Readerly Rambles: 7/3/2017

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Ummmm… I need this mug.

What I read: Whelp. I read one book in June and it was a pretty good one. Shirley Jackson’s posthumously published collection Let Me Tell You. Was a solid 4 out of 5 stars. The book is made up of unpublished short stories, sketches, and non-fiction essays. I enjoyed the stories and many of the non-fiction pieces, but these writings definitely lacked a sense of completeness and Jackson’s word wizardry. It was interesting to enter into her imagination and think about how the final drafts would have looked. Don’t get me wrong, everything is engaging and well-written, but Jackson typically dazzles and knocks me on my tush and this collection lacked that final bit of polish.

What I’m reading: I’m nearly done with my re-read of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. Each time I re-read a Potter book, I like Dumbledore less and less. I’m also several hundred pages into Nicholas Basbanes’ door stopper A Gentle Madness: Bibliophiles, Bibliomanes, and the Eternal Passion for Books. I’m reading this text for my rare book librarianship class. I’m learning so much about the history of book collecting and it is fascinating. I have thoughts on the book that I’m reserving for my end of class paper and a book review for this blog.

What’s Up Next: I was supposed to read My Cousin Rachel in June along with some other bloggers, but course work had me knackered. That’s number one on my list. I’m going to have a chunk of reading time next week and I hope to knock it out then.

Happy Reading!

And happy 4th of July… remember… #RESIST

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Howdy, Strangers

I haven’t blogged in over two weeks and I laughed when I looked at my last post. Oh the plans for readalongs. I was so clueless. Why did I not realize that the combo of a full-time job and graduate school courses would work together to crush my reading dreams!?
 wtf crying rebel wilson melissa mccarthy laughing gif GIFAnyhoo, this semester is tough. My courses contain 15 weeks worth of content smooshed into an 11 week class (intro to reference) and 7 weeks (rare book librarianship).

I did manage to finish one book; Let Me Tell You by Shirley Jackson. It was good, but certainly drafts of Jackson’s writing. It lacked the punchy polish of her other works, but I’m so glad I read it.

The only other exciting thing to report on is that last week I saw Roxane Gay speak and bought her new memoir, Hunger. She signed it for me and I was a total dork and could think of nothing meaningful or witty to say. I was starstruck.

When I’m not doing homework I’m working on a new bullet journal and reading Harry Potter. It is all my brain can handle. I’ve assured myself that July will be better. Leave me with my delusions.

Readalongs and Pottering with Potter

In addition to working full time and trying to be a competent parent, I’m also neck deep in course work. Right now I have 27 articles to read, chapters to analyze, and projects to start on.

Instead I’m blogging and anticipating reading a bunch of fiction in the coming weeks. Well see how those plans play out.

So, READALONGS!

This weekend the first readalong begins. I’ll be reading My Cousin Rachel by Daphne Du Maurier with Allie, Andi, and Heather. My goal is to finish my current read tonight or tomorrow and then dig into the gothic goodness.

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The second readalong ALSO starts next week. I was browsing Twitter and was digging Alice’s witty commentary. I decided to check out her blog and discovered that a biography of Wilkie Collins readalong is starting June 14th. Yes, pleaseandthankyou.

SUMMER WILKIE READ

Next up is The Readers readalong of Patricia Highsmith’s Strangers on a Train. This readalong will be very special. I’m going with a few girlfriends to a cabin in Tennessee for an “book nerd summer camp.” Sort of like a readathon, BUT IN PERSON. A few of us are going to read the book and then discuss it on our trip.

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This next readalong is my own invention and in honor of the 20th publication anniversary of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. Pottering with Potter! Instead of re-reading the series (for the millionth) time in a mad rush, I’m going to slow things down and read one book a month until the end of the year.

June: Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone

July: Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

August: Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

September: Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

October: Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

November: Harry Potter and the Half  Blood Prince

December: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows 

Let me know if you’d like to join in!

pottering with potter

 

 

Readerly Rambles: 6/5/2017

dickensHowdy, strangers. I didn’t think I’d be away from the blog for over a week, but I just finished up an intense few days at work and then had a much needed mini-staycation with my family. I’ve read gobs the past few days and that’s been really lovely.

