June is here so I have a fresh stack of books for possible reading this month. That is, books to add to my 'already in progress' pile. The upside is I have a variety of really good books to choose from depending on mood and whim. The downside is wanting to read them all but not knowing where to start (and feeling just the tiniest bit overwhelmed by the choice). If I am going to have dilemmas in my life, however, it's a good one to have--don't you think?
I am just starting Andrea Wulf's Founding Gardeners. I heard the author speak in April. I knew that if she wrote as well as she presented her talk, which was really interesting as she was such an engaging speaker, I would get on well with her book(s). I bought two at the event and am ordering a third now. I like what I've read so far and find myself making little pencil marks by the passages I would like to return to. If I keep it up, however, I might as well just flip to the front of the book and start again when I finish. I'm reading along with Stefanie, who is a true gardener, so it will be fun to get her take on the book.
Caroline and Delia are hosting an Angela Carter week beginning June 8, and I am hoping to squeeze in one of her books (or maybe I will pick up a few short stories depending on what time will allow). I've tentatively pulled The Magic Toyshop from my bookshelves, which is billed as "a startling tale of the redemptive power of physical and emotional love". Has anyone read it? Short stories might be a safer choice for me at the moment, however, so I'll see how it goes this week . . .
Portrait of the Mother as a Young Woman by Friedrich Christian Delius is my current postal reading group book. I have actually read this book before when it was first released by Peirene Press, but I don't think I ever got around to writing about it. It's one I wouldn't mind rereading. Although the story is broken into paragraphs, it is made up of one long sentence. I don't recall that it was hard going the first time and once you get started there was a rhythm to the storytelling.
Gabriel Chevallier's Fear: A Novel of World War I is this month's Literature and War Readalong book. Judging by Caroline's post it sounds like it may well be a harrowing read--quite different than last month's tragic but lovely WWI story. It also happens to be my May NYRB Classics subscription book. I have not been keeping up with my NYRB reading (are you surprised?), so I am determined to make a go of this one. I think I am going to start now even though discussion is at the end of the month. It's just under 300 pages, and if I read a mere ten pages or so a day I will finish with no problem at all! Though if it is as chilling and passionate as it has been described, I wonder if I can sustain daily reading of the story?
You probably won't remember this, but I had this grand idea of reading all of Molly Keane's work in the order she wrote/published her books. I am stuck in 1931 with Mad Puppetstown. The poor book. Is it me or the book? Bad timing? Should I skip it and go on (can always come back to it later)? Anyway, Marjorie Quarton stumbled upon one of my Molly Keane posts and told me about a book she had written about Molly Keane, Oil and Water: Molly Keane and Her World. Serendipity! I started Mad Puppetstown (again) earlier this year with the intention of reading it straight through (I think this time I made it to page 116 (out of 288 pages). Not so many pages left to read, really. I think Marjorie's book might just be the impetus I need to revamp my Molly Keane reading project.
"The book traces the rise and fall of the Anglo-Irish country gentry during the lifetime of Molly Keane (1904-1996) one of its most original and witty novelists."
"Molly's writing is examined from a first novel in her teens, through discussions of her eleven subsequent books and five plays. The early death of her husband, followed by the failure of her last play effectively stopped her writing for almost twenty years, until the release of her brilliant novels Good Behaviour, Time After Time and Loving and Giving in the 1980s, when she became a media star."
See what I have to look forward to if I can just persevere. I am hoping that Oil and Water will put me in the right frame of mind and remind me of that initial enthusiasm I had when I first encountered Molly Keane's writing.
And there is nothing like a long line of readers waiting for the library book you hold in your hands to make you want to move it to the top of your (library) pile. I have been dipping into a number of library finds but not quite as captivated by the stories as I had hoped (lots of 'grazing' going on there I'm afraid). I just brought home The Secret Life of Violet Grant by Biatriz Williams. It's one of those parallel storylines novels, in this case set in NYC in the mid-1960s and Berlin just before the outbreak of WWI. I dipped into yesterday and found I wanted to keep going, so it is my current library read and we'll see if I can finish it before the next person in line taps me on the shoulder and asks me to please hand it over.
Just a couple of other notes before I go and read my books (as you can see I have my 'work' cut out for me this month). I have been pondering a little summer reading project and have come up with an idea I am excited about. It's more a reading destination (like Summering in Italy . . . ). It will give my reading a little focus (something to concentrate on as the temperatures begin to rise?) for the coming few months. I'll share my plans in the next couple of days.
The winner of the Bailey's Women's Prize for Fiction will be announced tomorrow and it sounds as though Donna Tartt is a favorite. She won this year's Pulitzer for The Goldfinch and it appears that she is a strong contender to make the Booker longlist, too. I've had a copy of it since before the holidays and it sits there staring me in the eyes. Dare I add it to my already groaning night table pile? (Rhetorical question, no need to answer . . . lord only knows which new book I'll reach for tomorrow or the day after that . . . ).
Isn't it great to have such an abundance of great reading material so close at hand?