Thursday, November 28, 2019

Armchair Travel: Reading About Sicily . . .

The second page in my new Watercolour Sketchbook -- the first boasts my hand-drawn (and hence, more suggestive than accurate ;-) of Sicily.  . . We're planning a family meet-up week there next spring, and I hope to fill my sketchbook with landscapes and paintings of meals and sketches of architecutre. For now, though, I'm reading in preparation. These essays by Carlo Levi were written mid-20th-century, and they offer a wonderfully descriptive and trenchantly observant context. (As always, if you'd like help reading my writing, leave me a note in the comments below.

Next post, I'll return to more recent reading -- I can't believe I'm almost caught up with that. For now, I'm off to read ferociously the two books that have to go back to the library next week. And then I have to think about what to read on a long flight. . . Decisions, decisions. . .

Your suggestions always very welcome. Books set in Sicily, especially. . . 

Monday, November 18, 2019

Reading Fireside? A Dozen Titles for You. . .

 Only 70 more pages to go in Alice Zeniter's L'Art de Perdre which I borrowed from the library. A wonderful novel following three generations of a family from pre-Independence Algeria to present-day France. I'll share more later. . . . just thought it would be good occasionally for this blog to feature what I'm reading along with the What I've Read. . . .

Speaking of which, I'm getting encouragingly closer to being caught up.  Still no time to transcribe here or to augment my scratchings in my little paper journal, but if you're interested enough to need help deciphering a word or phrase, I'm happy to help.

Continuing from where I left off last post, here's Entry #50, for Tommy Orange's There There. Highly recommended.

 #51 is Slavenka Drakulić's Cafe Europa: Life After Communism which broadened and added depth to my developing understand of Croatia.
 #52-55, a run of mystery novels: Kate Atkinson's Red Sky, Denise Mina's The Red Road and her Blood, Salt, Water punctuated by Sue Gee's Reading in Bed which (another) Sue recommended.
 #56 Etaf Rum's A Woman Is No Man, recommended by my daughter (that, I must tell you, is a particular pleasure -- to have raised readers who return the favour by bringing good books to the table (or, rather, to the TBR list)

#57 Culling my bookshelves in September reminded me I hadn't yet read Cherie Dimaline's Red Rooms. I've been hearing good things about her later writing, and I have to say this earlier title is well worth reading.
 #58 Elizabeth Gilbert's City of Girls I a book you might like to give a girlfriend for Christmas. Maybe you'll need to read it yourself first, turning the pages carefully -- but if it's less than pristine when you finally wrap it, just tell her you cared enough to make sure it was good enough for her. ;-)
 #58 Next post I'll share the journal page I sketched in response to Carlo Levi's Words are Stones (translated by Anthony Shugaar with an introduction by Anita Desai.
 And then Viglis Hjorth's A House in Norway, trans. Charlotte Barslund

and #61 Nell Painter's Old in Art School: A Memoir of Starting Over. Definitely recommending this one, especially to encourage those of us trying new things as old dogs. . .
Only three titles now, and I'll be all caught up. Caught up with telling you What I've Read, that is. We will never be caught up with the reading, will we?!

And that's a very good thing.

Okay, comments open now -- I'm passing you the mic and going back to those last 70 pages. The present-day protagonist has just landed in Algeria, the first member of her family (disparaged in both Algeria and France as harkis, a term and a disparagement that Zeniter unpacks trenchantly -- and humanely) to do so since they fled the country sixty years earlier. . . I need to know how the novel ends (as well as find out how the Elizabeth Bishop poem "The Art of Losing" featured in the title will show up, how it will signify).

So we'll chat later. I'm looking forward to it.

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Mystery, Travel, Romance, Engaging Literary Fiction, and a KidLit title -- A Mixed Bag for you

 Back again, to share a few more messy pages from my year's Reading Journal -- I see now that for next year's journal (this one was the first handwritten record after years of tracking my reading in this blog) I should include the entry date. I think I'll also include publication info and perhaps number of pages as well.

