It’s me, back from a long break. Sorry about that but life… 😉
This will be more of a catch-up post of what I’ve been reading and then, hopefully, more typical service will be resumed. I’ve been reading, naturally, but not doing posts. I think I was just burned out a bit for book reviewing and thus the break. I’m back now…
I’m currently enjoying the most recent edition of “The Best American…” series of travel writing for 2021. Edited by Padma Lakshmi, it does what it says on the tin: a curated collection of travel writing that covers the gamut from a nightmare boat cruise to traveling in Mississippi to California’s marijuana industry, so it suits my Monkey Mind right now plus it’s a solidly good writing technique so a pleasure to read.
(For other reads from previous years, see 2019, 2018, 2016, 2013, 2011 and 2000. They’re similar to a box of chocolates: lots of variety and a few nuts.)
For fiction, I’m catching up with “The Rosie Effect” by Graeme Simsion, book #2 that follows the best-selling title, “The Rosie Project” (see my review here). A fun and light-weight fiction read that I’m enjoying and reads like a knife through hot butter (i.e. easy-peasy). 😉
So – life is running smoothly. I hope you can say the same.
Just happened to find myself at the library the other day – a complete accident, I tell you! /jk/ – and these titles happened to make it home with me:
(Top to bottom in photo):
The Old Curiosity Shop – Charles Dickens (F)
Seeking Pleasure in the Old Wild West – David Dary (NF/history)
Women of the Four Winds: The Adventures of Four of America’s First Women Explorers – Elizabeth Fagg Olds (NF/history) (not in pic)
The Great Gatsby – graphic novel (love this read) – not pictured
DK Eyewitness Medieval Life
Empire of the Summer Moon: Quanah Parker and the Rise and Fall of the Comanches, the Most Powerful Indian Tribe in American History – S.C. Gwynne (NF/history)
(Can you tell I was roaming the history stacks? It was glorious.)
So what am I reading right now?
Well, these are in line but at this very moment in time, I’m reading an adventure/travel writing book called Side Country: Tales of Death and Life in the Back Roads of Sports by John Branch and then a quick look at a title from the TBR: The Long Walk: The True Story of a Trek to Freedom by Salvomir Rawicz (1956), a NF about Rawicz who was a young Polish cavalry officer who was arrested by the Russians and, after brutal interrogation and a farce of a trial, he was sentenced to 25 years’ hard labor in the Gulags. In the depth of winter in Siberia, he escaped and crossed the trans-Siberian railway and headed south to freedom. (Supposed to be an amazing read so I’m looking forward to this.)
And my regular summer project of a reread of the AP Style Manual….
A few new titles have washed up at Chez JOMP, so thought I’d let you see what they were. (Top to bottom):
Home Cooking – Laurie Colwin (culinary-related essays, I think). (NF/essays).
Fraternity: An Inside Look at a Year for College Boys Becoming Men – Alexandra Robbins (NF). I’ve read her earlier work about sororities and thought that to be interesting so this title made the cut. (NF/socio?)
The Body – Bill Bryson (NF/sci).
Untold Stories – Alan Bennett (NF/essays I think).
The Truth About Style – Stacey London (NF/fashion). Complete impulse buy the other day.
Solutions and Other Problems – Alli Brosh. (Also, unpictured but also bought: Hyperbole and a Half by Brosh.) NF/auto/funny as hell).
Taste of Home Winning Recipes – Barnes and Noble cheapie bargain book to get ideas for supper. 🙂 (NF/food). I’ve tried a few recipes out of here – good so far.
And, of course. I’m not actually reading any of these right now! 🙂
Already read and finished the Stephen King book (ok) and now about to start on the then-scandalous Crawford memoir about the Queen’s childhood (and that of her sister). Ohh la la. (Rather a craze on the royals right now. 🙂 )
Trawling my TBR shelves the other day, I realized that I have quite a few autobiographies and biographies about various people so thought I would gather these titles together in case you might be interested. One caveat: these are TBR which means that I haven’t read them just yet. They look good though!
A Girl Named Zippy – Haven Kimmel. This was LOL hilarious when I read it a few years back…
School and grades are now completely done which means, for me, that I can start the Summer of Liz. I don’t have anything required (outside the normal responsibilities) so the next three months are mine, all mine. 🙂 (I’m very lucky, I know.)
So – how to wisely spend this time? HA! I’m going to read and then read some more. I’m going to go through my wardrobe to see which outfits I can create/combine (just for fun) and I’m going to go and see my twin sis in CA for a few days.
So, speaking of reading (as we were), what titles have I read since the end of school? The above image tells the story:
Chasing the Monsoon – Alexander Frater (NF). Reread and ok. Probably doesn’t need to live on my shelves any more though. :-} (Off the current TBR shelf.)
Soul Clap Hands and Sing – Paule Marshall (F). I’ve read and enjoyed other Marshall work. This was a collection of short stories. Meh. Library.
Majesty – Robert Lacey (NF/bio). I love the majority of Lacey’s work (good sense of humor) and and enjoying the older bio of the monarch. Nothing too mind-shattering but enjoyable all the same. (Off the current TBR shelf.)
100 Great Artists: A Visual Journey from Fra Angelico to Andy Warhol – Charlotte Gerlings (NF/history/art). I’ve really been interested in getting some more culture so got this out of the library. A quick but wide-ranging tour of some of the artworks of the world (mostly [all?] Western hemisphere).
The Pale Horse – Agatha Christie (F). A murder mystery all wrapped by the end of your cup of tea. I do like a Christie every now and then. Library.
Library books vs. books I owned (and thus removed from the home abode): 6 library books, 7 owned books (whee!) and 0 e-books.
Plans for May 2021 include continuing to include more BIPOC writing on my list. Continue this pace of reading and continue this streak of reading more from my own TBR as opposed to those titles from the library. Sounds pretty doable to me. Plus – it’s the end of the semester and I’m off for the summer. 🙂
“By their very nature, human beings are so capricious, so complex, so delightfully contradictory, that they deserve not only our consideration, but our reconsideration – and unwavering determination to withhold our opinion until we have engaged with them in every possible setting at every possible hour.”
Just loved this read by author Amor Towles – enough so that I immediately went to the library and booked out his other book, Rules of Civility and am very looking forward to that read.
(This rarely happens so fingers are crossed that it’s a good read. It was published in 2011 so a few years ago now and on his author website, he seems to have written some other well-received works so more to dig into at some point. Oooh. And he’s written an intro to the 75th anniversary edition of Fitzgerald’s Tender in the Night (Scribner, 2019). (Impressive.))
So what’s so good about this Towles/Gentleman in Moscow? I think one of the main attractions was that it was so well written. Towles is a master at the written word and he’s developed an interesting character in Count Alexander Rostov that I really cared about and thought about, even if I wasn’t actually reading the text at that particular moment.
The gentleman in question is a Russian count who has been given a lifetime sentence in 1922 for a perceived infraction against the government. This sentence means that he can live for the rest of his days in a lovely posh hotel but he can never leave the premises so this isn’t a high-action novel or anything. It’s a thoughtful and fascinating look at a man who tries his best to make the most of a bad situation and who has lived a full life prior to the incarceration.
Rostov has never held a job but he is well-educated and witty. With this enforced sentence, he is forced to watch history change Russia as it happens outside his windows. Just fascinating and difficult to put down.
There is no doubt that this will be in the year’s Top Ten Books at the end of the year. For sure.
“After all, an educated man should admire any course of study no matter how arcane, if it be pursued with curiosity and devotion.”