A Sample List from Semple

Maria Semple, author of Where’d You Go Bernadette and Today Will Be Different, revealed her reading habits in a Boston Globe interview on her way to the Boston Book Festival this year.  Sample tries to read three books a week –

“I can’t think of anything I am more afraid of having missed out on in life than reading important works of literature.”

Always looking for another book, I was delighted to discover her recommendations, thanks to my friend who faithfully sends me Boston Globe clippings.  I was also encouraged by Semple’s attitude on not finishing books:

“I’ve heard some people say they will give a book fifty pages.  That is too much…if a book is too obtuse on the first page I feel as if the writer doesn’t have my best interests at heart…I’m pathological about how quickly I put a book aside….”

I’ll probably stay by my rule of reading the number of pages of one hundred minus my age before giving up on a book; it gets closer to Semple’s formula every year.  Do you finish every book you start?

unknownBooks Semple is Reading Now     (of course, I immediately went to the library to find them):

  • The Red Car by Marcy Dermansky

Leah inherits a red sports car from an old friend and mentor who died in a car accident.  As she journeys to San Francisco to claim the car,  Leah revisits past lives and loves.

  • Voices from Chernobyl by Svetlana Alexievich (Nobel prize winner)

Personal accounts of the worst nuclear reactor accident in history  which contaminated three quarters of Europe.

  • Nutshell by Ian McEwan

Told from the perspective of the child in the mother’s womb, McEwan respins Shakespeare’s Hamlet, turning the tale into a modern tragedy of betrayal and murder.

  • Commonwealth by Ann Patchett

Read my review here.

  • A Sentimental Journey by Laurence Sterne

In 1765, Sterne, facing death, travelled through France and Italy as far south as Naples, and after returning, described his travels from a sentimental point of view through the adventures of his alter ego, Rev. Mr. Yorick.  First published in 1768.


imagesSemple’s  Favorite Classics:

  • Middlemarch by George Eliot
  • Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
  • Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys