When my computer died in the summer, I lost everything on it. While photos were the biggest loss (I’ve since found a whole bunch on a SIM card I thought I’d erased), I was also disappointed to lose my book lists. I keep two going at all times – books completed and books yet to be read. Thankfully I was able to reconstruct the first list by going through my blog posts. I’m at 46 books out of the 52 I’d hoped to finish in 2013.
The second list is an assortment of titles or authors suggested by friends, reviews, interviews, and articles. It’s constantly evolving as I add to it, delete, modify, and shuffle them around according to priority. The silver lining of having to piece it back together was that I reread all the recommendations given to me by you readers of my blog, so my second list has exploded in size. That’s exciting and makes me wish that reading were my full-time job. How I’m going to tackle all of these books, who knows, but I will happily chip away them.
September was a noticeably slower month for reading, perhaps due to our new family schedule and the fact that I’m at home alone with a little guy who doesn’t like to entertain himself. Having a toddler lick my knee and whine at me to play “choo choo” is not conducive to finishing books. Oh well, I plod onward.
1. “The Mists of Avalon” by Marion Zimmer Bradley
It took me a few weeks to finish this massive tome, even though I thought it was great. It’s very long – close to 900 pages – but this allowed for in-depth character and plot development beyond what I typically see in shorter novels. It’s all about King Arthur, Guinevere, and Morgan Le Fay, which makes for a romantic, magical tale. It also had some strange parallels to Game of Thrones, with its tensions between the old and new gods.
2. “The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry” by Rachel Joyce
This book was recommended by my aunt and uncle, who love to walk. Appropriately, it tells the story of a very stiff, proper, unemotional man who finds himself walking the length of England to deliver a letter to a sick friend. The book is about his journey, both physical and cathartic. There’s an unexpected twist at the end that had me weeping as I read. It makes me want to go on a pilgrimage, on a long-distance walk, where the whole world slows down around me and it’s just me and the road. (I’ll have to wait till the kids grow up because a pilgrimage with a baby in a backpack just doesn’t seem quite right…)
3. “A Lady Cyclist’s Guide to Kashgar” by Suzanne Joinson
I saw this book in a bookstore in Bayfield and was so attracted by the cover that I ordered it from the library. It shows an English woman standing beside an old-fashioned bicycle in the middle of the desert, with huge snow-capped mountains rising up behind her. Any tale of exploration and travel, before it was trendy and possible for everyone to do it, attracts me. This book was enjoyable, about three young women who set out to be missionaries in Kashgar, an ancient city in western China, except that the narrator is really just a writer pretending to be a missionary in order to tag along and see the world. The prose felt a bit stiff, and the way the girls interacted with each other (or didn’t) drove me crazy, but I’m content to overlook that because of the book’s setting. It was fun to read about a corner of the world that doesn’t often get visited in literature.
4. “The Beautiful Mystery” by Louise Penny
Another recommendation by my aunt, Penny is a writer from Québec who writes mysteries featuring Chief Inspector Gamache. This was the first mystery I’ve read in years, probably since my Nancy Drew phase in grade three, and it was a good place to start. This book is about the murder of a choirmaster in a remote monastery in northern Québec and the story is intertwined with fascinating music history. The phrase “beautiful mystery” refers to the transcendental effect of Gregorian chants on listeners. It was a great book, even if it made me jittery at night, but I’ll definitely be reading more of Penny’s books.
What books have you read recently? Do share! My list of recommendations may be long already, but it never stops growing.