As has been my practice this year, I'm posting the photos as is without transcribing the text. If you need help deciphering a line or two, please let me know in the comments below.

I read John Keahey's Seeking Sicily: A Cultural Journey Through Myth and Reality in the Heart of the Meditteranean aloud to Paul over several weeks as he cooked dinner and when it was his turn to drive during our road trip in August.

Digression: I got sidetracked in putting this post together because I couldn't find the sketch I made months ago of Keahey's book. I was sure I'd sketched it in my 5x8 sketchbook, but it wasn't there. So I looked through all the boxes on the shelves of my new workspace, flipping through pages of whatever I might have drawn and painted on. Some boxes I looked through more than once. More than twice, and maybe even three times. Then I had to take a break because I was on a short road to Frustration and Flipping Out, not a good destination.

Then this evening, I decided to sort through a maximum of three boxes, not necessarily looking for that sketch, but beginning the inventory I obviously needed to take. . . And tucked at the bottom of a decade or two of travel journals, there was the "miscellaneous-use, incomplete, mishmash" watercolour Moleskine with the sketch of Seeking Sicily as its last entry. Whew! That feels better.

Want to see?

And now I can move on through the rest of what I wrote this morning. . . 

I'd been looking forward to Elly Griffiths' The Stone Circle, but this series featuring archaeologist Ruth Galloway is flagging, and there are too many elements recycled from earlier titles. I hope Griffiths manages to reinvigorate the series, and I'll certainly give it one more chance, but this one's disappointing. . . .

Deborah Levy's Swimming Home, though. . . no disappointments here. . . Luckily I have my own print copy of this, because I suspect I'll want to dip back in. Posted photo and comments on IG
 Ian Rankin's In a House of Lies. Brilliant series that still works, thanks to characters added through the years. A bit shocking to see how John Rebus has aged. . .

I love reading aloud to my grandkids, and sometimes I get to dig into a chapter book with N (almost 11) although it can take weeks, even months, of occasional visits to complete. Natalie Babbitt's The Search for Delicious kept us both entertained,. Imaginative adventure with a clever premise. N is better than I at recalling details from earlier chapters. . .

Rae Dunn's In Pursuit of Inspiration.. . .

Siri Hustvedt's The Blazing World is a standout. Not a light read at all, but a compelling one, thoroughly engaging, and connected serendipitously for me with my recent reading of Ninth Street Women. IG post here

Mario Giordano's Auntie Poldi and the Vineyards of Etna was a fun way to prepare for some future travel. I posted a photo of it on Instagram, and made a few comments in my journal

And I'll stop for now with my entry for Jean-Christophe Rufin's Les Sept Mariages d'Edgar et Ludmilla. I loved this novel, and if you read French I recommend you get your hands on a copy, read it, and then we can chat. Otherwise, I hope that the English translation is available before too long. . .Instagram posts here and here.
Possibly interesting trivia: I did my 7-minute presentation for my French class on this book. . .

This post gets the blog much closer to where I am in my hand-written record -- in that journal I've just finished entry #60, so I'm only eleven behind here. . . the gap is closing, although not rapidly. Let me know, please, if you've read anything here, or if you have any complementary suggestions -- and, as always, I love to know what you're reading and I know other readers do as well. In fact, if I ever should get caught up here, I'd love to post a list of all the suggestions you've made between you over the last few years. Probably won't happen anytime soon, though. In the meantime, you might enjoy browsing your way back through the comments on earlier posts -- they're a treasure trove.

Monday, October 21, 2019

August in October . . . Some Titles and Pages for You

Now that I've got some of you coming around to see the shelf-culling and the redecorating, I should catch you up with jottings from the handwritten Reading Journal I've been keeping this year. The last entry I shared from that little notebook was the one for Raynor Winn's The Salt Path. Coincidentally, the next book I read also followed a path. I did share the notebook page for Sarah Moss's The Ghost Path on my Instagram book account, but here it is again, opposite the entry for

Mary Gabriel's brilliant Ninth Street Women: Lee Krasner, Elaine deKooning, Garce Hartigan, Joan Mitchell and Helen Frankenthaler: Five Painters and the Movement That Changed Modern Art. . . 

