It's Monday, September 25... and I haven't finished a book all month. This has never happened. The number of novels I've abandoned lately is shocking. And they've been set aside after 100, 200, or more pages. Nothing has held my interest. But today, I am cautiously optimistic.
Last week I picked up The Eustace Diamonds by Anthony Trollope. As you know, Trollope has become a favorite in recent years. I adored his Barsetshire Chronicles, and now Audrey and I are leisurely reading the Palliser series.
The Eustace Diamonds is the third of the six novels. Trollope drew me in with his introduction of Lizzie Greystock Eustace, and I haven't wanted to put the book down since. My kindle says I'm at 41% now... and enjoying every single page.
So, the good news is that I'm reading again. But at 800+pages, there's still no guarantee I'll finish a book this month... and I'm fine with that.
Monday, September 25, 2017
Sunday, September 3, 2017
Many of the posts I read, and certainly every post I write lately, begin with the words "where has the time gone?" Well, now it's early September and we've already experienced two record cold days. I'm afraid summer is over...
Our first month of retirement was a resounding success! There are still loose ends to tie up at the office, but the 9 to 5 routine is over. Instead, we've tackled home and garden projects, enjoyed leisurely lunches out, taken several day trips (inspired by Robin's Wandering Wednesdays), hung out on the lake, gone on walks, dined with friends, seen a movie or two, and experimented with several new recipes.
I'm also reading... almost exclusively nonfiction in August. Fiction doesn't seem to hold my attention right now. Strange.
Books Read in August
by Pamela Paul
I've included the after-the-colon portion of the title here so you don't think, as I initially did, that this book is a relationship memoir. Bob is actually Pamela Paul's (editor of The New York Times Book Review) Book of Books, or reading journal. I thought My Life with Bob was a terrific read, and if you're into books about books, I bet you will, too.
by Sebastian Junger
Tribe, narrated by the author and just 3 hours long, provided plenty of food for thought about community, belonging, and why people work better together in times of war or natural disasters. I listened prior to Hurricane Harvey, but this book might be especially interesting and relevant in its aftermath.
by Michael Ruhlman
This was a read/listen combination for me. The audiobook, just over 11 hours long, is narrated by Jonathan Todd Ross. I was riveted every time I picked up the book or put in my earbuds. If you're at all interested in grocery stores and how they operate, this is the book for you.
by Barry Estabrook
by Charlie LovettThis book is a literary mystery with a love story in the background, but I picked it up because it's set in Anthony Trollope's Barchester... and those references were great fun! It's not necessary to be familiar with Trollope to enjoy this tale, but a familiarity (or at least an interest in) Arthurian legend might be helpful.
What was the best book you read in August?
Sunday, July 30, 2017
July 30th... already. In a couple of days it will be August and here I am posting for the first time in weeks. I didn't mean to disappear for so long, but it's been quite a month: our 4th of July celebration, helping a family member with a medical issue, a trip to Sanibel for my father-in-law's 90th birthday, and my husband's retirement last week. There's been no time to blog, but I have been reading.
For book club//
Had it not been a book club selection, I might have abandoned this audiobook. I'm glad I persevered (with increased narration speed) because around the 40% mark, it finally started to grow on me (pun intended) and I ended up enjoying it - especially the life of a scientist/academic aspect. Jahren's personal story was not quite as interesting to me.
My book club's reaction was positive overall, but it's interesting to note that the two of us who listened both struggled. This got me thinking about the unavoidable subjectivity of audiobook ratings. With nearly 1500 ratings, Lab Girl (narrated by the author) averages 4.4 stars... I am clearly out of step. Perhaps I might have enjoyed this more in print.
For Paris in July//
The People in the Photo by Hélène Gestern
An unexpected treasure! The Red Notebook by Antoine Laurain was going to be my only book for Paris in July, but goodreads suggested I might enjoy this "dark yet touching drama which deftly explores the themes of blame and forgiveness, identity and love."
Once I picked up the book, I could not put it down. In it, a young woman seeks information about the mother she can barely remember (she died in an accident when her daughter was very young) and about whom her father and stepmother have never spoken.This debut novel, translated from French and winner of multiple literary awards, is mostly epistolary. It consists of letters and emails between two intelligent and extreme articulate people, along with several detailed descriptions of photographs.
"I asked myself what it is that forms the truth of a person, what happens when you grow up without memories, who were those people who had known me and of whom I knew nothing, whether some part of them - a word, an image, a smell - had stayed with me."This will surely be a favorite of 2017.
Nagasaki by Éric Faye
In a house on a suburban street in Nagasaki, meteorologist Shimura Kobo lives quietly on his own. Or so he believes. Food begins to go missing. Perturbed by this threat to his orderly life, Shimura sets up a webcam to monitor his home.Skillfully narrated by David Timson and Anna Bentinck, this was a short (just over 2 hours), slightly out of the ordinary, listening experience.
But though eager to identify his intruder, is Shimura really prepared for what the camera will reveal?
For the Jane Austen Read All-a-long//
Sense and Sensibilty by Jane Austen
What can I say? Jane Austen is a favorite and Sense and Sensibility is every bit as wonderful the second (or third, or fourth...) time around. Rereading Jane is always a treat.
The Beach House by Mary Alice Monroe
Today I'm listening to Christodora by Tim Murphy, a novel that has been compared to The Nix and City on Fire. The first three chapters have captured my interest and I may make it a read/listen combination.
Or I might start something else in print...we'll see.
How did July treat you? What have you been reading?
