Monday, July 31, 2017

Summer Reading: The July Update

My summer reading is progressing deliciously. I continue to savor the wonderful Pride and Prejudice, days after the final words were spoken to me by the lovely Rosamund Pike.

I loved that book not just because the audio version was wonderful, but the book itself was amazing. I knew the story from various resources, but each different performance could nowhere nearly match the magic of the original. I suspect I shall re-read this classic more than once in the coming years.

Additionally, I think I found another Desert Island Book.

But Darcy Love aside (and I mean Elizabeth), I am enjoying the summer. I stay up much later than I should and choose books based on my whim.

To date, I have finished the following:
  1. Ruined
  2. The Burning Page
  3. Speaking from Among the Bones
  4. The Inexplicable Logic of My Life
  5. Big Little Lies
  6. Anna Karenina
  7. The Lies that Bind
  8. My Best Everything
  9. Forgotten Bones
  10. The Handmaid's Tale
  11. Pride and Prejudice


I am currently reading:
  1. Star Wars: Jedi Academy
  2. The Miniaturist
  3. The Clockwork Scarab
  4. The Fall of the House of Cabal
  5. The Reluctant Fundamentalist


Yes, I really am reading five books at a time. I will need to restart (again!) my final Cabal book because it's a little slower-moving than the previous ones. Jedi Academy is way too cute to postpone, and I am on the fence on whether I appreciate steampunk London. I read the first two chapters of #6 as soon as it arrived in the mail, and I can't wait to return.

I do not expect to break any reading records this summer, but I am fine with that. What I want to do is enjoy a few books, and I have been able to do so thus far.

How goes your summer reading?

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Listening to the Classics: How They Were Intended?

What if we are meant to listen to classic novels?

I asked myself that as Rosamund Pike thrilled me this evening with her reading of Pride and Prejudice, a well-known romance novel with a timeless plot and enjoyable characters. (My personal favorite re-telling is set in India with a cast that included the former Miss World. And elephants. And hijra.) 

As I listened to the actress who played Jane in a Hollywood version reading (and appreciate the stuffy and breathy Mr. Collins all the more because of her), I realized the cadence and presentation of the language easily lent itself to audio enjoyment. (Thanks, Audible!)

I also thoroughly enjoyed Juliet Stevenson reading Sense and Sensibility last year — so much so that I purchased the book to enjoy again. 

I have listened to Anna Karenina being read by Maggie Gyllenhaal (but only snippets so far), and was transfixed by the throaty tones of the reader and her obvious affection for the work.

David finished The Picture of Dorian Gray with the assistance of Simon Vance, another favorite narrator.


I have to admit, I was very skeptical about audiobooks until my friend Melanie began listening to them, and Caitlin Moran wooed me with her self-narrated memoir How to Be a Woman.

To be fair, I have not found all audiobooks to be enjoyable, usually when I was not in the mood to listen to them. However, every classic novel I have read I have enjoyed, and the luxurious language has been delicious when delivered directly to my ears by a favorable reader.

Are you inclined to listen to a classic novel via audio? If so, which have you enjoyed? If you haven't ventured into the world of audio classics, which would you choose to start your journey?

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Summer Reading: How is it Coming Along?

Summer is in full swing now, and so is summer reading. 

Well, it can be. 

It should be. (I mean, it's summer!)

So, how is your summer reading coming along?

My summer reading is ebbing and flowing. When we last met this intrepid reader, I was experiencing a surprising level of book ennui. I could not find my groove. I looked, I skimmed, and yet nothing launched me into the book frenzy I sought.

I have completed eight books in seven weeks. Not bad, but I have done better.

What am I reading now?


  • The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood. I read it when it was first released 31 years ago, and it chills me as much — if not more — now than then. This time, I am listening to Claire Danes read it to me, and I am enjoying her narration. When I read the book without her, I still hear her in my head. (Thanks, Claire!)
  • The Case Against Sugar by Gary Taubes. He makes his case, relentlessly. It's an interesting book, but I think he's trying to trim a bonsai with a power saw. It may be me, but I'll keep on keeping on.
  • The Day the World Came to Town by Jim DeFede. I love the musical Come from Away and am intrigued about how a small town managed to host 7,000 strangers during one of the most stressful times in recent history. Full disclosure: I want to know how (or if) the municipal government managed it. It will be a slow read: I get to the comments about what a stunningly beautiful day it was, and I have to stop and think about that stunning day. Wish me luck.

What is on deck?