That entry carries on to the next page, and I've also posted photos of the book and of some favourite passages on my Instagram book feed, here and here and here.

Since we last chatted here, I've finished Denise Mina's Alex Morrow series, and I'm hoping, hoping she will write another. Gods and Beasts is the third in the series, and it offers one truly compelling character who has had an intriguing dilemma foisted on him, who strives to act ethically in conditions that make that difficult. Alex, too. Alex continually works to discern what integrity can mean given the powerful imbrication of criminal and political and judicial systems. .  . .Highly recommended.

And I'd also recommend Julian Barnes' The Only Story. and have scrawled a few notes about it in my little journal. . . (way back in 2011, I wrote a bit here about Barnes' Booker-winning novel, The Sense of an Ending, also with a retrospective male narrator, but quite different in many ways).
A few more words about this on my Instagram book account here and here.

In the interest of posting tonight rather than procrastinating yet again, I'm going to publish this "as is," and see if I can move through my August reading and into September -- before the end of October!

By the way, all these books were borrowed from Vancouver Public Library, so none require space on my recently culled shelves. . . .How much do you rely on your public library to supply your reading?
And have you, or might you, read any of the titles I've reviewed in this post? I'm almost afraid to ask what you've been reading lately -- there's sure to be a book that I will have to add to my To Be Read list, and oh, it's so long. . . Still, I'm curious. What have you read or are you reading these days?

Tuesday, October 1, 2019

Editing My Bookshelves, Part II

Last post, I told you about culling my bookshelves recently as part of a project to transform the closet in our TV/Guest Room/Library into a workspace that would allow me some room to sprawl and be somewhat organized. To leave my projects on the desktop while I attended to other tasks without having to feel apologetic about them cluttering up the dining table--or resentful if I had to pack them away.
Before the "big cull" we'd emptied and dismantled one wall of shelves -- I anticipated that with the closet doors removed and my new workspace exposed, the room would look too busy; it needed to be lightened up. Instead of two opposing walls of dark bookshelves, we repurposed a long narrow table, blond, bought at Ikea years ago. The TV sits on it, and there's now room on the wall for an arrangement of paintings and prints we'd been storing. Below that, a special-edition Ikea bench in a similar blond wood -- it comes in handy a few times a year for extra seating at family dinners, and we'd been loath to get rid of it. So that works well for my make-do approach. We're still working on finding a balance here between storage and display. . . Almost there, though, and much more suitable to the space than the darker bookshelves. Much easier to clean as well.

But you're not really here for the "decorating" details, are you?

Last post, I promised to tell you a bit more about the process, about the way those pages you see above represent a sort of Marie Kondo approach to the letting go, even if they made it much longer.

I mentioned, in that post, that I'd already sent hundreds of CDs off to the thrift shop. Yes, I suffered pangs about how many thousands of dollars I'd spent on them, but quickly countered my misgivings with memories of all the hours of pleasure they'd brought. More difficult to quiet was my regret about not having this music close at hand anymore, even though we'd somehow lost the habit of playing CDs and were unlikely to replace the ancient player. The salve here, for me, was ensuring that I "followed" each artist or band or opera or symphony or compilation on Spotify. It's true that there will be some less popular, more obscure tracks that I will probably lose/miss in the process. And there will likely come a day when I will mind that very much for a moment. I hope I'll remind myself then that I can't have everything and that I made a considered and worthy choice which has served me well.

So by the time I came to culling the books, a few weeks later, I'd done some of the emotional work already, and I'd got a useful approach in place. This time, instead of Spotify, I turned to paper and pen, recording title and author of each book in the back pages of my reading journal.

