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I just read On the Move: A Life by Oliver Sacks and I did not want to put it down. Sometimes I buy a book of essays because I can skip around and read any essay on a topic that appeals. I have This Living Hand by Edmund Morris and I read an essay in it today about his visit to his home land of South Africa.

Susan E

All of your choices sound good, depending on what you are in the mood for. I've got the Robert McFarland one on my TBR piles. I'm reading a couple more non-fiction books than I usually do at one time: Words in Air, a book of letters between the poets, Eluzabeth Bishop and Robert Lowell; The Millionaire and the Bard: Henry Folger's Obsessive Hunt for Shakespeare's First Folio by Andrea Mays, which a recent class inspired me to pick up; Honey from A Weed: Fasting and Feasting in Tuscany, Catalonia, the Cyclades and Apulia, a collection of short essays and recipes by Patience Gray; and A Bike Ride: 12,000 Miles Around the World by Anne Mustoe. Some of these can be read in little bites, a couple letters a day at night, a short essay or a few pages of recipes after dinner. The Mustoe book, which I'm really enjoying, is the book I take when I'm waiting somewhere, so it will probably take me more calendar days to read than she spent bicycling.....


I too have the Robert Macfarlane on my TBR list.
It is already waiting patiently since I bought it when the book was published and since then he has added more. I've read Olivia Laing's Along the River (Think that was the title) and liked it. She every time amazes me by the completely different subjects her books are on.
What am I reading when it comes to non fiction just now? Lynne Greenberg's The Body Broken, a memoir about her personal journey through physical trauma, Sharon Blackie's If Women Rose Rooted (she's the Jungian therapist who developed my course), Jackie Bennett The Writer's Garden (one chapter on sunday morning)and The Vein of Gold by Julia Cameron (a few pages and a task every monday evening).
All good.

Joan Kyler

I try very hard to limit myself to one mystery and one non-mystery fiction book at a time. I have a hard time concentrating on non-fiction, so it usually takes me ages to read them.
For non-fiction, I'm reading The Travels of William Bartram, which I started last summer! It's interesting, but only in small doses. I'm also reading Extra Virgin, about a woman who moves to Italy. I like it, too, but it's so much easier to get lost in fiction.
I also have the problem of what to read where: in the bath, in bed, in the living room (where I can hold heavy books more easily).


Today, for the first time, I added a "Currently Reading" column - only nonfiction titles - to my blog and guess which book is featured? Olivia Laing. It's cheating really as I've already finished it. I'm curious to hear what you think of it. It wasn't entirely what I'd expected but it was thought-provoking.


I looked at that Sacks book as it caught my attention, too. So glad to hear you liked it. I think it is out in paper so I will look for it. Maybe picking up a book of essays would be a good way to make my way back into NF--plus, like short stories, it is easy to dip in and read one a day without feeling like you must read a big chunk to keep the momentum going!


And that, of course, is the problem! What AM I in the mood for. Several things at once it would seem. If I could just make a commitment--hah! I love the idea of books of letters, and have one of letters between Vera Brittain and the young men of her circle from WWI, which I have ignored for ages!! Honey from a Weed sounds wonderful and so will have to look that one up. You have lots of good books on the go and I am envious. I love NF and so am not sure why I seem to be avoiding it right now....


I love the sound of the McFarlane. My problem is I tell myself I will pick one when I know I have a nice chunk of time to really spend with it and so get into the book solidly, but lately there never seems to be much free time when I know I can devote it only to reading. And then those novels beckon! I have that Laing, too. I have dipped into it in the past. I think a book you can dip into a little each day is a great idea. And it sounds like you have a nice line up of reads. Are you and Tim still reading aloud from your novel?


Yes, certain books definitely require certain types of reading/sitting situations. Now I could solve some of this if, say, I just took the hardcover Nathaniel Philbrick book all by itself (no other books!) to work with me and read it on the bus and at work. Not only would that solve the heavy bookbag problem but then I could give a history book the attention and time it needed. I could switch and read it one day and the next read my novels. But that just makes too much sense and we can't have that! ;) I am just far too greedy it would seem. I read Extra Virgin by the way--Annie Hawes, yes? I just recently ordered one of her Italy books and I think I have the whole set--maybe I should pick up the sequel to that first book?? Is William Bartram the Colonial gardener (the same one anyway) who sent off seeds to England?


Hi Caroline--I have been thinking of you (and all my online friends who I have, of late, been totally neglecting--so very sorry about that!). Life has been crazy busy--work especially. I must check out your current read column--I think you read a lot of NF even if you don't always write about the books, right? I am very drawn to the Laing, but I haven't started it for that reason--I think it might not be exactly what I think it is/or want it to be anyway. But it does sound good nonetheless. By the way--I have the Salter book out and sitting on my rocking chair--must get going on it. I have been thinking it is a slender book I can zip through, but I should probably know better....I am moving slowly on anything book related these days.


