Reading Roundup 4/10/20

Hey friends. How’s it going? This week has been the one so far where I’ve questioned what day is it the most often. What are days? 😉 I hope you’re safe and staying well. I make a daily To Do list which helps me feel sort of productive, because I can’t seem to let go of the notion that I need to be productive to feel good. My standards of productivity are a little different from normal, though: yoga, meditation, laundry, calling my parents, supervising my son’s optional academic work, little cleaning projects – those are my To Dos.

This week I was able to do some actual work for the library, which felt really good. I submitted two videos for our Facebook page, specifically for children. One was with my son, where he helped me do two fingerplays, and the other was me reading Mo Willems’s The Pigeon Wants a Puppy. I don’t know if they’ll use them but it felt good to use my brain in an official capacity. I miss my job. I miss my library patrons. I don’t know when we’ll get back to work at the library. So many “I don’t knows.”

Oh well. We keep going, don’t we? There are books to be read, after all! Thank God for those. This week I finished two great books, began two more, and acquired one from my local independent bookstore through the mail. I’m going to buy one book from them a month while we are all social distancing. I hope all the indie bookstores make it!

RECENTLY FINISHED:

Persuasion by Jane Austen (owned paperback)

I figured out, using Goodreads and my old book journal, that this was my FOURTH time reading Persuasion. I had no idea! I would have bet money it was three. My book journal says I read it in 2008 and that it was a reread, so I must have read it sometime before I began the book journal, which was 2001. I guess I read it in high school or college then. It’s funny that I can’t remember. A voracious reader’s lot in life, I guess. Anyway, what a perfect choice for this unsettling time. I was struck this time by his funny it was, how ridiculously vain and superficial Anne’s father and sister’s were. How awfully they treat Anne! And still, she is so gracious and patient. A thoroughly entertaining, comforting, romantic read.

The Beautiful Struggle by Ta-Nehisi Coates (library hardback)

This was lovely. A short, lyrical memoir about growing up in West Baltimore in the 1980’s and 1990’s (he was born in 1975) and also about his father, a force of nature, an ex-Black Panther, a learned man who, while sometimes domineering, was desperately trying to shepherd his children successfully through the perils of racism, gangs, and the crack cocaine era to successful adulthood.

All our friends were fatherless, and Dad was some sort of blessing, but he made it hard to feel that way. He was a practicing fascist, mandating books and banning religion. Once he caught Big Bill praying at the kitchen table and ordered him to stop—

“You want to pray, pray to me. I put food on this table.”

Ta-Nehisi was a dreamy child, a pacifist, a fan of fantasy and science fiction, and it sounded like he might have experienced attention deficit disorder from the way he described how he acted in a classroom setting. But everyone knew he was smart, and the expectation of reaching his potential was ever present. He also had to learn how to be tough and fight other kids when necessary, lessons he learned from his revered older brother Big Bill. I really enjoyed reading about the rap music of the 1980s and how it became an avenue of self expression for Coates, his brother, and friends, and I loved reading about how Coates’s dad ran a printing press in his house, finding and reprinting forgotten texts by and about Africans and African American writers. His children may have tried to resist the Consciousness his father was trying to impart but they ultimately absorbed the Knowledge anyway, something many of us can relate to in our own childhoods. This was a very good memoir. I recommend it.

CURRENTLY READING:

Cold Comfort Farm by Stella Gibbons (my April Classics Club pick – owned paperback)

Untamed by Glennon Doyle (memoir/feminism/self-help – library hardback)

RECENTLY ACQUIRED:

img_5571How to Be An Antiracist by Ibrahim X. Kendi (National Book Award-Winning author of Stamped From the Beginning, which I haven’t yet read, but want to.)

What have y’all been reading lately? Have you purchased anything recently? Or do you have a good television show to recommend instead? I’d love to hear from you about what you’ve been doing or reading this week. And Happy Easter to those of you who celebrate.

Still Gray But More Blooms

Hi friends. Well, the good news is that my library system closed on Friday, which was absolutely the right thing to do for the safety of staff and patrons. So I am home for now, other than walks in the neighborhood and occasionally grocery shopping. What a relief. I hated looking at my lovely library patrons and trying to assess if they were unknowing vectors of disease, you know? Not a good feeling for someone who prides herself on excellent customer service!

