Thursday, July 27, 2023

A Midweek Update: Things Did Not Go As Planned

 
 
Hello, friends! Since we'll have a full house this weekend, I thought I'd post an early update this week. Let's just say things did not go as planned...

You might remember that my husband had a high school reunion earlier this month and, while he was there, I visited my parents in central NY. Following the reunion, he drove to my parents' where we all spent Sunday night before continuing home to CT the next morning. By Tuesday he was feeling sick... You may have already guessed the rest of the story but, after three years and five shots, he had Covid... and two days later, so did I. Thankfully, my parents did not get it.

We had planned to go to Lake Placid, NY last Thursday for IronMan Weekend to see our oldest daughter's first full ironman competition, and to celebrate my birthday. Obviously the trip didn't happen. Instead I spent the weekend in CT napping, reading, and listening to audiobooks on my zero gravity lounger in the sunroom. Despite feeling lousy, it seemed like a personal reading retreat!

Meanwhile, our daughter completed her first Ironman! It required a lot of dedication and training... we're so proud of her.

I'm feeling better now, but the still coughing . 



Recent reading//

by Anne Berest, Tina Kover (translator)

This "true novel" is a July selection at The Modern Mrs. Darcy Book Club. (MMD) It was a long book, 464 pages, and on the heavy side for summer reading, but I ended up loving it! I'm looking forward to our  live chat with the translator later today.
⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐



Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry

I read this 964 page western over the past two months with a small group of readers from MMD and now consider it the most surprising reading experience I've ever had! At the outset, there was literally NOTHING about Lonesome Dove  that appealed to me - just the praise from trusted readers who consider it an all-time favorite. Now that I've finished, I'm certain these characters will be with me forever! I'm so glad I persevered beyond those first 100-150 pages. Now I plan to watch the miniseries.
⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐



by Thornton Wilder

I read this classic play in high school, but picked it up for a reread based on Ann Patchett's recommendation. It's deeper and more philosophical than I remembered... probably more than my high school brain could grasp at the time. The play is about everyday life in a small town where nothing much happens, yet  it's quite moving. Ann says her about-to-be-released novel, Tom Lakewas inspired by Wilder's play. I'll be using my birthday gift certificate to buy Patchett's book on August 1... and now I'm ready for it!
⭐⭐⭐⭐




Hello Beautiful by Ann Napolitano

So sad, but so beautiful... I thoroughly enjoyed this family story.
⭐⭐⭐⭐đź’«



Current reading//



Banyan Moon by That Thai

This is one of the August selections over at MMD. I'm halfway through and it's fine so far - a typical family drama involving a family whose matriarch immigrated from Vietnam. I was hoping 20th century history and Vietnam itself would play a larger role... we'll see what develops in the second half.




On the blog//


The week ahead//
Our daughter, the Ironman, and her fiancé arrive this evening for a long weekend. We have plenty of activities lined up... should be a great fun!


How is the summer treating you? What have you been reading lately?




Monday, July 24, 2023

Overdue Reviews: No Two Persons by Erica Bauermeister and The Great Displacement by Jake Bittle


No Two Persons by Erica Bauermeister
narrated by a full cast
Macmillan Audio, 2023
8 hours and 54 minutes

 "No two persons ever read the same book”  is a familiar quote, and now Erica Bauermeister has written a novel which shows how one book impacts many lives in very different ways. The novel is comprised of connected stories and begins, naturally, with an author... one writing a novel called Theo. It continues with a story about a young, overworked and underpaid publishing assistant who pulls Theo  from the slush pile. We're later introduced to an actor turned audiobook narrator, a homeless teenager, an artist, a bookseller, and more. Each story highlights the subject's relationship with Theo and, by the end, I kind of wished I could read Theo  for myself!

I loved nearly all of the stories and was delighted any time a familiar character reappeared in a later chapter. This is truly a book for book lovers! Listening added to my overall enjoyment - each story has a different narrator and they were all great. My only complaint, which is true for many short story collections, is that I was frequently left wanting more when a story ended.

