Reading Affairs

I got Chris’ newsletter yesterday; he asks for pictures of people reading his book at the beach (or anywhere else for that matter).  It got me thinking about my current reading state of affairs.  March and April were a little discombobulated around here — too much work for a few weeks, then the stinky weather, more than one home project in the works.

Not surprisingly, my reading has been a little discombobulated as well.  You all know that I am usually in the middle of a few books at once but the past several weeks have been off the charts.  Instead of working my way through whatever I started, I would just pick up something that I thought suited my mood.  This means that right now, I’m in the middle of nine books.

Walking the Old Road by Staci Drouillard.  This is a “history” of Chippewa City and the Grand Marais Anishinaabe.  I want to like this book a lot more than I actually like it.  The author wanders all over and rambles with a lot of detail that is actually distracting from her topic.  Unfortunately I’m listening to it on CD and the author speaks v.e.r.y.  d.i.s.t.i.n.c.t.l.y and v.e.r.y s.l.o.w.l.y. so it’s taking much longer than if I had just plowed through the print.

Beautiful: the Life of Hedy Lamarr by Stephen Shearer.  Quite interesting.  Hedy Lamarr was incredibly intelligent and all we remember about her is how beautiful she was.  She was actually the co-inventor of a radio guidance system for the Navy.  Who knew?

Coyote vs Acme by Ian Frasier.  Re-reading this because we talked about the author a couple of weeks ago.  Funny.  Very funny.

Autumn Light by Iyer Pico.  This one keeps getting shuffled to the bottom of the pile. The writing is quite nice but it’s a memoir of a man helping his wife navigate the grief of losing her mother and whenever I start to pick it up I think “too sad”.

American Aristocracy by David Heymann.  I’m reading this because it’s a biography of Amy Powell (and her famous family).  She wrote the poem “Giver of Stars” which features in a JoJo Moyes story of the same name.  I’ve read the first half really quickly because I find I’m not all the interested in her family – just her.

Unsheltered by Barbara Kingsolver.  I’m just in the beginning of this, so hard to give any kind of synopsis, but it’s Barbara Kingsolver, so I’m pretty sure I will end up liking it a lot.

My Fine Fellow by Jennieke Cohen.  This is an alternate history re-write of Pygmalion.  It’s an intriguing idea but unfortunately the author is sticking way to closely to the original story, just with different characters, so it’s not feeling as fresh or original as it should.

Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep by Philip K Dick.  I picked this up because I just recently actually watched Blade Runner (I don’t know why I waited so long – but I did).  It had such an ambiguous ending that I thought I’d see what the book was like.  I’m only a couple of chapters in… I’m not a big Philip K Dick fan, but I think I’ll make it through.

Why Didn’t They Ask Evans by Agatha Christie.  Re-reading this because I saw recently that Hugh Laurie is producing and directing another version of Christie’s work.  This isn’t actually Christie’s best work by a long shot but I’m still enjoying it.

I have a couple of other books from the library on the bedstand and Chris’ book AND the Sherlock Holmes book I bought while at his signing last month.  Maybe now that work has let up and the weather is improving, I can stick with just three or four and get some of them finished!

What are you reading right now?

62 thoughts on “Reading Affairs”

  1. It’s Pico Iyer, not Iyer Pico, by the way.

    I’m mostly a serial reader—one book at a time—though I do have a Calvin Trillin anthology, Quite enough of Calvin Trillin that I keep by my bedside and dip into when I want to read a little in bed.

    Some of the books I’ve been reading in the last month would mean nothing to you, biographies of individual nineteenth century writers you’ve never heard of. A couple of weeks ago I finally got around to reading A Gentle Madness by Nicolas Basbanes. It’s about 600 pages long, something of a history of books and mostly a recounting of notable book collectors and their collections. Basbanes has written several books about books.

    A fascinating and somewhat shorter book I finished recently is Heyday of a Wizard by Jean Burton, about the nineteenth century psychic and medium Daniel Dunglas Home. The things he could do, or cause to happen, if true, were astounding.

    Right now I’m reading The Sun and the Moon by Matthew Goodman, ostensibly about an 1830s newspaper hoax reporting the discovery of life and bizarre society on the moon, but the book is vividly descriptive of conditions and politics in New York City at that time, about some of the competing editors of the several papers and about the birth of journalism as we know it.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thanks on Pico note… the book was downstairs and I was upstairs typing.

      I know you always say none of the things you read would be interesting but I find A LOT of the things you read interesting. Have the Heyday and Sun on hold at the library now!

      By the way, I believe that Talking to the Dead and Escape to Utopia are yours? Finished both a while back but are you going to be at Blevins on the 15th – I can bring them then!


      1. I have two other copies of Escape to Utopia and another copy of Talking To the Dead as well, so I don’t really need either of them back. I haven’t been keeping up with Blevins events and don’t know where it’s meeting or the books involved.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. So if I donate them to the library that’s OK with you?

