Hello, friends. As the end of January approaches, it feels like this month has been at least eight or nine weeks long! We started the month with a nasty GI virus that thwarted out New Years plans, then spent most of a week with my parents in central NY. After returning to Connecticut, there was just enough time to pack and prepare for our trip south. That trip included a couple of days in beautiful Beaufort, SC where we were able to relax and catch up with friends.
We got back to Florida mid-month. It's been nonstop hurricane clean-up and dealing with "complications" ever since. The road to recovery will be long and slow, but seeing the above blooming beach daisies last night gives me hope.
With all of this activity, I read only two books in January... both long (over 400 pages) and literary. Both were read/listen combinations.
by Douglas Stuart
This debut novel by Scottish-American writer and fashion designer Douglas Stuart won the Booker Prize in 2020. Hugh "Shuggie" Bain is a sweet boy growing up in a Glasgow public housing project with an alcoholic mother, absent father, and older siblings desperately trying to get away.
Stuart's writing is wonderful and I was completely invested in the story, but the misery was unrelenting. This has to be one of the most depressing books I've ever read, yet I couldn't set it aside. As a read/listen combination, Angus King's Scottish accent in the audio version brought even more life to the novel.
Stuart's second novel Yound Mungo, released in 2022, is also highly-rated, but it will be a while before I'm ready for another heavy, sad tale.
Trust by Hernan Diaz
audio narrated by Edoardo Ballerini, Jonathan Davis, Mozhan Marnò, Orlagh Cassidy
I finished Trust last night and thought it was brilliant! It tells the riveting story of 1920s-era Wall Street tycoon Benjamin Rask and his wife Helen in a most unusual way. The novel is composed of four parts, each adding depth and layers of intrigue, which allow the reader to gradually form an understanding of the Rask's lives.
The first of the novel's four sections is a novel within the novel. "Bonds" is a fictional account of the Rask's lives. Publication of that novel enrages Rask and causes him to tell his own story in the form of an autobiography/memoir. His unfinished memoir becomes Part II of Trust. In Part III, we hear from the young woman Rask hires to ghost write his memoir. Part IV is Helen Rask's journal.
I flew through this novel in just a few days... very unusual for me, especially considering its length. The audio version (this was a read/listen combination for me) was outstanding. Each section is read by a different narrator. Each is excellent.
Trust was the winner of the Kirkus Prize and longlisted for the Booker Prize. It was also named one of the 10 Best Books of 2022 by both The New York Times and The Washington Post. I've added his earlier novel, In the Distance, to my reading list.
February plans//February usually marks the beginning of our season of winter visitors, but things will be a little different this year. Our daughter and her fiancé are coming later this week for a long weekend to celebrate her birthday, but that's it so far.
Hopefully, that will translate into more reading time. I've pulled several books from my shelves that I'd like to read soon and have also downloaded a couple of kindle samples. Both samples are books I'm not familiar with, but learned about while listening to podcast year-end favorite episodes. I'll let you know next time where I decide to start...
How was your month? What have you been reading?
The Sunday Salon is hosted by Deb at Readerbuzz.
Good to hear that you liked a Booker winner. I've never had good luck with them -- my taste seems different. At the moment I'm reading one by a Nobelist.ReplyDelete
best... mae at maefood.blogspot.com
Mae - A novel winning or even being nominated for the Booker is usually a negative indicator for me. Either the judging is changing or I am, lol!Delete
Nice! I'm curious about Trust. Happy February readingReplyDelete
Emma - I think the comparisons to Edith Wharton helped convince me to try Trust.Delete
My reading is also off to a slowish start this year but the new Elinor Lipman was a treat! (By the way, I was trying to remember where I saw a recipe for a butternut squash and quinoa casserole that sounded interesting and decided to use your search button to see if it was one of yours. And it was! And it was good!! So thank you for that, too.)ReplyDelete
Audrey - Glad to hear you enjoyed Elinor Lipman's latest! Her books are so much fun. I haven't made that butternut squash and quinoa recipe for ages... thanks for reminding me! It really was a good one.Delete
Trust sounds really good. I hope you have a great week!ReplyDelete
Yvonne - It really was. Hope your week is off to a good start!Delete
It sounds like you're ready to be done with January! I hope February is more gentle on you.ReplyDelete
I want to read Shuggie Bain, but if I'm going to read A Little Life and Demond Copperhead, I'm probably going to have my fill of depressing novels for the year. I didn't really have any interest in reading Trust, but with your 5-star review, I think I'll give it a try later this year.
Have a good week, JoAnn. So glad to see you posting here & there!
Les - It really feels like January has gone on forever... we covered a lot of ground! Shuggie Bain was so depressing that I decided to delay my library hold for Demon Copperhead for at least a month. Not sure I'll ever work up the courage to read A Little Life though.Delete
Trust was a huge surprise for me. I wasn't planning on reading it until a couple of podcasts mentioned it (I need to keep track of where these recommendations come from!) and I certainly never expected to enjoy it as much as I did. Susie from Novel Visits mentioned in her review that the audio added to her enjoyment, and I agree with her.
