heard that I didn’t look Jewish in a single day. Shapiro your married name? I’ve never seen a Jewish girl who looks like you. At times, it troubled and angered me. What did it mean to not “look” Jewish? …You Jewish? No way. And I would respond by dutifully reciting my family’s yichis, a Yiddish word that translates to wellbeing. I would reel off my credentials: went to a yeshiva. Raised Orthodox. Yep, kosher. Two sinks, two dishwashers, the whole deal.” What Shapiro discovers is the 1950s world of sperm banks and a blue-eyed blond doctor who donated sperm. Her ultimate discovery was the result of a lot of determined research with the help of the Internet. It’s amazing what one can discover. I couldn’t put this book down. It is a poignant bittersweet story of identity and love.

The second book, Asymmetry by Lisa Halliday is very unusual. It’s basically two novellas and the connection between the two is a mystery the reader has to discover. The reader has to pay attention to not miss clues along the way. This was a little hard for me because I was just reading along in the first section about an older author and his very young female companion. He teaches her about writing as they live their lives together. I got a little lackadaisical and missed some clues. At the very end of the book, I thought to myself- what the heck did I miss? I didn’t quite get it. I had to do a little research to fully understand the connection. With that said, just pay attention so you can piece it together. The New York Times said, “….Asymmetry will make you a better reader, a more active noticer. It hones your senses.” Read it.

The third book was a reread but I didn’t fully realize it until I was well into it. I couldn’t believe I had never read The Signature of All Things by Elizabeth Gilbert, but I couldn’t really remember the story line. I knew that I knew that I knew I had read the book before when toward the end there was this sentence: “One morning she discovered that a shoe was gone- just one shoe!- though she could not imagine what somebody wanted with just one shoe…” I love that sentence! Actually, I love this book two times. The main character, Alma Whittaker is a heroine born before her time. Strong, courageous, brilliant, over-educated, adventurous seeker, and it is her shoe that goes missing in Tahiti on a very personal mission. She is also a curator of mosses which I also love and learned a great deal about.

Michael Cunningham says one should reread books every ten years. He says, “ In theory, we should, every 10 years or so, reread every book that’s been important to us, because at (roughly) 10-year intervals we are no longer the person who read the book 10 years earlier.” I’ve never been one to reread books because I always thought I’d remember too much. Well, duh, The Signature of All Things certainly proved that little theory of mine to be incorrect. I think now I’ll reread Possession by A.S. Byatt.

Happy Memorial Day! Remember ’Rona has not left town! #saferathome