Catching Up

22813605I made a good decision to abandon a book this weekend.  It was tough because I really liked the author’s previous book so much.  I was highly anticipating this one, but it just felt reeeeaallllyyyy slooooowwwww and incredibly detailed, and I just didn’t feel compelled to pick it up again.  I got 90 pages in and then I had to cut bait.  I think perhaps it was just my frame of mind and I’ll try it again another time.  But, by letting it go now I was able to dive into a book I was genuinely eager to read:  Roxane Gay’s memoir Hunger.  I’m racing through it and find it most compelling.  Tough subject matter (Gay was brutally gang-raped at the age of 12, and has struggled with morbid obesity ever since) but I was prepared for that going in.  I’m drawn to books about weight and body image struggles because I’ve always been a bit on the chubby side myself and have gone through ups and down with body image my whole life.  But honestly, I think even if you’ve never experienced a “weight problem” you might still want to pick this one up.  It’s a searing examination of what it’s like to be a fat person today, in our world, with our society’s fat phobia and miniscule airline seats and reality TV shows about losing weight.  It’s a brave book, and I’m really into it so far.

51jNORv6nQLI’m also listening to an audio book that is about as far away from Hunger as one can get:  Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, read by the amazing Jim Dale.  I believe that my audio book reading for the rest of the year will be the remaining books in the series.  I’ve read them in paper form years ago, of course, but experiencing them again in this format is a true treat.  I’d forgotten how insufferable Gilderoy Lockhart was – Dale nails his smarmy voice perfectly.  I’m one disc from the end so the action is really getting good.  Yes, I listen to audio book CDs (from my library) in my car!  I haven’t succumbed to an Audible subscription yet.  I keep thinking I will one day, and then I remember the gazillion podcasts I subscribe to and listen to on my phone, so I hold off.  One day!

As for 20 Books of Summer, I’ve read books 10 and 11, but haven’t yet written about them.  Look for a mini-review post in the next few days.  I am most certainly NOT going to have read all 20 books by September 3!  At this point I honestly don’t even remember what books are on my original revised list, ha ha!  I’m pretty sure that Hunger wasn’t on there.  Oh well, who really cares?  At some point in the next couple of months I’ll have read 20 books and written about them, right?  It will all work out.  🙂

So, if you’re participating, how are you doing with 20 Books of Summer?  If you’re not, how are you at abandoning books?  Do you feel a pang of guilt, especially when it’s an author you’ve previously enjoyed?  What’s the last great audio book you listened to? let me know in the comments.

 

 

It’s Monday (and April!) What Are You Reading?

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? is a weekly bookish meme hosted by The Book Date.

Hi friends!  Another week, another month!  It’s April already?!?

My book group met at my house yesterday.  We discussed Celeste Ng’s Everything I Never Told You.  Celeste_Ng_-_Everything_I_Never_Told_YouI haven’t reviewed this book here, but I did like it.  Like it, not love.  It moved me a great deal.  I mean, I was utterly sobbing during the last third of the book. But during the first two-thirds, I felt at a distance from the characters, like their emotions and actions weren’t ringing true for me.  It certainly provided a LOT to discuss.  We talked about gender roles and expectations in the 1970’s (the time period for the book;) how hard parenting is; how hard honestly relating to any loved one is; how parents and children communicate differently now vs. the 1970’s; how we felt sorry for and loved the character of Hannah.  It makes a very good book group book.  In a rarity for us, all of us who came (six ladies) read it!  Usually there’s one member who doesn’t.  Anyway, we enjoyed lots of good food and conversation!

Recently Finished:

Kissing the Gunner’s Daughter (Inspector Wexford #15) by Ruth Rendell.  (library hardback) A satisfying British mystery from one of my favorite series.

Currently Reading:

51JqQOlLTjL._SX329_BO1,204,203,200_Talking As Fast As I Can:  From Gilmore Girls to Gilmore Girls And Everything in Between by Lauren Graham.  (downloadable audiobook)  I had to put listening to Sense and Sensibility on pause because my hold on this book finally became available.  I am LOVING THIS.  She is so down to earth and sensible for a famous person. And funny, as you might expect.

