January’s New Reads

A little something about the new year. I have absolutely no expectations of the year to come. No list of things I must pretend to accomplish. No run numbers, real or imagined. There has been an end to so many things. As a result I’m in day-by-day mode. Or, in the case of this entry, book-by-book. Here’s what I finished:

Fiction:

  • Captain of the Sleepers by Mayra Montero
  • Any Human Heart: a novel by William Boyd (AB + print)

Nonfiction:

  • Italy and the Grand Tour by Jeremy Black
  • Another Life by Michael Korda
  • Book of Puka-Puka by Robert Dean Frisbie. (I am now reading An Island to Oneself by Tom Neale as a continuation to Puka.)

Series:

  • Spiderweb for Two by Elizabeth Enright (finished the series)
  • Hyperion by Dan Simmons (started the series). (I’m now reading Fall of Hyperion as a continuation.)

LibraryThing:

  • Dirty Work by Gabriel Weston. NOTE: I was supposed to receive this as an Early Review in 2014. When it didn’t arrive I borrowed it from a library two years later.
  • You Carried Me by Melissa Ohden (December 2016 batch)

For Fun:

  • Island Voices II by Poets of Monhegan Island ~ a gift from my mother.

Spiderweb For Two

Enright, Elizabeth. Spiderweb for Two: a Melendy Maze. New York: Listen & Live Audio, 2004.

Reason read: this is the last book in the series to celebrate Enright’s birth month (started in September). I have grown to really like this family. I will miss them.

Here were are, back with the Melendy family. Only in Spiderweb for Two they are less than half the family they are used to being. Father is still traveling the university circuit as a guest lecturer and Mark, Mona and Rush are away at various schools. Left behind are Randy and her brother, Oliver, with the help, Cuffy and Willy. The rest of the family hasn’t been gone a day before Randy is beside herself with boredom. She doesn’t want to play with Oliver. He’s always been the baby of the family and therefore not worth her time…until she discovers a mystery. It starts with a message in the mailbox that takes them on a winter adventure. Each message is a clue to finding another message until they have received fourteen messages and all and it is summer once again.
It’s a cute story. Oliver getting stuck in the chimney was one of my favorite parts.

Profound quote, “Vigorously running bath water always caused Randy, as it does nearly everyone, to wish to sing” (p 80). This quote made me think of Natalie Merchant’s song, “Verdi Cries” and the lyric, “I fill the bath and climb inside, singing.” Maybe there is some truth to Enright’s words.

Author fact: Oliver was the name of Enright’s youngest boy, as it was in the Melendy series.

Book trivia: the e-audio version spells “Cuffy” as “Kaffi”.

Nancy said: absolutely nothing; just listed the title.

BookLust Twist: from More Book Lust in the chapter called “Best for Boys and Girls” (p 21).


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

Jingle the Books

December is going to be a crazy month. I need to run 93  miles. I will be hosting my in-law’s Holiday party for the first time. I’m going to the Christmas Eve Patriots Game. What else? Oh. The books!

Nonfiction:

  • Conquest of the Incas by John Hemming ~ in honor of December being the best time to visit Peru
  • Rainbow’s End by Lauren St. John ~ in honor of Shangani Day in Rhodesia.
  • Paul Revere and the World He Lived in by Esther Forbes ~ in honor of Revere’s birth month (I’m guessing since he was baptized on January first.)
  • On the Ocean by Pytheas (translated by Christina Horst Roseman) ~ in honor of finally finding a copy of this book!
  • Geometry of Love by Margaret Visser ~ in honor of Rome’s Saturnalia Solstice.
  • Freedom at Midnight by Larry Collins and Dominique Lapierre ~ in honor of December being the best time to visit India.

Fiction:

  • Tu by Patricia Grace ~ in honor of New Zealand being discovered in December.

Series:

  • Spiderweb for Two by Elizabeth Enright ~ in honor of finishing the series started in September in honor of Enright’s birth month.

Early Review:

  • Yoga for Athletes by Ryanne Cunningham ~ for LibraryThing

Thanks for the Books

November was a stressful month. The injury that sidelined me for the last half marathon of the season continued to plague me & myself but I pushed through it – ran 70 miles for the month. I don’t think I have ever mentioned this here but…back on January I was a dumbass and agreed to a 1000k challenge. By November 1st I had 267k left to go. I’m now down to 151k. Almost 100 miles. But enough of that. It stresses me out to even think about it.