As I lifted each book off the shelf,  I thought for a moment about when I'd bought it, and why. Some were from the year or two when I subscribed to the Book-of-the-Month club in my very late teens, very early twenties and amassed a few sets of classics (Faulkner, Hemingway, Austen, Brontë, Fitzgerald, Maugham, Tolstoy, etc.). I paused more to think of me at 20, young and earnest, buying books after a childhood and adolescence of borrowing them, trying to discern which were worth owning, taking a modest pride in titles filling in the bricks-and-boards bookshelves. The books themselves I don't need copies of. They can easily be found in any library almost anywhere, although the Austen and Brontë I might borrow now won't have my teaching notes in the margins. . . .

Some books recalled book clubs I've belonged to over the years; some reminded me of the fervour of a particular time, the relevance, for example, of feminist fiction, relief that something I knew intuitively, experienced regularly, had been articulated eloquently. Again, though, many of these could be recovered at a library -- and many, in retrospect, seemed too caught up in the time of the original reading for me to know I wanted to revisit them.

Of course, many course syllabi were represented on the shelves--ones that I'd taught and ones that I'd studied. Commonwealth/postcolonial studies and German Literature in translation and English Literature in its numerous periods. A graduate course on Salman Rushdie, another on James Joyce. Some of these will stay on my shelves, still too meaningful to part with. But as much as these were a combination of Musts and Shoulds at the time, they are now rather reproachful Shoulds. Time to admit I'm not going to reread them, not likely even to pick them up looking for a particular passage. And, again, if I want to, I can pick up a copy at the local library or request an inter-library loan.

Another set of books that once comprised both Musts and Shoulds can be seen in the titles that I once wanted to read because they were the latest work of an author I admired or because I'd read an intriguing review or because a friend pressed the book on me or a daughter gave me a copy on my birthday. All worth reading at the time, but again, time to admit I don't need to own a copy anymore. I especially didn't need to dust it regularly (shocking how much dust comes in the windows of our urban condo!).

With each book that I decided, after this brief evaluative process, to release, I wrote down the title in a quickly lengthening list and I put the book into one of two boxes -- We'd learned that the (well-stocked, good-quality) secondhand bookstore in our neighbourhood would only take books with no ink markings. I hope you won't be shocked to know that I do write in my books, but it's true. Especially if I read the book for a course, even more so if I used it for teaching, I'd quite likely underlined passages or marked them with an asterisk or jotted notes in margins and in the endpapers. Many of my books had name and phone number written on the front page. I used up many minutes obscuring those with a dark marker before putting the books in boxes destined for the Salvation Army thrift store.

I readily admit to my good fortune in sharing the labour of this task with Pater/Paul, who had to carry and load the boxes into and out of the car, delivering them to the thrift shop. Even more impressive is that he carried the books with better re-sale possibilities three blocks up the street to the secondhand bookstore. It became a bit easier for him once the bookstore clerk realized he was seeing a repeat performance and that there were more in the wings. At that point, Paul was lent a dolly, which he used to make three or four more trips, these ones transporting three stacked boxes of books at a time.

Which brings me to the next commitment I made last post, when I promised to write this one:  I'll tell you how much money I made selling the books to a local secondhand bookshop (I didn't get rich!), and I'll share a few discoveries. And I'll tell you which book I'd been meaning to order a copy of -- ever since reading Raynor Winn's The Salt Path (the last entry in that 2+months ago post). . . and then found I'd already bought a few years ago and forgot about because it was lost in my own bookshelves!

For the boxes and boxes of books, which represented thousands of dollars spent and untold hours lost to the pleasure of reading, I was delighted to receive 150 dollars. Cash. Not store credit which would have had me filling up those shelves as quickly as I'd cleared them. Cash. Almost enough to pay for the roll of wallpaper enlivening my new workspace. Well, almost enough for 3/4 of the roll. I was primarily gratified that the books were deemed worthy of space on the bookshop's shelves, that new readers will be discovering them soon. . . .

The discoveries I made while clearing shelves? I have quite a few books signed by their authors, many of whom I've been fortunate to meet in person over the years. I'd decided early in the culling process that, for now, I'd keep those. So Margaret Drabble's The Gates of Ivory, consigned to the give-away pile (I've just checked; as I suspected, it's readily available from the library) moved back to sit with my "keepers" when I opened it to check for the bookstore's disqualifying ink and found Drabble's signature.  Not only is the book a signed copy but she must have signed it in my presence because her signature is prefaced by "for Frances." I must have heard her read, as well, and I try to prod my recalcitrant memory but other than tentatively identifying a writer's festival in the early '90s, I've got nothing. Except a signed paperback copy of her book, back on my bookshelves.

