December Did Not

December did not suck entirely. I was able to run 97 miles out of the 97 promised. The in-law holiday party was a lot of fun and I got to most of the books on my list:
Nonfiction:

  • Conquest of the Incas by John Hemming (DNF)
  • Rainbow’s End by Lauren St. John
  • Paul Revere and the World He Lived in by Esther Forbes
  • On the Ocean by Pytheas (translated by Christina Horst Roseman)
  • Geometry of Love by Margaret Visser
  • Freedom at Midnight by Larry Collins and Dominique Lapierre .
  • River of Doubt: Theodore Roosevelt’s Darkest Journey by Candice Millard (AB)

Fiction:

  • Tu by Patricia Grace – I read this in four days because it was due back at a library that didn’t allow renewals.

Series:

  • Spiderweb for Two by Elizabeth Enright. I listened to this on audio on my lunch breaks. It was a good way to escape for a little while each day. Confessional: I didn’t finish the whole thing but since it is a continuation of the series it doesn’t matter.

Early Review:

  • Yoga for Athletes by Ryanne Cunningham – this was an October book that took me a little time to review because I was too busy using it to run!
  • Disaster Falls: a family story by Stephane Gerson

September Slipped Away

September was a cool month. On the 10th I ran a half marathon (2:10:16), was able to get to Monhegan (and introduce the island to some new people), and get to a lot of reading:

  1. Curse of the Pogo Stick by Colin Cotterill
  2. Life and Death in Shanghai by Nien Cheng
  3. Absalom, Absalom! by William Faulkner
  4. Consul’s Wife by W.T. Tyler
  5. Tears of Autumn by Charles McCarry (AB)
  6. Life and Death of Edwin Mullhouse by Steven Millhauser
  7. Four-Story Mistake by Elizabeth Enright
  8. Best Game Ever by Mark Bowden
  9. The Trial by Franz Kafka
  10. Which Side Are You On? by Elaine Harger (ER)
  11. Which Side Are You On? by George Ella Lyon (for fun)

AB = Audio book
ER = Early review


The Trial

Kafka, Franz. The Trial. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1984.

Reason read: Czech Republic is lovely in September. Some say that is the best time to visit.

Where does Franz Kafka get his ideas? Everyone knows Metamorphosis and The Trial is no different. It has been made into theater productions, television shows and movies. Everything Kafka has ever written has been analyzed within an inch of its life so I will not be able to add anything new with my review of The Trial. In one sentence, The Trial is about a man on trial for an unknown crime. The end. Why Josef K was indicted is a mystery; why he was convicted is even more so. What is so haunting about The Trial is the tone of voice. The frightening subject matter is told in such a robotic, matter of fact manner. The outrage just isn’t there.

As an aside, I can remember reading this in World Lit class in college.

Author fact: Kafka studied law and received a degree in 1906.

Book trivia: The Trial was published posthumously.

BookLust Twist: from Book Lust in the chapter called “Czech It Out” (p 70).


Septembering

I’m not exactly sure what September will bring. The renovations for the library are finally finished (with a crazy punch list, I might add). The backyard is complete minus the hot tub, fire pit and patio furniture (that’s stage II). I have a half mara in ten days so I’m anticipating a good run month. Here are the planned books:

  • Curse of the Pogo Stick by Colin Cotterill – to continue the series started in May in honor of Laos Rocket Day
  • Edwin Mullhouse: the life and death of an American Writer – to honor kids in September
  • Life and Death in Shanghai by Nien Cheng – Mao died of cancer in September.
  • Tears of Autumn by Charles McCarry – Cold War ended in September
  • The Trial by Franz Kafka – September is the best month to visit the Czech Republic.
  • Absalom, Absalom! by William Faulkner – September is Southern Gospel month
  • Which Side are You On? by Elaine Harger – an Early Review from LibraryThing.

December Missed

Woops! December left us without me writing about the reading. Not sure how that happened (other than to say “life”), but anyway – here’s what was accomplished for December:

  • Beth Shaw’s Yoga Fit by Beth Shaw (an Early Review book for LibraryThing)
  • Cod by Mark Kurlansky
  • Flashman and the Angel of the Lord by George MacDonald Fraser
  • How Green Was My Valley by Richard Llewellyn
  • The Man Who Was Taller Than God by Harold Adams
  • Ringed Castle by Dorothy Dunnett

Here’s a belated look at January 2016 (already started, as you will see):

