Doesn't this look blissful? At the beach, reading a book, the ocean just a few feet away. And it's obviously not swelteringly hot there since she seems to be wearing a sweater. Maybe this will be me in one month's time when I am in San Francisco. Shall we have a little comparison? Yesterday in Omaha the temperature reached 103F (39.4C). In San Francisco? Oh, a mere 73F (22.7C). Where would you rather be? For myself, I'll choose San Francisco. And in exactly four week's time I'll be there. That's going to be my bliss. Planning is coming along nicely and I have a list of books I'm contemplating taking with me. Vacation reading takes a lot of thought, you know, and I never scrimp on my reading plans. I'll share more when the time gets closer. Can you tell I'm looking forward to my vacation? No staycation for me this year! (By the way that's not a UFO hovering above the lady's head--the marks on the card were made from the postal sorting machines).
I've been working hard to catch up on writing about books I've recently finished. Have you noticed? I needed a little break, however, but hopefully I'll be back tomorrow to share a little something about Armistead Maupin's delightful Tales of the City. For today, however, just a very few bookish notes.
You probably already know tomorrow the Booker Prize Longlist is going to be announced. For some reason prize lists always make me just the tiniest bit giddy with anticipation. I realize that there is a certain amount of subjectivity in judges' choices that comes with these lists, to say nothing about controversy, but I still am always very curious about the books that are being touted as the best of the best. For me it's a way to discover new books I might want to read. My reading is pretty varied and a lot of what I read wouldn't ever likely make such esteemed prize lists, but you never know what will appeal. I'm sure if the list is good I'll be adding a few of the titles to my own reading pile. You can find a good run down of Booker information here at the Literary Saloon. Anyone want to venture a guess as to what you think will be on the list?
I'm having a good reading month and finishing lots of books (well, lots for me anyway), hence the backlog in writing about them. I've been spending time lately with Masuji Ibuse's Black Rain for Caroline's Literature and War Readalong. The black rain refers to the rain that came after the bombing of Hiroshima. Why is it that some war books are easier to read than others. (Not that any of them are easy really). There are no battlefield scenes in this one, but the imagery is nonetheless horrific. At first the writing style seemed somewhat detached which made it easier to read, but I'm approaching the middle of the book and it's been very hard to distance myself from the scenes he describes. I can only read for an hour at a time or so and then need something lighter and less heavy to think about.
I've also been reading A.S. Byatt's Ragnorak for the Slaves discussion at the end of July. This is part of the Canongate Myth series, and I am hoping to read more of those titles (they make good companion books for my Greek Mythology reading by the way). Byatt chose to retell the Norse myth of the destruction of the planet and of the gods themselves, which she juxtaposes with WWII England. I'm completely unfamiliar with Norse Mythology and may have to do a little extracurricular reading (Edith Hamilton's Mythology, which I've been reading every weekend has a brief chapter on Norse Myths), and then may have to skim the book again to make sure it's all clear in my mind, but I'm enjoying what I'm reading (though still more slightly dark reading I'm afraid).
Since I've finished a string of books and am working on these few 'obligation' reads (which more or less get to jump the queue in my reading pile pushing the others out of the way temporarily) I've had a chance to pick out a couple of new books (and am eyeing a few others), though I'm not really far enough in them to say much about them yet. The two latest additions to my reading pile are John Boyne's The Absolutist, which only about thirty pages in promises to be a very good read. I have a hard time pulling myself away from it. It's set in post-WWI England. I'm quite taken with the narrator in that the story he is trying to tell is obviously harrowing. He's revealing bits of his past very slowly making me want to know just what his story is.
I've also started Merilyn Simonds's The Holding as my next Canadian author read. Simonds tells the story of two different women who are distanced by a hundred years. It's a story of revenge and self-discovery. Buried in Print recommended Simonds's book The Convict Lover, which I requested from ILL and brought home with me yesterday. Doesn't this sound good?
"'A letter,' observes Emily Dickinson, 'always seems to me like immorality.' Letters--intimate and unguarded--can outlive their authors, preserving events, inviting discovery, daring interpretation."
"In 1987, a cache of letters, albums, and clippings was discovered in the attic of a house in Kingston, the bits and pieces of an unknown woman's life. Among the overflowing boxes and stuffed sugar sacks was a collection of letters from the months immediately after the First World War, a one-way correspondence written in pencil on flimsy paper. From this careless jumble of papers, there emerged unforgettable characters and an extraordinary story: a convict, a village girl, a penitentiary, and the town that lived in its shadow."
My post is beginning to get unwieldy, so just a couple more mentions (I seem to be able to chat endlessly about books given the opportunity...). I'll be starting Elizabeth Chadwick's Falcons of Montabard soon. Litlove and I had talked about reading one of her novels together, and her books are perfect summer reads, so you can't choose a better time than mid-July. I've been in the mood for some good historical fiction, and Falcons is set in 12th century Jerusalem. How's that for a change of scenery. I'm also itching to start either Alan Hollinghurst's The Stranger's Child, A.S. Byatt's The Game or The Virgin in the Garden (yes, I'm sort of in the mood for something intricate), and I've been thinking that to put myself in 'book prize season' mood that I should pick up something appropriate--maybe a book by Anne Enright, Julian Barnes? Not quite sure on that one. I've already got a full plate but I can't help myself for being greedy for more. Well, not sure about these latter books but they are at the top of my TBR pile at the moment--so there's lots of wishful thinking going on there.
What are you reading this month?