Wednesday, November 23, 2016

What I've Been Reading! And Watching!

After finishing all 12 novels in the Poldark series, I was convinced there wasn't anything else to read!!  I went to the library and looked under Anne Tyler - who's usually good for a readable novel.  Got The Tin Can Tree.  It was her second novel. It was pretty well-written, but the storyline was not very compelling - or believable for that matter.  Wouldn't necessarily recommend it.

I saw a novel called The Wall on a display at the Arcadia Library.  The premise sounded compelling - one woman left alone as the last human being on earth.  It was translated from the German.  I read maybe half of it - then read the end and called it good.  Wouldn't recommend it either.

Did luck out with the latest John Grisham - bought it at LAX - and it kept me engrossed for the whole 4 1/2 hour plane ride - the best airplane fiction I'd had in a while.

It's great to be able to count on the John Grishams in this world!

For the plane ride home, I bought 4 magazines - they kept me engrossed!

For the trip to Portland, I had The Condition by Jennifer Heigh.  Someone left it in my little free library. It was not great literature - and not really excellent airplane fare.  But it sufficed.  I wouldn't particularly recommend it either.  And I couldn't find a photo of it online either!!

I could do with some recommendations folks!

Monday, November 14, 2016

This Week!

I love the New Yorker magazine. We have subscribed for many years, and I would not be truthful if I said I read it all the time. I do peruse the cartoons each week. Always check out the movie reviews. Often check the book recommendations. Sometimes read the fiction. Don't always get through the very long articles - which at least have the distinction of going "straight through" - you don't have to skip ahead to pages at the end to finish an article.

They had this great cover - but the content was still pre-election. In "The Talk of the Town" there was a blurb on Karen Civil - of whom I had never heard - but then I have never heard of quite a few people - my popular culture score is a low one - and she said "It's really about continuing the legacy that Obama started. I know we still deal with racism and being divided, but he makes you feel like this is one nation, with his demeanor, his swag."

I felt like "Bingo" she said what I have been thinking. I admire President Obama - I am an unabashed fan. I have read his books, I have watched his speeches and his press conferences, and I feel strongly that history will bear me out.

Just wanted to get that out there. If you disagree, I don't want to hear about it. I don't even know if anyone reads this blog.  Thought of going on FB but decided not to.  This isn't a forum for collecting amens, I just wanted to go on record!

Tuesday, November 01, 2016

The end of the line . . .

The Poldark novels - in order - are:

Ross Poldark
Jeremy Poldark
The Black Moon
The Four Swans
The Angry Tide
The Stranger From the Sea
The Miller's Dance
The Loving Cup
The Twisted Sword
Bella Poldark

And last night I finished the last one!  I knew I'd regret it - now what will I read??

A great saga - replete with romance, history, culture, the American Revolution and the War of 1812, Napoleon, the French Revolution, the Cornwall Coast, the history of mining in Great Britain, ad infinitum!!

Not to mention a stunning cast of characters that are fully-formed and who seem like people we wished we had known!!  (Watching the show helps give them shape and form - although I just don't picture George Warleggan the way they show him in the series.)

A friend commented that what she loved about the novels was the way it painted a true picture of familial relationships - the good and the bad, the successes and the failures - and I have to agree with her.

Won't go into details - because that would be full of spoilers - above all else, it is a well-told story!

Go ahead and start!

Wednesday, October 05, 2016

Forging ahead with Poldark!!

I have been forging ahead with the Poldark novels - and am thinking that they are getting less compelling as I go along.

Although they are still a great read. I would not want to put anyone off.

I was reading some reviews - actually trying to get some answers - and noticed that many fans are in agreement with me.  And it makes sense - writing a 12 novel series takes a lot of time, skill, and talent.

Reminds me of the Hornblower series - every novel was not great and compelling - but as a body of work, they were.  The plus here that overrides Hornblower for me is that there are many more well-developed characters and sub-plots - a wonderful ingredient when you are plowing through a stack of novels.

And I'm still convinced that the best way to learn history is through some well-researched novels!!

I heartily recommend these books.  

And can someone tell me just what potion Elizabeth took??

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Getting back to Poldark!

