Finished Morningstar by Ann Hood. I received a copy for review.
Summary (from Goodreads):
“A memoir about the magic and inspiration of books from a beloved and best-selling author.
In her admired works of fiction, including the recent The Book that Matters Most, Ann Hood explores the transformative power of literature. Now, with warmth and honesty, Hood reveals the personal story behind these works of fiction.
Growing up in a mill town in Rhode Island, in a household that didn’t foster the love of literature, Hood nonetheless learned to channel her imagination and curiosity by devouring The Bell Jar, Marjorie Morningstar, The Harrad Experiment, and other works. These titles introduced her to topics that could not be discussed at home: desire, fear, sexuality, and madness. Later, Johnny Got His Gun and The Grapes of Wrath influenced her political thinking as the Vietnam War became news; Dr. Zhivago and Les Miserables stoked her ambition to travel the world. With characteristic insight and charm, Hood showcases the ways in which books gave her life and can transform—even save—our own.”
One of the genres I love the most is books about books, and this is a great example. Ann Hood’s family, for the most part, weren’t readers. She and an older cousin traded Nancy Drew novels, but in general, she was the family oddball. One of her first book-related memories involved reading Little Women and being so consumed with the story and Beth dying that she missed some school activities. Most of the books she mentioned here I haven’t read (I did read Little Women, of course, but I’m a lot more familiar with the Winona Ryder version of the movie), but I definitely still have similar stories of being late or almost late because of random books (I stayed up literally all night to read The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon).
Ann Hood is also one of my favorite authors, and her books are always all these stunningly well-written things. This is especially true in this one—it’s so clearly a topic she’s passionate about, and it comes through in every word and page here.