I sometimes think library books are just part of my exercise regimen. I request lots of new and forthcoming titles online (giving my fingers a little workout). Inevitably when I go to pick them up there are more books than I anticipate as Murphy's Law states they will all arrive at the same time. So I have an armload to take home, which is a good muscle builder. I shift them about at home dragging them from one room to the next perusing, skimming, setting aside. Then due dates all approach at once to they have to be returned, again an armload, which generally means a walk to the library creating a nice aerobic workout. I won't say how many (how few) give me a nice mental workout due to actually reading them. As always intentions are good, but free time is limited and the current reads pile always towering.
But I still love them. No matter how often I say I am going to tack a break and go on the wagon, I always fall off sooner or later. I have a nice stack of books to choose from at the moment (most from the public library but a few, too, from the library where I work), and thought it was about time to share a few highlights.
With San Francisco in mind I made a quick trip to the third floor stacks at my library and found a copy of Dashiell Hammett's The Continental Op. For some reason I thought he wrote a series of novels with this character, but it seems as though it is only a series of short stories. I'm not sure if his other books have San Francisco settings, but these stories do so will be my starting point for my "vacation-preparation" reading.
I am taking this one as a sign that my vacation is really going to come together and actually happen. By chance Susan Shea's The King's Jar was on the holdshelf at the public library and it happens to also have a San Francisco setting. How's that for a nice coincidence. This is the second Dani O'Rourke mystery. She is a fundraiser for the fiction Devor Museum who gets involved in a murder investigation. I'm looking forward to both of these.
Another possible beach read is Patricia Beard's A Certain Summer set in post-WWII Long Island and involves a MIA husband and love triangle. It looks promising and the setting is appealing.
I started reading John Boyne's first novel The Absolutist set in post-WWI England, but at the time I was a little burnt out by war books. It still sits in my reading pile. The House of Special Purpose is quite different--"an audaciously imagine alternate history" about the Russian Revolution. (I had no idea, by the way, that he had written so many books!).
I've already heard good things about A Murder at Rosamund's Gate by Susanna Calkins. I've not read a good historical mystery for a while, though of late I'd been contemplating something with a Medieval setting (along the lines of a Peter Ellis or Sharan Newman), but maybe one set in 17th century England would hit the spot.
And to round things out I have Maryska Biaggio's Parlor Games which sounds like great fun. It involves an unflappable and unapologetic heroine and a tenacious Pinkerton detective. Her misadventures take her from San Francisco (there it is, popping up yet again) to Shanghai, London and points in between. I believe this is also based on a true story.
As a side note, my Netflix DVD this week is the first disc of Ken Burns's The Dust Bowl which aired last year on PBS. I am always interested in Depression-era America so am looking forward to watching it this weekend. Not too long ago I watched his Prohibition and it was fascinating stuff.
I know it was a short work week, but I'm always happy to see the weekend roll around. I probably won't get in as much reading time as last weekend (and I have a whole pile of books I need to write about), but It's always nice to know I have a couple of relaxing days ahead of me.