Crazy Days of October

I don’t know where to begin with trying to explain October. From the beginning, I guess. It started with a trip home; a lovely week off with lots of reading accomplished. Then it was a New England Patriots football game followed by two Phish shows and a political rally for a state in which I do not live. If that wasn’t weird enough, I hung out with a person who could have raped or killed or loved me to death. Take your pick. Any one of those scenarios was more than possible. It was a truly bizarre month.
But, enough of that. Here are the books:

Fiction:

  • Playing for Pizza by John Grisham. Quick but cute read.
  • Call It Sleep by Henry Roth (AB/print). Sad.
  • The Chronoliths by Robert C. Wilson. Interesting.
  • Bridge on the Drina by Ivo Andric (EB). Boring.

Nonfiction:

  • Oxford Book of Oxford edited by Jan Morris (EB/print). Only slightly less boring than Bridge.
  • Always a Distant Anchorage by Hal Roth. Really interesting.
  • African Laughter by Doris Lessing. Okay.

Series continuations:

  • The Race of Scorpions by Dorothy Dunnett (EB/print). Detailed.
  • Finding the Dream by Nora Roberts (EB). Cute but glad the series is over.

Fun:

  • We Inspire Me by Andrea Pippins. Cute.

Early Review for LibraryThing:

  • Gardening Under Lights by Leslie F. Halleck. When I set up the reads for October I didn’t include this because it hadn’t arrived yet.

I should add that October was a really frustrating month for books. I never really liked anything I was reading.


Pacific Lady

Adams, Sharon Sites and Karen J Coates. Pacific Lady: the First Woman to Sail Solo across the World’s Largest Ocean. University of Nebraska Press, 2008. Outdoor Lives. EBSCOhost.

Reason read: July is one of the best months to be on the water. Also, it is the month Ida B. Wells was born (7/16/1862). Ida embodied the spirit of empowerment for women.

In 1965 Sharon Adams became the first woman to sail from California to Hawaii in a 25′ Folkboat called the Sea Sharp. [Moment of honesty: I was unfamiliar with the term folkboat and had to look it up.] Adams had just learned to sail the year before at age thirty-four. Recently widowed she needed something to do; somewhere to channel her grief. Dentistry just didn’t cut it. What better place than the ocean? And then. Then, after that, she decided she needed to do more. Why not be the first woman to sail the entire Pacific ocean? Delivering a boat from Japan to San Diego, California in just under four months, Adams not only learned more about the natural environment around her but about herself as well.
Here’s the thing you need to know about Sharon Adams. She was just an ordinary woman looking for a hobby. she did something extraordinary not because she wanted fame but because she could. what I don’t think she realized is that she can write just as well as she sailed. Even though she had help from Karen Coates, every other sentence was begging to be a quote in my review.

Some of my favorite lines (and there were many). Here are two about loneliness: “Experience does not deaden the sting of loneliness at sea” (p 1) and “Some sailors simply couldn’t endure their own minds” (p 3).

Author fact: Adams was 78 when she published her memoir about her sailing adventures. I love her writing so much I wish she had written more.

Book trivia: the foreword was written by Randall Reeves and the preface was written by Karen Coates.

Nancy said: nothing special about Pacific Lady. It’s just in a list of books about the ocean. too bad Nancy didn’t have a chapter called “Women Doing Amazing Things!”

BookLust Twist: from Book Lust To Go in the obvious chapter called “See the Sea” (p 202).


July with a Bang

The one good thing about July is that I am starting to train for a half mara in October. I am praying this gets me out of my funk…

Here are the books:

Fiction:

  • The Eagle Has Landed by Jack Higgins ~ in honor of Higgins’s birth month
  • Anna and Her Daughters by DE Stevenson ~ in honor of July being Ice Cream Month (this is further explained in the book review).

Nonfiction:

  • Hawthorne: a Life by Brenda Wineapple ~ in honor of Hawthorne’s birth month
  • Pacific Lady by Sharon Adams ~ in honor of July being Ocean Month

Series Continuations:

  • Henry James: the Middle Years by Leon Edel (didn’t finish in June) ~ to continue the series started in April in honor of James’s birth month.
  • A Moment of War by Laurie Leeto continue the series started in honor of April’s Madrid festival.

Early Review for LibraryThing:

  • The World Broke in Two: Virginia Woolf, T. S. Eliot, D. H. Lawrence, E. M. Forster, and the Year That Change Literature by Bill Goldstein

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

“Sea Fever”

Masefield, John. “Sea-Fever.” Salt Water Poems and Ballads. Illustrated by Chas. Pears. New York: The MacMillan Campany, 1916. p  55.

