Baby it’s Cold Outside: Bring on the Red Hot Fiction

Baby it’s Cold Outside: Bring on the Red Hot Fiction

icy grassesI just finished reading Jill Bolte Taylor’s fascinating book, “My Stroke of Insight.” Taylor’s account of a journey down the brain injury rabbit hole and back — a journey launched by a devastating stroke — provided a rare glimpse into the way in which the two very different hemispheres of the brain work together. Brain Lit is a burgeoning genre these days, teeming with a wealth of titles and angles — last year I also read The Female Brain by Louann Brizendine, and was intrigued by the suggestion that a warm wet bath of female hormones starting in infancy can shape female thinking throughout a lifetime. The Brain that Changes Itself , by Norman Doidge, M.D., heads the list for my next brain lit session. At the moment, however, my brain is craving a blazing dose of dopamine in the form of fiction. I need a barnburner to keep my brain cells from freezing together in the depths of January. Looking back over my personal favorites of 2009, The Elegance of the Hedgehog heads up the list. Muriel Barbery’s elegant mini-essays on philosophy and art, woven through a narrative peopled by the denizens of an upscale French apartment building, had me turning the pages avidly. In the summer, I lazed away some pleasant hours reading The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows. Although the book featured a few too many lace-draped tabletops, I recall a deft hand with dialogue and a fun epistolatory style. With the movie rights optioned by Hollywood producer, Paula Mazur and independent bookseller Mitchell Kaplan, expect a rosy screen adaptation one of these days, starring a pale, thin British actress like Kiera Knightly or Rosamund Pike (my pick). True reading confessions time: I read The Lost Symbol by Dan Brown. Blame my husband who bought it at an airport concession. I nearly flipped. “What have you got in that bag?” I cried. “You spent how much on a hard cover book by Dan Brown?” His defense was to point at my hand which was clutching a new copy of Remember Me? by Sophie Kinsella. “It’s a paperback,” fell flat as my only defense. Brown’s oft vilified writing style is incredibly and magnetically accessible and I, for one, can’t fault authors who can keep a reader turning pages like Kinsella or Brown. I read The Lost Symbol over a short couple of days which is akin to saying I ate the whole box of chocolates in one frenzied sitting. After, while scraping the stickiness from your lips, you feel guilty and slightly nauseated. But really full and gooey too. A few recommendations from my 2009 favs: The Book of Negroes by Lawrence Hill: powerful and moving. Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortenson All the Diary of a Wimpy Kid books by Jeff Kinney: this is super cute, entertaining kid lit, which follows the adventures of the hapless Greg Heffley, who has an irreverent and refreshingly subversive attitude. It’s kicks the lead out of those cloying kid’s books that offer boring high-pantsed girls and boys. With 2010, the bestseller lists are thin on the ground for my next good juicy read. Suggestions are welcome, No goo thankyou. But, please, it’s January, don’t suggest anything overly taxing to my frozen brain. Bring on the sizzle.