John Crow’s Devil by Marlon James.  (owned paperback)  40 pages in and DAMN this thing is intense.  Which I probably should have expected as the first novel of the author of The Book of Night Women and A Brief History of Seven Killings.  512--x+XDfL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_

Currently Pondering:

This article from Book Riot.  The author whittled down her TBR by reading two books before she let herself buy another one.  I like this method.  My problem is my ratio of library books to ones I own.  I will let those library holds keep coming through and push out books that have been on my bookshelf for ages.  So I’m contemplating trying an experiment by reading two books I own for every library book I read.  I don’t know if I’ll be able to do this and keep managing my holds well, but I think I’m going to try it!  Anyone else intrigued by this system?

Tell me, what are you reading this week?

 

 

 

It’s Monday, What Are You Reading?

It’s Monday, What Are You Reading? is a weekly meme hosted by The Book Date.

its-monday-what-are-you-readingHi, bookish friends!  I hope you had a good weekend.  Mine was excellent.  It included a dinner date with an old friend, stomping around in the neighborhood park on a beautiful day with my son and husband, and going to see The Lego Batman Movie, which was really fun!

Recently finished:  Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders.  WOW.  I was just floored by this book.  I’ve been trying to come up with words to review it for days now.  For now I’ll just say that Colson Whitehead’s The Underground Railroad finally has company as one of my five-star reads in 2017. Review to come.

12-19-08-colwin4Currently Reading:  Home Cooking: A Writer in the Kitchen by Laurie Colwin. I think I heard about this on Anne Bogel’s What Should I Read Next? podcast. It’s essays about food and cooking, originally published in Gourmet magazine. Sadly, she passed away in 1992 at the young age of 48, after having also written many novels and short story collections, which are still in print. Apparently she’s become a venerated cult figure among foodies and food bloggers.  I’m enjoying this book of essays, despite not being much of a cook myself.  It’s very conversational in tone, and I like it, but I find it quite easy to put down after each essay. Hence, it’s going slowly.

I’m also reading Hamilton: The Revolution by Lin-Manuel Miranda and Jeremy McCarter. I’ve had this on hold for months and it finally came in.  I only became a Hamilton fan in the fall, when I saw the Great Performances episode about it on PBS.  So basically a lot later than the rest of the world.  Anyway, this is a must-read for a fan of the musical.  It’s annotated lyrics of the songs, with all the hip-hop references that someone not well-versed might miss, as well as behind the scenes pieces on the show’s creation and actors.

7493Since becoming a Hamilton fan, I’ve been wanting to know more about America’s Founding Fathers (I know, I feel like such a cliché.)  So I just checked out Founding Brothers by Joseph Ellis from my library on Overdrive.  I’m not very far into it yet.  The first chapter is on Burr and Hamilton and their duel.

Looking Ahead:  Reading for Reading Ireland Month, hosted by Cathy at 746 Books!  I’m going to read The Visitor by Maeve Brennan and All We Shall Know by Donal Ryan.

Have you read any of these titles?  Do any of them interest you? Are you participating in Reading Ireland Month?  What are you reading right now?  Let me know in the comments.

 

 

It’s Monday, What Are You Reading?

its-monday-what-are-you-readingHi friends!  I’m struggling a bit right now with my blogging and reading.  I’ve been reading in little bits and pieces, without long sustained stretches.  (I’ve also been working on practicing yoga and trying some strength training at night when my son goes to bed – yay! – but that’s been eating into my reading time too.)   Maybe it’s the winter blahs (although it’s been crazy warm in Tennessee the past couple of weeks.  Still gray, though.) I’m sure it’s a phase, and I’ll soon be firing on all cylinders.  But in the meantime, I’ve decided to join in on the It’s Monday, What Are You Reading meme, hosted by The Book Date.  I’ve been thinking about doing so for a while.  I love a good “currently reading” book chat!