As a girl who grew up by the sea no, surrounded by the sea as only small island living can be, I loved everything about John Masefield’s Salt Water Poems and Ballads. The version I picked up was published in 1916 and had the inscription, “Evelyn, from Cerisi (?) Estelle – Christmas 1916.” Awesome. The illustrations are beautiful (my favorite is on page 73). The particular poem I was to read, “Sea Fever” evoked so many different memories for me. What comes across the strongest is there is a real need to be on the water; a need that cannot be denied. Just give me a ship the narrator cries. It’s all he needs. From that he hears the gull’s cry and tastes the salt wind.

Favorite line, “I must go down to the seas again.” Let me repeat it. I MUST go down to the seas again. Amen.

Reason read: Last time I checked April was National Poetry Month…still.

BookLust Twist: from Book Lust To Go in the chapter called “Travelers’ Tales in Verse’ (p 237).


August ’12 was…

August was a little of this and a little of that. Some people will notice I have made some changes to the book challenge – some changes more noticeable than others. For starters, how I review. I now add a section of why I’m reading the book. For some reason I think it’s important to include that in the review. Next, how I read. I am now adding audio books into the mix. I am allowing myself to add an audio book in “trapped” situations when holding a book and keeping my eyes on the page might be an inconvenience (like flying) or endanger someone (like driving). I’m also making a effort to avoid wasting time on books I don’t care for (like Honore de Balzac). One last change: I am not as stringent about reading something within the month. If I want to start something a little early because it’s right in front of my face then so be it.
What else was August about? August was also the month I lost my dear Cassidy for a week. I spent many a night either in an insomniac state or sitting on the back porch, reading out loud in hopes the sound of my voice would draw my calico to me. The only thing it yielded was more books finished in the month of August. She finally came home one week later.
Anyway, enough of all that. I’ll cry if I continue. Onto the books:

I started the month by reading and rereading Tattoo Adventures of Robbie Big Balls by Robert Westphal. This was the first time I read and reviewed a book after meeting the author. I wanted to get it right. I also wanted to make sure I was an honest as possible about the situation. Everything about this review was unusual. For the challenge:

  • After You’ve Gone by Alice Adams ~ I read this in three days and learned a valuable lesson about Adams’s work: read it slowly and parse it out. Otherwise it becomes redundant.
  • Go Tell It On the Mountain by James Baldwin ~ I read this in ten days, tucking myself in a study carrell and reading for an hour everyday.
  • Fahrenheit 541 by Ray Bradbury ~ an audio book that only took me nine days to listen to.
  • Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum ~ read with Wicked by Gregory Maguire. I took both of these to Maine and had oodles of car-time to finish both.
  • We Took to the Woods by Louise Dickinson Rich ~ this was probably my favorite nonfiction of the challenge. Rich’s Maine humor practically jumped off the page. I read this to Cassidy.
  • The Bridge of San Luis Rey by Thornton Wilder ~ I read this in three days, again hiding myself away in a study carrell.
  • Ten Hours Until Dawn by Tougis ~ another audio book. I’m glad I listened to this one as opposed to reading it. Many reviewers called it “tedious” and I think by listening to it I avoided that perspective.
  • The Sea Around Us by Rachel Carson ~ I read this in two days (something I think I thought I was going to get to in June).
  • All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque ~ I read this in honor of World War I ending. I also read it in one night while waiting for Cassidy to come home.
  • The Lives of the Saints by Nancy Lemann ~ also read in one night. In honor of New Orleans and the month Hurricane Katrina rolled into town.
  • Kristin Lavransdatter: the Cross by Sigrid Undset ~ finally put down the Norwegian trilogy!

For the Early Review Program with LibraryThing:

  • The Most Memorable Games in New England Patriots History by Bernard Corbett and Jim Baker. This was supposed to be on my list a year ago. Better late than never.
  • Sex So Great She Can’t Get Enough by Barbara Keesling. This took me an inordinate amount of time to read. Guess I didn’t want to be seen in public with it.

The Sea Around Us

Carson, Rachel L. The Sea Around Us. New York: Oxford University Press, 1951.

Carson is so lyrical in her writing. Beauty on the page. When reading The Sea Around Us I could practically smell the salt air, feel the sea rise and fall under my feet. Her words lulled me like the ocean always does. In addition, Carson writes in such a straight forward manner you are never caught up in textbook language. You are never bored. Entertained as you learn. She is not above calling something she doesn’t understand just plain “weird.” The one drawback? Some of the material is out of date. When Carson describes the diving helmets of the 1950s I wondered what she would think of today’s technology. Another mystery of her time was how whales and fur seals could endure the pressure changes in the depths of the ocean. Science has since uncovered that mystery and then some.

Reason read: August is one of the best months to be on the ocean.

Author Fact: Carson was an environmentalist who won the Presidential Medal of Freedom. She is another author who suffered breast cancer. Linda Lear runs a classy website dedicated to Carson (and others).

Book Trivia: The Sea Around Us won a National Book Award and was a best seller. It was also made into a documentary and won an Oscar in 1953.

BookLust Twist: From More Book Lust in the chapter called “Dewey Deconstructed: the 500s” (p 71).