July’s Pages Upon Pages

I have a prediction for July. I will read a crap load of books. Actually, I am cheating. It’s not a prediction because I already know I will. Case in point – yesterday my husband and I spent seven hours on the water. He fished. I read. Yesterday was July 1st so I was already knee-deep in the July Challenge list and thanks to an iPad I had five books with me. I made a decent dent in the “Boat” books:

Fiction:

  • Jackie by Josie by Caroline Preston – in honor of Jacqueline O. Kennedy’s birth month.

Nonfiction:

  • The Coldest Day: America and the Korean War by David Halberstam – in honor of July being the month the Korean War ended.
  • The Book of Mediterranean Cooking by Elizabeth David – in honor of July being picnic month.

Series Continuation:

  • The Draining Lake by Arnaldur Indridason – to continue the series started in June.
  • Midnight in Ruby Bayou by Elizabeth Lowell – to continue the series started in April.

Others on the list:

Fiction:

  • Black Hearts in Battersea by Joan Aiken – in honor of July being Kids Month.

Nonfiction:

  • Den of Thieves by James B. Stewart – in honor of July being Job Fair month (odd choice, I know).

Early Review for LibraryThing:

  • Into the Storm: Two Ships, a Deadly Hurricane, and an Epic Battle for Survival by Tristam Koten.

If there is time:

  • Gardens of Kyoko by Kate Walbert – in honor of Japan’s Tanabata Festival.
  • Animals by Alice Mattison – in honor of Mattison’s birth month.
  • Miss Lizzie by Walter Satterthwait – in honor of Lizzie Borden’s birth month.
  • Cop Hater by Ed McBain – to honor McBain’s passing in the month of July.

 

 


Sarah, Plain and Tall

MacLachlan, Patricia. Sarah, Plain and Tall. New York: Harper & Row, 1985.

Reason read: for the fun of it (because I wanted something super quick to read).

Book summary (taken from inside cover):When their father invites a mail-order bride to come live with them in their prairie home, Caleb and Anna are captivated by her and hope that she will stay.” Not exactly. Widower dad places and advertisement for a wife and Sarah answers. One of the first things she tells them is that she is “plain and tall.” What follows is delightful story about the lengths people will go to in order to banish loneliness. Anna and Caleb are hungry for a new mother and want to see their father happy again so they welcome a stranger with open arms. But, probably the most heartbreaking sacrifice is made by Sarah herself. She gives up the coast of Maine and the ocean for the prairies of the Midwest. I have no idea how she does it.
As an aside, I was glad to learn this is the first book in the Witting Family series. When I finished Sarah, Plain and Tall I didn’t want to leave them, especially Sarah.

Edited to add quote: “There is something to miss no matter where you are” (p 42). How could I forget putting this in the review? I love this!

Author fact: MacLachlan won a Newbery Medal for Sarah, Plain and Tall.

Book trivia: Sarah, Plain and Tall was made into a movie starring Glenn Close and Christopher Walken.

Nancy said: Nancy said Sarah, Plain and Tall was good for both boys and girls.

BookLust Twist: from More Book Lust in the chapter called “Best for Boys and Girls” (p 22).


December Books

I opted out of the cutesy title for this blog because…well…I simply wasn’t in the mood to come up with anything clever. What was December all about? For the run it was a 5k that I finished in “about 30 minutes” as my running partner put it. I also ran a mile every day (from Thanksgiving to New Year’s Day). I think I’m satisfied with that accomplishment the most because I ran even when we were traveling, even when we were completely swamped with other things going on, even when I didn’t feel like lifting a finger. Despite it all, I still ran at least one mile.