Still not able to read for long stretches at a time but I am still reading. On page 77 of Milkman by Anna Burns. (For Reading Ireland Month, Cathy!) What a quirky, interesting book, I’m not sure how I feel about it really but I think I like it. It’s rather unlike my usual reading fare and I think I like it for that reason. Very long paragraphs and few chapter breaks. I’m intrigued and saddened by all the ways in which their society is hemmed in by layers of rules… what to say, what to do, how to relate to other people. Also I’m thoroughly creeped out by the milkman.

My other book is a reread: Sylvia Boorstein’s It’s Easier Than You Think: The Buddhist Way to Happiness. This will be one of my four rereads towards my reading goal. It’s a book that gives comfort, in which Boorstein illuminates Buddhist teachings through personal anecdotes. Her tone is remarkably warm and gentle. For instance, this passage on fearfulness:

Fearfulness is a mind habit. Some people have it more than others. It is always extra. Being trapped by fear is a form of delusion. Either I can do something or I can’t. If I truly can’t – I am mechanically inept, so piloting a plane would be unwise – I don’t do it. If I truly can, and it would be a wholesome thingy do, I push myself. I figured out one day that fear is a series of neuronal discharges in the brain, and I resented feeling I was being held captive by cerebral squiggles.

Grandmothers often have the role of spiritual teacher. My grandmother was my first teacher, and I hope I am carrying on in her tradition. The lesson I learned best from her was fortitude in the face of disagreeable situations. “Where is it written,” she would ask, “that you are supposed to be happy all the time?”

She then talks about her own grandson, Collin, and how he once didn’t want to climb a very long set of stairs to visit a friend of hers living in a convent. He was very reluctant to climb the stairs. He said, “I really don’t like these steps, Grandma.” She replied, “You don’t have to like them, Collin. You just have to go up them. Hold my hand and we’ll do it together.”

If someone holds our hand, “frightened ” changes to “interested,” and “interested ” is one of the Factors of Enlightenment.”

Anyway, I was thinking that we don’t have to like what’s going on in the world right now, but if we can hold one another’s hand, and go through it together, then we will get through it. How wonderful that we have each other across the miles, brought together by our love of books!

I’ll end with some more pictures of my neighborhood. A pink clover patch in my front yard (I didn’t plant it, they just came up a few years ago,) yellow forsythia starting to bloom, the new boardwalk around the neighborhood duck pond, and finally, a dogwood tree about to blossom. Stay well, friends!

This Is the Strangest Feeling Spring Break Ever

Hi friends! I’ve decided to write something and reach out to my blog friends even if the bookish content is lower than usual. I am home today because this week is my son’s Spring Break; we had planned a staycation because we had planned a trip for later in the year. But things are changing so quickly I have no idea if this staycation will turn into a very long one for us or not. I just got a text saying that my son’s school is closed through March 31. I have no idea if our other trip will go on as scheduled or not, as it was planned for the end of the school year. As of today my library system is still open but we have closed all programs and public meetings for the next eight weeks. I am hopeful we will close to the public altogether, as many library systems across the US are doing. The situation is very fluid, as I imagine it is where you are.

What a time, huh? I hardly know how to process it. An introvert at heart, I have no problem practicing the advocated social distancing. I mean I might feel differently weeks from now, but for now I enjoy being home and puttering and doing Yoga With Adriene videos and taking a walk around the neighborhood. Other than work and groceries, we are not going out.

Are you able to read? I confess that my reading concentration is poor. But I’m still reading, slowly. And that’s okay. We don’t need to turn this weird time into “let’s be as productive as we can” time like we do with the rest of our lives. I am almost finished with my Classics Club book for March, Crossing to Safety, by Wallace Stegner. It’s a good read for right now because it’s very soothing. Lots of nature, interpersonal relationships, beautiful writing. If I get a chapter or two read a day I consider that a win! Maybe if I could make myself turn off Twitter or The New York Times app, I’d be able to focus more on reading. I should set a time limit and stick to a “checking news” schedule. Yep, starting that now.

I mentioned daffodils and gardening in my last post. I took a picture of my daffodils the other day but they’re already starting to wither. They still look pretty though, so I’m sharing a picture. And another one of some beautiful trees in my neighborhood in bloom. We put some new dirt and turned over old dirt in my garden bed yesterday. I want to putter in my yard as much as I can the next few weeks. I’m so grateful we have a yard, a safe neighborhood in which to walk, and a park minutes away. So many people don’t enjoy those blessings.