          Next Blevins by the way is Sunday the 15th at tim’s house at 2 PM


        1. Your house. My return email to everybody said “ding ding ding ding” But that may not have been completely clear!!


  2. Just finished an excellent writing craft book titled “How to Write a Mystery: A Handbook from Mystery Writers of America”. Edited by Lee Child and Laurie R. King. An amazingly solid collection of wisdom from dozens of experienced and successful pros.

    Allen Eskens spoke at my local library the other day. I bought his book “The Stolen Hours” so I’ll probably read that next.

    Chris in Owatonna

    **BSP** Tomorrow at the Four Seasons Centre in Owatonna there’s a HUGE (I hope!) art & craft & small business/local vendors event called the Rustic Mamas’ Market. I’ll have a table there and will be selling my books. This will be my first time at the event so I don’t know what to expect. I “hear” it’s a pretty big event with dozens of vendors and thousands of people shopping throughout the day. So if you’re into artsy-craftsy stuff or want to buy a book or two from an old Baboon, stop on down.

    Runs from 9-3 but there’s an early-bird shopping session that starts at 7:45. The Centre is located near 18th St. S and Oak Avenue at the Steele County Fairgrounds. **END BSP**

    Liked by 1 person

    1. To be more precise, the address of the Four Seasons Centre is 1525 S. Elm Ave, It’s a huge building across from the fairgrounds grandstand, so it’s hard to miss.



  3. One of my book clubs reads non-fiction, and loves nature stuff:
    A Gathering of Moss: A Natural and Cultural History of Mosses by Robin Wall Kimmerer – tho’ the biology is approachable, it’s her “reflecting on what these fascinating organisms have to teach us” that I love… and it’s only 160 pages. I would also HIGHLY recommend her Braiding Sweetgrass – she bring in her Native American background, and I learned so much.

    Dear Edward by Ann Napolitano – just finished for my fiction club, was a journey of a 12-year-old boy who is the lone survivor of a plane crash – I almost put it down at one point, but am glad I finished it,

    Husband and I take turns reading aloud after meals, and are currently on:
    Neither Wolf nor Dog: On Forgotten Roads with an Indian Elder (1994). Wow. A deep dive into another culture, and how different two cultures can be. I will find us something else more recent by Nerburn when this is finished.

    Have also recently read two recent Louise Penney back to back…
    and Jane Goodall’s Book of Hope is waiting for me at the library.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. “To Boldly Go.” A collection of essays by military strategists analyzing Sci-fi books and movies. Put together by Jonathan Klug and Steven Leonard. Jonathan, who has a few essayas in it, is my ex-student.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Should add they are a bunch of sci-fi geeks having fun.
      I have had two students go to West Point and become writers. The other one writes prolifically for businesses. Not sure what about. He retired early as a colonel. Jonathan just made colonel. He has taught at army, navy, and Air Force academies. He was my daughter’s tormentor in early grade school, but she got a kick out of him.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. This sounds fascinating. I read something a few years ago analyzing whether some of the Star Trek technology will ever happen.

        I can’t find this book at library or interlibrary loan. Is it your copy? Could I borrow it at some point?


        1. He sent me a copy. I am now a slow reader with my eye issues. But then I can mail it, but will want it back.
          It has such a gracious note in front to Sandy and I, her for being children’s librarian and me as a teacher.

          Liked by 3 people

        2. No rush. I have 53 things on hold at the library and a good 20 books in the house that I haven’t read either.


  5. Rise and Shine Baboons,

    I am listening to books a lot this week, as I drift off into sleepietime constantly. I can set the audio on the sleep setting so it will stop at a given time, so then when I fall asleep I do not get lost. Recently I read “Lessons in Chemistry” by Bonnie Garmus which is really about women’s choices in the 50s and 60s. That is made especially poignant with our recent events in the news regarding women’s choices. On our way to Arizona we listened to “ Boys in the Boat” about the 1932 men’s Olympic rowing team—loved that book. I recently listened to “The Daughters of Erietown” by Connie Schultz. I liked that one a lot too.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. This week I’ve been reading “Travel Light” by Naomi Mitchison for the Rivendell Group’s next meeting, rereading “The Celtic Golden Dawn” by John Michael Greer, and continuing to chip my way through “The Concise Encyclopedia of the Original Literature of Esperanto,” which is very concise at only 580 pages of fairly small-print text (linguistic information, bibliographies, and indices bring it up to 728 pages).

    Philip K Dick’s novels were reissued when I was in my 20s, around the same time I was (briefly) into cyberpunk, so I read at least a dozen, probably more. “Man in the High Castle” was my favorite, “Valis” I remember as being almost unreadable. “Androids” was good, but nothing like the movie. I put a year into an MFA in Creative Writing at Hamline before I realized how much money I’d be wasting, and one of my profs, Larry Sutin, had written a bio of PKD. He also wrote a bio of Aleister Crowley, which IIRC didn’t even weigh in on whether or not Crowley had really completed the Abramelin working, strange because everyone who gives a rat about Crowley has an opinion on that!