So, last August - as in August 2015 - I reviewed the first two Poldark novels.  Actually, I had not finished number 2 - it was still on my Kindle.  It was called Demelza - I finished it - wondered why I hadn't finished it before??

Then I went to the library to see if I could get number 3, Jeremy Poldark, but it was not to be had! So I bought it on Kindle too - and really couldn't put it down!! Finished it today - and started number 4!! Starting with number 5, the library had copies, so I can stop spending money on Kindle!!

It was a good read - these are kind of like Horatio Hornblower - truly another time and place that a fine author has recreated - and it makes for really great reading.

It is a saga -which is why I think I find it so compelling.  And it's a romance.  Another plus.  And it's at the time of the French Revolution - and I have always affirmed the notion that the best way to study history is to read a great historical novel.

And there are quite a few more where this came from!

And, yes, I want to take a trip to the Cornwall coast of England!!

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Some beach reading!

Spent a few days at Bonny's while she and Bruce took Ella up to Idaho.  And the days were long and lovely and Esme and Annika were at school all day, so reading was definitely on the agenda!!

Decided not to buy more Kindle books, so I went to the library - and thought I'd pick up any Anny Tyler books I had not read.  That can be a tricky course of action, because I often think I haven't read a book - but then I get into it and realize that I have indeed read it already.

Not so with either of these - this one was a little forgettable - but deftly written and a great "beach read!"

This story was an audio book Harry and I started on a trip once.  Harry didn't like it, so we stopped listening.  I think maybe he's just not the Anne Tyler type!  I'd always wanted to see how it came out, so I was glad to finish it.  The story has a lot of merit - mostly about communication - or the lack of it in our lives.

I recommend it!

Saturday, September 03, 2016

Friday night at the movies!

So we have discovered VidAngel - and are now cleaning up movies we've wanted to watch! It's pretty easy to take out the sexual innuendo, nudity, violence, profanity, and anything else objectionable.  At first I thought maybe the movies would come out all hackneyed - but they don't.  Which leads me to wonder why they need all the bad stuff anyway - doesn't really seem to be all that essential!

I had read a review of this film in the AARP magazine of all places! And was sort of intrigued. It's sad in some ways, almost pathetic - as in you want to just cringe when you see the sorrow and heartache Doris endures! But Doris triumphs - so all's well that ends well I guess.

Their treatment of hoarders and greedy siblings after a death is a little "glossy" in that it doesn't really address the issue.  But it's actually not the main issue.

And it has a lot to say about social media and popular culture that is really "spot on" as they say!

Give it a look/see and tell me what you think!

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

I have been reading - just not as much as I was at this time last year!

I thought Phoebe had recommended this to me - but Bonny said her girls had to read it for school - so I guess she mentioned it and somehow I remembered the title and ordered it on Kindle.  It was sometimes gripping - oftentimes not - it's part of a series - and I don't think I will read the others - the summaries were sufficient!

Enough said I guess! I think teens would enjoy it though.

I decided to quit buying so much on Kindle, so I went to the library - and decided to try an Anne Tyler I hadn't read.  That's tough - I often bring one home, start to read it, and realize I've already read it! I need to keep better track!

It is early Anne Tyler - her third published novel - so many of the reviews focused on how much better her later work is.  But other reviewers talked about how basic it was - how it captured family and motherhood and parenting and love and daily life.  

One quote was very touching - I will paraphrase it - it talked about how small Pamela's life really was, but Elizabeth - the main character really - pointed out that she got up every day and dressed up and even pulled her tummy in!

That's what I like about Anne Tyler - the ordinaryness of it all - and how she paints such a great picture of it.

Another reviewer admires the fact that she never seems to pass judgment.  I hadn't thought of that before - but she doesn't really - you have to make up your own mind.

That may be a plus!

Saturday, August 20, 2016

It will always catch up with you!

Using Commercial jars for canning; Reusing or recycling pasta, mayonnaise, jelly, baby food or any commercial jars are highly susceptible to breakage. These jars should NOT be used

The above is one of the cardinal rules of canning.  A rule I know well - also a rule I have rather cavalierly broken for almost 50 years.
 And there have been no repercussions.
Until tonight!
I was whipping up a batch of strawberry jam - I keep frozen fruit in the freezer and make jam as needed - and I screwed the lid on tight and flipped the jar over to seal - and heard a loud "crack!"
A pint of strawberry jam gone to the trash.
It was a mayonnaise jar.
I think I won't try it again!
Sometimes we have to learn the hard way!
Even if it takes almost 50 years!

