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What My Family Is Reading

I’m back in Minnesota this weekend to help celebrate my dad’s birthday. My sister, who goes to grad school in Iowa, is also home, so there’s a full house around here. Last night, we went out to dinner, then stayed up late playing a rousing game of Texas Hold ‘Em using Easter candy as money. That seems like a good idea, until you remember everyone in my family is stingy about chocolate because we love it so much. Oops.

Family portrait

And of course, because I am who I am, I had to check in with all of them about what they’re reading now.

Mom, a lover of legal thrillers and mysteries, just recently bought a Nook, so has been busy buying books for that. Right now, she’s in the middle of New York: The Novel by Edward Rutherfurd. Earlier this month she finished Sandra Brannan’s first mystery novel, In the Belly of Jonah, which she said was gruesome and creepy, but with a little bit of stilted dialogue. Overall, she liked it, and said she is looking forward to the second book, Lot’s Return to Sodom. She also just finished reading The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo by Steig Larson, which started out very slow, but picked up to be very good by the end. I think we have plans to watch the movie tomorrow night.

Brother, a 19-year-old avid gamer says the only thing he’s been reading is articles in his subscription of PC Gamer. He used to be a big fantasy reader — he’s the reason I picked up the Inheritance Cycle (Eragon, Eldest, Brisinger, and TBD) by Christoper Paolini. When he’s not killing zombies, he also likes to read Clive Cussler adventure novels.

Dad, an electrical engineer whom I rarely ever see reading isn”t reading anything right now. He says he isn’t really a reader, but he does like magazines. Two Christmases ago he was obsessed with watching TV shows about Mount Everest, so I convinced him to read Into Thin Air by Jon Krakuer, which I think he liked.

Sister, a grad student in architecture and lover of chick lit, also just finished The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, which she borrowed from a friend. She also just started reading New York, as well. Sister is standing over my shoulder as I type this and wants me to emphasize that she is not, in fact, copying Mom’s reading choices — “She’s copying me, if anything.” She is also gloating about the fact that she got 27 out of 32 points in the first round of her NCAA bracket. “This is a big deal!” she keeps telling me.

And Kim (me!), a journalist and book blogger, just finished Blood Work by Holly Tucker, a narrative account of the beginnings of blood transfusion. If I get time today, I’m planning to start either Reality Bites Back: The Troubling Truth about Guilty Pleasure TV by Jennifer L. Pozner or Complications by Atul Gawande. It just sort of depends what my mood is — suggestions?

In fact, any suggestions for the rest of readers (and non-readers) in my life? Have any books that I can suggest to push them out of their comfort zones that they’ll also like?

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  • Coffee and a Book Chick March 19, 2011, 8:31 am

    I just finished reading and reviewing In the Belly of Jonah and really enjoyed it – definitely quite a number of creepy moment!

    • Kim March 21, 2011, 7:41 pm

      Coffee and a Book Chick: That’s what my mom said, really gruesome. That’s not my cup of tea, but I was so happy she liked it!

  • bermudaonion (Kathy) March 19, 2011, 9:41 am

    What a fun feature! What is it with engineers and reading? I’m married to one and he rarely reads.

    • Kim March 21, 2011, 7:42 pm

      bermudaonion: I’ve no idea — reading must seem like a waste of time to them, time they’d rather fend futzing around with stuff. That’s my dad, anyway 🙂

  • Lu March 19, 2011, 9:53 am

    Love this! I suggest the Atul Gwande for you. I turned a medical school student friend of mine on to him and she loves him! I haven’t had a chance to read anything yet, but I definitely want to.

    • Kim March 21, 2011, 7:42 pm

      Lu: I went with the other book, but Gwande is on my short list. If I don’t get to him soon, I think Complications will be an early Read-a-thon book, since I want to read it so much.

  • Kailana March 19, 2011, 10:06 am

    Fun feature! My sister is apparently reading Charles de Lint at the moment because I bought her one for Christmas. She rarely, if ever, reads, so when she was a bit I had to encourage it. Other than that, my family and guy do not read. I have gotten over it. I just go to the library with a bit of extra time and suggest books to the librarians…

    I am reading Catherine Webb right now. She wrote her first novel when she was 14 and had like 6 published books by the time she was 20. She has the Horatio Lyle series that a couple of my friends really love, so I am attempting to catch-up. There are only 4 books. She was published by a big publishing house because she can really write. I am very impressed! I am trying to say that she writes well, so she was published for ability and not her age.

    • Kim March 21, 2011, 7:44 pm

      Kailana: That’s great — I love finding a book for nonreaders, like happened with my dad and Into Thin Air. I give book recommendations to just about everyone I run into, so I understand the recommendations for librarians 🙂

  • Trisha March 19, 2011, 12:26 pm

    I love knowing what people are reading, and I think it’s great that your family reads (even Dad sometimes). 🙂

    • Kim March 21, 2011, 7:44 pm

      Trisha: My mom and sister are always reading. I love that about them, and about hanging out with them — we talk books a lot.