As I gently shook out the pages of one book, a piece of notepaper slid out, my dad's immediately recognizable hand, the contact details of my younger brother and his wife. Dad died in 2000, and the contact details were from an address my brother's family left some years before that.  . .

When I pulled my hardcover copy of Michael Pollan's A Place of my Own: The Education of an Amateur Builder off the shelf, I remembered the email I'd sent to the address on the end flap at the back.  We were in the middle of a big renovation of our little cedar cabin at the beach, lifting it up to give it a better foundation, adding a two-storey addition, and his quiet erudition mixed with thoughtful meditation about domestic space and our space in the world inspired me and guided me and comforted me by putting our travails at the time into a wider context. The email address was a welcome invitation to let him know that. But I didn't expect a personal response and I remember the delight (and some awe) when I opened my email to find he'd written me a very thoughtful and sincere paragraph. A brief paragraph, but not one obviously written by an assistant. Remembering all this in a flash, wishing I'd saved a digital copy (but how many transfers would that have meant, over the 20+ years), I opened the book, wondering if it was time to let another reader find it. And there inside was a printed copy of my email on one side of a folded page, a copy of his on the other side. So this one stays, for now, although I have a good friend who's building a house right now, and perhaps I should lend her it. . . . 

And finally, the book I'd been intending to buy, luckily hadn't yet ordered because I found this in a stack of books that had been haphazardly stored on the shelves that used to harbour the TV.

There you go. The book I "shopped my bookshelves for" is by Simon Armitage, the "walking poet" for whom Raynor Winn's husband kept being mistaken as the recently homeless couple walked their way along England's Salt Path. I've just begun to read Walking Home: A Poet's Journey, and I'll report back to you later (so far, I can say that it's good enough to have been absolutely no help at all with a recent bout of insomnia. No help in getting me back to sleep, that is, but it did keep me thoroughly entertained at 3 a.m.).

And now I'm done. Done culling my bookshelves, done sorting and reshelving and making space for the next batch of book purchases (it's ongoing, an addiction I don't hope to overcome). And done shifting the room, and carving out a workspace where I can write about -- even sketch representation of -- my reading. As I finish this post, I'm sitting at the desk you see above, and if I stretch out my right hand and swivel my chair sharply to the right, I can touch the bookshelf. If I push the chair back too vigorously, I'll be stopped by the rolled arm of the leather couch that we cozy up on to watch Netflix on the TV opposite.

Leaving that wheeled swivel chair now, leaving my desk, and leaving the mic to you. Your comments are always welcome. I'm especially curious to know how my culling parameters relate to yours, and whether or not reading figures in the design of your living space. The conversation that built around the previous post was splendidly engaging and I hope it might continue here.

Sunday, September 15, 2019

Editing Bookshelves, Not Books. . . Do you curate or cull?

Two months (and some days) have passed since I last wrote here, although I have, at least, been keeping track of my reading in a hand-written journal, as I resolved to do at the beginning of the year.  As well, I've been making regular posts to my Instagram "books" account: Mater_Reads.

Each medium shapes what I say about what I read, though, and I have a particular fondness for the way this blog has worked in the past. I'm curious what it might become, still, even if I'm not here as often. I'm planning a few catch-up posts over the next week or two, as I settle into the new workspace we've set up for me -- just in time for La Rentrée. . .
I listed titles and authors of most of the books I culled. . . .
Before those catch-up posts, though, I thought you might be curious about the culling process. As readers, many of us find it difficult to part with our books, and I'm a prime example. Four years ago this spring, when I packed up my campus office at retirement, I sent many of my books to the help-yourself table we kept by the Faculty office. I also carted several boxes home and found space for them in my study (I had a "room of my own" there, a large work surface and a wall of shelves) and on the many book shelves we had through the house.