At the moment I’m reading three books:  Behold the Dreamers by Imbolo Mbue, French Milk by Lucy Knisley, and Ten Ways to Be Adored When Landing A Lord by Sarah MacLean. (Remember when I was going to read only one book at a time?  Ha ha!)

Behold the Dreamers is good, but I’m finding myself not dyingfc9ef780abf3d053a5beb8a9289d2ec9 to pick it back up once I’ve put it down.  Mbue’s writing is lovely, and I love the NYC setting, yet for some reason it’s taking me a while to read. Maybe because it’s sad.  But I’m still very glad I’m reading it, as it puts very real, human faces on huge, complex issues like illegal immigration and class privilege.

 

In the meantime, I picked up French Milk at my local county library where I live.  I’m a sucker for travel memoirs set in France anyway, always have been.  This is a slim graphic novel about Knisley’s month long trip to Paris with her mother.  It’s entertaining so far, and I’m going to finish it, but I don’t see it being something I’m going to really love.  Oh, but it is making me want to eat pastries!

71qrmsjndflSo my first “Random Read” pick of the year (one of my goals – to be more random in my reading) is Ten Ways to Be Adored When Landing a Lord.  I’d read the first one of these historical romances last year (Nine Rules To Break When Romancing a Rake) and liked it. It was the first real romance novel I’d read.  This one features the dashing twin brother of the hero in the first novel, so it’s set in relatively the same time and place (1820’s England.)  The heroine,  the independent, intelligent Lady Isabel, is a daughter of a man with a title but no moral compass.  After he dies (having gambled away all of their money) she is forced to sell some of their antiquities in order to continue supporting her younger brother and the community of young women in trouble she’s taken in (she calls the estate Minerva House.)  7781699The handsome Nicholas just happens to be an expert on antiquities! Unbeknownst to Isabel, he’s also been hired to search for a runaway young woman who may be hiding at Minerva House.  Already he’s rescued Isabel from a team runaway horses and discovered that he’s attracted to her. Conflict ahead!  I’m only about a quarter of the way through this one but already I’m having lots of fun reading it.

What are you reading now?  Have you read any of these books, or do you plan to?  Are you affected by the “winter blahs?”  Do you have any suggestions for good yoga DVDs?  Let me know in the comments.

Reading Update

How’s it going, guys?  Today’s my last day at work for a week (woohoo!) since it’s my son’s fall break and I want to spend time with him.  We were supposed to be going to South Carolina on Sunday but had to cancel because of the hurricane.  I feel so badly for all who live in its path.  It’s scary stuff.  My family and I will do some fun things over the next week and we’ll try again for a beach trip in March or May of next year.  Let’s all send out some heavy prayers for the people of Florida, Georgia, and South Carolina.

9780385678414I just finished Thrice the Brinded Cat Hath Mew’d by Alan Bradley, the eighth book in his Flavia De Luce mystery series.  I have enjoyed these books up until now.  Flavia is a precocious twelve year old heroine in a small British village in the post-war period, who just happens to help solve murders.  Sadly, this one may be my last.  Not only did it unfold at a dreadfully slow pace, but the mystery wasn’t that compelling.  And the ending!  Ugh! A terrible thing happened and I think it was completely unnecessary.  Oh well.  It was a good run.

I just started reading Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s Purple Hibiscus.  Only 29 pages in and it’s beautifully written so far, as I expected it would be.  It’s for my book group meeting on the 16th, which I may not attend due to a conflict.  But I’ve been meaning to read it for ages, so I’m glad to have the prompt.126381

I recently finished Hope Jahren’s excellent memoir Lab Girl. If you’re the least bit interested in nature or science, and you enjoy memoirs, I highly recommend it.  It’s not the least bit dry or overly scholarly, yet I promise you’ll never look at trees the same way again.  She’s so smart and she has such a passion for the natural world.  She really lays it out there about how challenging it is to be a scientist in America and constantly have to scrounge around for funding.  Here’s my favorite passage, where she is reflecting on her love for her only child, a son, who happens to love beating on a palm tree with whatever implement he can find.

