Lately, I've read a lot of things I don't love. Some I haven't even finished. Perhaps it's my attention span (distracted by moving and Christmas, etc.), or maybe there's some stuff out there that just isn't that great.
There are two exceptions to my ho-hums: The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh was beautiful and painful and haunting and believable and lovely. It's been out a while, but I hadn't ever read it. Diffenbaugh has a new book out recently that I might pick up...although I fear being disappointed.
I've also recently read Joyce Carol Oates' memoir The Lost Landscape. I adore Oates' writing and, as my husband says, if she wrote the phone book I'd probably say it was brilliant. But this really is a beautifully written look at how a writer becomes a writer. It isn't, as far as I'm concerned, overly writerly or overly sentimental. It is just Oates with her quirky sentences and sometimes meandering thoughts. They way she draws a picture that is at once calm and troubling. The way she says something once and leaves the reader with a haunting reverberation.
I'm currently reading Megan Mayhew Bergman's Almost Famous Women which I'm finding has more hits than misses. The stories are strong and well-crafted and most of them hit that just-right balance of quirky and sane.