Oh, have you started following Yo-Yo Ma on Instagram yet? I saw his post from Adriene (of Yoga With Adriene fame.) He’s highlighting what he calls Songs of Comfort in his stories and people from all over the world are playing their instruments beautifully. It’s refreshing for the spirit and lovely to see so many people joining in. And now I’ve discovered how much I like listening to Yo-Yo Ma!

Also, another soothing form of entertainment in the recent days is the British reality show The Repair Shop on Netflix. It’s half an hour long, and it’s relaxing and adorable. People bring in great-grandma Doris’s broken clock or vase or whatever and these funny, charming British people restore it. That’s it. It’s about as low-stakes as you can get and it’s completely delightful. I highly recommend it for soothing frayed nerves. Also, the Masterclass episodes of Great British Baking Show with Paul and Mary teaching how they make stuff also hits the soothing tv spot.

What have you been reading/watching/listening to for comfort the past few days? I gladly take all suggestions!

I’ll try to blog hop today and catch up. I hope you are all safe and able to stay home as much as you can. Sending love from Tennessee!

 

 

 

 

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!

Friday Afternoon Bookish Ramblings

It’s a beautiful sunny but cold day here at a Big Reading Life Manor, and it’s been a while since I’ve posted. I just haven’t had time or energy to write about books or anything else. There is sleep to prioritize (self-care 2020!) and also I’ve been finishing watching The Good Place and Netflix’s Next in Fashion. But today I have a bit of time and wanted to catch up on things. So, hello! I hope your week has been a good one. I don’t know about you, but I’m pretty much sick of winter. I’m sick of gray and I’m sick of rain. I’m trying to remind myself that everything changes, and so will the seasons, in time.

Anyway, I’ve read some good books lately, for which I am grateful. One five-star read (The Singer’s Gun by Emily St. John Mandel, which had been on my TBR List since 2015) and three four-star reads: Heart Berries by Terese Marie Mailhot, Body Positive Power by Megan Jayne Crabbe, and Another Brooklyn by Jacqueline Woodson. Two of the latter were ones I owned, so whoopee for reading my own books! Lately I’ve been really trying to look at my own shelves and also the beginning of my TBR list and trying to choose reads from those. It’s a constant struggle to balance those considerations with the newest, shiniest books that I have on hold at the library. You can relate, I am sure.

51anPJ5-ihL._SX329_BO1,204,203,200_What am I currently reading? Lindy West’s new essay collection The Witches Are Coming, which is AWESOME and so smart and funny. I’ve only read the first four essays but so far she’s killing it. I just finished Mavis Gallant’s short story collection In Transit, which I’d been reading since December. It was good – she’s masterful at capturing humans trying and failing to relate to one another. But for me overall it was a bit depressing and I’m relieved to be finished. I am not sure what work of fiction I’ll pick up next. I think I need something light to boost my mood! I may try Helen Hoang’s romance The Kiss Quotient, which I just checked out from my library.

Next month I plan to participate in Cathy’s Reading Ireland Month, so I need to pick at91Vq1lzeOaL least one Irish book – this event always sneaks up one me. I also will be reading Wallace Stegner’s Crossing to Safety with Smithereens as a buddy read – another selection from my Classics Club list. Please read along with us in March if you’d like!

So that’s it from me for now. I’ll leave you with some body positive affirmations from Megan Jayne Crabbe’s book (if you’re on Instagram, you should consider following her @bodyposipanda. She’s delightful.)

I’m grateful for everything that my body allows me to do in the world, and all the ways it takes care of me.
I am hotter than the inside of a poptart in this outfit!
There’s no such thing as a problem area, my body is not a problem to be fixed!
My softness is beautiful.
My cellulite clusters are constellations mapped across my thighs and I am magical.
I deserve the space I take up in the world.
I am good enough.
My body is not the enemy.

Also – how do we like this new “block editor” thing WordPress has given us? I don’t like it at all and when I tried to switch back to the classic editor it’s made my spacing weird in this post. Hmmmph. Oh well. I hope you have a very good weekend, friends – may you have lots of time for reading!

 

WWW Wednesday on Thursday

WWW Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Sam @ Taking On a World of Words. Take a look at her page and tell us what you’re currently reading. I’ve been out of town and then playing catch up on work, so I couldn’t even manage a WWW on Wednesday! Hoping to catch up on reading all your posts this weekend too.

The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

Currently: 

I’m about 40 % into the audio book version of The Feather Thief and it’s fascinating. I heard about this book from Rebecca from Bookish Beck. I prefer nonfiction when I listen to audio books, do you?

