Busy week on the work and home front translates to slower week on the reading front. The recent standard pattern – slow and sporadic during the workweek, sustained and productive on the weekend – held true again, although this time the weekend was devoted to a tome. But one thing at a time.
I spent most of the workweek over The Lark, which was absolutely delightful, lovely and fun. And as has felt par for the course lately, very odd that it took almost a full week to finish, but I chalk that up to fitting it in around everything else during the week. I just don’t have the attention or the time reserves from Monday through Friday. But I did wrap this up early on the weekend and absolutely loved it. And a relaxing, restful read like The Lark set me up nicely to tackle a tome from my Classics Club list – Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man. After devoting ample reading time to it over the weekend, I’m just about halfway through and feeling motivated. (Right away, I thought to myself, I can see how this book must have been a huge influence on Colson Whitehead – the magical realism elements are strong.) Not sure what’s next, since I still have a few hundred pages left to read in Invisible Man and I don’t want to get too ahead of myself, but it will be something comforting, I think.
No Instagram photo this week! My weekend was nothing to write home about – rain, rain, more rain, and some errands.
So, a decent reading week – got through a few books, and enjoyed them all, and you can’t ask for more than that. I’ve noticed a pattern recently: I’ll spend the entire workweek plodding through a book twenty pages at a time, and then rip through three in short order on the weekend. It’s funny how that changes; sometimes I read more during the week and less on the weekends, but right now that’s the structure of my days. Don’t know what to do with that – nothing, really – but it’s interesting to me.
Anyway, after plodding through September Moon all week, I finished it up on Friday evening and then immediately ripped through Just William in two sittings. I was done with Just William in time to take a new book, The Lark, in my tote bag for the kids’ swim lessons on Saturday, so it really did fly by. Just William and The Lark are both delightful, but now I’m back in that weekday pattern of reading a little here and a little there. Well, I’ll get there eventually. When I finish The Lark, I have my eye on Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man.
Then, finally, still enjoying having more time for audiobooks now that I’ve got my podcatcher in shape, I finished up The Pale Horse on Sunday while running errands. I’ve heard that it’s one of Christie’s weakest mysteries, and that may be true, but I still really liked it. The solution was a total surprise to me, which is always fun. It’ll be a minute before I get to another audiobook, because I’m working my way through the final set of podcast back episodes that I still have (The Slightly Foxed Podcast) and then planning to listen to a dramatization of Persuasion as a birthday treat to myself (that one’s on Audible, but I don’t count the dramatizations as audiobooks).
We went apple picking this weekend! That’s a must-do fall activity for me. We always wait too long, but this year it seems we timed it well, because there were four varieties still picking and plenty of apples on the trees. Pies ahoy!
Well! Surprisingly productive reading week, if I do say so myself (and I do). Last week, I was out of town on a business trip to Nashville – a gathering with my team. We periodically get together for weeklong offsites where we spend most of our time working in collaboration and setting the world to rights, and devote evenings to eating good food and going out. These are such busy, packed weeks that I never get much reading done and I didn’t expect this one to be any different. Apparently it was, though, for a couple of reasons:
Two of the books you see here are audiobooks! Now that I have finally almost cleaned out my podcatcher (that was a project and a half) I can sprinkle in audiobooks, which is so much fun. I finished listening to Mr Mulliner Speaking (read by the incomparable Jonathan Cecil) while getting ready for work in Nashville. And I started The Pale Horse yesterday – feels like a good choice for the beginning of spooky season.
I was almost done with Ruth at the start of the week, and finished it up over two sittings once I got home.
As for the rest of the books here, I peppered Amanda Lovelace’s insightful poems into my week (definitely need to do that more) and started September Moon – I have the edition pictured above, isn’t it pretty? I’ve read all three volumes of John Moore’s memoirs (published by Slightly Foxed Editions) and loved them, so I’m excited about this. I will say that there has been some dated language, which is always a shame when that happens.
Anyway, lots to do this week – catching up at work and at home after a week of business travel, plus we already have multiple plans on the calendar for next weekend – so I expect reading time to be limited and I’m not sure what’s next after September Moon. Something quick and fun, most likely, and befitting a jam-packed week.