I chose this book after seeing Tina's glowing review, and it later became a Modern Mrs. Darcy July selection. The live author chat enhanced my appreciation of this book, and made me want to reread it in print.




by Jake Bittle
Simon & Schuster, 2023
368 pages

It's impossible to deny climate change these days and The Great Displacement  explains how climate migration is already underway. I found this to be an absolutely riveting read, especially in light of our experience with Hurricane Ian in Sanibel, FL last September.

Bittle structures the book to cover both weather/climate disasters and long-term growing problems. Each gets a separate chapter where the author digs into possible causes, government response, construction/ insurance/housing ramifications, and stories of individual families and homeowners in each danger zone. 

The Great Displacement  begins with Hurricane Irma in Big Pine Key, FL in 2017, then moves back to 1999 and the first attempt at government buyouts. This occurred in Kinston, NC  following flooding along the Neuse River after Hurricane Floyd. Bittle explore the situation following California wildfires, coastal erosion in the Louisiana bayous, flood control in Houston, water scarcity in Arizona, and rising sea levels in Norfolk, VA. This is a comprehensive look at the many manifestations of climate change and various attempts to deal with them. I learned even more about the national flood insurance program, the insurance industry in general, FEMA, the Army Corps of Engineers, changing flood zones, and the effects on the housing market. 

This is the most comprehensive look at the many climate change scenarios facing the United States that I have seen. I could not put this book down and even added the audio version so I could continue to listen when I could no longer sit and read. This will be one of my favorite nonfiction reads of 2023.


Sunday, July 9, 2023

Midyear Musings and a List of Favorites


Halfway though 2023... already! It feels like the year is flying, even as I make a conscious effort to slow down and really enjoy the small moments. [There is nothing like watching the sun set over the water.]  I've enjoyed good times with family and friends, and I'm thankful my knee has allowed me to resume my morning walks with an audiobook. 

When thinking about my 2023 reading, one thing stands out. The numbers are way down. A closer look tells me that some of it is the result of no "audiobook walking" for six months, but just as much can be attributed to the longer books I seem to be gravitating toward this year. I think the big book trend will continue for a while longer, too. 

With that in mind, here's my list of first half favorites.


FICTION


Trust by Hernan Diaz


The Latecomer by Jean Hanff Korelitz


Demon Copperhead by Barbara Kingsolver


Chorus by Rebecca Kauffman


Any time I reread Pride and Prejudice, it automatically makes the list!



NONFICTION







by Jake Bittle


Have you read any of these books? What are your favorite books so far this year?

Sunday, July 2, 2023

June Wrap-Up and July Reading Possibilities


Hello, friends and happy 4th of  July weekend. The year seems to be passing so quickly and before we get too far into July, let's wrap up June. We had a good month here... settling back into our CT home, visiting my parents, enjoying a quick visit with my brother and his family, and currently hosting our daughter, her fiancĂ©, and the grandpup.

As for June reading, it was another month of good books but low numbers. Now that we're halfway through the year, I think it's safe to say that this has become a pattern. My overall numbers are down (again!) but enjoyment remains high. This is mostly because I've embraced longer books instead of putting them off... and this seems to be working for me right now. I have a hunch that when I compile my list of first-half favorites later this week, they will be mostly big books. We'll see...



JUNE BOOKS


No Two Persons by Erica Bauermeister
narrated by a full cast
⭐⭐⭐⭐ - contemporary fiction, review pending




by Jake Bittle
⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ - nonfiction, review pending



STILL IN PROGRESS


Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry
(on page 533 of 858)




The Postcard by Anne Berest
(on page 131 of 475)



JULY READING POSSIBILITIES
  • finish Lonesome Dove  by Larry McMurtry
  • finish The Postcard  by Anne Berest
  • Our Town  by Thornton Wilder  -classic play, on my kindle
  • Hello, Beautiful  by Ann Napolitano - new fiction, on my shelf
  • Banyan Moon  by Thao Thai - debut fiction, new release
  • something backlist from my shelves


Other July happenings include a family reunion with my husband's cousins, another long weekend with my parents, my husband's high school reunion, and a trip to Lake Placid for my birthday where we will cheer on our oldest daughter as she competes in IronMan Lake Placid. It's shaping up to be another full month!


How did June go for you? What was your favorite book? What are you hoping to read in July?










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