Recently Finished:

I took the Anne Tyler on the plane (my tradition/superstition,) but managed only to read about 25 pages the whole trip. If I’m going on a sightseeing kind of trip, I just don’t find time to read and I’m wiped out at night. I enjoyed it, but it wasn’t my favorite of hers. The Halloween Tree was the perfect read for this time of year! I’ll post about it and Mr. Mercedes in a different post since they’re my picks for the R.I.P. Challenge. El Deafo was great – a graphic memoir for kids (and grown-ups) about a little girl who was left hearing impaired after a brief illness when she was four. This was the 1970’s and hearing aid technology was more primitive, so she had to wear a piece of machinery with earphones and cords at school. Cece Bell draws all the characters as bunnies and explores how her hearing loss impacted her friendships and school work. I can see kids really liking this book and being able to put themselves in Cece’s shoes.

Up Next (Maybe:)

I’ll definitely get into Quicksand soon since it’s my Classics Club pick for the Spin. I’m very much interested in 24/6 because I think my family needs a day to totally unplug from screens every week. I hope it provides some real life solutions to technology addiction.

I’m not sure what else I’ll get into next. I’m feeling the urge to both be spontaneous in my reading choices and also to read something off of my own bookshelf. I hope your week has been great – happy reading!

WWW Wednesday, August 14, 2019

WWW Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Sam @ Taking On a World of Words. Take a look at her page and tell us what you’re currently reading! I haven’t done one of these in a while and it’s a good way to post something after a little bit of a break.

The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

Currently:

The Nickel Boys by Colson Whitehead. Only about 65 pages in, so far so good. I am nervous because I think this will make me very sad but I do really enjoy Whitehead’s books and I think he’s a brilliant writer. I love the range of his work – he really can do any genre.

Burnout: The Secret to Unlocking the Stress Cycle by Emily Nagoski and Amelia Nagoski. Y’all, I think this book might be a life-changer. Very early into it, but I find it resonating with me in a deep way. I’ll keep you posted.

Home Truths by Mavis Gallant. This was a book I was supposed to read in FEBRUARY along with Marcie @ Buried in Print as she makes her way through Gallant’s short story collections… well, here it is August and I’m still reading it. I did put it aside for a few months – whoops! Gallant’s stories are so detailed and meaty that I have to take my time with them, but they’re very good.

Recently Finished:

71vpidPCfgL

The Murder on the Links by Agatha Christie. There is nothing like an Agatha Christie for comfort reading in my book. This is one I hadn’t read before, the second in the Hercule Poirot series. In it, Poirot receives a letter from a man in France desperately requesting his services, but before he and Hastings can get there, he winds up murdered – in an open grave on a golf course! Of course there are multiple suspects – including a beautiful young woman whom Hastings falls in love with instantly on the train (ugh) and nicknames “Cinderella” for most of the book – because he doesn’t know her name. Hastings behaved kind of ridiculously here, but Poirot was sharp and on point with his “little gray cells,” outsmarting the young, cocky French detective on the case. Thoroughly enjoyable.

Up Next:

Hard to say, but it will be something from this bunch that I have checked out or ready to pick up at the library:

 

What have you just finished? What are you currently reading? Have you read any of these books? 

Reading Round-up and The CC Spin Result

Hello friends, I hope you’ve had a good week! It’s time to do a little catching up and finally tell you what my Classics Club Spin result was.

Recently Finished Reading:

Tooth and Nail by Ian Rankin.

5519730This is the third book in the Inspector Rebus series. In this one the Inspector gets called down to London (from his home base of Edinburgh) to assist on a serial killer case, chasing a suspect nicknamed “The Wolfman.” There’s a lot about the psychology of serial killers here, and I liked how open-ended the case was right until the very end. Rankin highlights the tension between the English detectives and our Scottish protagonist. He’s not exactly welcomed with open arms. There’s a subplot about Rebus’s family, his daughter and ex-wife who live in London, and how he’s not exactly been the most present father. And another cringe-worthy romantic relationship – my least favorite element of these books so far. Rebus is kind of a screw-up in that area. I am not sure that I really like John Rebus, but he’s interesting and funny and complex and I like reading *about* him. And I’m a softie for a maverick detective. I eagerly anticipate getting to read the next installment.

Currently Reading:

Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Start-up by John Carreyrou.