Before work meetings got going in earnest last Monday, I checked off a bucket list item and visited the famous Parnassus Books in Nashville! It was a gorgeous store and I left with an excellent haul.
Also, a bonus picture:
Paddling with friends, always a fun way to spend a weekend day! We met up with some of our neighbors for a paddle on Lake Burke on Saturday. They were in a canoe and we had our kayaks. The best!
Another week of reading in the books! (See what I did there? You see it, right?) It was a slow one – given over entirely to Ruth, by Elizabeth Gaskell, once I finished up Nella Last’s War last Monday. I’m really making a concerted push to finish up my Classics Club Challenge list before my self-imposed deadline of July 23, 2023. Twelve books to go – not including the partially finished Ruth – and I’m down to a lot of doorstoppers and books I’ve been avoiding. Time to get cracking.
Ruth is good but I’ve been finding it hard to settle down to it, for various reasons. I’ve been locked on news coverage of Queen Elizabeth’s death, devoting time my Peloton every day, and a bit overwhelmed at work – all of which combines into a recipe for limited reading time and attention. And now I’m on my way to Nashville for the week (for work, and there won’t be much downtime, but I think I’ve found enough of a break in the schedule to go to Parnassus Books, so watch this space!). To be honest, I’m not excited about the trip: I always love seeing my teammates, and I’ve never been to Nashville so I’m stoked to check it out, but I’ve been traveling so much this summer that I kind of just want to stay home. Well, this is the last trip for awhile, so once it’s over I can settle into autumn in NoVA. I haven’t decided if I’ll be bringing any books with me to Nashville – we’re going to be booked almost wall-to-wall with team-building activities and meetings, and I might just rely on audible and whatever haul I pick up at Parnassus to get me through. We’ll see – it may be a game-time decision.
Going to miss this little ball of energy while I’m away on business all week. Do you like his new goalie gloves?
Whew! Slightly delayed, due to Labor Day, but what a week-ish in books. Five finished and one started in the last week and change – definitely got my reading mojo back from the summer. There are so many that it’s a bit difficult to remember the order and cadence and all that. I blazed through Five Little Pigs early in the week last week, looking for something orderly after a few stressful days at the office. Agatha Christie was just what the doctor ordered – always is.
Then, staring down the barrel of the start of a new month, and a new season – although it will be hot here for several more weeks, and I’m just fine with that – I grabbed a couple more off my summer reading stack. I was literally months behind on A Poem for Every Summer Day, so the first order of business was catching up, and I finished on time on August 31. (I’ve switched to A Poem for Every Autumn Day now, which feels funny as the weather here in Virginia is still plenty hot and sticky.) Then I squeezed in a recent acquisition – Summer Pudding, by Susan Scarlett (Noel Streatfeild’s nom de plume for her novels for adults) – which came highly recommended. I blazed through and loved it, and turned to another new acquisition: Nella Last’s War. This was the fall publication from Slightly Foxed and just arrived in my mailbox last week. And now I’m already done with it. Almost felt like being a kid again, getting a new book and inhaling it immediately. Oh, and over the same stretch of days I finished listening to Going Solo, read by the wonderful Dan Stevens. (I’ve been resisting reading Boy, the first volume of Roald Dahl’s autobiographies, because I didn’t feel any need to read about the real-life horrors who inspired characters like Miss Trunchbull and the Grand High Witch… but now that I know Dan Stevens reads that one too, I might actually download it. We’ll see.)
Finally wrapped up the weekend reading by starting Ruth, by Elizabeth Gaskell. The action begins on a cold January day, so perhaps I should have saved it for winter reading. But I’ve realized that the clock is ticking loudly on finishing my Classics Club Challenge, and I need to recommit to sprinkling those books in. (I read classics almost exclusively, but apparently not the ones I put on my challenge list – figures.) I’m only about fifty pages in, so I have a ways to go. Stay tuned for a full review once I’ve finished.
When not reading over the weekend, I was on the water with these three chuckleheads. Look at this: two kids in their own kayaks! It’s a Labor Day miracle! Also, get a load of the hand-holding. Eeeeeeeeeee.
