So – I am back home from my very wonderful trip to Mexico (specifically, Playa Mujeres about an hour from Cancun), and life is getting back to normal. As I mentioned, the trip was really fun – very luxurious, very relaxing and very fun. For the first time, we shared our trip with a couple who are good friends, and they were very low-maintenance and a lot of fun. What more could you possibly ask for from vacation partners?
So, lots of reading was done, on the beach mostly, although our room was so lovely that it was not hard to stay in there for a while at times as a break from the sun. I had taken a somewhat *ambitious* pile of books, but it was a good mix and gave me lots of options. (My holiday nightmare is that I will have nothing to read.)
So – in the spirit of brevity, I will mention the titles that I got through, and then, when I have caught up with things, I will get you a longer review of the more notable books. Deal?
No Idle Hands: The Social History of American Knitting – Anne McDonald
*Loved* this, although I am not a big knitting person myself. (I did knit during high school, and tried to pick it up a couple of years when the big knitting craze was happening, but it didn’t take.) However, I am fascinated by the social/domestic history of life, and this was a very well organized and interesting take on how knitting has been regarded since prior to the US Civil War. (The author has a good sense of humor as well, which never hurts.)
Necropolis: London and its Dead – Catherine Arnold
A book that rather waxed and waned in how interested I was at different places throughout. I had picked it up thinking it would be about death and how this has been handled at various times through London’s immense history, and it was that, but there was also a lot of the history of London’s grave yards and the companies who ran them (which was interesting but not THAT interesting). Did learn that those wacky Victorians were a bit obsessed with death, and were responsible for quite a few extra grave yards that were added during the nineteenth century (including the famous Highgate cemetery). Once I had passed the middle of the book, and had a clearer idea of what the book was going to cover, I had no problems settling into it and reading it straight through. Just took a bit to get going.
Catching Fire (Hunger Games #2) – Suzanne Collins
Another fast read with good old Katniss who seems to end up in one scrape after another, along with friend Peeta. Exciting story which was well paced and I was interested in what happened to the various characters (once I had them sorted out). Good ending which will lead to me reading #3 in a bit. Plus I get to sneak in HG references into conversations in unexpected places to see if people are listening and get the refs. 🙂
England for All Seasons – Susan Allen Toth
Toth has written quite a few books about England et al., most of which are paens to how much she loves the country so it was nice to read about the Home Land from someone who clearly obviously adores it. I think there are a couple of books which were published before this one, but this one takes the reader on a whistle stop tour of quite random places throughout England, Scotland and Wales. (No Ireland.) Was interested to read about her stay in National Trust properties in fairly out-of-the-way places and did learn that you can get a tour of Tower Bridge and actually walk that metal path between the two towers. (Didn’t know that, so will be seeing if we can fit that in next time I go home.) Toth definitely knows her stuff, but it seems to come across in a slightly bossy and superior manner for some reason. It’s as though she thinks of her readers as nice but a bit bumbling stupid at the same time. Still, not a bad read, but will not be looking at her other books.
In the Stacks: Short Stories about Libraries and Librarians – ed. Michael Cart
As is usually the case with a short story collection, there were some hits and misses. This is quite an eclectic collection of short fiction, and included something from most genres, including Ursula Le Guin, Saki, Alice Munroe, some detective fiction, and a few international pieces. As mentioned, some good stories here, but one or two *really* odd ones as well. This is helped if you are drinking a frozen margharita at the time. 🙂
And now reading The Zookeeper’s Wife by Diane Ackerman which is non-fiction about a couple who ran a zoo in Warsaw during the Nazi regime and managed to provide shelter to a lot of Jewish people at the same time. Good so far.
This turned into very boring and life is too short for that. Now reading “Of a Boy” by Sonya Hartnett.
Overall, Mexico was a really good break and a good time to reboot. Now back to real life!