  • A Clockwork Scarab by Colleen Gleason. Karen gave this to me, and I am totally intrigued!
  • Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders. My book club will follow this with a tour of the graveyard from this book. The tome seems daunting, but I shall try.
  • Little Dorritt by Charles Dickens. My friend Carole and I are reading "weighty tomes," and this is the latest tome. We just finished Anna Karenina, so why not a little light reading about poverty in Dickens' England?
  • Born to Run by Bruce Springsteen. I have this in print and audiobook, and I will read it this summer no matter what!
  • The Magicians trilogy by Lev Grossman. He will be at Fall for the Book this year, so I have to catch up!
  • Exit West and The Reluctant Fundamentalist by Mohsin Hamid. Another Fall for the Book author, and the narrator the second novel mentioned captured my attention.
  • The Intuitionist by Colson Whitehead, or maybe The Noble Hustle. Guess who else will be at Fall for the Book this year? It is going to rock again this year!
  • The Wide Circumference of Love by Marita Golden. A quick review of her books shows that readers seem to prefer her fiction that focuses on family life, and I want to know why. Plus, four words: Fall for the Book.

Of course, by listing them, I have put the Reading Whammy on them, which means I will read entirely different books beginning today — but, hey, you never know.

What's in your TBR pile?

Don't forget: it's never too late to join the summer reading club! And it's not too late to start your summer reading!

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Library Loot: Bones, Bookbinding, and a Mystery

When it comes to Library Loot, I'm a slacker.

Upon reviewing the last few Library Loot articles, I discovered I did not read those books in their entirety. If anything, my eyes are too big for my bookshelf.

At any rate, I persist. And who knows: I may read at least one book from this recent looting!

First of all, book displays were meant for me to loot. I don't care who the intended audience is, when I'm intrigued, I take a book. The slim volume of Forgotten Bones will be an introduction into slave burial sites — this one in New York. Our past is never very far behind us, and this is an excellent reminder.

I also can't wait to delve into the Roanoke settlers mystery — I read about this new book, and about a recent finding announced in the Smithsonian, which makes me very excited.

David is a fan of comics, and I thought he'd like to learn more about comic books.

Finally, I needed to visit Brooklyn Wainwright again. This will be the third try at reading the third book in her bibliophile mystery series, so let's hope it's the charm. I don't mind skipping it if it doesn't tickle my fancy, which is why I also picked up the ninth book in the series, the one I saw at the bookstore that made me ask, "Wait, a cat and books on the cover? I must find out more!"

Of course, I also spent a few hours at a used bookstore today, and that may impact how long it takes me to read these delectable books, but we shall see.

Thanks to Linda (Silly Little Mischief), Claire (The Captive Reader), and Mary (The Adventures of an Intrepid Reader) for originating the Library Loot column. Check out what they're checking out!

Sunday, July 2, 2017

Discovering a Wonder-Full New-to-Me Bookstore

I have tried to expand my resources for books. I am a sucker for used books, but it's not always easy to find a reliable, interesting, and affordable used bookstore in the real world.

Oh, we always have the online behemoth, and a few other Web favorites, but sometimes you just need a room full of books you haven't yet purchased or borrowed.

So began the adventure: choosing the new-to-me bookstore within driving distance. We discovered the lovely Hole in the Wall on a whim, so why not meet Wonder Book and Video?

When I walked in, I knew I came to the right place. This was similar to Acres of Books, may it rest in peace, and Hole in the Wall Books, with narrow corridors of bookshelves. Wonder Book featured lots of narrow corridors that lured book lovers deeper and deeper into the labyrinth.

"Chris?" I heard David call once.

"Hey honey, I'm in Modern Fiction. Mostly hardbacks and trade paperbacks. To your left." Moments later, he peeked down my row, relieved. With me, he could never tell: he has lost me in smaller bookstores.

"You know, the classic literature is back that way," he said, gesturing over his shoulder.

"Yeah, I saw that. I'm looking for Fall for the Book authors, in case they're here." (Spoiler alert: I didn't see any books by authors scheduled for the 2017 event, but I found plenty of books by authors from previous festivals.)

I bonked my head once or twice as I stepped back to peruse titles and discovered a few odd-shaped books sticking out of the shelves, but one expects that. I just adjusted my stance and kept reading.

I was surprised that the only Connie Willis I found was a mass paperback, but that just meant she was not long for the shelves.

I found a few classics for the local Little Free Library, which is in heavy use during pool season (its neighbor, and the most brilliant location in the neighborhood). Doesn't everyone want to read about romance and monsters in the summer sun? Happy reading of Frankenstein, Emma, Wuthering Heights, and Home Front, neighbors!

David found a few books for his studies on gems and healing.

Me, I mostly stuck to modern fiction — with a dip into Lillian Hellman's classic plays. I also found the first of the Persia Wooley series on Guinevere, which I intend to own as I come across the books.

Lastly, but not leastly, I found a jolly Christmas bookmark and David found a couple of music CDs.

As we checked out, David talked me into what was the most delicious chocolate soda I have ever tasted. I'm sure it wasn't the result of just spending an hour or two in an old, dry building full of books and discs that made it so tasty, but it was.

I will continue to shop Wonder Book both online and in person. The other stores under this name are farther afield, but I can think of at least one other book lover who may join me in an adventure. I'll take back the reusable bag they gave us and find a few more gems, no doubt.

How do you find your new-to-you bookstores: online, word of mouth, driving until you encounter it? What was the last gem you found, and what gems did you find in it?