On Saturday evening, we went for a family walk after dinner, just around the neighborhood. I commented that while it had been fun being on vacation, I was happy to be home for awhile now. Nugget replied, “Not me. I would like to spend at least three more weeks in South Dakota.” Sorry, buddy, all good things – even vacation – must come to an end! And actually, we were on the go so much over the last few months that I really do feel a little relieved to be home and back in a routine, even if I do hate back-to-school (and oh, I do, I hate it so much). I have one more trip in September – a business trip to Nashville for a team retreat. And then really home until at least the holidays, and possibly even longer, since we haven’t decided if we will make any Thanksgiving or Christmas visits this year. With the return to routine should come more reading, too, and I’m also glad about that.
Notwithstanding the routine, last week was a slow week on the reading front. There were a few reasons for this: one, I went to the office four days last week. I usually aim for working in the office two days per week, and from home the rest of the time, but we had visitors from other offices and I went in to see them. And even more outside the usual course, last Monday and Tuesday I drove into D.C. to work from our office there (my normal office is in Arlington), so the commute was longer, the parking was different – everything was a little off. I did Wednesday and Thursday in Arlington and that was better, but still a lot. How did I commute into the city five days per week before the pandemic? Anyway, it didn’t impact my reading time so much – that’s confined to evenings no matter where I work – but it definitely drained my energy levels, especially when you consider that last week was also the first week of school. I’m tired just typing all of this out. And then on Thursday I had an unusually stressful day, which spilled over into Friday, and that drained my energy levels even more. All of that does impact reading.
All this to say, I spent the entire week over Father, which normally would take just a couple of evenings of reading, and didn’t finish it until Saturday afternoon. I really enjoyed it, though – it was such a delightful read. Possibly a 2022 highlight? We’ll see. I devoted Saturday afternoon’s reading to the summer issue of Slightly Foxed, since I’m expecting the fall issue in my mailbox soonish. And then after the multiple work stresses of Thursday and Friday I was looking for some soothing “convalescent literature” to pick me up, and there’s nothing for that like Agatha Christie. Five Little Pigs it was. I flew through it, didn’t guess the solution – well, I guessed partially, but fell far short of figuring out the whole puzzle – and enjoyed myself thoroughly. Finished it this morning over my coffee, and haven’t decided yet what’s next.
It’s nice to be home and stomping our old familiar hiking trails again, even if some people would prefer to still be in South Dakota…
Another missed post last week (sorry! blame late summer) and another slow couple of weeks on the book front. (I expect the pace to pick up considerably come September, so thank you for hanging in there with me.) Last week started on an especially hectic note – we returned home from our summer road trip through the Dakotas (with Wyoming interlude) at 8:30pm, and I left the house for a business trip to Connecticut at 4:30am the very next day. Oof. It was a whirlwind couple of days and I didn’t get home until after midnight on Tuesday night – or technically, Wednesday morning – and I didn’t read at all. When I wasn’t in meetings or driving between sites, I was trying to catch up on a mountain of work that piled up during my vacation, and I spent my almost non-existent free time on Monday night chatting with my favorite aunt over the phone, not reading. No regrets!
Anyway, bookish focus came back in direct proportion to the amount of work that I whittled away, and by the weekend I was back deep in pages, which is how I like to be. By midweek I finished up Midsummer Mysteries and mostly enjoyed it – although as with every short story collection, some of the offerings were better than others. (The Marple and Poirot stories in the collection were, of course, the highlights!) There’s a sort of matching edition for winter and the holidays, so I’ve got that on my to-purchase list for this fall.
Then I stayed in the general mystery/golden age crime category and returned to my kindle book – Agatha Christie: A Mysterious Life. I usually only read on my kindle when I’m traveling or reading something so large and unwieldy that I don’t want a physical book, but I also don’t like leaving a book partially read. I enjoyed this doorstopper of a literary biography, but was pretty much over it by the weekend, with hours of reading still ahead of me; I finally got through on Sunday night. I’m still rather in the mood for golden age detective fiction (and ancillary nonfiction) and have a few titles on my to-read-soon pile, but in the meantime I decided to take a break from murder and mayhem and read something different. Father, by Elizabeth von Arnim, is Miranda Mills‘ choice for the Comfort Book Club this month, and I happened to have a copy – so decision made, and that was an easy one! I started it so late on Friday that I’ve only read the first chapter so far, but I’m already enjoying it – Father’s determination that there should be “no fuss” about his surprise marriage, and adult daughter Jennifer’s determination to move out as a result, had me chuckling out loud within the first couple of pages. Can’t wait to see where the story goes from that strong beginning.