Here are the books finished for November:
Fiction:

  • Goodbye, Mr. Chips by James Hilton. I thought of this as a short story because it’s less than 100 pages long.
  • Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman
  • The City and the City by China Mieville (AB)
  • Advise and Consent by Allen Drury – confessional: I knew that a fictional political book might bore the crap out of me but what I didn’t expect was outright disgust after the election. I couldn’t stomach the contents of Advise and Consent.

Series:

  • Then There Were Five by Elizabeth Enright. (AB)
  • Love Songs From a Shallow Grave by Colin Cotterill
  • Toast to Tomorrow by Manning Coles

Nonfiction:

  • Living Poor by Moritz Thomsen
  • Wherever You Go, There You Are by Jon Kabat-Zinn (audio and print)
  • Baby Doctor by Perri Klass
  • The Fifties by David Halberstam

Postscript: it came in too late for me to mention here, but I DID get that Early Review book that I was pining for. I’ll review it next month.


Then There Were Five

Enright, Elizabeth. The Melendy Family: Then There Were Five. Read by Pamela Dillman. New York: Listen and Live Audio, Inc., 2004.

Reason read: to continue the series started in September in honor of Enright’s birth month. Confessional: I read most of Then There Were Five while I was still on Monhegan but came home to finish it up on audio.

The Melendy family is another year older. This time Mona (15), Rush (14), Randy (12) and Oliver (almost 8) are collecting scraps to aid in the war effort. It’s an interesting concept for a children’s story. At each farmhouse (they still live in the country in that weird house) the children meet people they normally wouldn’t ever encounter otherwise. At one particular house they meet Mark, a boy living in an abusive home. He becomes a fast friend…and the fifth member of the Melendy household.
Like The Saturdays, I felt Enright opened my eyes a little wider. Mark was an interesting character. His description of the Perseids and Leonids evoked memories of watching the sky on Monhegan.

Author fact: Elizabeth Enright wasn’t born in New York or the city, but she spent a lot of time there.

Book trivia: In addition to the violence, Enright includes other sobering subjects in Then There Were Five.

BookLust Twist: from More Book Lust in the chapter called “Best for Boys and Girls” (p 21).


Know Your November

I am trying to move into this month without cracking up or breaking down. I’ve lost the run temporarily and even a small interruption sets me back. You know it is with a mental stability that isn’t quite that solid. I don’t want to say anything more than that.

Here are the books. Nonfiction first:

  • Living Poor:  a Peace Corps Chronicle by Moritz Thomsen – in honor of the month Ecuador’s civil war for independence ended.
  • Wherever You Go, There You Are: Mindfulness Meditation in Everyday Life by Jon Kabat-Zinn – (AB) in honor of the holidays and how much they can stress you out. I’m reading this and listening to it on audio.
  • The Fifties by David Halberstam – in honor of finishing what I said I would.
  • Baby Doctor by Perri Klass – in honor of National Health Month.

Fiction:

  • Goodbye, Mr. Chips by James Hilton –  in honor of National Education Week. This should take me a lunch break to read.
  • Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman – in honor of Gaiman’s birth month.
  • Advise and Consent by Allen Drury – in honor of November being an election month (and is it ever!).

Series Books:

  • Then There Were Five by Elizabeth Enright – (EAB = electronic audio book) to continue the series started in September in honor of Enright’s birth month.
  • A Toast To Tomorrow by Manning Coles – to continue the series started in October in honor of Octoberfest.
  • Love Songs from a Shallow Grave by Colin Cotterill – to END the series started in May in honor of Rocket Day.

Books and Spooks

If you have been keeping up with me, myself and moi then you know we love Halloween. Odd. Odd because we can’t watch Walking Dead or go to Fright Fest without peeing our pants. What I love about Halloween is the potential for witchcraft, darkness & something intangibly spooky, if that makes sense. I love mysteries and there is no greater mystery than death. Right? Jack-o-Laterns glowing on doorsteps. Ominous crows watching silently from the trees. Candlelight shadows wavering on the wall. Cemeteries shrouded in the fog…I love it all.
In other news, I bailed for the first time ever on a half marathon but made it home-home to put up a ceiling for my mother. And speaking of Monhegan, we almost got caught in Hurricane Matthew! Somehow we managed to get out just in time.
Having said all that, unrelatedly here are the books:

  • The Saturdays by Elizabeth Enright – to continue the series started last month in honor of Enright’s birth month. Took me two days to read.
  • Merry Misogynist by Colin Cotterill – to continue the series started last May in honor of Rocket Day. Took me two days to read.
  • Texaco by Patrick Chamoiseau – in honor of magical realism month. Took me the entire month and I still didn’t finish it.
  • A Blessing on the Moon by Joseph Skibell – an audio book in honor of Halloween (this was my favorite story).
  • Drink to Yesterday by Manning Coles – in honor of Octoberfest in Germany. Another really short book.
  • The Ape and the Sushi Master by Frans de Waal – in honor of Gorilla month being in October.
  • The Aeneid by Virgil – in honor of Poetry month (celebrated in Great Britain).
  • Hush by Jacqueline Woodsen – an audio book in honor of kids. This was only three discs long.

