Sunday Afternoon Bookish Ramblings

It’s a beautiful Sunday afternoon at Big Reading Life Manor, and I think Spring is finally on its way. We’ve had a few sunny days here and there, enough to matter, and daffodils are blooming. On my walk in the park earlier today I noticed blossoms on the trees (don’t ask me what kind of trees, I don’t know) and that made me happy. I will seek out and clutch any tiny happy thing I can find these days, and being outside, blue skies, and new life blooming will definitely fit the bill. And as I’m writing this the ice cream truck just went past our house! That’s DEFINITELY a sign of Spring!

I got my seeds from Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds yesterday. As usual I’ve purchased way more seeds than I have space in my yard for. But seeds are cheap and dreams are big, and who knows how crazy with planting I’ll get this year? It’s still about a month too soon to plant anything really, except maybe the peas (Tom Thumb, which are supposed to grow easily in pots) and the arugula (which I’ve never tried to grow.) I’m such a haphazard gardener but I’m a Master Yard Putterer.

What have I been reading lately? Well, I just finished Agatha Christie’s The Moving Finger, which is the fourth Miss Marple Book. Jackie @ Death By Tsundoku asked me a few weeks ago if I planned on reading ALL of the Agatha Christie novels, and until she asked me I don’t exactly think I had a plan to. But I was like, “Yeah, I think I DO want to read all of her novels!” And another reading goal is born. It will take me years, but that’s fine with me. There’s nothing like an Agatha Christie for fun escapism, if murder mysteries are your thing. The Moving Finger was good, about smutty anonymous letters being sent to virtually everyone in a small town, and the perilous aftermath of that. Miss Marple doesn’t even show up until 2/3 of the way through and that’s was fine with me, because I enjoyed the narrator, Jerry Burton, so much as a character. The thing a modern reader has to watch out for with Christie is that sometimes she’ll slide in a racist or homophobic line or two here and there, and it sort of jars you for a minute. I note them, think, “Yikes!” and move on, remembering that in 1942 things were different. On the plus side, it confirms how far we’ve come, right?

I listened to Colton Whitehead’s poker memoir The Noble Hustle through my library’s Libby app, and that was fun. He reads it himself and I liked his voice very much. A magazine paid him to enter the World Series of Poker and write about it. I’m not very interested or knowledgeable about poker, so the interest in this for me was mostly in learning more about one of my favorite authors. He’s funny! Darkly, cynically funny, and his main target is himself. I can see now why his fiction feels so cerebral sometimes… he freely admits to being someone who is “anhedonic,” unable to feel pleasure. Which is one reason he has such a good poker face – he’s “half dead inside!” This is the kind of sardonic humor Whitehead uses throughout the book. You get the impression that his glass is perpetually half empty but you can’t help but like him anyway. If you’re interested in this memoir I highly recommend listening to the audiobook.

Currently I’m reading Wallace Stegner’s 1987 novel Crossing to Safety for my Classics Club and Buddy Read with Rebecca and Smithereens. I’m about 40% through. I LOVE IT. That’s all I’ll say for now.

What’s up next? I’ve got a stack a mile high, as I’ve been going nuts putting library books on hold lately. It’s nice to have a lot to choose from, isn’t it? Besides the above stack I’ve got Ta-Nehisi Coates’s memoir The Beautiful Struggle, Attica Locke’s The Cutting Season, Ian Rankin’s The Hanging Garden, Claire Fuller’s Swimming Lessons, and my own purchased copy of Jenny Offill’s latest book Weather. I hardly know what to pick up next! Well, perhaps I should start with one of the Irish books seeing as how this is Reading Ireland Month and I haven’t even started, whoops!

How is everyone? Are we able to read with all the political news and coronavirus stuff going on? I know my concentration has been crap the past few weeks because of it. I hope you all are staying well and have a good tall stack of books to keep you company even if you aren’t. I hope to catch up on reading all of your blog posts soon. Be well and hold on – Spring is coming!