No instagram picture to share this week! We did literally nothing over the weekend, which felt AMAZING. Back to busy life, and posting regularly, this week – I PROMISE.
Oof. I flaked on you again, friends! I’m so sorry. In my defense, I tried to write and schedule posts for last week, but I was out of town on vacation and WiFi was spottier than expected – chalk it up to technical difficulties. I’m back now (sort of – vacation is sadly over, but I’m already back on the road, this time for work for two days and then really back from this intense summer of travel… until September, anyway).
Anyway, once again, because it was a heavy travel week, I didn’t do that much reading. I read more than I usually do on vacation, because we were camping in South Dakota and there was a fair amount of downtime while the kids played around the tent. So I got in a few pages with one eye on my kindle and the other on the anklebiters, alternating between enjoying book time and shouting things like “Don’t hit your brother/sister!” or “Hey, that tree is alive!”
So most pages this week were electronic: I finished Someday, Someday, Maybe, by Lauren Graham – and as already reported, enjoyed it. But would have enjoyed it more if I didn’t mistakenly think it was her memoir (it’s actually a light and funny novel about an aspiring actress in New York City). That one’s on me. Then I picked up Elizabeth von Arnim’s In the Mountains, which felt like an appropriate choice for camping (although the Swiss Alps are not quite the same as the Black Hills of South Dakota). It was a quick read, lovely and poignant as all von Arnims are. Finally, on the last day of the trip, I started Agatha Christie: A Mysterious Life – satisfying a recent craving for a big literary biography. I’m not quite a quarter of the way through, but really enjoying it so far. It may have been a mistake to start a chunkster right before ending the trip, because I usually try to time my reading so that I finish a kindle book right as I am wrapping up travel. But I’ll be in a hotel tonight and on a long train ride tomorrow evening, so I expect progress. I will report back.
Last book to mention – Midsummer Mysteries (a collection of mostly forgettable short stories from Christie, which I will freely admit I bought because of the beautiful cover). It’s been mostly on hold the last week or so, as it’s a hardcover and I no longer travel with physical books. But I did put myself to sleep last night with one story, so it counts. I’ll finish it when I get home from my business trip on Wednesday.
Hiking Devils Tower in Wyoming! Really, really epic.
Well, look at that – I flaked on you again last week. Sorry about that. Everyone is fine here, in good health and spirits and all that; I just got busy and blogging went out the window. That tends to happen more in summer than the rest of the year, I’ve noticed, so I appreciate your indulgence.
Anyway, even though this is two weeks of reading here, and not the usual one, as you can see – it’s a pretty short list for me. Again, more of a summer thing, but this is just not a heavy reading season for me and really never is. Either I’m traveling, or just rushing around managing the usual chaos of life but without the benefit of a school routine to keep me grounded. The past two weeks were a little of both of those: first, a week of re-entry after Steve and I returned from our non-vacation week of diving and working remotely from Roatan, Honduras (pictures and stories to come!), followed by a week in Seattle (just for me this time – business trip). The re-entry and business travel combined left almost no time for reading, but somehow I still got through five-ish books over the two weeks.
Five-ish. Right. So, first up: after reading The Wimsey Papers in Roatan, I wanted to spend more time with Lord Peter & co., so I picked up Clouds of Witness. I’ve read many of the Wimsey mysteries, but have skipped around in the series, so I’m now gradually reading my way through in order, and this was one I’d never gotten to before. (I’m going to try to continue to read in order, although Have his Carcase is calling me and that would definitely be out of order for where I am in this read-through of the series. Such a perfect summer read, though. We’ll see.) After Clouds of Witness I was still looking for something light and fast to read over the rest of the week – knowing I was going to be traveling again soon I didn’t want to start a big chunkster. So I picked up The Wren: A Biography. Stephen Moss’s books usually take about a day to get through, for me – and a very enjoyable day at that – and this one was no exception. Finally, with the clock ticking down to the next flight, I grabbed the very slim Edinburgh: Pictorial Notes, recently republished by Manderley Press (new indie publisher alert!). I loved the last Manderley Press title I read (The Armourer’s House, by the fabulous Rosemary Sutcliff) but this one fell a little flat for me – Stevenson’s writing was a bit too dense for the attention levels I had to offer at the time. I’ll have to revisit it when I’m not distracted by an impending business trip and see if I get on better.