Thursday, August 18, 2016

I'd give it a 10!

Phoebe recommended this book to me - got it on my Kindle but didn't read it right away.  Finally remembered I had it and read it!  

Shouldn't have waited - it was great! An adolescent novel about a girl on the spectrum - sounds like an old plotline.  But it's not; it's a great read!  Smiles on every page.  It's not so much funny as real and very endearing.

Not even sure if kids would like it - but I know you adults will!!

And it takes place in Bakersfield!!!

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

I am a pretty dyed-in-the-wool Anne Tyler fan, so when I saw a new book by her, I got it to read.  I did not even notice that it was part of the Hogarth Series - a series I know little about, but one that attempts to re-write Shakespeare in modern times and terms.

The story starts out slowly, and it is a little stilted - not the usual Anne Tyler style that I love so much.  But I persevered - it is summer after all, and I do need something to read with my lunch! And I was rewarded for my efforts - the story got better.  The premise always seemed strange, but that faded as other events came forward.

The characters of Aunt Thelma, Uncle Theron, and Uncle Barclay helped the story get some flavor and color.  And a strange plot twist sent it into the arena of "I don't know what's going on but I think I want to find out" and then it all ended just like you thought it would! (Like you thought it would if you were familiar with Taming of the Shrew that is!)

A good summer read - or fall read curled up on the couch with a fire going in case you have to wait that long!

Give it a try - you will probably be glad you did!

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Latest read -

Chris Cleave wrote Little Bee - a book I enjoyed reading - and found thought-provoking and well-written.  So when I read that he had a new book out, I thought I'd give it a read!

It was a slow starter - I picked away at it for a couple of weeks or more before I really got engaged in the story line.  Not sure it that was the fault of the story, the writing, or me! But it did become compelling about halfway through, and I sat up late one night reading!

The story revolves around London and the beginning of the bombing siege there in World Wart II.  There is a sub-plot revolving around the treatment of blacks during the bombing - apparently a fairly large number of black minstrel performers had come to London just before the war and they were the victims of some racial persecution.

The main story revolves around Tom, Alistair, Mary, and to a lesser degree, Hilda, and their experiences and personal growth as they face the escalating pressures of war. Once it got going, the story was fast-paced, and was gripping at many points.

The afterward by the author was a great story in itself - I'd not recommend reading it first - save it for the end!!

A good story - war stories usually are!

Tuesday, July 05, 2016

Beautiful, fun, goofy!!

I certainly know who Roald Dahl is - but I actually have not read many of his books - in fact, I think I have only read James and the Giant Peach.  Not sure why I haven't read them - all my kids seem to have.  But I may have to change that!

Harry and I went and saw The BFG on Monday to celebrate the holiday.  And we thoroughly enjoyed it. I'm thinking it might be scary for some kids - but actually Roald Dahl always has a scary element. Doesn't seem to cost him his kid audience.

It was also great that the Queen was played by a fave from Downton Abbey!

Might be a movie worth having in your video library!!
And the breakfast scene at the palace was superb!!

Saturday, July 02, 2016

Latest summer read

There has been lots going on in my life that has precluded getting much reading done.  So I decided to go looking for a book to put on my Kindle.  Amazon does have my reading history right at its fingertips, so it usually has a list of recommended books for me to read! 

Since I had read and enjoyed Mr. Pettigrew's Last Stand, the idea of another book by the same author seemed like a good choice.  I frequently "stick with one author" and it's been mostly a good idea. This was too!

This story is set in the time period before Britain entered World War I.  I've read a number of novels about that war - you know, "The war to end all wars!" It was indeed a tragic event - one that shaped world history in ways we may never fully understand.

But this story, though not "lightweight" or "lighthearted," is light enough to enjoy, but definitely thoughtful and thought-provoking.

I'd recommend it!

Monday, June 20, 2016

A must-see movie!

