Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Summer Reading: Did You Make It Count?

Happy autumn! 

It's been a busy reading summer. I tried to keep the pages turning relatively consistently as the summer progressed, but at times battled reading ennui

However, I refused to be thwarted, and managed to get a couple dozen books under my belt under the summer sun — or in the summer air conditioning. Either way, I read.

I didn't beat my personal best — that would be summer 2015 — but I read widely and bravely. Plus, I read multiple books at a time, so my TBR shelf continues to groan from books begun in the heat of summer.

I re-read The Magicians, because the author will be at this year's Fall for the Book Festival When I originally read it a few years ago, I really wanted to like it. This summer, I can honestly say I liked it, and have just begun reading the second novel in the series. 

I discovered some great graphic novels, including one about a young girl with cystic fibrosis and her older sister's understanding of loss. In contrast, I did not like a new-to-me graphic novel by Neil Gaiman — which may sound heretical, but is completely true. Graphic novels also taught me a little more about love, patience, and dementia.

As always, many — okay, most — of the books were not on my original summer reading list. I don't mind so much this year, in part because it was more important to me that I read, rather than read specific tomes. I wandered the library as an antidote to my self-diagnosed reading ennui, and I reminded myself the books I didn't read yet will be there when I'm ready.

Here is the list of the books I read for the 2017 Summer Reading Program from Friday, May 26 through Sunday, September 24:
  1. The Magicians πŸ“²
  2. Ghosts πŸ“²
  3. Gwendy’s Button Box πŸ“²
  4. Can't We Talk About Something More Pleasant? πŸ“²
  5. Yesternight πŸ“–
  6. Paws and Effect πŸ“²
  7. My Cousin Rachel πŸ“–
  8. Murder Under Cover πŸ“–
  9. The Graveyard Book Graphic Novel, Vol. 2 πŸ“–
  10. Forbidden Brides of the Faceless Slaves in the Secret House of the Night of Dread Desire πŸ“–
  11. Other Wordly πŸ“–
  12. Wrinkles πŸ“–
  13. The Clockwork Scarab πŸ“²
  14. Star Wars: Jedi Academy 1 πŸ“²
  15. The Case Against Sugar πŸ“²
  16. Pride and Prejudice πŸŽ§
  17. The Handmaid’s Tale πŸ“² πŸŽ§
  18. Forgotten Bones πŸ“–
  19. My Best Everything πŸ“–
  20. The Lies That Bind πŸ“–
  21. Anna Karenina πŸ“–πŸ“² πŸŽ§
  22. Big Little Lies πŸ“–
  23. The Inexplicable Logic of My Life πŸŽ§
  24. Speaking From Among the Bones πŸ“–
  25. The Burning Page πŸ“²
  26. Ruined πŸ“–

I mixed up my media, spending time on the page via print (πŸ“–), e-book (πŸ“²), and audio (🎧) — and, in one case, all three with a single book.

Only two books were read totally audio. I will always love the lyricism of Benjamin Ailres SΓ‘enz's prose, and I suspect Jane Austen was written to be read aloud.

The books I enjoyed least were, surprisingly enough, written by my favorite authors. I think Cat Winters really misstepped in her "adult" novel, and Forbidden Brides was, in my opinion, not one of Gaiman's finest stories.

I adored spending time with teenagers in the company of novelist SΓ‘enz, whose characters showed great maturity and restraint. Alas, Sarah Tom's teens didn't show the same maturity, which may serve as a lesson as to what moonshine is capable of doing to reasonable people.

I got a few more classics under my belt, including a story that remains creepily prescient three decades after its original publication — and others that remind us that, in the words of a modern poet, love is love is love is love is love.

I tried steampunk and found it little gritty and weird. I didn't realize how important the "steam" was to steampunk, so I learned something new.

As always, my reading will help others: Main Street Child Development Center will receive $5 per book, and my public library will receive three new books.

How was your summer reading? Did you read more than you expected? Were you surprised by the novels you liked the most or least?  Do tell! Feel free to comment below, or send me your thoughts.

Monday, September 18, 2017

Summer Reading: August Reads

August was my month away from most social media (and a few other distractions), so I finished quite a few books.

I got into a groove with a few graphic novels. I laughed, I cried, I coveted the skill of illustration. (My stick figures frighten children, so I don't doodle. I take copious notes. Seriously, people, even my less than stellar handwriting is better than my doodles.)

I met a few characters I never knew, including relatives of daring adventurers pressed into service in a steampunk world and an impetuous man-child who really needed the very role model he lost.

I indulged my new interest in mystery novels with a couple of ridiculously fun novels that featured smart women and their cats. (I could have done without the romance, but at least one of the series isn't too sappy about it.)

I read a new novel by an old favorite author — and hated it.

I read a book I read once before, a few years ago, and all the while kept wondering why it was so familiar.

And, just hours before August began, I finished listening to what I think may have become one of my favorite books. A second Desert Island Book. What a treat!

Of course, many of the books on my TBR pile remain there, but I am okay with that. I enjoyed what I have read, and I can't wait to tell you more about my summer reading.

What have you been reading? Where did you get your books? Would you recommend any of them to others? Do tell!

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Gone Reading!

August is Summer Reading Program go-time!

Looking for a good book? E-mail me for suggestions, or pick a title or two from my summer reading list:

  • The Descent
  • Wolf Hall
  • Bone Season
  • The Keeper of Lost Things
  • The Book of Harlan
  • The Clockwork Scarab
  • Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter 
  • The Sixth Extinction


See you in September — let's compare our reading list successes then!

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!