Tuesday, April 8, 2014

For the Record: March 2014

I didn't do very good on my weekly-blogging-goal this month.  I also failed to read my Classics Club Spin book. And I haven't updated the Back the Classics stuff.  So, all around not a great month for reaching blog goals.  I've been working on a post about some of my recent favorites, but it has been slow in forming.  I don't know why some things seem to write themselves and others are slowly birthed.  It probably has to do with the depth of my thoughts and the amount of time I mull it over. Things that I actively ponder seem to come out fully composed.  I must not be doing that with this post!

I did, however, welcome a nephew (today!) and a near-niece (day before yesterday) and said goodbye to an uncle (at the beginning of the month) which makes it fairly natural that blogging would find itself on the back burner momentarily.  It meant that I completed some knitting projects, as that is portable/multi-taskable work.  I finished a baby blanket and three hats and put some more work into a sweater that is almost complete (the weather has been so warm that I find myself unmotivated on that end).  I also happened to squeeze in a trip to Napa, experience an earthquake in a theater built in 1924, and even found some time to read...not really sure how that happened but I'm not complaining!

Napa in the spring is such an incredibly lovely place...the morning mist just adds to the effect.

9 Books Read in March: (21 year-to-date)

3 Read Aloud to my 9 year-old:
  - The Magic Faraway Tree, Enid Blyton (4) My 9yo daughter can't get enough of the Faraway Tree.  This was the second in the series, and we've begun on the third (and final). Fun little adventures, if a bit predictable.  Good for the kiddos who like the innocence and fun of the older books.
  - Along Came a Dog, Meindert DeJong (3) We loved DeJong's The Wheel on the School, but this one wasn't quite as captivating.  The best parts were the moments described from a hen's point of view—you don't get that very often! Overall, though, it was a little slow.
  - The Sign of the Beaver, Elizabeth George Speare (4) This was a reread for me, but still quite enjoyable. It provides a fascinating glimpse into life as an early settler with a fully satisfying Native American involvement.

2 Audiobooks:
  - Half Broke Horses, Jeannette Walls (2) I've had this on my TBR list since reading The Glass Castle.  This one has been called a novel because Walls has filled in the details of her grandmother's life and written from her point of view, but it really is more of nonfiction/memoir style read.  I enjoyed the first part, but it started a downward spiral about halfway through.  By the end of the book I was quite thankful I'd never met the lady and couldn't wait to be done reading about her.  Don't get me wrong, she had quite an interesting life. But where other people saw a spunky personality, I saw meanness and selfishness. I'm sensitive to this perhaps, as I have extended family that classifies rudeness and a lack of consideration as humor and spunk, and I simply can no longer indulge that point of view.  Over and over, Lily justified how she treated her children because it was the means to her selfish goals. It was sad, and I think explained her daugher's demise into emotional/mental issues and homelessness.
  - The Sisters Brothers, Patrick DeWitt (4) I listened to this on audio because I thought I'd be bored with the book itself, but it was so much fun to listen to that I just may reread it (with my eyeballs this time) at some point.  The narrator did an excellent job capturing personalities and humor.  It's like a modern, funny True Grit, but totally stands on its own also.  If you enjoy tales of the Gold Rush or the Wild West, or if you like a Wes Anderson style of humor, check this one out.

3 New Books:
  - The Interestings, Meg Wolitzer (4.5) This is one of the books I've been wanting to blog about (hopefully that'll pull together soon!) because I was surprised how much I enjoyed it.  The negatives: it's on the long side, it was somewhat slow to start, and some won't like that it's character driven.  The reward is in how fully fleshed out her characters are and how expertly the story is told, not necessarily in the story arc itself.
  - Eleanor & Park, Rainbow Rowell (5)  This is another of the books I've been wanting to blog about! My heart felt bruised after closing the cover of this one. It might be a bit sentimental in some ways, but there was so much wonder and loveliness that I didn't care.
  - The Dinner, Herman Koch (3.5) Fun to read a modern book in translation, though stylistically it wasn't really my thing.  If you enjoy an unreliable narrator, however, this is a delight.

1 to Cross Off My List:
  - Middlesex, Jeffrey Eugenides (3) Once again, Everybody's Favorite left me cold. It happened with Owen Meany (most notably, since I couldn't even finish that one) and scores of others that I'm not going to waste the effort to remember.  I can see why people like it, really I can, but there is something about his style of writing...no, about the author himself and the things that speak to him, that I really don't connect with.  It wasn't a terrible read, but it wasn't wonderful either.


2 Current Reads:
  - Me Before You, Jojo Moyes.  My current book club book...I've just started so I don't have much to say. Lots of good reviews on this one, so we'll see!
  - Devil in the White City, Erik Larson.  I just started this on audio. It takes a little more work to listen to nonfiction, but Larson just might be the exception.


On My Nightstand:
I haven't been doing much planning on what books I'm reading, but I'll be heading out of town for a week and these are the books I might take with me:

  - The Big Burn, Timothy Egan
  - Death Comes to the Archbishop, Willa Cather
  - Their Eyes Were Watching God, Zora Neale Hurston
  - Longbourn, Jo Baker



  1. I agree with you on Along Came a Dog....it just wasn't nearly as good as The Wheel on the School. What a delightful book that is! Also, I didn't like The Glass Castle because I felt it described child abuse without any condemnation of it. I never really tied it back to Half Broke Horses. I liked Half Broke Horses a lot more. But, I can see why you would tie it back to the grandmother. I read it the other way around...I read Half Broke Horses first, so I really didn't know about the abuse. Then I read Glass Castles.

    Oh man...I want to read The Interestings and Longborne, but now I have to read Eleanor and Park, as well. I did end up buying The Rosie Project. I haven't started it yet.

  2. We loved The Wheel on the School! It was one of those that Audrey declared "There needs to be a sequel!" She didn't want it to end.

    Interesting to compare our reactions to The Glass Castle and Half Broke Horses. I can see how the same reaction would work the other way around. I remember being so impressed at the author's lack of bitterness in Glass Castle that I let go of some of my irritation at her parents.

    So many good books lately! I'm on Easter break this week so I should be able to finally post some of my thoughts.


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