  1. Flashman and the Tiger by George MacDonald Fraser (the LAST book in the series on my list)
  2. Always a Body to Trade by K.C. Constantine (already read in honor of January being National Mystery month. Read this in a day)
  3. Blue Light by Walter Mosley (already read in honor of Mosley’s birth month. Another quick read)
  4. Checkmate by Dorothy Dunnett (the LAST book in the Lymond Series). It bears noting I am also consulting The Prophecies by Nostradamus (translated by Richard Sieburth) while reading Checkmate.
  5. Bless Me, Ultima by Rudolfo Anaya (an audio book in honor of New Mexico becoming a state in January)
  6. Pale Fire by Vladimir Nabokov (in honor of Nabokov’s wife, Vera. Pale Fire is dedicated to her and her birthday is in January)
  7. Up, into the Singing Mountain by Richard Llewellyn (to continue the series started last month).

I have been chosen to review a book about the photography of Dickey Chapelle but since it hasn’t arrived yet I can’t put it on the list. I was also chosen to review Liar by Rob Roberge, but I don’t expect that one until February.

On a personal note: December ended with writing to 12 complete strangers. I am really hoping one or two of them become pen pals.


Finnegans Wake

Joyce, James. Finnegans Wake. New York: Viking, 1939.

Confessional: I was doomed right from the start. I have been calling this book Finnegan’s Wake. That should tell you something…when I can’t even get the title right. I have read a lot of reviews of Finnegans Wake. Lots of advice on how to even read the thing. When you have more reviews suggesting how to read a book rather than what the book was actually about, that should tell you something. In all honesty, I have no clue what it was about. But, I’m not alone. Tons of other people have been scratching their heads, too. But, but, but that’s not to say they aren’t without advice: I tried reading it aloud, as many suggested. I tried not taking it too seriously, as others promised would help. I tried drinking with each chapter and even that didn’t make the going any easier. Drinking just made me laugh when something wasn’t funny. It’s much like the lyrics to Phish. I don’t understand a jiboo so I don’t “get” the song. End of story.

Reason read: James Joyce was born in February – just like me, myself and moi.

Author fact: Joyce took 17 years to write Finnegans Wake and it shows. I think he randomly forgot where he was in the story and picked up any old place, even in the middle of sentences.

Book trivia: Finnegans Wake was Joyce’s last book. He died two years after its publication. I can see that.

BookLust Twist: from Book Lust in the chapter called simply “Irish Fiction” (p 175) but more importantly, from Book Lust To Go in the chapter called “Ireland: Beyond Joyce, Behan, Beckett, and Synge” (p 110). Technically, I never should have picked Joyce up. As the chapter suggests, I should be reading anything but Joyce, Behan, Beckett or Synge.


Herzog

Bellow, Saul. Herzog. Greenwich, CT: Fawcett Publications, Inc., 1964.

Moses Alkanan Herzog is a man experiencing a midlife crisis. His coping mechanism is to write letters in his head; if they make do it to paper, they are letters he most often does not mail. With each letter comes a flashback to a particular monumental time in Herzog’s memory. Most of his reminiscing centers on his two failed marriages and all the relationships to which he cannot commit. He is a well intentioned, extremely intelligent yet sad man. An example: sometime after the divorce from his second wife Herzog visits a friend and her husband on Martha’s Vineyard. Soon after arriving he realizes his friends are way too happy for his state of mind. He decides, moments after arriving, he he must leave immediately. Instead of facing his well-intentioned friends to explain the mistake, Herzog writes a note and slips away unnoticed. There is a singular self-satisfaction in the fact that he makes it back to New York City by 11pm. Herzog has a heart and deeply cares, despite the fact he is so misunderstood. When he suspects his daughter is being abused he travels to his ex-wife’s home to confront the abuser. His motives are good even though the end is not what he intended.

Confessional: I have this friend who passed away over a year ago. I don’t know why, but at times, Herzog reminded me of him. Maybe it was the multiple marriages and all the exotic relationships with women?

Favorite lines, “A person of irregular tendencies, he practiced the art of circling among random facts to swoop down on the essentials” (p 18), and “A free foot on a summer night eases the heart” (p 194). This last line totally made me think of my husband.

Reason read (April 20th – May 4th): Mr. Bellow passed away in April of 2005 and May is National Jewish American month. In this (rare) instance I am reading one book in two different months. It just worked out that way.

Author fact: Bellow was awarded the Pulitzer and Nobel Prize for literature.

Book trivia: Herzog won the National Book Award for fiction and was a New York Times best seller (also named top 100 of all “Time” by Time Magazine).

BookLust Twist: from Book Lust in the chapter called “The Jewish American Experience” (p 132).