October 2012 was started out to sea. We landed on Monhegan sandwiched between the bustling start of Trap Day and the slowing end of tourist season. As a nod to the death of summer we readied our psyches to the coming winter. The island had shed its summer greens and stood cloaked in red rust brown and burnt yellow hues. Hiking the trails was at once magical and sobering. It was easy to curl up with a good book every night and read for at least two hours straight (something I never get to do at home unless it’s an off day). And speaking of the books, here they are:
- Persian Boy by Mary Renault ~ a continuation of the series about Alexander the Great. I started this in September to keep the story going.
- Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus by Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley ~ in honor of Halloween (duh). Probably one of my favorite books of the month. I read this in three days.
- The Outermost House: a year of life on the great beach of Cape Cod by Henry Beston ~ in honor of October being Animal Month. The best book for me to read on an island; finished it in three days.
- Lives of the Painters, Vol. 1 by Giorgio Vasari ~ in honor of October being Art Appreciation month. This was just ridiculous to read. There were a lot of errors according to the translator. I ended up skipping every biography that had a contradiction or error in it.As a result, finished it in two weeks.
- Hackers edited by Jack Dann ~ in honor of October being Computer Awareness month. This was cool to read. I read three stories a night and finished it in four days.
- The Dialect of Sex: the Case For Feminist Revolution by Shulamith Firestone ~ in honor of breast cancer awareness month and strong women everywhere. I didn’t completely finish this, but I got the gist of it.
- The Good Thief’s Guide to Amsterdam by Chris Ewan ~ in honor of the Amsterdam marathon taking place in October. I read this in four and a half days. Easy and very entertaining!
- The Clerkenwell Tales by Peter Ackroyd ~in honor of Ackroyd’s birth month. This was short, a little over 200 pages, but I took my time reading it – almost three weeks!
The audio book I chose for October was The Man From Beijing by Henning Mankell. This took forever to listen to! I felt like I was constantly plugged into the story. I listened to it on the drive home from Maine, to and from work everyday. even while I was working out, while I cooking. It was a great story, worth every hour between the earphones. Can’t wait to read other Mankell stories!
For LibraryThing’s Early Review program I read Thomas Jefferson’s Creme Brulee: How a Founding Father and His Slave Introduced French Cuisine to America by Thomas J. Craughwell. While I thought I would enjoy this book (TJ is one of my favorite past presidents and I’m wild about food) it fell a little flat for me. I stopped reading on page 200. I also started reading Clay by Melissa Harrison. It was refreshing to get a first-time fiction from LibraryThing!
One thing that I failed to mention about October (and this is related to the books) is that I am back to requesting books from other libraries! Yay yay yay! This was halted in June of 2011 because we were switching ILSs and at the time I figured it would be a good opportunity to read what was on my own shelf and in my own library. Now, nearly 17 months later I am back to having hundreds of libraries to order from. Thank gawd!
We ended October with a freak storm people were calling Frankenstorm in honor of being so close to Halloween. Although we prepared like hell we saw little damage, thankfully. My thoughts and prayers go out to those in New Jersey and New York. It’s sad to see my old haunts get battered around so…
Ackroyd, Peter. The Clerkenwell Tales. New York: Nan A. Talese, 2004.
The very first thing you notice when you pick up Clerkenwell Tales is that the table of contents look a lot like the table of contents from Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales. This was definitely intentional. In fact, all of the characters are the same as Chaucer’s only fleshed out a little differently than Chaucer. We start off with a deranged nun full of prophesy and a group of presumed heretics called the Lollards. The Lollards are a secret society of men who seek to overthrow the church, dethrone the king, wreak havoc across London. As a result, chaos will ensue for sure!
Reason Read: October is Peter Ackroyd’s birth month.
Author Fact: Ackroyd’s fascination with Chaucer is ongoing. He recently published a retelling of The Canterbury Tales.
Book Trivia: There is great joy in describing medieval filth in Clerkenwell Tales. Sentences like, “…who was removing a piece of excrement from under his fingernail…” (p 64) is common.
As an aside, there is a book store named Clerkenwell Tales in London, England.
BookLust Twist: From More Book Lust in the chapter called “Digging Up the Past Through Fiction” (p 79).