Sunday, July 9, 2017
Reading, but not writing... that's where I am now. Does it happen to you, too? I finish a book, reflect for a while, rate it on goodreads, and then I'm ready to dive into another. Here is my modest attempt to keep up.
Phineas Finn by Anthony Trollope
It took a month, but last week I finished the second book in Trollope's Palliser series, Phineas Finn ... 750+ pages and I was sorry to reach the end. Over the past two and a half years, I've read eight of Trollope's novels and don't plan to stop any time soon. There's nothing like catching a glimpse into Victorian England through his eyes. Trollope was a keen observer of society and his characters allow the reader to enter that world.
The political aspect of the Palliser series initially worried me. Would it be overwhelming or just plain dull? The answer, fortunately, is no. As the church and ecclesiastical life were to The Barsetshire Chronicles, politics is to the Pallisers. It provides a foundation for the lives of men... while women's lives are centered around men - their occupations, finances, and ambition. If a woman is lucky enough to possess money of her own, she may have some degree of power.
For me, the main draw of a Trollope novel is always his characters... and in particular, the women. While I eventually warmed to Phineas Finn, it was Lady Laura Standish, Violet Effingham, and Madame Max Goesler who kept me turning the pages. By the end of the book I was not ready to let any of the characters go. Trollope returns to Phineas in book 4, Phineas Redux, but The Eustace Diamonds is up next.
Thank you Audrey and Lisa for reading with me... should we do this again in the fall?
The Red Notebook by Antoine Laurain
It's time for Paris in July again and I decided to begin with this short, sweet, romantic novel. It involves a mugging, a designer handbag, a red moleskin notebook, a Modiano novel, a bookseller, and a bit of a mystery... all set in Paris, of course. At 160 pages, it was a pure delight to read. I highly recommend it.
Have you noticed the emails goodreads sends after finishing a book? Initially I thought they were silly, but after completing The Red Notebook this morning, they suggested I might like The People in the Photo by Hélène Gestern. Winner of fifteen literary awards, this "dark yet touching drama deftly explores the themes of blame and forgiveness, identity and love." The debut novel will be my next stop for Paris in July. It should be available at the library by next weekend. I'll keep you posted.
Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen
This book seemed to be everyone's favorite during Nonfiction November last year, so I was glad my book club decided to read it. About halfway through, I'm feeling completely out of sync with popular opinion... it's just okay. The author's narration isn't grabbing me either, despite the overall 4.4 rating on audible. Maybe the second half will be better?
I'll leave you with this photo of Zelda enjoying a cruise around the lake. That's my daughter off to the right... she always brings a book on the boat. What have you been been reading these past couple of weeks?
Tuesday, June 27, 2017
My overall numbers may be down, but the quality and personal enjoyment from books I've read this year is up. It wasn't hard come up with a list of 10 favorite from the first half of 2017... but it is hard to believe the year is half over!
Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi
The Mothers by Brit Bennett
Behold the Dreamers by Imbolo Mbue
Lillian Boxfish Takes a Walk by Kathleen Rooney
The Nix by Nathan Hill
Can You Forgive Her? by Anthony Trollope
My Life in Middlemarch by Rebecca Mead
Nothing to Envy: Ordinary Lives in North Korea by Barbara Demick
Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay
Have you made a list of midyear favorites?
Top Ten Tuesday is a feature hosted by The Broke and The Bookish.
Sunday, June 25, 2017
Good morning, friends. We're off to a sunny start today, perfect for the first Sunday of summer. I missed posting last weekend when we were in NYC visiting our daughters... a wonderful time, despite the rain. This weekend we're staying closer to home, but still have more plans than we can fit into two days. There hasn't been much reading, but here's the update.
by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Phineas Finn by Anthony Trollope
It's happened again... bookmarks in too many books stressing me out. I put two aside (for now), so my full attention is focused on Trollope. The second book in the Palliser series started off slowly, but now I'm enjoying it very much. As the Barsetshire novels were ecclesiastical in nature, this series is driven by politics. I'm exhausted by real life politics these days so that aspect isn't much of a draw.
The characters, however, are much more interesting. Trollope always seems to get me there! I'm especially struck by Lady Laura's plight - marrying for financial security at the expense of love and, possibly, happiness. I'm also wondering how things will play out with Violet Effingham and her suitors. Victorian women had so little control over their lives! Phineas Finn, our hero, is growing on me, too.
I hit the 50% mark this morning and will begin Volume II later today. #PalliserParty
Set aside, but not abandoned//
Do Not Say We Have Nothing by Madeleine ThienAfter reading the first chapter of this book, I have a feeling I'm going to love it. It deserves my full attention instead of being just one of three current reads. I've renewed it for three more weeks and hope to get back to it before them.
by Trevor NoahThe audio version of Born A Crime is still on my phone. It's excellent, but listening time has been almost nonexistent over the past two weeks. Thankfully, I own this one and am under no time constraints.
On the horizon//
Sense and Sensibility by Jane AustenI purchased this beautiful Vintage Classics edition at Amazon's brick and mortar store in NYC last weekend (an entire post could be written about that experience!) It's been at least a decade since I read this one, and I plan to join James' Jane Austen Read All A-long for July. I may be a little late to the party though... I doubt I'll be able to finish Phineas Finn by July 1.
Nonfiction November... everyone seemed to love it. My book club will discuss it July 18. If I pick up my copy at the library tomorrow, can I read it in time?
The week ahead//
Our small town goes all out for the 4th of July... parade, fireworks, road race, etc... and we host our own party, too. Both girls are coming home from NYC, so our house will be full. No promises for a post next weekend, but I'll catch up when I can.
How was your week? What are you reading? Any plans for the upcoming holiday?