  • Cass March 19, 2011, 2:22 pm

    Yaaaay Reality Bites Back! I hope that’s the one you choose 🙂

    • Kim March 21, 2011, 7:45 pm

      Cass: It was! I’m like 2/3 of the way done now, and it’s good. I don’t agree with all her points, but it has given me a lot to think about. Her reframing of “America’s Next Top Model” has been fascinating because I always sort of enjoyed that show.

  • Katelyn March 19, 2011, 3:38 pm

    Your brother might like Patient Zero by JonathanMaberry. It is a thriller about a cop who starts working for a homeland security type group stopping terrorists who have unleash a virus that turns people into zombies.there’s a sequel to and like Cussler novels you can’t put them down.

    • Kim March 21, 2011, 7:46 pm

      Thanks, Katelyn. I’ll pass that on to him. He used to read a lot of adventure books, so a new series might be good for him.

  • Aths March 19, 2011, 6:33 pm

    This is a great post! It’s so wonderful to sometimes actually think about what the family is reading!

    • Kim March 21, 2011, 7:47 pm

      Aths: Thank you! I’ll have to check in with them more often and post the results. I like talking to them because they’re such different readers from me — it’s fun to find out about books I might not have considered or known about myself.

  • Kath Liu March 20, 2011, 5:13 am

    Love this post! I would ask my own family but I fear the response would be underwhelming – the only people who might respond with something are my bro and sis in law, the rest would just look at me blankly, incl hubby who is more like your brother, the zombie killing type sans the like of Clive Cussler!!

    At one time I did catch my father (also an engineer) enjoying Bill Bryson’s A short history of nearly everything. That could work?

    • Kim March 21, 2011, 7:48 pm

      Kath Liu: I got a bit of a blank stare from my brother when I asked him about it 🙂 Boyfriend usually does the same thing. He’s never got why I can read so much. And thanks for the Bryson suggestion — I think I might actually own that book. I’ll have to look.

  • Iris March 20, 2011, 5:14 am

    What a nice feature! I think, if I asked my family, they wouldn’t be reading anything at the time. I’m the exception with my reading in the family.

    • Kim March 21, 2011, 7:49 pm

      Iris: I’m the exception when it comes to the volume of reading. My mom and sister love to read, but I think read much less than I do. And we all like different genres, which is cool, actually.

  • Lynne March 20, 2011, 8:23 am

    My husband isn’t a reader, but just this morning I convinced him to go buy “Unbroken” because I loved it so much and he is going to!

    By the way, LOVE, LOVE, LOVE that your sister is into March Madness!!!

    • Kim March 21, 2011, 7:50 pm

      Lynne: That’s awesome, I hope he likes it!

      Jenny is not normally a big sports person, but she’s in a bracket with friends this year and really wants to win, so she did a lot of research and is super excited about it.

  • Jenny March 20, 2011, 9:36 am

    I never know what to recommend that will convince people to read things they wouldn’t ordinarily read. I generally just shriek about books I love and hope the people around me will take the hint. :p

    (V. jealous of you for seeing your whole family. Oh how I miss mine.)

    • Kim March 21, 2011, 7:50 pm

      Jenny: This is the first time I got to see them since January, so it was great. I missed them a lot. I think my mom came to the blog and is getting some book recommendations, which is cool, but also sort of scary — I’m not sure if she’s going to like them or not!

  • Teresa March 21, 2011, 12:14 pm

    I love this idea! My family is all scattered about so I never get to hear about what they are reading.

    • Kim March 21, 2011, 7:51 pm

      Teresa: Thanks! It was an anomaly we were all home. Jenny, my sister, was home for Spring Break, so that’s why all five of us happened to be home.

  • Meg March 22, 2011, 2:50 pm

    Aww, definitely a fun post! Of everyone in the family, I’m the most avid of all readers — but my sister always has a romance novel or two at the ready. My dad reads tons of historical non-fiction, especially about the Civil War, and I can usually find my mom with a celebrity biography of sorts around. My boyfriend is a scientist and rarely — if ever — reads for fun, so I never get to chat books with him. Sadness.

    • Kim March 24, 2011, 6:39 pm

      Meg: My boyfriend is a psychology and neuroscience person, and he just doesn’t have the patience to read. He does pick up magazines, but rarely books. It’s sort of a bummer, but I have plenty of people to nerd out with books about, so it’s ok. Nobody’s perfect 🙂

  • Jennifer March 24, 2011, 1:41 pm

    I love to see what other people are reading … especially my family. I’m luck that both my sister and my mother are avid readers like I am myself. It’s fun to compare reads and get lots of recommendations from my loved ones. Although since I started the blog, I find myself recommending more than getting recommendations. I guess it comes with the territory.

  • Kim March 24, 2011, 6:40 pm

    Jennifer: My mom, sister, and I trade recommendations, which can be fun since we all have such different tastes in books. Usually we can find some common ground, and it’s helping us all expand our reading a bit. With other friends, I tend to be more of a recommender than a recomendee 🙂