Recent reads and the company of literary-minded others

I’ve mostly been writing book reviews lately, so this blog has been a little neglected. If you’re interested in checking them out, here are my most recent ones:

“Magic or Madness” by Justine Larbalestier

“Half Bad” by Sally Green

“Sisters of Shiloh” by Kathy and Becky Hepinstall

“The Color Purple” by Alice Walker

I did also finish the newest one by Tracy Chevalier, “The Last Runaway,” which I haven’t reviewed yet, but about which I’m going to have some very good things to say.

You may notice a theme here. I’ve been on a spree of women authors. It started out innocently enough, but when I noticed it, I decided to make it a thing for a while. I’m currently in the middle of two other books (well, more than that, but two that are getting my attention on a daily basis). Both are also written by women.

I’m reading “The Fair Fight” by Anna Freeman for my own pleasure, and since my book group is finally meeting again this month, I’m also making my way through September’s pick, “We Took to the Woods” by Louise Dickinson Rich.

I’m not sure how I feel about that last one just yet. I’m enjoying it, but it’s also a little slow and lacking in plot–but I don’t think plot was what the author was necessarily going for. It isn’t a novel.

I also met up with a fledgling writers’ group recently. It seems to be following the same rules as my book group, even though it meets in the evening–mostly women; in fact, we only had one man. He’ll probably keep us from getting into too much trouble. We ladies can be formidable when we get together, but I think he can hold his own.

It seems likely to be a good experience. I think we have a good variety of experience and lack thereof, people from interesting walks of life and with different goals. I’m happy I overcame my hermit nature enough to show my face!

So, those are the straightforward things happening in my life right now. Everything else is complicated and stressful, so I’m glad to have the book group coming up and another writing group meeting next week. I’m also fortunate to have no shortage of good literature to bury my face in lately.

I actually think that might be next on my to-do list for today! I’d better get on it.

Photo on 9-11-15 at 5.15 PM #2

 

 


There’s Something About a Book Group

I miss my book group.

I began attending a morning book group at my local library last November. Everyone there is older than me, but none of us seem to mind that fact. It’s mostly women in their 60s and up. I enjoy our monthly meetings immensely.

I waited a few months to join, out of shyness and a lack of interest in the group choices. I finally dove in when the group was reading “Breakfast with Buddha” by Roland Merullo.

cover image courtesy of Goodreads.com

That was a nice, light, entertaining read with some philosophical thought thrown in, but I didn’t love it, so I didn’t feel up to reviewing it at that point in time.

I took out the next book for the December meeting, but I quickly realized that I wasn’t all that interested, and it was quite a dense one, so I returned it and skipped that month. Since January, I’ve been to every meeting.

The books we have read so far (as of January) are as follows:

Even when I didn’t like a particular book, which has happened more than once, I got a lot out of the discussions. It can be even more fun when the majority of the people there also didn’t like the book. In those cases, well, it’s lucky that the author wasn’t in attendance.

Our last meeting was on June 17, and we won’t be getting together again until September 16. I am really looking forward to seeing everyone again, and having a book chat. Perhaps there will be some new faces.

We’ll be reading “We Took to the Woods” by Louise Rich Dickinson.

cover image courtesy of Goodreads.com

I know nothing about it yet. I do know that I’ll read it through to the end no matter what, because I am so excited to discuss literature with this group of women (and the two men who usually join us).

This is the only book group I’ve ever been a part of. I would gladly join another. I have always been too shy to push myself into a group of strangers, so I was very proud of myself for gathering up the courage to attend for the first time, even though it took months, and then to return.

If there’s one thing that’s almost as good as reading a book, it’s talking about it with someone else who read it. Whoever invented the book club is all right by me.


Reading Transgressions

I’ve been reading a lot lately, not just because I enjoy it, but because I really want to be writing more book reviews. It makes me very happy to do them. I don’t even really care if people read them. I like it when they do, and I like it when other people appreciate them, but for me it’s just a really good way to conclude my whole reading experience with the book.

I like to reflect, think about the book as a whole, and think about why I liked the things that I liked about it. It provides nice closure for me.

I also just like to write. It doesn’t much matter what, but reviewing is one of my favorite ways to do it.

Because it threw me off to binge read three Sarah Allen Addison books in a row, I was supposed to (by my own rules) wait for a while before reading another of hers.

cover art courtesy of author’s website

3rd and 4th Addison books

3rd and 4th Addison books, in order of publication date

I went to the library early in the week and brought one home with me, her most recent, but I brought home some other books as well.

Of all the four or five books I took out of the library, I started first on “The Bear” by Claire Cameron. I don’t want to give much away before I officially review it, but so far, it is remarkable. I made rapid progress through it. It is a somewhat sad book on the whole, but don’t let that stop you from reading it.

Towards the end, I began to shed some tears as things came to a head. I moved into full on crying, with hiccuppy breaths and all. After a few pages of that, I needed a break. I had to put it down and wash my face, then go do something else for a while.

I had to get something done in town the next day, and most things in town are close enough for me to walk there. On my way back home, I thought I would stop at the library, because I had just remembered that I had gotten a call earlier about a book I had requested through interlibrary loan. The library got it in more quickly than I had expected. Did I mention I requested a Sarah Addison Allen book?

So, I detoured through the library, got my book from the desk, and continued on home.

Chris and I have recently been going through a rather stressful situation (in addition to the longer term stress I’ve mentioned previously), and when I wanted to read something before bed later that night, I was not really in a good place to read something upsetting. Of course, sitting there on the bookshelf by the door, where I keep my borrowed items, I had not one but TWO Sarah Addison Allen books, lovely, light, happy books, like pretty little pieces of cake, just beckoning to me.

I have a problem with reading more than one book at a time. I can’t seem to help myself.

Multi-reading.

So, I started Sarah Addison Allen’s second published novel. Then I finished it. I didn’t mean to! I meant to finish them in the order in which I started reading them. It just happened. I got to the end more quickly than I had expected.

The adjusted plan at this point is to finish reading “The Bear” and review it. After I do that, I’ll go back and skim “The Sugar Queen,” then review that one as well.

The question is, however, can I manage to complete both reviews before I start reading another book? Only time will tell. I make no promises.