For fun:

  • The Code of the Extraordinary Mind by Vishen Lakhiani because I saw it in a running magazine.

For LibraryThing: nada


The Saturdays

Enright, Elizabeth. The Melendy Family: the Saturdays. New York: Rhinehart and Company, Inc., 1941.

Reason read: to continue the series started in honor of Enright’s birth month (September). As mentioned before, I read them a little out of order. I should have started with The Saturdays.

This is such a cute book! Four siblings are bored, bored, bored on a Saturday. While they all receive an allowance, it’s not enough for them to each do something every weekend. They decide to form the Independent Saturday Afternoon Adventure Club. Every Saturday they pool their allowances and one Melendy child gets to spend the entire day doing something adventurous of his or her choosing. Ten and half year old Randy goes to the museum to look at art and meets Mrs. Oliphant on the first Saturday. Twelve year old Rush goes to the opera and finds a dog (who he names Isaac, get it?) on the second Saturday. Mona, the only teenager in the bunch, gets her hair cut. Even young Oliver at six years old sneaks to the circus when it is his turn.
One of the best thing about Enright’s books is that she introduces me to a world I will never meet (unless someone really does invent a time machine that works): the 1950s. Because of her writing I learned about Lucrezia Borgia, Jules Clairon, Jane Cowl, and Katharine Cornell. My only panic was when Enright had Rush feed chocolate to his dog. I was taught to think chocolate is poison for a dog!

Quotes, “Fast, with her feet churning and her arms reaching until she had left the knowledge of her advancing age far behind” (p 169).

Author fact: Enright illustrated all of the Melendy books & they are really, really cute!

Book trivia: The Melendy Family is comprised of three of the quartet. Spiderweb for Two hadn’t been published yet.

BookLust Twist: from More Book Lust in the chapter called “Best for Boys and Girls (p 21).


Aught to be October

October is…another half marathon. Maybe another trip to Monhegan (not sure yet thanks to it being hurricane season) but what I’m sure about is definitely reading more, more, more books!

  • Texaco by Patrick Chamoiseau – in honor of magical realism month
  • The Merry Misogynist by Colin Cotterill – to continue the series started in May in honor of Laos Rocket Day
  • A Blessing on the Moon by Joseph Skibell (AB) – in honor of Halloween
  • Toast to Tomorrow by Manning Coles – in honor of October being the best time to visit Germany. Note: just found out this is the second Tommy Hambledon book in the series so you will probably see A Drink to Yesterday before A Toast to Tomorrow.
  • Ape and the Sushi Master by Frans de Waal – in honor of October being Gorilla Month
  • The Saturdays by Elizabeth Enright – to “continue” the series started in September in honor of Enright’s birth month (yes, another series read slightly out of order).

For fun:

  • The Code of the Extraordinary Mind by Vishen Lakhiani. Don’t ask.

If there is time I would like to add Aeneid by Virgil in honor of Great Britain’s poetry month.

 


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 Four-Story Mistake

Enright, Elizabeth. The Four-Story Mistake. New York: Henry Holt and Company, 1942.

Reason read: Elizabeth Enright was born in September.

The Melendy family has moved to the country. In the previous story, The Saturdays, their brownstone in New York was damaged by fire. Now Father Melendy has moved his four kids (Rush, Miranda, Oliver and Mona), dog (Isaac), handyman (Willy), and housekeeper (Cuffy) to “the Four-Story mistake”, a house that when originally designed was supposed to have four stories but the fourth story was somehow left off during construction. It’s an odd looking house since the fourth story was added after the roof was finished. Father is often away (hence the live-in housekeeper) so the four children are left to explore their new surroundings, the countryside and the house.

Book trivia: the is Book Two of the Melendy Quartet. Yes, I read two of them them out of order. It is important to read them in order because I didn’t know what happened to mom, I wasn’t sure what year we were in, and I could guess as to how Cuffy and Willy fit into the story, but I wanted more information.

Author fact: Enright also wrote The Saturdays, Then There Were Five, and Spiderweb for Two: A Melendy Maze. All of these titles are on my list.

BookLust Twist: from More Book Lust in the chapter called “Best for Boys and Girls” (p 21).