Phoebe and Eliza were both leaving today - Eliza needed to be gone by noon or so, so we had a lovely lunch together.  Then Phoebe said, well, I don't have to go until 5:30, what shall we do?  (What I love about Phoebe is the way she is nice and direct!!)
So I said, well, what about a movie.  And Phoebe said, I was just thinking that we could go to a movie.
 The Krikorian - our default choice when going to the movies  - had nothing we wanted to see.  Then I remembered a movie Harry had wanted to see after he read the review in the LA Times a few weeks ago.  At that time, the movie wasn't playing anywhere close.
But lucky for us, I checked the listings for the Laemmle, our other movie theater of choice, and there it was in black and white - the title, not the movie!  The Music of Strangers, Yo-Yo Ma the Silk Road Ensemble. 

This is a documentary about the efforts of Yo-Yo Ma, world-renowned cellist, and other international musicians, to create a music ensemble that will bring cultures together, create cultural awareness, serve mankind, provide understanding and peace, and play beautiful music.

Sounds like a tall order doesn't it?  Well, it does, but it is achievable - and this film shows you how it's done. In addition, the film also highlights the current issues in the Middle East and the refugee problem.

My description sounds lame - because talking about beauty isn't always beautiful is it?? You need to watch and listen - and this film is the best place to start.

Take my word for it!

Monday, June 06, 2016

Summer reading - maybe!

Sometimes a book grabs you - and sometimes it doesn't!  This one had a compelling story line for a bit, but then it degenerated and started "flailing" somewhat.  That is to say, it was not so compelling after awhile.

And the ending was a little too pat - a combo of romance fiction and John Grisham!!

If I owned a copy, I probably wouldn't keep it!

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Getting behinder and behinder!!

It's been a busy spring - and doesn't look like it will get any less busy anytime soon, but I have been getting some reading done - mostly when I travel though!!  I don't dare start a book at home - then truly nothing will get done!!  

Hannah had this one from the library - I am so out of touch, I didn't even know there was a new Maisie Dobb's out.  Maisie has lost a lot of her charm - I read mostly out of loyalty.  This was typical of her later stuff - predictable and a little stilted.  Not sure why I feel compelled to read her.  It's a lot like the Mitford novels - took me a while to give those up too.

I think Phoebe recommended this one - or maybe Leslie - but it is good!  A coming of age story that is well-written and beautiful in its depiction of life in the 60's.  Have not even heard of this author - apparently he is well known as a mystery/detective writer - but he has captured youth and religion and coming-of-age beautifully. The incident that the title comes from is especially moving.

I was at the airport early - quite early actually - and saw this in the airport store, so I bought it - along with a People magazine - my airport guilty pleasure -  because I had read a review of it in the New Yorker.  I don't think they often review adolescent novels, so I wanted to find out why.  It is beautifully written - and so evocative of youth and life and sorrow and being different but the same.  I'm actually not sure a young person could really appreciate it - but maybe I'm wrong on that score.

Always love an Anna Quindlen novel - was delighted to hear there was a new one out.  This was a good read, and well-written, but not actually excellent literature - a little too "pat" at times.  But it was a good read!

Now I am reading a book Alice recommended - won't be traveling for a few weeks so I'm not sure when I will get it read - you'll just have to check the blog - all 5 of my readers that is!!

Sunday, April 17, 2016

If you give a mouse a cookie . . .

Well, the 2016 Book Reading Challenge said to re-read a book you had read before.  That wasn't a tough sell - I have read GWTW about 30 times I suspect - that's not counting the times I've skimmed through it to just re-read my fave parts!!

I did notice this time that the book is significantly racist.  I have known that intellectually for many years, but I haven't really had it hit me in the face like it did this time.  It took a little away from my enjoyment.  But I noted that she could have left the racist descriptions out - and to my way of thinking most of the racism comes with the way she describes the black characters in the story - and the book would have been just as good a story - and quite a bit shorter.

That's probably a pretty simplistic way of looking at the issue.  But you do have to keep in mind that it was written in 1936 - and much of what she wrote and believed was the prevalent thought of the day. The same issue comes up every time some school teacher has the class read Mark Twain or Ayn Rand.  It's pretty essential to keep historical context in mind when reading "controversial" books.