Being a daughter was so difficult for both my mother and me; maybe our line needs to skip a generation in order to extinguish the cycle such that it cannot be repeated.  So I’ve set my heart on a granddaughter – as always, my greed for love is unreasonably premature.  Based on my projections, there’s more than a small chance that I’ll die before she’s born, particularly if our line continues to skip or bifurcate.  And perhaps this is the way it was meant to be, for me anyway.

Nevertheless, here on this sunny day, I can’t resist my temptation to put a message in a bottle: Somebody remember.  Somebody someday find my granddaughter and tell her.  Tell her about the day that one of her grandmothers sat looking out of her kitchen window with a pen in her hand.  tell her that her grandmother didn’t see the dirty dishes or the dust on the windowsill because she was busy deciding.  Tell her that in the end, she decided to go ahead and love her granddaughter several decades too early.  Tell her about the day that her grandmother sat in a sunbeam and dreamed of her to the soundtrack of a tree being flogged.

812c5592-fb87-11e5-8b45-86e4300cc57e-780x1163As a mother of an only child, a five year old boy, who also loves to beat on trees, I can share that I bawled when I read this.

I hope you all have a great weekend and that you’re reading some great books!  Have you read any of these?  Tell me what you’re currently reading or what you just finished in the comments.

My Very Late #10BooksofSummer Wrap-Up

I promise I’m not ignoring the book blogging world on purpose, guys.  It’s just that life has been really hectic lately.  I hope things start to calm down soon!

I wanted to wrap up my experience participating in Cathy’s #20BooksofSummer Challenge.  Exercising my self-knowledge, I chose the #10Books path rather than 20.  I know that too much pressure to read results in me NOT reading, just as too much pressure to drop desserts results in my bingeing on chocolate chip cookies.  (Readers and eaters, know thyself!)10booksfinal

So here are my results:

  1. Jane Steele by Lyndsay Faye – Five stars – Loved it!
  2. Lab Girl by Hope Jahren – Had book from library and didn’t finish it in time.  It still has a waiting list on it, and I’m back on the list, so hopefully I’ll get to finish it in the next two months!  What I’ve read was very good.
  3. Lagoon by Nnedi Okorafor.  My first Nnedi book, and I enjoyed it very much.
  4. Open City by Teju Cole.  DNF, sadly.  I really enjoyed his Every Day is For the Thief, but this one was too slow and ponderous for my tastes/mood.
  5. Bellweather Rhapsody by Kate Racculia.  So good!
  6. Means of Evil and Other Stories by Ruth Rendell.  Inspector Wexford doesn’t let me down, y’all.
  7. The Vegetarian by Han Kang.  One of the most memorable books I’ve ever read.  Note I didn’t say I loved it.  But I didn’t hate it either.  It remains an enigma.
  8. High Rising by Angela Thirkell.  Light, cheery, British, fun read.
  9. Writing My Wrongs by Shaka Senghor.  So GOOD.  Highly recommend for those interested in social justice issues.
  10. The Book of Night Women by Marlon James.  ALL THE STARS.  Marlon James is now on my Top Ten Favorite Authors list.

I think 8/10 is a very respectable showing, and I am so glad I took the chance and participated!  Thanks to Cathy at 746 Books for hosting this.  I came away with two five-star reads that will go on my year end Top Ten for sure.

In other news, I’ve once again returned to reading more than one book at a time.  I have decided that I’m cool with alternating between a few things, as long as they’re in different formats (audio, fiction, nonfiction.)  Currently I’m listening to Blood, Bones, and Butter by Gabrielle Hamilton.  So far it’s not knocking my socks off, but I’m still interested.  I’m also reading Sister, Outsider by Audre Lorde, which is TOTALLY knocking my socks off, but it’s so good that I don’t want to rush it.  I just finished Glennon Doyle Melton’s Love Warrior and it hit me right in the gut.  It’s just a beautiful, raw look at how messy being a human being who loves other human beings is.  And it’s about honoring your inner voice and strength, and following your heart.  I loved it.

That’s all from me for now.  I hope you’ve had a very good weekend and that you’re enjoying some good books!