28 thoughts on “Sunday Afternoon Bookish Ramblings

  1. Good luck with your planting! Have you had much success with vegetables? We’ve only managed to grow squashes where we live; the peas have always died. We have a lot of space but very little knowhow, and have never put the time in to becoming better gardeners.

    I’m going to pick up my first Agatha Christie in a very long time for next month’s 1920 Club.

    I’ll be interested to see how Milkman works for you — I picked up a copy the other day and couldn’t make it past the first few pages.

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    1. We’ve had good luck with beans, cucumbers, and peas. Oh, and mini pumpkins, but they totally took over our tiny yard! I don’t know a lot and I really don’t have the kind of time to devote to a garden that I’d like. So what usually happens is that I put the stuff in the beds, we sort of water, there’s some neglect, and we end up with enough produce to get a few sides out of it. 🙂 It’s more of a fun hobby for me than a serious endeavor. If I had more time I would get more serious about research.

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  2. The Murder of Roger Ackroyd is great! Interestingly, Christie has a very sympathetic portrayal of a lesbian couple in A Murder is Announced. She doesn’t call them that, of course, but it’s fairly obvious they are. I agree her portrayal of Mr Pye is a bit jarring these days though. Enjoy your planting!

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  3. My concentration has been total crap! However, I AM enjoying reading some Persian poetry and have acquired some MORE Persian poetry because of how much I’m enjoying the Persian poetry I already have. If I have to self-quarantine I will have sufficient supplies of toilet paper and Persian poetry, for sure.

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  4. Spring is a few months away here in Calgary, but I still enjoy reading about how lovely your weather is getting-and gardening ideas are so fun!

    I love your idea of reading all the Agatha Christie novels-now that’s a challenge I can get behind, and i will live vicariously through your blog 🙂

    Also, I really enjoyed Swimming Lessons by Claire Fuller! And i’ve finally taken your advice and am reading Nickel Boys by Colson Whitehead-whoa, a very dark book indeed.

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  5. I love your seed pile! I can empathize with buying too many and not putting them all in the ground. I know – there’s no real consequence to it, but it feels like such a waste when you can GROW ALL OF THE THINGS!

    I totally agree about Agatha Christie’s random inclusion of off the wall comments. I just finished Nemesis and remember thinking that it wouldn’t pass the #metoo movement’s test at all. And I thought she was including it to prove a huge feminist point, but I was wrong. And even still – I also want to read all of her books! At first I was thinking that I wanted to read all of the Miss Marple’s in 2021, but that seems so far away AND my library only has about five of her books so that will mean waiting for an ILL for each, which might make it a challenge to keep any sort of schedule. So I’m trying to decide when I want to start this little plan and if I want to bite the bullet and just purchase copies as I go.

    Also – I see The Murder of Roger Akroyd in your stack and that’s one of my favorite Christies ever. I hope you enjoy it!!

    Swimming Lessons is also on my TBR – thanks again for recommending Bitter Orange!

    I’m trying to finish A Long Petal of the Sea – I have less than 100 pages so I think I might finish it tonight. It’s not as great as I was hoping but I don’t want to abandon it. Tomorrow I’ll start Anne of the Island!

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    1. I know, I do try and give away some seeds I won’t use, but still. I just wish I had more time to garden, but I do what I can in the spare time I have.

      I’m glad ‘”m not the only one who occasionally reads something in Christie that jars the modern brain. but you’re right, the appeal of the books is undiminished for me. My project is not going to be under any special timeline, just as I feel like reading them. Right now they’re the perfect escape from everything dreadful, so I may go through quite a few of them in the next few months! So glad to know you enjoyed the Murder of Roger Ackroyd so much, and that you enjoyed Bitter Orange.