I think that GWTW is a great story - and that has been its major appeal - and is why it's still read and enjoyed today.  I know the plot by heart.  I actually have lots of the dialogue memorized.  But the story still moves me!

In 1992, the Margaret Mitchell estate had a competition and authorized a sequel.  I was pretty excited when it came out and got the book and read it right away.  I also enjoyed that "story" a lot - but the writing was not nearly as evocative as Margaret Mitchell.  GWTW is the only book she ever wrote - and she did die young - but she was a skillful writer.

So much like the mouse who wants a glass of milk when you give him a cookie, I felt the need to re-read the sequel.  It was a good read - and it was only the 2nd time I'd read it, so it was a lot like reading a book for the first time.  But as I have said before, the writing was somewhat dull and tedious - and I was mostly reading to get the plot advanced!!  I have not seen the TV movie version of it - and doubt that I will.  Vivian Leigh and Clark Gable are Scarlett and Rhett - and there's no doubt about that in my mind!

The estate authorized another sequel in 2002 - Rhett Butler's People -  and I read that one also - was tempted to re-read it but the first few pages didn't really grab me this time, so I put it down in favor of Grapes of Wrath, the book my home/hospital student is reading.  That is a re-read for me too, but since it's so well-written, a re-read is a treat.

I don't often re-read books - GWTW, Grapes of WrathThe Pearl, and Mrs. Mike are the major repeaters in my repertoire, also the core lit selections from my years of middle school teaching - but sometimes it's fun to curl up with an "old friend" - especially on a rainy afternoon, which is how it worked out for me.

If you have not read GWTW though, you do owe yourself a read!!

Friday, April 01, 2016

"A book set in Europe"

Ara sent me a 2016 Reading Challenge that looks a little more extensive than the one I have - this one fits the category "A book set in Europe."  (I haven't done as much reading this year as I usually do - not sure what that says about my life!)

Anyway, Hannah recommended this one, and it is a good read.  The premise is that what would happen if your life ended - but then the scenario changed and you didn't die?

Ursula Todd dies at birth - at least at the beginning of the book - but then the scenario is replayed - and she doesn't die!  Her life continues on in this vein through World War I and World War II and goes up to 1967.  It might sound like it's pretty confusing, but it's not - you actually start wondering how each new life or scenario is going to play out.

There are some interesting and intriguing episodes involving Hitler and Eva Braun.  It is also a story about a family - the Todds - and how their lives intertwine and influence each other.

And apparently the novel after this, A God In Ruins, is kind of a sequel.  One I will undoubtedly get and read!!

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Another adventure with Miss Buncle!!

Well, this does not fill any unfilled categories in my 2016 Book Challenge, but it was a fun read.  These novels - apparently there are 4 in the Miss Buncle series and this is number 2 - are quite charming.  They were written by D. E. Stevenson, who lived from 1892 to 1973 and wrote over 50 novels.  Apparently there has been an interest in her books and some have been re-published.

The best part though is that she is the granddaughter of Robert Louis Stevenson!  So of course story-telling is in her genes!!

I may just have to finish the series - because not only is Miss Buncle now married and Mrs. Abbot, but a bundle of joy is on the horizon!!

Tuesday, March 01, 2016

A fun read!

This meets a few categories on my Reading Challenge 2016 list:  recommended by a friend or family member, can be read in a day, a book published before you were born (ha, bet you didn't think there were many of those!!)

Phoebe recommended it - so we bought it on Amazon so we could both read it.  It is definitely lightweight - would be perfect airplane fiction.  It has a certain British charm to it.  Great literature it is not, but it is fun - something along the lines of Flavia de Luce books.

It was a perfect companion on a somewhat dreary day - a little overcast, I was home alone - try it, you might like it!

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Not sure what category to put this in!

My reading challenge for 2016 is a good one - and it may take me all year to fill the categories - but what about books that fill a category I've already filled?

This is one of them - and I'm liable to have lots of books for this category - a book recommended by a family member or friend!!

Leslie told me I had to read it - and I'm glad she did!  It's a great read - not sure why I'd never heard of it - it was written in 1924 and it's been made into a movie and PBS series a few years ago.