Yes Tim reads aloud to me every day after lunch and dinner. So far we both think Mercier has written an amazing novel. And just to see you smile now: there's a bookish card on the way to you:)


Oh, yay!I have one for you in an envelope just waiting to be written!Must look the Mercier up!



I tried to read To the River but it turned out to be quite different from what I had expected and as I wasn't feeling terribly bright at the time, I gave up on it.
I do have The Old Ways - it was one of those books that for some reason I HAD to have in hardback but sadly it has just been sitting there ever since so really I might just as well have saved my money and waited for the paperback! I will get round to it soon...
I tend to have a few NF reads on the go which I dip in and out of as the mood takes me but I'm not getting anywhere very fast with any of them at the moment - I really need to sit down and concentrate rather than flit around like a mayfly!

I am about to start When Breath Becomes Air as a complete change of subject and also In Search of Anne Bronte by Nick Holland in the hope that they will help to re-start my serious reading again!


We're in the same boat. I hardly visit other blogs these days.
I do read a lot of NF but since I read them so slowly, by the time, I've finished, Im not able of writing a decent review. I also want to start writing Reading Notes - just a few toughts on books to whet people's appetite. I like it when bloggers, like you, do that. Of course, I enjoy a great review but not as often as many write them.
The Laing is good but depressing for reasons I didn't expect. I think I can tell you that without spoiling it. The biggest portion is on gay men and AIDS. Of course that was depressing but I learned a lot. And it made perfect sense in a book about loneliness.
The Salter is very readable. I'm surprised. He writes so well, uses many metaphors but it flows and has lots of dialogue.


Isnt it weird--when I was married I feel like I accomplished so much more online than I do now when I am single, but then now I am doing more things for me that I enjoy like taking yoga classes or going to lots of movies which I never did when I was married and was always just stuck at home. So, this is a very good thing that now I am doing and enjoying the things I like, but I do really miss keeping up with blogs and my online friends! I like reading notes as then I can talk about what I am reading in a general way and there always seems to be something of interest Ive just read or read about and can chat with others. I still want to catch up on reviews even if they are mini ones as strangely, I feel like it sets the book more firmly in my mind and somehow it seems tidy to read a book and then write about it. That always takes so much more time and energy, though, so I tend to put it off. Are you finished with your studies now? Are you still writing and publishing lots of short stories? I do want to read the Laing and now that you have made this comment I am even more intrigued. I will wait a bit, though, as I have started reading Teffi (my NYRB book) in earnest. I also got a copy of her shorter writings, essays, which I am reading alongside the memoir so it is fitting well with my mood. And so glad to hear that about the Salter--I started reading it this morning and hope to get into it this weekend. I have a long weekend next weekend as I am taking an extra day off--four whole days--something to look forward to! I hope all is well with you these days, too!


Joan Kyler

I may have read about Extra Virgin on your blog. If so, thank you.
Yes, William Bartram and his father, John Bartram, were colonial plant hunters and botanists. Their garden in Philadelphia still exists and is open to the public. The book is interesting but sad because this country once had amazing natural riches. But most are gone now.


How cool you might have read about her here and now you are reading her, to! I first heard about John Bartram when I heard Andrea Wulf talk about him in one of her lectures. She wrote about him as well. If you are looking for more to read about him you'll have to look her books up next. That is very sad to think how much has been lost to development. Can you imagine what this country must have looked like in the 18th and early 19th centuries?! Not many places probably exist really that don't have some sort of human imprint on them.


Interesting about the Laing since I hear that her newer book is also not quite as expected. She must come at her subjects in different ways. I hate it when I buy something in hardcover thinking I really will read it as soon as I have it in hand and then it sits until it is out in paper and sometimes sits so long it goes out of print even! Oh well, it doesn't mean the book loses anything in content but the price is always painful to think about. I find that if I have more than one or two NF started they end up being almost totally ignored. I am hoping that reading two Teffi books will work okay, but as one is essays it might work out okay as a book to read in tandem with her memoir. I am too much the mayfly in general when it comes to books, so I sympathize. I hope you like When Breath Becomes Air as much as I did! I only found the very end and epilogue written by his wife emotionally hard going. It was beautifully written. Someday I want to read Anne Bronte, but so many people seem to struggle with her, I tend to look and then put her books back on the shelf!


I think you just need to break down and learn how to read more than one nonfiction book at a time! It isn't that hard really as long as they are different enough from each other :)


Well, I guess I sort of am juggling a few NFs after all--I have my London Underground book sitting on my nightstand and have been dipping into a collection of Teffi's essays. I should really learn not to buy NF in cloth as it is so hard to carry them about (of course I could just take ONE book with me when I am out and about and it wouldn't matter so much--what a thought--how scary to have to rely on just ONE book--lol).

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