Enough of that. In addition to running I read. Here are the books finished in the month of December. For some reason I surrounded myself with some of the most depressing books imaginable:

Fiction:

    • Ballet Shoes by Noel Streatfeild – read in two lazy afternoons
    • Fay by Larry Brown – devoured in a week (super sad).
    • Doomsday Book by Connie Willis (AB/print) – confessional: I started this the last week of November fearing I wouldn’t conquer all 600 pages before 12/31/17 but I did. (again, super sad book).
    • Wanting by Richard Flanagan (really, really sad when you consider Mathinna’s fate).
    • Between the Assassinations by Avarind Adiga (sad).
    • The Beach by Alex Garland (again, sad in a weird way).
    • God Lives in St. Petersburg and Other Stories by Tom Bissell (the last of the sad books).
    • Nero Wolf of West Thirty-fifth Street: the Life and Times of America’s Largest Detective by William Stuart Baring-Gould.

Nonfiction:

  • Iron & Silk by Mark Salzman – read in three days. The only real funny book read this month.

Series continuations:

  • Mrs. Pollifax and the Hong Kong Buddha by Dorothy Gilman – read in the same weekend as Ballet Shoes.

Early Review for LibraryThing:

  • Brain Food: the Surprising Science of Eating for Cognitive Power by Lisa Mosconi (started).

For fun:

  • Hit Reset: Revolutionary Yoga for Athletes by Erin Taylor.

Ballet Shoes

Streatfield, Noel. Ballet Shoes. New York: Bullseye Books, 1937.

Reason read: Streatfeild was born in the month of December. Read in her honor.

The children in Noel Streatfeild’s Ballet Shoes reminded me of the very ambitious Melendy family in the Melendy Quartet by Elizabeth Enright. Each child in both families has a special talent and  the adults are super supportive of each and every endeavor. But, Streafeild has a twist to her story. The Fossil sisters in Ballet Shoes aren’t sisters at all and they pursue their talents in order to avoid going into debt. Pauline, Petrova and Posy are all orphaned children adopted by kindhearted yet often absent fossil collector Great-Uncle Matthew (GUM, as he is affectionately known). While Gum is off on another expedition Pauline finds the theater, Posy is a natural at ballet and Petrova prefers aviation and motor cars to the stage but she does what she can. The “sisters” may be very different from one another but they share one important truth, their self-decided last name of Fossil. They create a vow to honor the name and renew that vow every year on each girl’s birthday. It’s a very cute story.

Author fact: Streatfeild wrote a bunch of books for children. I have four books on my list. It should be noted, however, Fearless Treasure has been difficult to borrow from a library so it’s on my “trouble” list.

Book trivia: The edition of Ballet Shoes I read was illustrated by Diane Goode. A second piece of trivia: Ballet Shoes is mentioned in the Meg Ryan/Tom Hanks movie, You’ve Got Mail. Meg plays the owner of a small bookstore for children and Tom is the evil big box bookseller destined to put her out of business. There is a memorable scene where Meg visits Tom’s store and helps a woman chose Streatfeild’s Ballet Shoes.

Nancy said: Streatfeild is known for her “shoe” books (p 84).

BookLust Twist: from More Book Lust in the chapter called “Fantasy For Young And Old” (p 83). Obviously, Ballet Shoes doesn’t belong in this chapter.


December Whatnot

Here’s something of a shocker. I am running a 5k during the first week of December! Actually, it shouldn’t be that much of a surprise because I mentioned signing up for it in the last post…just yesterday. But. But! But, enough about the first week of December. Let’s talk about the last week of December! I am looking forward to a week off from work with nothing to do except read, read, read. Another opportunity to gorge on books is a six hour car ride when I won’t be driving. A perfect opportunity to finished a shorter book! And speaking of books, Here is the list:

Fiction:

  • God Lives in St. Petersburg and Other Stories by Tom Bissell ~ in honor of a day in December as being one of the coldest days in Russian history.
  • Fay by  Larry Brown ~ in honor of December being Southern Literature Month.
  • Fearless Treasure by Noel Streatfeild in honor of Streatfeild’s birth month. Actually, no library would lend Fearless Treasure without charging an ILL fee so I am reading Ballet Shoes instead. Good thing I wasn’t looking forward to reading fantasy!
  • Wanting by Richard Flanagan ~ in honor of Tasmania’s taste fest which happens in December. To be honest, I don’t know how I made this connection.
  • The Doomsday Book by Connie Willis ~ in honor of Willis being born in December. Confessional: this is a huge book so I started it a little early (AB & print).
  • The Beach by Alex Garland in honor of Thailand’s Constitution Day observance in December.

