Reading is my oldest and favorite hobby. I literally can’t remember a time in my life when I didn’t love to curl up with a good book. Here are my reads for August, 2013…
A Tale of Two Cities, by Charles Dickens – I had been working on this since February and was only about a quarter of the way through, because I was reading it on my phone. (I downloaded it to read in coffee lines, but turns out, it takes FOREVER to get through a book when you’re only reading it in five-minute spurts. Who knew?) Anyway, I finally decided I was tired of seeing it mock me on my Goodreads “currently reading” shelf, so I pulled out my hard copy (one of the complete set that my grandmother gave me) and blew through the rest of the book. Once I sunk into it, it was amazing. And I was a soppy mess at the end.
Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail, by Cheryl Strayed – I had mixed feelings about this. I wanted to love it, because I loved Strayed’s collection of Dear Sugar columns, Tiny Beautiful Things. And I did think the description “like Eat, Pray, Love, except the woman has actual problems and is not annoying” was pretty apt. But there were still times when I wanted to shake Cheryl and ask “What were you thinking?” I’m glad she found herself on the trail, but she could have done so with less whining if she’d thought to break in her hiking boots or test out her backpack or, you know, prepare AT ALL.
Sixpence House: Lost in a Town of Books, by Paul Collins – This was a cute library find. Paul Collins, his wife and their toddler son move to Hay-on-Wye, a Welsh town that is famous for its multitudes of used bookshops. Cue musings on British life and arcane old manuscripts. My eyes glazed over during some of the block quotes, but I really liked the parts about British snacks and TV. And baby Morgan was too cute.
The Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics, by Daniel James Brown – I can’t recommend this highly enough. This book was, in a word, outstanding. I can’t remember the last time I gave a non-fiction book five stars on Goodreads, but this one deserved all five. Brown’s retelling of the journey nine young men from the University of Washington took to the 1936 Olympics was captivating. The glimpses into Hitler’s propaganda machine were chilling, but the main focus of the book – the life story of Joe Rantz, one of the nine, and his crewmates, and their rise from obscurity and adversity to become one of the greatest rowing crews of all time, was heartwarming and exciting. At one point, I was on the edge of my seat and had to take a deep breath and remind myself that these races took place 100 years ago, and are not actually going on right now. Brown’s writing took me right back. WOW.
The Last Olympian (Percy Jackson and the Olympians #5), by Rick Riordan (audiobook) – Another great “read” for my commutes home! I loved the final installment of Percy’s adventures with Annabeth, Tyson, Grover and Rachel. Riordan’s characterization of the Olympian gods is such fun (and so spot-on!) and while I never really doubted that Percy would save the day, it was fun to go along for the ride. I actually have a lot of thoughts about this series, so check in on Friday for a post devoted to Percy and pals.
Where’d You Go, Bernadette, by Maria Semple – I just loved this. Bernadette Fox is a reclusive former architect who has become so antisocial that she outsources her life to a virtual personal assistant in India. Her husband is worried and the other moms at her daughter’s private school are fed up with her. But then, Bernadette disappears, and when she disappears, everything changes. Bernadette’s daughter Bee is convinced that her mother wouldn’t just vanish, and she undertakes a wild quest to find her mom. The book is an epistolary novel, made up of letters, emails, faxes and documents that “Bee collected,” with a little straight narration sprinkled in whenever Bee needs to fill in a hole in the story. The result is a sweet, whimsical and uplifting novel about love and family and never giving up. I’ll be buying a copy.
The Time Traveler’s Guide to Elizabethan England, by Ian Mortimer – Earlier this summer, I read Mortimer’s previous book, The Time Traveler’s Guide to Medieval England and this one was, if it’s even possible, more fun. There’s lots to chew on here, and Mortimer doesn’t skimp on research, but his way of presenting the facts of daily life in Elizabethan England – as a travel guide for those interested in visiting the reign of Elizabeth I – is so creative and such fun.
Thrush Green (Thrush Green #1), by Miss Read - So, it was kind of hard to focus for the first fifty or so pages, because there was this voice in my head screaming NOT FAIRACRE! NOT FAIRACRE! NOT FAIRACRE! But once I got over the NOT FAIRACRE!-ishness of it, Thrush Green was, as I knew it would be, a sweet read, perfect for a little comfort reading prior to the big move.
Stephanie Pearl-McPhee Casts Off: The Yarn Harlot’s Guide to the Land of Knitting, by Stephanie Pearl-McPhee (audiobook) – Another “travel guide,” heh. I forgot I had this on audio and found it kicking around my car, so I decided to give it a quick listen during my last week of commuting to DC. Fun, as everything the Yarn Harlot does is, and it made me want to knit. I especially love the lists and quizzes she sprinkles in.
I sort of thought that I was having a slow reading month. We traveled to Buffalo one weekend, another weekend I spent entertaining guests for Peanut’s birthday party, and much of my so-called “free time” got eaten up by packing this month. But in looking over the list, I still managed to get through quite a few books, and two in particular stand out as being absolutely outstanding reads. The Boys in the Boat is my non-fiction pick of the year thus far, and Where’d You Go, Bernadette was utterly captivating. This month, I’m looking forward to Septemb-Eyre, which will be the perfect excuse to re-read my all-time favorite book. As for the rest of the month, I’m thinking I’ll indulge in some good comfort reading by finally making that return to Avonlea I keep saying I’ve got planned. One thing’s for sure: I’ll actually be reading books from my own shelves for the bulk of September! Or at least, for the first week or so, until I get a Buffalo library card. Which is, naturally, tops on my agenda.