Catching Up

I’ve done a dangerous thing:  I’ve started a free trial of Amazon Prime. Actually, I can blame my husband – he’s the one who signed up for it, thinking it would make his item come faster (it didn’t.) Well, I thought, since I’ve got this for 30 days, what can I watch? Ah, yes, Bosch!  I’ve always wanted to see how they developed Michael Connelly’s beloved police procedurals for the small screen!

MV5BNjZjNjMyNDctZDNhOC00ODFlLTlmYzYtYjc2ZWMxNjNmYmE2XkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyNjI4OTg2Njg@._V1_UX182_CR0,0,182,268_AL_Uh-oh, my friends. It’s AMAZING. Here I am, eight episodes in, and I can feel my desire to read just ebbing away like sands through the hourglass. Titus Welliver is mesmerizing as LAPD detective Harry Bosch, and the show is just as addictive as the novels. The political intrigue in the police department is just as as compelling as the cases Bosch works. I don’t plan on continuing the subscription after 30 days so I fear that my reading will take a bit of a backseat for the next couple of weeks until I get through the three seasons currently available. Good thing I’ve been on such a hot streak in 2018. I’ve read five books! And two of them are books I own, which means a great start to my small goal of reading at least 12 of my own books.

Let me tell you a little bit about what I’ve read so far this year. The longer I go between finishing a book and writing about it, the less I want to write a review. Here are some highlights of my January so far.

Anything is Possible by Elizabeth Strout. I love starting out the year with a five-star read!  This was just as lovely and moving as My Name is Lucy Barton. It’s set in the 51mPEE0qUtL._SX336_BO1,204,203,200_same universe (Lucy even appears in one story, about her and her siblings.) I don’t know how Strout does it, but she takes the ordinary and makes it extraordinary. She also seems to know how to manipulate my tear-ducts, as I cried on more than one occasion while reading these linked short stories. My two favorite stories in the novel were “Windmills” and “Mississippi Mary.” The latter is about the special bond between a youngest (and favorite) daughter and her mother. Mary (the mom) has moved to Italy, finally living her life for herself and experiencing true love with a younger Italian man. Angelina (the daughter) is middle-aged, having marital troubles, and has never gotten over her parents’ divorce or the fact that Mary has moved across an ocean.  It’s a story about shifting roles as parents age and whether or not a child can ever fully see a parent as a person in her own right. It’s just a knock-out. If you can get a copy of this and only have time for one story, read this one.

51ZCLMRv8nL._SX329_BO1,204,203,200_I listened to The Book of Joy: Lasting Happiness in a Changing World by the Dalai Lama and Archbishop Desmond Tutu, and what an uplifting audio book! Cowritten and narrated by Douglas Abrams, (two excellent voice actors narrate the parts of the Dalai Lama and Tutu) this book is the fruit of a week’s visit between the two spiritual leaders and friends in Dharamsala, India to celebrate the Dalai Lama’s 80th birthday. Abrams asks the men to share their wisdom in conversations about cultivating joy in the midst of worldly troubles. I loved hearing how close the two men are, how they laugh with and tease one another. I laughed out loud quite a few times, and when it was time for them to say goodbye to one another at the end of the week, I cried. This is a five-star audio book, and I wholeheartedly recommend it for everyone, especially if you could use an emotional lift. I may end up buying a physical copy to refer to again.

My book group pick for January was Saint Mazie by Jami Attenberg. Historical fiction, set in New York City in the 1920’s and ’30’s. This was a page-turner for me as I finished it in two days. Mazie, loosely based on a real-life woman, is a bold, unconventional young23245422 woman for the time, and I found myself empathizing with her even as she made some choices that I didn’t care for. There were some surprisingly sexy scenes in this book too! Our book group had a lively discussion about how successful the diary/interview format of the book was, and whether or not Mazie felt authentic to the time period. Personally I found her a big-hearted, vulnerable character who tried her best to make lemonade from the lemons that life threw her way. This was a solid four-star read, sad, but worth it.

Finally, I finished the Neapolitan Novels by Elena Ferrante with the final installment, The Story of the Lost Child. I had finished the third novel back in February of 2016 (!) and for some reason had put off reading the fourth. I do get easily bored reading too much of the 81V-4jCgCiLsame kind of thing in succession, and I probably just got distracted by other books. In any case, I was disappointed by Lost Child. I found it tedious and too long. What I loved about the other three novels, the complicated “frenemy” relationship between the two main characters, Elena and Lila, took a back seat to Elena’s love life. Boring! Her relationship with Nino was just painful; he was such a cad and Elena just dithered and dawdled about her decisions. Oh well. At least I’m done with the series, and it was a book I own too, so that’s a plus.

Right now I’ve just started reading Nella Larsen’s Passing, and Sherman Alexie’s short story collection The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven. Both are very good so far. And they’re both books I own!  I’m on a roll in that department. Right now Bosch may have stolen my attention, but I won’t let these gems linger for too long. Happy reading and have a great weekend, everyone!  Tell me, what books and television shows have caught your fancy this week?