    Liked by 2 people

  7. I am reading puppy, cat, and dog body language very intensely these days. Kyrill is the snuggliest terrier I have encountered. We will crate train once we get home, but until then he has slept with us at night, and he snuggles in as close as he can. No accidents on the bed, either!

    Our son’s cat loathes Kyrill. This upsets him, as his breed really likes all creatures to be in his pack, and she won’t cooperate. We have had Westie-Cesky chases and play. We watch them carefully and we don’t allow resource guarding, so they eat and drink in separate rooms. The Westie allows Kyrill to play with Westie toys, but tries to claim Kyrill’s new toys as his own.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. That first night in the. Rate will be hard. While I envy many things about having a puppy, I do not envy that.


    2. You just gave me a flashback to when my Irish Setter Rhiannon was alive. She would lay down near a toy or lay down with a toy between her front paws but not play with it. But nobody else could play with it either.


  8. finishing bbc stuff
    serial killer sister
    and one armed broom are unusual selections for me
    got a couple louise erdrich things in
    a david sedaris
    an amy tan

    chris is my hope for next bbc

    Liked by 2 people

  9. I have an audiobook going, an Anne Tyler called A Spool of Blue Thread. Like Jacque, I easily fall asleep when I’m listening at home. Sometimes if I’ve had the audiobook from the library for awhile and need to return it, I finish it by listening to that last of it in the car. That way I don’t fall asleep.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I listened to Spool in the car. I remember enjoying it but I also remember having to tamp down my expectations that something was going to actually happen.


      1. Anne Tyler can be like that. She goes interior, then she so thoroughly forgets the rest of her life, such as her family or ever going home again.

        Liked by 2 people

  10. Not a book but fun language thing: Food truck here in town called La Toxica. There are restaurants all over called that. It means the toxic woman. Reference in Mexico is like the bad woman you keep going back to. So the restaurants usually have spicy/hot food and you keep going back for it. Fun.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh gosh, haven’t thought about Mr. Whipple in a long time. But it does say something about the power of advertising that I can tell you what product Mr. Whipple was always trying to keep people from squeezing!


        1. That’s funny because I can see those bears in my mind so but I can’t remember the TP either!!🧻🧻


  11. I am working on Tyll, and a biography of Bartok. The biography is such that I need to play various musical passages in the book on the piano to get a sense of what the author is describing in terms of Bartok’s musical progression over time.

    Liked by 2 people

  12. Uncharacteristically, I’m flitting about a bit at the moment, as far as reading is concerned. Nothing seems to sustain my interest all the way through anything longer than, say, twenty pages. Partly, that’s due to pain issues, and partly because I’m so thoroughly disgusted about what’s going on in the world at the moment.

    Thankfully, there are small glimmers of light and hope that help boost my spirits. Last night as we were eating dinner, our doorbell rang. It was Lucy and Avery, two ten-year old girls who live in the neighborhood. They are two of the three girls who offer their services as dog walkers to various neighbors on a regular basis. They are just adorable. Last night they were delivering invitations to a “customer appreciation party” to be held at 2.. Sidney St. E, from 3 – 5 PM. There was no indication on which date this celebration might be, so I wondered if the “host” (the people who live at the address – my friend Helen’s former house) knew about this? They laughed and assured us that, yes, she does know. They plan on serving spaghetti, and on cooking it themselves. Can’t wait to see how they pull this off.

    OT – Got my pathology results today. Scalp lesion is basal cell carcinoma, and back lesion is invasive squamous cell carcinoma, moderately differentiated (whatever that means). Making appointment for additional surgical procedures for both lesions, and setting up appointments with both an oncologist and a dermatologist. Interestingly, now that the dermatologist appointment is deemed “urgent,” it has been scheduled for May 18th; the surgical procedures will likely happen prior to that, and should not be any big deal.

    Did I mention that my magnolia tree is in full bloom?


    1. PJ – as Renee has said (a couple of times) – I’m so glad you got those looked at, and wish them speedily taken care of. Sorry to hear of pain issues that distract from reading, but sometimes even reading is overrated.

      Liked by 2 people

  13. Just found another that I haven’t been able to get to yet:
    In Praise of Slowness: How a Worldwide Movement Is Challenging the Cult of Speed, by Carl Honoré
    It is an inter-library loan, and when I picked it up, the librarian chuckled at the fact that its due date was a week sooner than the others I was checking out.

    Liked by 2 people

      1. Hennepin County has gone fine free but so far it hasn’t sunk into my brain. I am still watching due dates and making sure I get books back in time. Even if I haven’t finished them and have to ask for them again. Maybe eventually I’ll slack off a bit.


  14. I read ‘Unsheltered’ several years ago. I enjoyed it. I am reading Chris’ book ‘Straight River’ right now, but like you said, the sudden appearance of spring and a busy May have slowed me down. I’m re-reading ‘The Book Thief’ on audio book.

    Liked by 2 people

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