Mary Webb is a contemporary - almost - of Thomas Hardy - and this story has many Hardy-like elements.  But it is its own story and a good one too!

When you Google it, you find out everything - you'd think they'd be spoilers - but the reading of the book - even when you know what will happen - is where the joy lies.

For starters, it's written in dialect - and she does a great job with that and you feel like you are there in time!!  Also, the characters are well-drawn and compelling.  Also, there are elements of witchcraft and legend and history and culture which add a richness to the tale.

But above all else, it is a beautiful love story.  And who doesn't love a good romance??

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

The Rock Store!

Katie Harvey posted some photos of geodes and I responded with a comment about Burminco, the Rock Store, and she didn't remember it!  I was somewhat aghast - because I thought everyone in Monrovia knew about Burminco.  But I guess they didn't!

I told her that if she saw a picture of the place, she'd probably remember it.  So I went hunting for a photo - and look what I found??  A photo of George Burnham - founder of Burminco.  Originally it was Burnham's Mineral Company - Bur min co!!  Very clever!

Also found a photo of the store - which was a house really.  The Burminco store was started in a 3-car garage that George Burham owned on Encinitas! They lived there and ran the store.  Actually George was often spending months away from home, traveling around the world, gathering rocks and minerals!!

When I taught at Wildrose, I took 2 students a month to Burminco - a prize for doing your work, behaving, working hard - earning tickets for all sorts of good behavior - and then we had a drawing. The prize was a walk to Burminco - and no one was ever disappointed!!

I've taken Cub Scout dens, grandchildren, and of course children!!  I was sad to see it go - it has re-located in San Dimas - not quite the same though!

Just a little "walk down Memory Lane!"

Monday, February 08, 2016

A banned book!!

How exciting to fill the category of "banned book!" in my 2016 Reading Challenge!  Phoebe lead me on to this one - it is a great read.  It's a YA or even adolescent novel, and it's really not objectionable in my book. But I can see where a conservative school district or town library could have parents and teachers who objected to its inclusion.

The story moves fast, the details are abundant, and it's totally believable that a young boy from an Indian reservation would have these kinds of experiences - at least it seems that way to me.  I have actually read other "Indian" stories that had a lot of the same elements.

The cover art makes you think it has some connection to The Indian in the Cupboard, but I didn't really see one.  Maybe it's just to make for a clever cover.

Read it - you will enjoy it!

Sunday, February 07, 2016

"A book you can finish in a day!"

I have been picking away at my 2016 Reading Challenge.  My latest read was the "A book you can read in a day" category.

It was a quick read, a good story, fairly well written, and not too cliche ridden. It's the story of two relatively young people - in the late 30's - who both have early onset Alzheimers.  They both - the man and the woman - end up in the same assisted living facility.  You can imagine the turn the story takes.

What adds to the story is the inclusion or frame story of a woman and her young daughter who come to work at the facility.  The husband and father of this family recently committed suicide after being found out for a Ponzi scheme he had engineered.  Eve and her daughter become involved in the lives of the residents and workers at Rosilind House and the story takes off from there.

Some of the twists and turns are a little too "pat" but by and large the story is mostly believable - and that's why we have "the willing suspension of disbelief" isn't it??

The characters are sympathetic and not always two-dimensional - but mostly.  It's lightweight for a heavyweight topic, but it is a good read. 

And one more category is now checked off!

Wednesday, February 03, 2016

More from Elizabeth Strout

I previously reviewed the new novel, My Name is Lucy Barton,  by Elizabeth Strout, which I enjoyed.  I was interested because years ago I read Olive Kitteridge by the same author and quite enjoyed it - assumed I would enjoy other books by the same author.  I often read everything by one author - a habit I started in high school after reading Sinclair Lewis' Main Street.

Usually, if the author has a distinct style, I find the "sameness" of the stories and books relaxing and easy reading - what you need sometimes!

Also this go round, I am trying out another "reading challenge" for this year, but these two books don't fit any of the categories! The category they do fit, and one I'm trying to implement, is books from the library instead of buying them on Kindle!

