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. . . .


  1. I just got The Long Take from the library, but unfortunately The Salt Path and All Things Consoled are not in our library system. Will wait a bit to see if they come up (will recommend them) as I really don't want to buy more books at the moment. Already have a large unread pile.

    1. I'll be curious to see what you think of The Long Take. Stylistically very interesting, and then the take on those times, that place. . . Quite sure you will love The Salt Path -- my husband read it quickly as well, before I had to return it (there were 58 people waiting for it at the library ;-)

  2. I really must follow your instagram account since I seem to rely on your lists so much for my own reading (and have never been disappointed!) Thanks for all these recommendations - "The Borrower" seems right up my alley and will be the first I look for on my next trip to the library.
    Currently I'm reading an old Jackson Brodie, in preparation for the newest one, just released. I'm in awe of Kate Atkinson's skill in weaving together so many story lines and having them all come together in a very plausible manner. She has long been one of my all-time favourite authors. I've also been dipping into a cookbook, "Paris Express" by Laurie Calder to indulge in a spot of Paris dreaming. The photographs are quintessential Paris.
    Frances in Sidney

    1. Sorry to add another Social Media "must follow," but I just wasn't keeping up here and the IG together with a written journal is working for me at the moment. I think you'll really like The Borrower. Just got my stack of Jackson Brodie out to lend my daughter -- who has somehow missed the whole series!! I'm surprised Atkinson wrote a fifth as she's on record as wanting to try on new structures, styles, and had no intention of doing more JB. I'm very pleased she changed her mind. Going to look for Paris Express (coincidentally, I've just begun following Calder on IG)

    2. I'm envious of your daughter, discovering Jackson Brodie for the first time, although I find I can quite happily reread any of Atkinson's books and discover something new. You'll be pleased to learn that not only has she written a fifth JB book, she's at work on a sixth (interview in the Guardian). I suppose the long absence from that character paid off.
      Frances in Sidney

    3. Isn't she lucky? Funny, I've taken them from the bookshelf and piled them on the hallway dresser, waiting for her next visit, but I'm very tempted to hang on to and reread them first ;-) Yay! a 6th book!

  3. I've really liked Rebecca Makkai's The Great Believers,so I agree with Frances from Sidney about The Borrower. And a lot of others...
    I'm reading Maria Duenas The Time Inbetween (and hope that I could extend my borrowing time in a new digital library-yes,I did borrow too many books, entchanted with possibilities :-))
    Books I've read lately and enjoyed were Yuval Noah Harari's Sapiens,Sally Rooney's Normal People and Paolo Cognetti's Sofia Si Veste Sempre Di Nero

    1. Okay, must read The Great Believers. So happy you've got the digital library happening now. But will you have time for špica still? So what if Sofia always dresses in black? Was the Cognetti good? I wonder if it's available in English. I don't think my Italian could stretch to that for more than a page or two (looking up every second word takes forever LOL

  4. I'm very pleased with my reading just now. You might remember I spend my summers vacationing in early 20th century I have on the go Keynes' The Economic Consequences of the Peace (this is an excellent read for those with a taste for it; especially because it was written in the time, not in hindsight), The Long Weekend (because I heard Adrian Tinniswood on Desert Island Discs) and a biography of Edward VII. For a change of pace: a biography of John Le Carre, Ali Smith's Spring, and a reread of Slouching Toward Bethlehem (which I confuse in memory with Loose Change; maybe another go will help me get it right).

    I had Transcription on request at the library for months and of course it came available when I was on vacation so I had to let it go. I'll try again.

    1. Correction: A Tinniswood was on the History Extra podcast, not DID. As I thought back on it, there was a lot of talking and not much music. Ha!

    2. I do remember that about your reading (how did I not answer this earlier? I read it and thought a reply, at least, sorry)
      Your reading is heavier than most tackle in summer, but I know it's how you roll (augmenting spatial travel with a jaunt through history).
      How is Spring? MUST get to that as I loved both Autumn and Winter, in their different ways. . . And I've been googling to understand your confusiong. STB is Didion's collection of essays, right? but I don't know Loose Change -- the non-fiction bio of three Berkeley women by Sara Davidson?
      Finally, I think Transcription is worth trying for again. Our library has a "Pause" feature available for books on reserve, so that borrowers can keep their place in line without holding up other borrowers or losing a long-awaited book. My problem is just staying on top of that.

  5. I have to thank you for various recommendations in these past six months. Anna Burns' Milkman impressed me deeply. The contrast between a social situation which almost eliminates women and the quiet, analytical and confident voice of the woman speaking! It also shows, in a very restrained way, what happens to a society when the logic of the military takes over - whatever their political convictions.
    Then thank you for Helena Attlee! I loved the book, bought two more copies and gave them away as presents. Great success all round. And while in Puglia I found Tarocco oranges (which, without the book, would not even have caught my attention).
    And finally Helen Hanff. A charming book which helped me through the flight to Brindisi.
    I read quite a lot of sociology as part of the preparation for my university class. Books on social inequality, social stratification, development theories, child labour, working conditions across the planet etc.
    Two German novels: one on life in a small village in the extreme north of Germany in the middle of the last century which I liked a lot - particularly the use of the local variety of German which is spoken there. The second the fictional biography of a Bolivian "mestiza", one of those market vendors with their famous bowler hats. The subject was fascination enough, but the book is so badly written that I could not finish it.
    At the moment, I am in the middle of Ferrante's "Storia del nuovo cognome" and also of a huge fat book (940 pages) on the history of Istanbul by Brittany Hughes. The title in English is "A Tale of Three Cities", if I remember correctly. I am reading the German translation, but regretting it, because it does not strike me as very good.
    After reading quite a lot of Brunetti mysteries in the past, I found that I needed a break. But I think I might go back and check out how the comissario is getting along.

    1. Isn't Milkman wonderful?! Structurally and stylistically astonishing and then yes, the content/thematic material. Northern Ireland is never clearly identified; the universal application is powerful.
      Glad you liked Attlee and Hanff as well. Your other reading sounds engaging and worthy and quite serious. I admire the list but wonder if it's time to slip in a bit of Brunetti ;-)

  6. Eleonore,please, could you write the author and the name of the first German book you've mentioned above (about life in a small village)-I'm looking for books in German,interesting enough to lead me through my rusty German
    Thank you

  7. Hello Dottoressa, the book is called "Mittagsstunde", by Dörte Hansen. It may be quite a challenge because all the conversations between the villagers are written in the local "plattdeutsch", but on the other hand it touches on so many aspects that make you think - like the relationship between town and village, between parents and children, between childhood and old age, between tradition and modernity... When you have finished reading it, I would love to know what you think about it.

  8. Thank you very much Eleonore