Reading in Place

For years I’ve had way more library books checked out than even I can read before they are due; I spend way too much time (at least what most people think is way too much time) curating what I have checked out, what’s on hold, what’s in transit.  I’m pretty sure I’ve mentioned that I have my 16-digit library card number memorized.  I never thought any of this would ever come in handy – looks like covid-19 is making me re-think this assumption.

By the end of last night, I am caught up.  I have read ALL the library books that I had checked out at the time the libraries closed up, plus a couple more that have arrived since my local library started allowing curbside pick-up.  I’m not in any danger of running out of things to read… plenty of online stuff and a good number of books that I’ve accumulated over the years but never read.  But it’s a nice feeling to be all caught up with the library.  I’m pretty sure that as soon as shelter-in-place is over, I’ll be back to my old habits!

Here are a few that I’ve read:

His Majesty’s Dragon (Naomi Novik).  5 stars.  Read this (again) for Blevins.  Bit of revisionist history of the era of the Napoleanic wars with dragons thrown into the mix.  First of the Temeraire series.

The Unbearable Book Club for Unsinkable Girls (Julie Schumacher)  5 stars.  This is the same author who wrote Dear Committee Members and The Shakespeare Requirements.  It’s a young-adult fiction but a good read and very well written.  Four girls thrown together over the summer to discuss their school required reading list.

Natural History of Dragons (Marie Brennan).  5 stars.  Bit of very fun fiction from the viewpoint of a female “dragonologist” at a time when women were supposed to be staying home and knitting.

Murder on the Orient Express (Agatha Christie).  5 stars.  Read this again (read all of AC in high school) to refresh my memory on which of the two movies was the most loyal to the book.  Although I am normally irritated by mystery writers who don’t give you all the clues, since I already know who the murderers are in all her books, I was able to let it go and just enjoy her writing.  (And the 1972 movie was much closer to the book!)

The Crypt Thief (Mark Pryor).  4 stars.  Found this when I was looking up the video on the French cemetery that was discussed on the Trail in February.  Murder mystery involving the Pere Lachaise Cemetery in Paris.

I know you’re worried that I’m going to review every book I’ve read in the last 2 months, but I’ll stop here (except to say no need to read Fooled by Randomness (Taleb) or Wreck the Halls (Graves).  Only 2 stars each.

What’s the latest book you’ve finished “in place”?

44 thoughts on “Reading in Place”

  1. The most recent book I’ve finished is Richard Powers’ The Overstory. It’s a beautifully written set of mostly interlocking stories about people and their special relationships with trees. For me it had echoes of Edward Abbey’s Monkey Wrench Gang along with The Hidden Life of Trees and Richard Preston’s <The Wild Trees, but with Powers’ own lyrical voice. At about 500 pages, it’s a substantial read.

    I’ve been tackling several substantial reads “in place”. Right now I’m halfway through Henry Mayer’s 700+ page biography of abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison, inspired by my participation in the letter transcription project. Before The Overstory, I read Henry Steele Commager’s biography of Theodore Parker, another abolitionist.
    Before that was Underland, Robert MacFarlane’s recounting of his adventures exploring underground spaces (not a book for claustrophobes.)

    I see in the photo header several books I may have influenced. Really, where else would you have gotten the idea of The Nine Lives of Citizen Train? One I don’t think you got from me but you could have was The Good Lord Bird. I like James McBride and especially liked The Underground Railroad but The Good Lord Bird is in my shelf of fiction and nonfiction books about John Brown and his raid on Harper’s Ferry.

    Liked by 4 people

  2. It’s very probable that the idea for reading Citizen Train came from you. Chance Meetings certainly did.

    I have a column on my reading spreadsheet for notating where I get the idea to read each book. Unfortunately it happens occasionally that by the time I request a book, it finally arrives and I finally get to it, that I’ve forgotten where the original spark of idea came from. These and books that I’ve stumbled across in the wider world get marked as “O&A” (out & about). So sometimes, even if the idea came from someone specific, it ends up as O&A.

    The Maigret title came from Clyde. The Long title came from tim. The idea to re-watch Eat/Drink came from Steve. The McBride idea actually came from a YouTube channel I subscribe to – well they recommended a different McBride title, but when I looked him up, the Good Lord Bird was available. I’m not a John Brown fan but it was an interesting read. I will admit that the Blueberry Café title (which is an actual romance), I read because I had watched it on the Hallmark Channel (I thought it was a mystery because Alison Sweeney was in it) and then for some reason felt compelled to see if the movie was close to the book. It was but then I discovered that Hallmark did a whole bunch of these book to movie deals. In fact, the books were written specifically for this purpose, so of course they would be very similar. Lesson learned.

    So keep those ideas coming folks. I’m pretty sure I could find plenty to read on my own, but I love being in this community of readers and music lovers!

    Liked by 3 people

      1. Title, author, date I finished it, genre, where I got the idea and rating (1-5 stars). One tab on the spreadsheet per year. And then multiple other tabs for lists I’m keeping track of like Newberry winners, Caldecott winners, US presidents, English monarchs, Sherlock Holmes, and things that I want to read but haven’t requested yet.

        Liked by 3 people

  3. Rise and Shine Baboons,

    I have not had much time off during this. Because I have been working on line via telehealth technology, I have not had much extra time. And now the requests for service are starting to come in. Next week we get to return to in-person service in the office, but we will not use our waiting room—people will need to wait in their cars and enter the suite using a mask.

