Master and Commander

O’Brian, Patrick. Master and Commander. Read by John Lee. Santa Ana, CA: Books on Tape, Inc., 1991.

Reason read: for my dad. He was born in the month of May and he loved stories about sea adventures.

For starters, Master and Commander is an excellent lesson in naval warships. The dense nautical terminology will make your eyes go dry if you let it. There are many areas where the plot and dialogue altogether cease making it an arid read. Amidst the didactic seagoing vessel lesson 19th century Britain is at war with France’s brash Napoleon. Young Jack Aubrey has been promoted to commander of the sloop Sophie. Along as his right hand man is Doctor Stephen Maturin. He acts as ship medic and surgeon and together they fight enemies on the high seas. Aubrey and Maturin are as different as they come but they balance each other out and truly need one another. Their relationship is the cornerstone of the whole series.
For every adventurer Master and Commander is a must read. Every battle is played out in stunning detail. Life on a man-of-war could not be any more vivid.

Author fact: Patrick O’Brian was born Richard Patrick Russ.

Book trivia: Master and Commander is first in the series and definitely should be read before any of the others in the series.

Nancy said: Pearl called Master and Commander an “archetypal oceangoing adventure…[one] that [is] well loved by both men and women, and by those readers who have spent time on boats as well as those who have never set foot in a seagoing vessal on even stepped into a rowboat, kayak , or canoe.” She also mentioned O’Brian’s “reliable historical detail and evocative writing” (Book Lust p 217).

BookLust Twist: from Book Lust in the chapter called “Sea Stories” (p 217).


June Not Jumping

This has become a morbid joke but I’m not going to the island so there is no chance of me jumping off anything this month. There is time for books, though. Here’s the list:

Fiction:

  • Book of Reuben by Tabitha King – in honor of June being the month when a lot of people (my sister included) like to get married.
  • Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath – in honor of Suicide Prevention Day being in June in some states.
  • Sun Storm by Asa Larsson – in honor of Larsson’s birth month being in June.

Nonfiction:

  • Soldiers of God by Robert Kaplan – in honor of Kaplan’s birth month being in June.
  • From a Persian Tea House by Michael Carroll – in recognition of Khomeini’s death in the month of June.

Series continuations:

  • Because of the Cats by Nicholas Freeling – to continue the series started in May.
  • Prelude to Foundation by Isaac Asimov – to continue the never-ending series started in January.
  • Doctor Thorne by Anthony Trollope – to continue the series started in April.
  • Blue at the Mizzen by Patrick O’Brian – to continue the series started in May.

Short stories for National Short Story Month:

  • “Shadow Show” by Clifford Simak
  • “The Answers” by Clifford Simak
  • “The Life and Times of Estelle…” by Sherman Alexie
  • “What You Pawn I Will Redeem” by Sherman Alexie
  • “Garden Party” by Katherine Mansfield
  • “At the Rialto” by Connie Willis

May Flowers Books

I can’t even begin to describe May. My first time to the Southwest. My first time traveling with family. Many different firsts. But, enough of that. Here are the books:

Fiction:

  • The Man in Gray Flannel by Sloan Wilson
  • Mariner’s Compass by Earlene Fowler
  • Bear Comes Home by Rafi Zabor
  • Master and Commander by Patrick O’Brian
  • Five Children and It by E. Nesbit

Nonfiction:

  • Ethel and Ernest by Raymond Briggs
  • Farthest North by Dr. Fridtjof Nansen

Series Continuation:

  • Barchester Towers by Anthony Trollope
  • Morbid Taste for Bones by Ellis Peters

Spring Pages

I will be traveling for part of May so who knows how many books I’ll be able to read for this month. Here is the list I will attempt:

Fiction:

  • Man in the Gray Flannel Suit by Sloan Wilson – in honor of May being Wilson’s birth month.
  • Ethel and Ernest by Raymond Briggs – in honor of Graphic Novel month being in May.
  • Mariner’s Compass by Earlene Fowler – in honor of May is Museum Month.
  • Bear Comes Home by Rafi Zabor- in honor of May being Music Month.
  • Morbid Taste for Bones by Ellis Peters – in honor of the first Thursday in May being Prayer Week.
  • Master and Commander by Patrick O’Brian – in honor of my father’s birth month. As a kid he read this book.
  • Five Children and It by E. Nesbit – in honor of May being Nesbit’s birth month.

Nonfiction:

  • Farthest North by Fridtjof Nansen – in honor of Peary’s birth month being in May. From one explorer to another.

Series continuations:

  • Prelude to Foundation by Isaac Asimov – to continue the series started in January in honor of Asimov’s birth month.
  • Barchester Towers by Anthony Trollope – to continue the series started in honor of Trollope’s birth month in April.

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