These days, I don’t travel with a stack of books anymore, so my next read came from my library of kindle downloads. And here’s where I get the “five-ish” number, because I picked up Someday, Someday, Maybe, by Lauren Graham (better known as the fast-talking Lorelai Gilmore) and haven’t finished it yet. Partly that’s because I should not be allowed to choose a new read before coffee – I’m sure Lorelai would agree. I fired up the book while waiting for caffeine at about 6:00 a.m. at Dulles Airport, and I mistakenly thought it was Graham’s memoir (Talking as Fast as I Can). It’s actually a novel about an aspiring actress in New York City – fun, light and frothy, but not what I thought I was getting. And I should emphasize that the disconnect was entirely on my end, but yeah – don’t start this if you’re looking for a memoir. But you know how when you’re not quite feeling a book, it’s hard to motivate to pick it up? Combine that with a business trip keeping you super busy, plus almost no sleep due to an extremely noisy hotel… so, I barely read all week. And I still haven’t finished Someday, Someday, Maybe – saving it for the next plane flight.
I got home from Seattle late Thursday night and decided to devote my weekend reading time to something I was more excited to pick up – The Feast, by Margaret Kennedy. The recent reissue (from Faber & Faber – the cover is gorgeous!) was under the Christmas tree for me in 2022 (thank you, Steve!) and I’ve been saving it for this season because the action takes place over a hot summer week at a seaside hotel in Cornwall. I’m about three-quarters through now and absolutely captivated. I heard so many good things about the book going in, and it’s lived up to every expectation.
I’ll probably finish up The Feast tonight or tomorrow, and am not entirely sure what’s up next. Likely Father, by Elizabeth von Arnim, which I’ve heard is another good summer read – but I could change my mind in the moment and decide I’m feeling something else more. (The benefits of shopping my own shelves and not being tied to library deadlines right now!) And at some point soon I’ll get back to Someday, Someday, Maybe, because I hate to leave a book unfinished for no good reason.
The weather was glorious in Seattle last week!
What are you reading this week? What’s on the rest of your bookish summer agenda?
Last week was a week of reading in short little bursts, between long stretches of doing other things. Steve and I were living the digital nomad life in Roatan, Honduras – scuba diving in the morning and working in the afternoon. That whirlwind didn’t leave much time for leisure reading, and I never read much on vacation anyway – I’d rather be staring at beautiful Caribbean blue water and catch up on books when I get home. (Anyone else?)
But I did get a bit of reading done over my morning coffee – a few pages here and there from The Wimsey Papers (which is not a Lord Peter mystery – it’s a collection of letters and “family documents” that Dorothy L. Sayers wrote as one-offs during World War II). Great for spending a little bit more time in Lord Peter and Harriet’s world, as long as you don’t expect an actual plot. (I went in knowing what to expect, so I was completely satisfied.) On the plane home, I read Nothing is Wrong and Here is Why, which turned out to be a collection of Alexandra Petri’s Washington Post columns, most of which I had already read when they came out in the newspaper. But time spent with Alexandra Petri is always worthwhile and I blazed through, alternately chuckling and cringing, as we winged our way back to the U.S. Then finally, once home and back to perusing my shelves, I felt like spending more time with Lord Peter, so I picked up Clouds of Witness, which was one of the Wimsey mysteries that I missed when I read a bunch of them in high school. It’s been a busy couple of days of running around doing post-travel re-entry, so I’m only about fifty or so pages in, but of course it’s wonderful.
Totally in love with scuba diving! We had an amazing week exploring the glorious, vibrant, and healthy Mesoamerican Reef that rings Roatan Island. Can’t wait to go back and dive more!