    When I sewed masks I listened to some books, though:

    Little Fires Everywhere, Celeste Ng Mostly liked it but having professionally lived through real disrupted adoptions that are part of book’s plot, I objected to some of her premises.

    On the Brink of Everything, Parker Palmer. This was for a book group. Contemplative

    Small Town, Big Lies, Diane Chamberlain. Loved it (I like this author’s work) with a great setting and great observations about the nature of art and artisits’ processes

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I have just started listening to Louis Erdrich’s book, “The Night Watchman” about her grandfather. She reads it herself with her rich, soft, inflective voice. Pretty wonderful.

      Liked by 3 people

  4. There have been two productions of Maigret stories (that I know of) and both are excellent. The more recent was produced by the BBC and stars, unlikely as it seems, Rowan Atkinson. The earlier production from the ‘90s stars Michael Gambon. We were able to watch them because we have streaming channels tied to the BBC. I don’t know where you would find them otherwise.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. My reading has been even less disciplined than usual. I just finished Wild Bill: The True Story of the American Frontier’s First Gunfighter by Tom Clavin. Just three stars. Books about the “Wild West” are a guilty pleasure.

    Before that was Isaac’s Storm by Erik Larson. It details the horrors of the 1900 Galveston Food. I dislike disaster books but keep reading them.

    Before that I laughed my way through The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion. This novel shows us a geeky autistic professor who devises a questionnaire to help him find a romantic partner. Five stars.

    Before that I read First Mainers: Portraits of Our Immigrant Neighbors by Pat Nyhan. The author is a friend. She writes well, so four stars.

    Much of my reading has been an excellent periodical called <The Sun.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I have an interesting family connection to Wild Bill. He is from Mount Carroll, ILL, where my great-great grandmother was born and raised. She played with his little sister, and Bill used to tease her about her name, Tobitha, and her curly hair, (I tried to sound that out but auto correct won’t stop making into something else). One day Tobitha and her friend were playing in Tobitha’s cabin when a garter snake took up residence in the cracks of the logs, peaking out regularly. The girls grabbed some scissors and waited for the snake to appear again. When it did they cut off its head. End of roommate.

      Liked by 3 people

        1. Yeah, Garter snakes are kinda cute. Admittedly, they can be kinda startling if they suddenly dart out in front of you, but they don’t hurt anybody. Decapitating one seems like a pretty extreme response.


        2. It was about 1855 and they lived in log cabins. I am sure they eliminated all the vermin they could so they could sleep in peace at night without bedmates.

          Liked by 1 person

  6. I finished The Elegance of the Hedgehog and started Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore. I also have a biography called Marmee and Louisa, but I’ve just barely cracked that one open so far.

    Thank you for saying “in place” instead of “in quarantine”; it saves me the energy it would take to repeat my rant about the terminology of our peculiar times.

    Liked by 3 people

  7. I intend to resume reading Tyll, about Tii Eulespiegel. It is sitting on the lamp table in the livingroom. I started it and it is great, but I don’t want to rush through it, which I would be wont to do given my current level of anxiety.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Good morning-
    I am being an especially slow reader lately. Mostly because of our new and improved internet, I’m watching more YouTube stuff. Love ‘The History Guy’ and several farming channels.
    Plus we’ve been able to stream ‘Grace and Frankie’ and ‘Parks and Rec’ on the TV.

    For books, I’m in the middle of ‘Janice: Her life and Music’ by Holly George-Warren.
    And a book on color and lighting called ‘Color and Light’ smartly enough. Color and light “In an LED revolution” by Clifton Taylor. It’s pretty good.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. i finished the dragon thing for blevins for whenever we get that back up and running again plus a all the light you can or see
    plus a couple david defat is ditty’s gosh i like him
    plus a couple other little things maybe i need to start keeping track too

    partner came up with a new selling idea so i am now in direct to customer mask sales and sanitizer for commercial surfaces

    fun but busy and my warehouse shut down is progressing and sucking me dry

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Can you say anything about how your business is going, tim? I think you are in radical reconstruction mode. With the virus changing everything, I would imagine this is a difficult time to start something new.


  10. I guess I’ve been reading a lot online – just dumb articles I get lured to on FB or home page – so haven’t read as much as I expected. I’ve just finished
    Eva’s Story, by Eva Schloss (a woman who would have been Anne Frank’s step-sister).
    Others I’ve read during isolation:
    The Murmur of Bees by Sonia Segovia, for a book club that never met… about a deformed, somewhat enchanted child in 1918 Mexico – interesting in that the “Spanish” flu epidemic enters into the plot.
    Shadow Tag by Louise Erdrich – very different from her usual, with a somewhat chilling plot
    The Old Wine Shades – I’d never read Martha Grimes mystery before… meh.
    – What’s Next and How to Like It – Abigail Thomas… enjoyed, but not as good as A Three Dog Life.
    The Spiral Staircase by Karen Armstrong – memoir about the trajectory of her life after leaving, circa 1970, convent life. I’ll certainly read more by her.

    Liked by 2 people

  11. OT – I’m doing something I otherwise never do, commenting without having read all of the comments. I’m pooped. I spent the day listening to testimony of Dr. Bright and Mr. Bowen before The House committee investigating Dr. Bright’s whistleblower complaint. Unfortunately not a lot of people will have done so, but I consider it time well spent. I may or may not recover in time to comment further on this thread.

    Liked by 2 people

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