When we left the island a year later, I culled boxes of books. Boxes and boxes. Genre fiction and topical non-fiction. Literary criticism that a year of retirement had shown me I wasn't likely to dive back into. Books I'd bought for myself and books I'd been given. Books about craft, cookbooks, outdated hiking books, parenting books. Ah, I culled. . .

But I kept as well. The boxes of books contributed considerably to the mover's invoice, but Paul knew how important my books were to me, and any title I hesitated over came along with us. Bookshelves were among the first items we bought for our new condo, and we lined two (opposing) walls of the second bedroom with them, furnished it with a leather sofabed, adjusted the shelves to make room for the flatscreen TV, and called the room our TV/guestroom/library. . .

And then last month, once again frustrated at having to move a project-in-the-making from our dining table back into a small work surface in our bedroom, a lightbulb flashed insistently above my head. Okay, not really, but I wondered if the TV/guestroom/library closet could be converted into an office space.

First, though, some space needed to be cleared in the room itself. I warmed up with the CDs. We'd played them very rarely in our three years here, having gradually succumbed -- with some reservations, admittedly -- to Sonos + Spotify. Our stereo system was well over twenty years old, acting up occasionally, and we aren't likely to buy a new one. Easy to read -- and finally obey -- the writing on the wall.

Once the CDs had been boxed up and sent away, I applied some of the same logic to books. So many I've been hanging onto with the idea that I will read them again. Many I have, many I know I will. But with a branch of a very good civic library system a three-minute walk away, I can probably borrow most of those titles readily. So to stay on the shelves this time, books didn't necessarily need to "Spark Joy," but they needed to evoke one of at least three responses: a significant memory of where and when I'd read the book or of a particular passage or character or mood; a strong desire, nay, even intent, to reread, or at least search out a passage or two; a wish, sometimes a need, to tell others about the title, to recommend and/or proselytize its virtues. . . .

Since I've been working on this post for over an hour now, and this is my second day at it, I'm going to take some advice from myself, as noted in this page from my Lists Notebook (not its official title).
See there, when I didn't get either my Workout or a Reading Blog post accomplished Today? "Tomorrow" was yesterday, and I spent that hour I mentioned, but the post wasn't done before we had to get to our Italian lesson (we didn't want to be late to our first class!). And this morning, having spent another fifteen minutes at it, rather dismayed at the idea of what I still want to tell you about this Book-Culling process, I looked at my list again and read that little encouragement I'd added a few days ago : "can be short"  (Do you do this kind of self-talk in your Lists? Does it help? Do you pay attention to yourself or ignore? Asking for a friend. . . )

I think my younger self was wise, and I think it would be okay if this post were short. To achieve that, and get myself away from the keyboard, I'm going to make this a "to be continued" post. . . .

When I continue (very soon, I promise), I'm going to tell you a bit more about the process, about the way those pages you see above represent a sort of Marie Kondo approach to the letting go, even if they made it much longer. I'll tell you how much money I made selling the books to a local secondhand bookshop (I didn't get rich!), and I'll share a few discoveries. And I'll tell you which book I'd been meaning to order a copy of -- ever since reading Raynor Winn's The Salt Path (the last entry in that 2+months ago post). . . and then found I'd already bought a few years ago and forgot about because it was lost in my own bookshelves!

Until then. . . .if anyone's still reading this blog, I'd love to hear your experience with book-culling. Can you cull books? Have you? Might you? Or do you tend to keep the books moving after you've read them? Have you switched completely to e-reading to avoid the hoarding and the dusting? Or do you hope to die surrounded by every book you've ever owned? Do tell. Please. . . .

Thursday, July 4, 2019

Halfway Through My Reading Year, A List for You. . . .

Tomorrow will be two months since I last posted here. Perhaps next year, I'll fold this blog back into my primary blog, but for now, I'm content enough with the compromise of keeping a physical Reading Journal and an Instagram account. Less time writing on a keyboard, at a screen, suits me better for the present -- and allows more reading time, which is always good, right?

