What We Are Reading Today: Homesick by Jennifer Croft

Updated 28 September 2019

What We Are Reading Today: Homesick by Jennifer Croft

Homesick, by the award-winning translator Jennifer Croft, is a coming-of-age story that includes all the “firsts” readers might expect from a narrative about identity formation: First loss, first love, first foray toward independence. 

“It’s a complex portrait of a young Oklahoma woman’s development of a rich and exacting interior life,” Emily Rapp Black said in a review for The New York Times.

“It’s also a visual love letter to family, language and self-understanding, and the myriad ways in which these realms overlap and complicate one another,” said the review.

It added: “Like the writers W. G. Sebald and Teju Cole, who use images to supplement and contextualize ideas, Croft introduces each of her short chapters — some are only a single paragraph — with dreamlike snapshots taken by her or her mother of streets, buildings, birthday parties and everyday moments, to mysterious and engaging effect.”

In Croft’s book, “words function as networks of secret shapes that both guide and confound her, often in the same moment,” said the review. 

“Words owe their very existence to distance, although their deepest purpose is to overcome it,” Croft writes.

What We Are Reading Today: The Seine: The River That Made Paris by Elaine Sciolino

Updated 09 November 2019

What We Are Reading Today: The Seine: The River That Made Paris by Elaine Sciolino

The Seine: The River That Made Paris is a wonderful book from Elaine Sciolino that takes readers on a journey along the Seine river, through France’s fascinating history and a thousand little anecdotes that fill it with life. 

The book “tells the story of the Seine’s origin, its little known source in Burgundy, and the goddess that gave the river its name,” said a review in goodreads.com. 

It also “tells the stories of dozens of fascinating characters that have spent their lives on, around and along the river,” the review added.

It said “Sciolino met with people living on their boats, fishermen, the river police, the firefighters who put out the fire in the Notre Dame Cathedral using water from the Seine, and many more.” 

The characters “come to live with her skillful writing and share their stories of how the Seine has shaped their lives,” said the review.

Sciolino is a writer and former Paris Bureau Chief for The New York Times, based in France since 2002. 

She contributes to The New York Times’ Food, Culture, Styles and Sunday Review sections.