24 thoughts on “Catching Up

  1. I re-read Anything is Possible this week becacause my Book Group was discussing My Name is Lucy Barton. Two things struck me. The first was just how different in style the two books are: the first so spare and first person, the second much more descriptive and third person, and the second was how many of the characters are in one way or another victims of the horrors of war. Either they suffer from ptsd themselves or their lives have been blighted by being brought up in a household dominated by the aftereffects.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. So I’m not entirely sure I understand what Amazon Prime is, but it sounds addictive nonetheless. I’m currently working my way through the second season of The Crown on Netflix!

    I read Saint Maize awhile ago, but seem to recall liking it. And the book about the Dalai Lama and his buddy sounds amazing!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Amazon Prime, as far as I can tell, enables you to get free and faster shipping on some things and also to watch their tv and movie content- Amazon produces shows Like Bosch and Transparent along with movies like The Big Sick. So it’s like Netflix in that way. I’ve heard such good things about The Crown! It’s definitely on my to-watch list.

      The Dalai Lama book WAS amazing. So uplifting.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I never reviewed the Lost Child because I felt the same way! Elena’s dramas wore me out so much, I didn’t even want to review it. I missed Lila, too.

    TV definitely cuts in to reading time. But enjoy! So many good shows these days.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh, I’m so glad I’m not the only one who felt that way about Lost Child! Makes me feel better. 🙂

      Yes, too many good shows! I’m in awe of people who don’t watch any TV at all. They’re out there, and they’re reading 200 books a year!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. That’s exactly the reason I don’t let myself watch TV shows! I would become so addicted, especially with the ability to binge-watch. The only TV I watch is with my daughter when we both have a chance to watch together. And we watch *her* shows. Which is much safer for me. However… I have to say that I am always jealous when I hear people talking about the good shows they watch. I’m determined to catch up on everything once my kids have moved out. 🙂

    Speaking of kids, I’d love to read that story about seeing parents as having a life of their own.
    And I love that cover for The Book of Joy. Just looking at the cover makes me smile.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I get it, Naomi! I don’t watch *too* much TV, but when I find something I really like, I’m hooked. You’re right, there will be plenty of time to discover shows when your kids are out of the house! I tell myself that too – and I say the same thing about reading!

      The Book of Joy is a smile-maker, no doubt!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Oh man, very well done reading two of your own damn books already! I’m like a sixth of the way in to one of my own damn books, and that’ll be the first one I’ll have read in the year. But I am determined to finish it — I brought it as a ballast book on a vacation that I can leave at the beach house, so I absolutely must finish. :p

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  6. Amazon Prime has been one of the best things I have very purchased (though it is dangerous for my wallet!). How cool that you finished reading Elena Ferrante’s series. I loved the four books as well.

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  7. I’m still on the fence about reading on with the Ferrante series, but I’m still committed to reading those two Strout books. I haven’t read that Attenberg, but I loved The Middlesteins and completely gobbled that one up too: I wonder if that’s just her style – the kind of story you end up gulping (even though I wouldn’t have guessed The Middlesteins would be that way, based on the description).

    This app that tracks the shows I watch is helpful, because I dabble, in mini-binges from one to the next, depending on mood, and then I forget where I was when I return to one of the other shows; but it’s helpful for another reason, because it also tracks the time I spend, so when I see it getting up to a point (in a week/month) where I can translate it into “books I’m not reading”, I pick up a book instead. Like Ann, I’m watching “The Crown”, but also “Mindhunter” and “This Is Us”, depending on my mood. Bosch sounds good though!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Well, I can heartily recommend the first three in the Ferrante series, but I was disappointed in the last. I enjoyed the Middlesteins too! Having read her latest as well, which I gobbled up, I’d say it’s her style.

      What’s the name of that app? I need to look into that!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. It’s TV Time But I have to warn you, it’s like GoodReads for shows, so you will also probably discover a whole bunch more stuff to watch, once you find other people who like the same kind of things you like, and then see what THEY are watching.

        Liked by 1 person

  8. Welcome to the dangerous world of Amazon Prime! You have 30 days? Don’t forget to grab your Amazon First book!! I love the Read First program, though some of the months are hit-and-miss with the book offerings.

    You’ve done a great job starting your year off strongly. Well done! The Book of Joy is high on my To Read list. I am super excited now that I’ve seen you love the audiobook! I’ve added it to my library TBR. 😀

    What made you decide to pick up The Lost Child again after such a long break? I’m sorry it wasn’t what you were looking for however…

    Keep up your great work, Laila. TV or no, you’re doing a great job starting 2018 off strongly!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Jackie! What’s an “Amazon First” book? I’ll have to look into that!

      Ah, The Book of Joy… just thinking about that book makes me happy.

      The Lost Child was just staring at me from the shelf and it was saying, “This is really ridiculous how long you’ve put off finishing the series,” So I had to pick it up! 🙂


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