At any rate, just finished these two.  Amy and Isabelle was a disappointment on many levels.  The story was dark and depressing with no redeeming elements.  It's about a high school math teacher who "crosses the line" with a troubled young lady in his class.  After the first few chapters, I skimmed in a major way just to get the story line.  Never a good recommendation in my book - a book you have to skim or skip!!  Thinking I should have just skipped it!  Ms. Strout's writing was a "off" too - seems as if she'd written the book to sell - and not much else, although it did win prizes when it was published.  Maybe it's me.

Just finished Abide With Me, about a minister in a small town in New England.  It was well-written, with a compelling story line and some very well-developed characters.  I often enjoy books about Protestant ministers, since that is such a foreign concept for an active Mormon.

Next books needs to be one of the categories from the challenge - not sure which one it will be!

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

A book published this year??

The various categories for my current reading challenge are not vast and inclusive I fear.  When Breath Becomes Air was going to count for a book published this year, but I'm going to have it be the category a book recommended by your child - since Hannah recommended it to me - and I will have this be the book published this year!!

I enjoyed Olive Kitteridge a lot, so that is what attracted this book to me, since it is by the same author.  However, it was quite a different book - and in fact I went to the library today to get earlier books by this author just to get more familiar with her.  Will let you know what I think.

My Name is Lucy Barton is very reflective - reflective in the sense that the woman - Lucy Barton - is reflecting on many different parts of her life.  Although the time frames jump around, it is easy to keep the thread.  The story is basically that of a woman who is in the hospital for 9 weeks - we never know exactly why - and her mother comes to visit her after a very long absence.  The story is very spare - but full anyway.  The richness of language is apparent in its sparseness.

I do wish I knew more about the woman and her life though.  Maybe that was the author's intent.

It might not appeal to everyone, but I found it compelling. 

Thursday, January 14, 2016

First Challenge of My New Reading Challenge!

The title of this very moving memoir comes from the writings of English diarist Baron Greville, "You that seek what life is in death, Now find it air that once was breath." And thus Dr. Kalanithi goes on to share with us his journey to death - a death that came much sooner than he had ever imagined.

It sounds morbid or depressing perhaps, but Dr. Kalanithi was a student of letters before he was a student of science.  He earned a masters degree in literature before choosing to go to medical school. Thus words for him are paramount - and he parses his words beautifully.  That is one way that this story is lifted from the possibly maudlin to nearly sublime at some junctures.

But what is mostly compelling is his ability to tell his story in a way that makes us feel that we are on the journey with him.  The scientific and medical detail is thorough, and even though I couldn't always follow it exactly, the sense of what he was trying to say came through.

He starts with the discovery of his cancer, then moves to the background of his journey to that point, and back to the discovery.  He wrote up until the end of his life, and probably did not feel that he'd told the whole story.  The epilogue by his wife is very beautifully written also.

I wept as read the ending.  As one reviewer noted, even though you know the outcome, you are still mesmerized by his story.  I would highly recommend it to one and all.

And thanks,  Hannah,  for sending me the link about it!

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Reading in 2016

I confess readily to an addiction to reading.  I read lots of books.  Whenever folks ask me how I find time to read so much, I usually reply that I read when I ought to be doing other stuff!!

Last year I met - and exceeded the challenge to read a book a week - that would be 52 books - I read 61! My high school friend Sharon McKinney sent me a reading challenge that I think I am going to try - I'm sure there's a link, but I will just summarize it here:

a book published this year
a book you can finish in a day
a book you've been meaning to read
a book recommended by your librarian or bookseller
a book you should have read in school
a book chosen for you by your spouse, partner, sibling or child
a book published before you were born
a book that was banned at some point
a book you previously abandoned
a book you own but have never read
a book that intimidates you
a book you're already read at least once

Many of these categories can overlap - so I may have to read more than 12 books! For example, Hannah recommended a book published this year that I am reading now - but I won't use it to check off 2 categories!!

And I'm excited for such a good excuse to once again re-read Gone With the Wind! Some will be true challenges - finishing books I've abandoned may be the toughest - after all, there's usually a good reason for abandoning a book! And all the books I own but haven't read are mostly dry old classics - that will be tough.

But I will keep you posted - and any suggestions that fit the above criteria above are welcome!!