Nonfiction:

  • Iron and Silk by Mark Salzman ~ in honor of Mark Salzman’s birth month being in December.
  • Nero Wolf at West Thirty Fourth Street: the life and times of America’s Largest Private Detective by William S. Baring-Gold ~ in honor of Rex Stout’s birth month.

Series continuations:

  • Mrs. Pollifax and the Golden Buddha by Dorothy Gilman ~ to continue the series started in September in honor of Grandparents’ month.

Early Review for LibraryThing:

  • I was supposed to receive Jam Today by Tod Davies last month but hasn’t arrived yet. Maybe I’ll get it this month.
  • I am also suppose to receive Pep Talk for Writers by Grant Faulkner by Dec 29th, 2017. We’ll see about that!

For fun:

  • Hit Reset: Revolutionary Yoga for Athletes by Erin Taylor ~ because I’m still trying keep running.

If there is time:

  • Between the Assassinations by Avavind Adiga ~in honor of Vivah Panchami
  • Black Alibi by Cornell Woolrich ~ in honor of Woolrich’s birth month

I Heart Books

I heart books…a February recap of reading.
February was an odd month. Our first serious snow storm gave me an extra day off. With all the other holidays & my birthday off I feel as though I’ve been more out than at work. At least in the last two months it does. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not complaining for it certainly has given me more time to read! Case in point:

Fiction:

  • The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman by Ernest Gaines (AB & print)

Nonfiction:

  • Island to Oneself by Tom Neale (as a followup to The Book of Puka-Puka.)
  • Better Off: Flipping the Switch on Technology by Eric Brende
  • Travels with a Tangerine by Tim Mackintosh-Smith
  • Song of the Dodo by David Quammen
  • Antarctic Destinies by Stephanie Barczewski

Series continuations:

  • Fall of Hyperion by Dan Simmons (started with Hyperion).
  • White Nights by Ann Cleeves (started with Raven Black).

Fun:

  • Wonder by RJ Palacio

LibraryThing:

  • Nada. I “won” Ma Speaks Up by Marianne Leonne but it hasn’t arrived yet.

As an aside, I ran 36.25 miles for the month.


Wonder

Palacio, R.J. Wonder. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2012.

Reason read: I know what you’re thinking. This is a book inspired by a Natalie Merchant song and I haven’t read it until now. How come? I don’t know. I can’t answer that except to say I knew it wasn’t written by Natalie and it wasn’t about Natalie. And then there is that list of 5,000 other books I promised myself I would read…So. Why now? Two things. Wonder is mentioned in Natalie’s video memoir and…curiosity got the better of me.

The back story to Wonder as I understand it is this: “R.J. Palacio” was leaving an ice cream shop with her daughter when they passed a special needs child. Palacio reportedly steered her daughter away from the other child to avoid an embarrassing situation. Maybe she was sure her child would blurt out something inappropriate. Her obvious avoidance ended up being more of an embarrassment to everyone. Subsequently, after hearing Natalie Merchant’s song of the same name was prompted to write Wonder. Which is why you find the song quoted in several different places.

Wonder is written from the point of view of ten year old August Pullman, a boy born with severe facial deformities. Auggie as he is known to his parents and older sister, was home schooled for health reasons through fourth grade. Now as a fifth grader he is about to enter Beecher Prep. Auggie is used to people staring at him but a school of over 500 kids is a whole new world and we all know how cruel kids can be. How August navigates through the triumphs and tribulations will Break Your Heart (to quote another Natalie tune).

Book trivia: Other characters tell their sides of the “Auggie story” including Olivia (Auggie’s old sister), Summer (Auggie’s true friend) and Justin (Olivia’s boyfriend). It’s interesting to have their perspective; what it’s like to have a special needs brother, what it’s like to always be the strong one, what it’s like to be that good friend. Etc. Etc.

Author fact: R.J. Palacio admits that is not her real name.