Friday, December 01, 2017

Winter Reading Challenge 2017

Choosing books for seasonal challenges: How do you decide?  I’m not sure if I have a method of doing so or not, but I should. I would be more intentional, I think, in varying my choices and reading from my shelves more widely. I do, however, decide the order in which I read my chosen books. If I didn’t do that, I would eat my literary desserts first, leaving the meatier and more substantial to get to later, if at all. This method is so easy for me and I lose no time deciding what to read next between books. And I stack the books in that order on my to-read shelf, the same way they are stacked in this picture.

The Cloister Walk (Norris)
A friend gave me her finished copy which I thought would be good to read on the heels of recently finished In This House of Brede (Godden).  

A Year in the Maine Woods (Heinrich)
This was the first Heinrich book I put on my shelves. I think I arrived at its title by way of some circuitous trail that started with Gladys Taber’s books. Since then, I acquired a few more Heinrich books, never realizing until putting together my WRC list that they were all penned by the same author. I hope I enjoy his writing because I have several of his!

The Stillmeadow Road (Taber)
My last Gladys Taber. I’ve read many of her books over the past 35 years and have enjoyed them, but I plan this one as the end of that run.

A Gentleman in Moscow (Towles)
I occasionally hop on the new-book buzz wagon and did so with this book. I won it on my first-ever Ebay bidding opportunity about the same time the audio became available from the library.

Gifts of the Crow (Marzluff)
This book landed on my shelves after my husband expressed interest in reading about crows. We have three resident crows and their occasional buddies here all year long. Unfortunately, the book was a disappointment to my husband who prefers “Just the facts, ma’am” reading. Since I like the story-behind-the-story types, I thought I’d attempt it before moving it on.

Snapped in Cornwall (Bolitho)
This mystery ended up here after my sister wanted me to do a reading challenge with her. One of the challenges is to read a book whose author has your first name. Not many authors have my first name. When I first searched at Amazon, one name came up with plenteous books, but I wasn’t about to read any of those! Searching a bit more, I found this first of a short series. (This is one reason I don’t care for challenges with “rules.”)

An Dublin Student Doctor (Taylor)
An Irish Student Doctor (Taylor)
Numbers 6 & 7 in the Taylor Irish Country Doctor series which I’ve come to thoroughly enjoy.

Martin Luther (Roper)
I’ve lost some of my anticipation to read this one for some reason. So, I’ve decided to make it a morning read or tea-time book (as are the following three) and not hesitate to abandon it.
Liturgy of the Ordinary (Warren)
Ravens in Winter (Heinrich)
Winter World (Heinrich)

Thursday, November 30, 2017

My Reading Life: The Fifth of March: A Story of the Boston Massacre (Rinaldi)

Reading through my shelves of juvenile books, I chose another Rinaldi historical fiction. I've yet to find a Rinaldi I didn't enjoy. She seems to have researched her topics well and then adds enough realism to plunk the reader, or at least me, down in the midst of the historical situation. This time, I was with the John Adams family as the children's caretaker, Rachel Marsh.

Rachel, at age twelve, learns what liberty is, what it means to be free. She is befriended by the Adams' acquaintance Henry Knox, the bookseller. For years, I've always had a yearn for Knox. Maybe it is the name - he was a descendant of the Scottish Presbyterian John Knox the Reformer from whom we named one of our sons - or maybe it was because he loved books and owned an early American bookstore. Henry Knox helps Rachel to realize what thinking for oneself is, and he does this by guiding her reading and conversations. In three short paragraphs, Rinaldi takes the reader into Knox's bookshop:
"Mr. Knox's shop was as wonderful as Mr.s Adams had said. And I saw, the moment I entered, why she had sent me. It had more to do with the way the place made a person feel than anything else. I could never describe it. You would have to be a person who loves books to understand, who loves the way they look and smell. And the quiet that surrounds them. And the way it seeps into your soul.

"A little bell tinkled as I opened the door. The walls were lined with books of all kinds, some with gold lettering on them, some with the bindings almost falling off or carefully stitched back on. Some had the look of ages about them.

"I wandered for a few moments in the aisles, just looking, not paying mind to the people. No one bothered me. No one asked if I had a right to be there. A clock ticked serenely in a corner. A table was in a clearing in the back, on a Persian carpet by a window with small panes. Two men were seated at the table, studying. In another chair, by the window, sat a very pretty young lady, dressed in blue. She was reading. A cat dozed in the window seat in the sun. I could live here, I decided. I felt at home."

I always love a good description. Rinaldi has many, and one that gave me a bit of pause was this:

". . . pulled here by a rope of feelings that I had woven . . . .". 

Simple, yes. Nothing spectacular. But what a visible description of invisible things.