37976541I’m listening to the audio book of this from my library, and it’s BANANAS. I can’t even begin to comprehend the amount of money poured into this half-assed, shady, unethical operation. The hubris, megalomania, and privilege of Theranos’s founder, Elizabeth Holmes is mind-boggling. It’s a highly entertaining and eye-opening read. I’m ignoring my usual podcasts in favor of this book. I definitely recommend it. The narrator is nothing special, but the book is just so… wow. One heck of a story here. I’m about half way through.

Karamo: My Story of Embracing Purpose, Healing, and Hope by Karamo Brown.

43253544I’m OBSESSED with Netflix’s Queer Eye and all the guys. They are just the most joyful and kind-hearted people and their show makes me happy. So of course I’m going to read any memoir that one of them writes. (And I do like to read celebrity autobiographies.) Karamo is laying it all out there. I’m halfway through this and he’s just discussed his addiction to cocaine that nearly killed him, an interesting take on colorism and gender, and his love for his church and how he won’t let anyone cherry-pick Bible verses to denigrate who he is. He comes across just as confidently as he does on the show, and I like how he is baring all of his past mistakes honestly. I recommend this if you’re a fan of the show.

CC Spin Result:

The number chosen in Monday’s spin was 19, which means I’ll be reading Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh. I’m really excited to finally read this and I own a copy already which is nice. Here is the Goodreads blurb:51MDxGgSUmL

The most nostalgic and reflective of Evelyn Waugh’s novels, Brideshead Revisited looks back to the golden age before the Second World War. It tells the story of Charles Ryder’s infatuation with the Marchmains and the rapidly-disappearing world of privilege they inhabit. Enchanted first by Sebastian at Oxford, then by his doomed Catholic family, in particular his remote sister, Julia, Charles comes finally to recognize only his spiritual and social distance from them.

Have you read this?

What have you recently finished?

The Second 200(ish) Pages of The Count of Monte Cristo

(Note: I’m making my way slowly through The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas as part of my Classics Club list. I’m reading 100(ish) pages a week and writing up my thoughts reader’s journal-style every couple of weeks.)

1088140So where did we leave off last time? Oh yes, with Dantès and the Abbe Faria, his fellow prisoner and new friend, hanging out together by way of a secret tunnel they’ve carved between their two cells. Faria is showing off his homemade tools to an incredulous Dantès. Well, we pick up in this installment with the two men talking about just how Faria got his reputation for being “mad.” Apparently he has talked for years of a massive treasure that was willed to him long ago by his former boss and friend, the Compte de Spada. (The story of how the treasure is concealed and revealed to Faria is really fun and I won’t spoil it.) Guess where this supposed treasure (Dantès is skeptical) is located? The small island of Monte Cristo! And Faria, in a touching speech, wants Dantès to have it.

“You are my son, Dantès,” exclaimed the old man. “You are the child of my captivity. My profession condemns me to celibacy. God has sent you to me to console, at one and the same time, the man who could not be a father and the  prisoner who could not get free.”

And Faria extended the arm of which alone the use remained to him to the young man, who threw himself upon his neck and wept bitterly.

Fast forward a little bit, and Dantès has indeed escaped prison. I won’t tell you HOW, because that is truly one of the most inspired bits I’ve read so far and caused me to write “OMG!” in my notes. He’s now a man of 33, fourteen years since his arrest.

Then his eyes lighted up with hatred as he thought of the three men who had caused him so long and wretched a captivity.

He renewed against Danglars, Fernand, and Villefort the oath of implacable vengeance he has made in his dungeon.

He hooks up with some amiable smugglers and assumes the identity of a shipwrecked Maltese sailor. Apparently his appearance and even his voice has undergone such a great change in his fourteen years of captivity that “it was impossible that his best friend – if, indeed, he had any friend left – could recognize him; he could not recognize himself.” I had to suspend my disbelief that no one seems to recognize him, but you just have to go with it if you’re going to continue to enjoy the story. Then, in a stroke of luck, the patron of the boat that he has sailed with for a couple of months happens to want to make some sort of clandestine exchange of goods, and which small, uninhabited island would make the best out of the way place for such an exchange? Why, Monte Cristo, of course! So Dantès is able to finally go to the island and try to devise a way to search for the treasure out of eyesight and earshot of his fellow smugglers.

Does he find the treasure? Again, I don’t want to spoil things for you, but suffice it to say that he doesn’t need to keep sailing with the crew of The Young Amelia when his term of service ends.