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  6. I see you have Such a Fun Age in your stack. I’m listening to it right now, and I have to say my audiobook review will likely recommend the audio format over a physical copy simply because the narrator reads the characters really well. Each “ummm” or “mmmhmmm” may look flat on the page, but she uses inflection to demonstrate the author’s words are just taking up space.

    I’ve found that I’m spending more time reading because every news outlet and website has to bring up the Corona virus. One of my coworkers was going to leave tomorrow for Japan, and another coworker was freaking out because Japan as an outbreak and he wouldn’t cancel his trip. Well, I just found out that the people hosting in Japan told him not to come, so that’s the end of that. Now we can wait for the virus to get here at its own leisurely pace. We all remember swine flu, yea? And we all know that 20,000 Americans die every year from the seasonal flu, but a SH*T TON of people won’t get a vaccine, right? That’s what I keep telling myself.

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    1. Actually, I don’t remember swine flu!
      I think the panic about this is the potential for hospitals to get overwhelmed if lots of people get sick at once. Trying to “flatten the curve” is the best we can do, I think. I’m getting tired of reading and thinking about it, though. I’m gonna have to go on a little media break for a day or two I think.

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      1. Yes, I’m hearing more about flattening the curve, and honestly it makes me feel loads better. I think I was acutely aware of the swine flu because I was teaching at the time, and students tend to catch EVERYTHING. I turned all my assignments into digital submissions and was fine. I just no longer touched things students touched.

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  7. I got to see some signs of spring in LA, where so many things are blooming. Here in Ohio it’s still mostly frozen and gray. I took a picture of my copy of Weather (to go with my review on March 1) in some dead leaves with the stalks of jonquils beginning to come up behind the book!

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  8. So many seeds! I love it. My husband’s seeds just arrived on Thursday for the farm season. I was blown away at how many seeds there are! But, that’s because a seed packet contains about 1.5 billion seeds (more or less) and you need many packets to get a lot of variety. I love the variety you have between flowers and vegetables. That line, “But seeds are cheap and dreams are big, and who knows how crazy with planting I’ll get this year? ” Amen. Even farmers feel that. XD

    I didn’t realize I helped *you* realize you wanted to read all of Christie’s work! (That’s a terrible sentence. Don’t care) I’m so glad to help. 😉 Do you know how many books you have read of Christie’s?

    What a fun stack of books. The Murder of Roger Ackroyd is one of two Christie novels I’ve read. Have you read it before? Red, White, and Royal Blue I’ll be buddy reading with my brother soon– which makes me super happy. My brother and I read such different books for pleasure. This is the first time we’ve found common ground in over a decade.

    Good luck reading! I find that COVID-19 and the anxiety it is building in me are inhibiting my ability to focus on reading. 😦 But I’ll get my focus back soon. I have to. Books = joy.

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    1. I think that I’ve read about 11 of Christie’s books so far, some of them back when I was in high school so it’s been a while! I’ve still got plenty to go! I have not yet read Murder of Roger Ackroyd.

      I also have had lack of concentration due to COVID19 news and worries. I am slowly still reading my Classics Club pick, though, which is Stegner’s Crossing to Safety. If I read a chapter or two a day I consider it a win!

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      1. Reading has definitely become something which requires more mental focus than before. I like the idea of setting a reading schedule. Melanie @ Grab the Lapels does something similar where she sets a ceratain number of pages to read each day. Hopefully that will help me make better progress!

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  9. I’ll be interested in following your Christie progress. I had a similar idea (also there is a spreadsheet online that allows you to track the various series and how to read through them) because a friend of mine adores her, but i just never loved them as much as I thought I would, so it’s a stalled project for me (and might just stay that way). It’s good to have new reading projects to start now though – something to think about which takes us into an imaginary future that isn’t the one keeping us awake at night. 🙂

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  10. Glad the memoir helped you get to know Colton more.

    My baby is keeping me busy and filling my days with joy in these times of uncertainities. I also have a pile of books and TV shows helping me along. Keep safe and do take care x

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