Reading Round-Up: October 2014

Reading Round-Up Header

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 October, 2014

The Golem and the Jinni, by Helene Wecker – This gaslamp fantasy novel has been on my to-read list since it was first released to widespread acclaim, and it didn’t disappoint.  Wecker’s story of a golem (a creature made of clay) and a jinni (a creature made of fire) who meet in 1890s New York City and become the unlikeliest of friends was enchanting.  Her rich language drew me right into the world she created, and her finely-drawn characters, from the kindly coffeehouse proprietress to the eccentric ice cream maker and the rebellious heiress, captured me entirely.  Loved, and highly recommend.

Anne of the Island, by L.M. Montgomery – As I’ve said before, I think fall is a perfect season to revisit my favorite of the Anne books.  So much happens in this volume – Anne goes away to college, sets up house with girlfriends old and new, falls in what she thinks is love, and falls in love for real.  The talk of books, and studies, and scholarships, and college friendships, is all so fall to me.  (Also, it seems like everyone and their mom is issuing beautiful new editions of L.M. Montgomery’s work, and I’m coveting in a bad way.)

The Four Graces, by D.E. Stevenson – This was my first D.E. Stevenson novel, bought because I love the charming reissues of her work (and proving that you can just a book by its cover; this story was just as lovely as the cover art).  Liz, Sal, Tilly and Addie Grace are the four daughters of a country parson who want nothing more than to enjoy the company of one another and their kindly father.  Unfortunately for them, a troublesome, meddling distant relation shows up uninvited for an extended visit and promptly turns the Grace household on its head.  Even if the Graces make it through the summer, life may never be the same.  I enjoyed the Graces very much – particularly spirited Liz and quiet Sal – and lucky me, I have three more beautiful reissued D.E. Stevenson books (the Miss Buncle books) in my den, if my books ever end up getting unpacked (working on it).

What We See When We Read, by Peter Mendelsund – This fascinating book (with pictures!) was part of my most recent Book Riot Quarterly box.  I was so excited to see it in there, because I’d been wanting to read it.  I don’t know that I would have bought it if left to my own devices, but it was a really interesting read and I enjoyed it very much.

Ten Years in the Tub: A Decade Soaking in Great Books, by Nick Hornby – I have been reading, and loving, this collection of Nick Hornby’s “What I’ve Been Reading” columns for The Believer magazine, since September, and I finally polished off the last one in late October.  I’d never read any of Hornby’s writing and I was blown away.  He could make me tear up (the way the man writes about his autistic son – and his other kids – such love) and crack up (oh, that rapturously intelligent Polysyllabic Spree!) on the same page, sometimes in the same paragraph.  Recommended to anyone who enjoys the books-about-books subgenre, and I’m now on the lookout for some of Hornby’s fiction, because I’m a big fan.

Amy Falls Down, by Jincy Willet – Another one that’s been on my TBR list for awhile, and I loved every word.  I read the first Amy Gallup book, The Writing Class, back in February, and adored it.  Amy Falls Down was completely different from its predecessor – almost a different genre, even, and I loved it all the more.  Everyone’s favorite washed up curmudgeon, Amy Gallup, has quite the turn-about in this book, starting when she falls down and hits her head on a birdbath in her backyard.  Within the hour, she has given a bizarre, eccentric interview that launches her career in completely unexpected ways.  I loved watching Amy flounder her way through her fifteen minutes (or maybe more?) of fame, and cheered for her as she started to get some of her mojo back.  And that’s all I’m going to tell you – go read it.

Reading slump or no reading slump, I had a fantastic October in books.  I didn’t read quite as quickly as I’ve been accustomed to do, but I’m starting to realize that this new, slower reading pace might be my new normal – at least for awhile.  (Maybe there’s a blog post there?)  Anyway, I’m calling October a successful month because I really enjoyed everything I read and three of the books – The Golem and the JinniThe Four Graces, and Amy Falls Down, may be three of my favorite reads all year.  I rarely have a month in which I can unreservedly recommend every single thing I read, but October was just such a month, and it felt good.  The slow reading speed has continued into November – I’ll be lucky to finish three books this month, with everything that’s been going on.  But that’s okay – I’m focusing on being kind and not demanding more of myself than I can reasonably give.  With a job, a toddler, a house just starting to come into order, and the holidays, it’s a day to day struggle to find any time to sit and just breathe, let alone read.  I’m muddling through.

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