He charges his new friend Jacopo to venture to Marseilles on an errand, to ascertain the whereabouts of his beloved father and his former fiancee, Mercédès. The news isn’t good. Assuming various identities and accents, Dantès visits both his old pals Caderousse and M. Morrel to get more of the particulars that led to his imprisonment. After playing the silent benefactor to save Morrel from his financial troubles, Dantès leans in to his dark side, with this rousing speech:

“Farewell kindness, humanity, and gratitude! Farewell to all the feelings that expand the heart! I have been Heaven’s substitute to recompense the good – now the God of Vengeance yields to me his power to punish the wicked!”

Finally, we get a strange little diversion with the story of two young, elite Frenchman, Albert and Franz, who want to travel around Europe. The last 50 pages or so of this section are a little strange and rambling and I’m not sure exactly where it’s headed. I mean, obviously Dantès is playing the long game here in his quest for vengeance – after all, there are 1000 more pages to go!

This continues to be a very entertaining read and I’m thoroughly invested in seeing how this all plays out for Dantès. I want to see Danglars, Fernand, and Villefort get what’s coming to them, and good!  Stay tuned for more in a couple of weeks!

 

 

 

 

 

 

WWW Wednesday (February 28, 2018)

WWW Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Sam at Taking On A World of Words.  Give her blog a look and join the discussion!img_1384-0

Two things to start off my WWW Wednesday:

  1. I saw “Black Panther” on Saturday and it was SO AWESOME. I’m not normally a superhero movie person, but this one is a must-see. Funny, moving, full of big ideas and questions. Terrific cast. I just loved it.
  2. Dammit, there are sexual impropriety allegations surfacing about Sherman Alexie. I am SO SO disappointed. He is one of my favorite writers. This sucks. I’m still processing what to do with my admiration for his writing.

Blurgh.

I’ve been reading a lot lately, but just not really feeling like writing about reading. I don’t know, I get in these moods sometimes, and then in a week or two I emerge and write two posts a week.

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Let’s talk about books, shall we?

The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

Currently:

51hi92m66BLSwing Time by Zadie Smith. This is my book group book for February (we meet next month.) At about the 80-85 page mark, I got really bored. If it wasn’t for book group, I might have abandoned it. But I continued, and I’m glad I did. I’m halfway through now, and it’s gotten a lot more interesting. I am pretty sure it won’t be one of my favorite books ever, but it should provide a lot to talk about. Smith is ambitious, I’ll give her that, and she is a lovely writer on a sentence level. I’m just not sure about her focus. This book sort of meanders around, and it does skip back and forth among time periods, which isn’t a deal breaker for me, but something about the way she’s doing it is a bit jarring. Our narrator is unnamed, a mixed-race brown woman growing up in London in the first part of the story. The first part focuses on her friendship with Tracey, another brown girl who also takes dance lessons, although Tracey is more naturally talented than our narrator. As the book progresses, it focuses more on the narrator’s relationship with her employer, a mega-famous international pop star named Aimee, who reminds me of Madonna. Aimee wants to build a school for girls in Africa, and that’s where I am in the book. There’s a lot going on here with race and privilege and friendship and family dysfunction. It’s pretty good, but I’m still reserving judgement.lamott-hallelujah

I also just started listening to the audio book of Hallejuah Anyway: Rediscovering Mercy by Anne Lamott. Read by the author. I love her. I know I’m going to enjoy this.

Recently Finished:

34203744The Music Shop by Rachel Joyce. I LOVED this book. It was on the lighter side without being stupid, a quality in books that I esteem SO highly. It was like a really smart rom-com movie only with the added bonus of being about music and the power of music to save people’s lives and bring people together. It’s one of those books that I just want to swoon and sigh over. If you need something that is a feel-good read, this is the book for you. This is my first Rachel Joyce book, but I’m going to have to investigate her other books now for sure!

Up Next (always subject to change:)

March is Reading Ireland Month, co-hosted by Cathy at 746 Books, so I’ll be reading Jennifer Johnston’s How Many Miles to Babylon? and possibly Sebastian Barry’s The Secret Scripture. Both authors are new to me. I’ve also still got Stephen King’s Wizard and Glass checked out and haven’t even started it yet. I need to get going with my Classics Club list and I think I’m going to choose a mystery to start, possibly Strangers on a Train or The Thin Man.

Have you read any of the books I’ve listed? Have you seen “Black Panther” yet? What do you do when one of your favorite authors is revealed to be a (pardon my language) shithead? I hope you’re all having a good week and are enjoying your books! Tell me something good!