As you have suggested, I've been listening to audiobooks, and love it! I am now on my second book. Apart from that, I've read 2 other books and 1 short story this month. Not bad!ReplyDelete
I've heard about Trust from Six Degree of Separation meme. The starting point for this month is Trust. The meme will be up on 4th February, and this is the link (in case you're interested to participate): https://booksaremyfavouriteandbest.com/6-degrees-of-separation-meme/
Fanda - I'm SO glad audiobooks are working for you!! I think listening to audiobooks is a skill you get better at the more you listen.Delete
Thanks for mentioning Six Degrees of Separation. I've been reading the posts for years, but don't think I've ever participated. This might be a good time to try it!
JoAnn, good to hear that you guys are home and putting things back to 'normal'. Good luck with all your repairs, etc. I think two long books are quite an accomplishment with all you've had to deal with. I seem to have managed 3 books and am working on #4. Won't be finished before February, but at least I'm reading again. Take care and hope things go smoothly this week for you.ReplyDelete
Kay - You're right, of course. Two chunky books in such a crazy month is an accomplishment and I'm probably being too hard on myself. Glad to know you're reading again, too. It does keep us sane, lol!Delete
I'll never forget 1979 and the destruction a tropical storm left. My parents, my in-laws, friends, my husband and I...all of us were displaced and had to struggle to repair our homes. Yes, that little daisy is a beautiful sign of hope.ReplyDelete
Your rave review of Trust is the first I've read outside of those who write for magazines and newspapers. I saw a copy of it last week and I was tempted. I have Shuggie Bain, but I'm not in the mood for depressing, so I am passing it on to a friend.
Deb - I can see where an experience like that becomes a life-long memory. We weren't even here for the hurricane and I never want to go through this again... neighbors who chose not to evacuate and stayed through the storm literally have PTSD. That little daisy made me so happy and hopeful.Delete
I first heard about Trust on a podcast (sure wish I could remeber which one) and decided to give it a try... never expected to enjoy it so much. I'd have a hard time recommending Shuggie Bain without the caveat that it's really depressing. Hope your friend is up for it!
I love the photo of the greenery and daisy, I hope your recovery goes smoothly. Enjoy the time with your daughter and and her fiancé.ReplyDelete
Vicki - I can tell things are getting better every day. The devastation was so complete that I'm afraid what we see as progress is going to really shock our daughter.Delete
What a way to start off the new year. GI stuff is the worst. I bought Shuggie a long time ago but the unrelenting misery is what keeps me from picking it up, and I knew full well what I was getting into.ReplyDelete
Ti - Stuart is such a good writer, but I don't know when (if ever) I'll tackle Young Mungo.Delete
I'm glad you are feeling better. What a January!! I've been reading more by British authors and enjoying. Hope the hurricane cleanup moves faster and you can enjoy your home again.ReplyDelete
Tina - It seems like I've been reading more novels that have been nominated for (or won) the Booker Prize lately. They used to not work well for me, and I'm wondering whether I've changed or if the judging has. As for the clean-up, it seems like the entire island is one big construction zone... and sounds like it, too! Progress is slow, but steady.Delete
I hope the hurricane cleanup is progressing as smoothly as possible. It's definitely an endless task. I hope you get lots of good reading and listening done and are having a wonderful week.ReplyDelete
Thanks, Katherine. We are slowly making progress... and I'm finding a little time to read each day, too.Delete
Hurricane clean up and complications sounds like no fun; I hope it goes smoothly. Both your January books sound good!ReplyDelete
And, I've never seen a beach blooming daisy, what a lovely flower!
Helen - There are so many beautiful wild flowers near the beach. I had never seen most of them before moving here!Delete
Seeing the flowers starting to bloom definitely is a sign of hope! Here's hoping the clean up continues to go well and you can have more time for books in February! I really want to read Shuggie Bain but will need to prepare for that story. I have heard it's quite depressing. Hope you have a great week ahead!ReplyDelete
Iliana - I continue to see small improvement here every day. Think I need to focus more on that than what has been lost... sigh.Delete
I'm glad to get your reviews of these. I must get to both. Do you think Shuggie Bain should've been shorter ? -- with all that misery. And it seems some people liked Trust and others did not, but I'm putting it back on my list due to your 5 stars. Do you think audio is the way to go? thanks for these.ReplyDelete
Susan - I certainly think Shuggie Bain could have had the impact with 50 or so fewer pages, but the writing was so good that I didn't mind reading it. It will be some time before I'm ready for Young Mungo though.Delete
The audio edition of Trust was excellent! Each section has a different narrator so the voices are very distinct. I have heard some readers say it was confusing in print, but I didn't find it so at all. Listening definitely enhanced my enjoyment.