But I do like to stay in touch with you, and I miss the conversations we used to have here. Especially, I love the reading suggestions you offer, even if they make my own TBR list impossibly long.  Returning the favour, here's my halfway-through-the-year list of books read so far in 2019. If you want to find out what I thought about any of the first 19 books on the list, you could scroll back through my earlier posts to see what I wrote in my Reading Journal.

1. C.J. Samson, Dissolution
2. Kate Atkinson, Transcription
3. Michael Robotham, Shatter
4. Samantha Dion Baker, Draw Your Day: An Inspiring Guide to Keeping a Sketch Journal
5. N.K. Jemisin, The Fifth Season
6. Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa, The Leopard, trans. Archibald Colquhoun
7. Paul Auster, 4 3 2 1 (didn't finish, although I did get to almost 500 pages)
8. Philippe Georget, Summertime: All The Cats Are Bored
9. Anna Burns, Milkman
10. Térèse Marie Mailhot, Heart Berries: A Memoir
11. Jackie Kae Ellis, The Measure of My Powers: A Memoir of Food, Misery, and Paris 
12. Helen Atlee, The Land Where Lemons Grow
13. Katherine Paterson, Bridge to Terabithia (read to my granddaughter)
14. Helene Hanff, 84 Charing Cross Road (read to my husband)
15. N.K. Jemisin, The Obelisk Gate
16. Guillaume Musso, Demain
17. Glynnis MacNicol, No One Tells You This
18. Vivian Gornick, The Odd Woman
19. Donna Leon, The Golden Egg

And since that last post, at the beginning of May, this is what I've read. . . .
20. Robin Robertson, The Long Take  my Instagram post is here
21. Abu Bakr Al Rabbeah and Winnie Young, Homes IG post here
22. Denise Mina, Still Midnight IG and also
23. Donna Leon, By Its Cover IG

I'm including photos of my Reading Journal pages -- if you need some help deciphering a sentence that interests you, let me know in the Comments below, and I'll try to remember what I scrawled.  (And yes, the numbers in my journal don't correspond correctly here, because somehow I forgot to record my response to Robertson's noir novel in verse -- it's #24 in the pages below. Blame it on the disruptions of travel -- it's actually an unforgettable work!)

24. Rebecca Makai, The Borrower IG 
I loved this book -- have you read it? Utterly charming, and I've made a note to read more titles by Makai.

25. Mick Herron, Slow Horses 
26. Mick Herron, Dead Lions
I got started on the Mick Herron "Slough House" series thanks to a brilliant Instagrammer whose reviews there are brilliant examples of what brevity combined with perspicacity, wit, and a love of language and story can do, something too many have forgotten. I almost hesitate to send you to her account because once there, you'll wonder why you'd ever return to my often prolix prose. .  . But we're reading friends, aren't we, and I really shouldn't hold out on you -- @a.conteuse is a gem, you can thank me later ;-)

27. Philippe Georget, Les Méfaits d'Hiver IG (but this is only a video of the book's pages on my lap in a Bordeaux park. . .
28. Denise Mina, The End of the Wasp Season
29. Philippe Georget, Les Violents d'Automne (still reading this -- put it aside because so many books I'd put on hold at the library were available when I got home).

30. Rachel Cusk, Outline IG
31. James Lee Burke, New Iberia Blues IG
32. Elizabeth Hay, All Things Consoled IG
33. Elizabeth Gilbert, The Signature of All Things IG
34. Elly Griffiths, The Stranger Diaries IG

35. Raynor Winn, The Salt Path IG and here (read the two pages at that last IG post for some of the best sex writing I've read -- accomplished with almost no description of the physical aspect, and yet so brilliantly, movingly evocative.

That's all I've got for now -- currently back to reading Les Violents d'Automne via Kobo on my iPad Mini, and dipping in and out of Marcus Tanner's history of Croatia: Croatia: A Nation Forged in War. And I'm preparing for the inevitable deluge when the eight books (I know! but I want them all!!) I have on hold at the library all come in at once. . . .