Updates (mea culpa)

Clearly, letting even one self-imposed deadline fall by the wayside encourages me to let more slide. And then the backlog is daunting so I just say, “I’ll have more time tomorrow; I’ll do it then.” So today is the cliff: one more postponement and I’ll crash over the edge. Don’t want to do that, so we’ll have a quick rundown of recent reads…

I had fun re-reading a book from childhood, The Little Prince and noticing once again how well the illustrations enhance the story.

I raced through the first five books in Jeffrey Archer’s Clifton Chronicles series. I mentioned the first one in an earlier post, but this time I consumed volumes 2-5 without a break.

In nonfiction I enjoyed Howards End Is on the Landing: A Year of Reading from Home but then I always like books about books. I wish the author had given us a few more of her impressions from her “year of reading from home” rather than mostly a listing of books she had on her shelves. I also read (or listened to) Anne Perry and the Murder of the Century because although I used to love Perry’s historical mysteries, I’ve categorically refused to read any more of them since learning she herself is a convicted murderer. I have no problem with someone living a productive life after serving one’s time, but I think it’s the height of poor taste to choose murder mysteries to make her (very good) living. After reading this book, I have more complicated feelings toward her and I’m not sure if I’ll stick with my ban forever. Please note, however, that the narrator for this audiobook is really annoying and I will definitely not listen to any others she may have narrated.

A much better nonfiction read is Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption and this one I highly recommend. Thought-provoking, discouraging and hopeful all at once. I need to come back and add more thoughts on this one, but I must get this post up, so for now I suggest you go find the book and read it.

I also recommend David McCullough’s latest book The Wright Brothers, who are probably my hometown’s most famous local boys.

In general fiction I’ve read Aquarium, The Bone Tree, The People in the Trees, and All the Light We Cannot See. I enjoyed all, but am not sure that any will make my top ten list for 2015.

A quick trip through At Bertram’s Hotel was an easy reminder that Agatha Christie can be relied upon for a good read. Casino Royale was my first time to actually dive into one of the books behind the James Bond film series. It also qualifies in two challenges: my TBR one and the Literary Birthday one. And I finally read Anna Karenina from start to finish, and thoroughly enjoyed it! (this one counts in my Back to the Classics challenge.)

There have been a few other books, but as I’ve already lost the draft for this post TWICE, I’m going to post as is and come back to add the rest of the links and perhaps a few more thoughts.

Currently I’m working my way through the shortlist for this years Baileys Women’s Fiction Prize, but those will be covered in another post.

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Reading about reading

I love books about books, and The Reading Promise: My Father and the Books We Sharedhad been sitting on my TBR pile for a very long time. I have a passing acquaintance with the author’s mother, and I had held off reading this for some time due to her discomfort with some of the material included. However, in the end I couldn’t resist, as a love of books is one of the traits which most defines me, and I find it irresistible when others write about the same love.

When she was nine years old, the author, “Alice Ozma” and her father began a streak of reading aloud every single day which went on to last for thirteen years. This book isn’t so much about the books they shared as is it about the relationship between the two of them and I found it touching and genuine to see the struggles of this single father raising his daughter through the tricky pre-teen and teen years. Through it all, a shared love of books bonded them together and gave them a focus that kept them going.

The writing often seems like it’s in a young teenage voice, but the author wasn’t too many years past that when she published this memoir. Some embarrassing editing mistakes marred my enjoyment at times but overall I really enjoyed this book. 3.5 stars.

This will count toward my Read Harder Challenge as a book written by someone under the age of 25.


Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail

I love travel and adventure memoirs and knew I was going to enjoy this book (Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail). I have no idea why it took me so long to get around to reading it, as I’ve owned it since November of 2013. The recent release of the movie spurred me on, along with the fact that I chose this book as part of my TBR Challenge.

Cheryl Strayed was a mess when she decided to hike the Pacific Crest Trail, and she knew that the rigors would help her to redefine her life and begin again. Her recent divorce was amicable but painful, and she’d fallen into heavy drug use and other self-destructive behaviors. The downturn had been triggered by her mother’s early death, but clearly Cheryl wasn’t handling things well at all. Her troubles were largely self-inflicted, but she decided to put everything on hold and go for a hike. She tried to prepare for the trail by sending ahead supplies and small amounts of cash to various planned stops, and loaded herself down with a huge variety of supplies from REI that were nearly too much for her to carry. But she fought through the hardships and found a certain beauty in the daily pain and work of hiking the trail, through desert and mountains and snow and withering heat. The solitude interspersed with the encounters she had with various other backpackers on the trail made for interesting reading, though I cringe with pain at the thought of what her feet went through.

She did indeed find herself and make peace with her life during the months of her hike, and writes ably of the transformation. I’m not sure what she could write next, but I will definitely pick it up when she does release another title. This was very enjoyable.