Ann Bauer is the author of two novels, The Forever Marriage and A Wild Ride Up the Cupboards, and co-author of the culinary memoir Damn Good Food. Her work has appeared in the New York Times, the Washington Post, The Sun, Redbook, Ladies Home Journal, ELLE Magazine and Salon.com. She and her husband split their time between Boston and Minneapolis, where their three adult children reside. You can follow her on Twitter at @annbauerwriter.
I’m lucky that my husband can sleep through anything. Violent thunderstorms, neighborhood parties, my insomnia. When I wake up at two or three or four in the morning, I can turn on the light, rearrange my pillows, get a glass of water, search for my Kindle cord. He snores through all of it.
Lately, when I wake up, it’s to read a book that everyone else I know read a year ago: Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl. It was just too hyped for me. I resisted, expecting another Da Vinci Code letdown. Then a friend handed it to me and said, “Just read it. You must.” So I’m about three-quarters of the way through and mostly engaged. I’ve lagged here and there and felt the urge to trim. Overall, though, I think it’s a quality book—masterfully plotted, which I admire—and deserving of wild praise.
But Gone Girl is a one and done book. I’ll read it and never pick it up again. Underneath my current read—always—is A Bit On the Side, a book of short stories by the master William Trevor. I dip into these periodically. I dole them out. In fact, I’ve been saving the title story for about a year now because I’m waiting for the moment when I need absolutely diamond-sharp prose to feed my brain.
In my to-read queue: I have two recent books with the same title, Life After Life, one by Kate Atkinson and the other by Jill McCorkle. I probably would have gotten around to reading both of these even without the coincidence; I love both Atkinson and McCorkle. But the fact that they appeared in quick succession with the same exact title was intriguing and made me want to read them one after the other.
I’m also finally (I swear) going to read Mary Doria Russell’s The Sparrow, a book that many people tell me changed their thinking…But not before I read Claire Messud’s The Woman Upstairs. That’s next after Gone Girl, for sure.
Oh, and there’s a book by Ethan Rutherford, a Minneapolis writer, with the best title I’ve ever heard: The Peripatetic Coffin. Also really amazing reviews. Must read!
My recent reads and recommendations include:
Sad Desk Salad — a witty little romp of a book about online publishing and twentysomething angst. I must admit that the author, Jessica Grose, is a former student of mine and very dear to me. Nonetheless, I’m a tough critic. Halfway through I emailed her to say, “This is even better than I expected!” And it was.
Intuition — Allegra Goodman’s 2006 novel about the complexities and corruption of medical research in the Ivy League. Beautiful language and clever puzzle of a plot. Your allegiances as a reader keep changing right up to the very last page.
Far From the Tree — I reviewed this book for the Minneapolis Star Tribune, and at nearly 1,000 pages it was quite a commitment (that paid me roughly 12 cents a page). But Andrew Solomon makes the investment in his book worthwhile. Somehow, he manages to convey a shared humanity through the stories of people with myriad disabilities and gifts.
Where’d You Go, Bernadette? — I lived in Seattle for a year and didn’t much care for it. But all I did was complain (and move away)… Maria Semple was smart enough to take her Seattle-itis and craft a funny, eccentric, somewhat poignant story out of the cool elitism and constant rain.
The Keep — Somehow I missed this one when it came out in 2011. But after A Visit From the Goon Squad (which I will re-read yearly forever), I went back to make sure I’d covered all of Jennifer Egan. The Keep did not disappoint. It is twisted and dark and weird in just the right way.