What I Read: In late May I really kicked into a reading frenzy. I finished my re-read of Great Expectations by Charles Dickens, which was fabulous except this read I had this tiny tingle of frustration. I don’t give two shits about Pip. Seriously, he is nauseating. I felt a sliver of sympathy for Pip as a child, but nothing past that. He is annoying and I think if he had a Twitter account he would be forever harassing women and then being all upset when women are uninterested in a romance or tell him he is full of crap. No use for Pip. What I really wanted was alternate universe Great Expectations. In an alternate universe, I image Great Expectations is written by George Eliot and centered on Estella. She is by far the most interesting character and I’m more interested in her perceptions (shut up, Pip, no one cares). Great Expectations garnered 4 out of 5 stars for me because I cannot get the alternate universe copy.

The second book I read in less than 24-hours and it had me enthralled. The Wonder by Emma Donoghue was AMAZING. This novel follows a Florence Nightingale trained nurse, Lib, deep into the Irish countryside where Lib has been asked to observe a young girl who claims to have not eaten in four months. The historical detail is vastly interesting and Lib’s story is compelling. I wasn’t sure if deception, cruelty, or God was at play in the novel and it kept me turning the pages. I rated this 5 stars on Goodreads, but it is probably more of a 4.5 as the ending is a bit problematic for me.

What I’m Reading: I’ve been digging into Let Me Tell You by Shirley Jackson. This is a collection of her unpublished and some unfinished work. Mostly good stuff and then really great stuff that isn’t complete and makes me sad because I want more Shirley Jackson.

What’s up Next: My Cousin Rachel by Daphne Du Maurier is next on my TBR pile!

Happy Reading! 

20 Books for Summer List

Twenty Books for Summer

Nosed around my stacks, haunted GoodReads, and browsed at the library and finally made up my Summer of 2017 TBR.

The Brontës Went to Woolworths by Rachel Ferguson

The Observations by Jane Harris

Let Me Tell You by Shirley Jackson

Burial Rites by Hannah Kent

The Bookman’s Tale by Charlie Lovett

The Distant Hours by Kate Morton

The Unicorn by Iris Murdoch

Boy, Snow, Bird by Helen Oyeyemi

The Prestige by Christopher Priest

Crampton Hodnet by Barbara Pym

My Cousin Rachel by Daphne du Maurier

Hunger by Roxane Gay

Strangers on a Train by Patricia Highsmith

The Essex Serpent by Sarah Perry

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

The Mothers by Brit Bennett

The Pure Gold Baby by Margaret Drabble

The Dark Circle by Linda Grant

The Solitary House by Lynn Shepherd

Do Not Say We Have Nothing by Madeleine Thien

I’m a Restless Reader

Twenty Books for SummerThe kids are out of school for the summer and my husband is staying home with them while I work. I’m working and doing the graduate school thing, but I find that my schedule is much more relaxed. I don’t have to go into work so stinking early and that means staying up slightly later at night and reading. I’m wrapping up Great Expectations tonight or tomorrow. Up next I have an interlibrary loaned copy of Emma Donoghue’s The Wonder and an e-book about introverts.

But what’s up after that? 

My chief problem is that EVERYTHING looks divine. I want to read so many books right now from my own stacks, the library, and there are some newer books I’m eyeing as well. Whenever I’m overwhelmed with reading choices I tend to shut down.

I think I’ve determined that the best course of action would be to make a TBR list for the summer. I remember a few years ago that some dear blogger had a Twenty Books of Summer challenge (let me know if you remember who it was! I’m drawing a blank). EDIT: CATHY OF 746 BOOKS IS THE ORIGINAL 20 BOOKS OF SUMMER GAL! My goal for this week is to draw up my own list of 20 books to read between June 1st and September 1st. The list will contain 10 from my stacks at home and 10 from the library or new purchases.

Friends, throw your recommendations at me. I’m wanting something slightly dark and slim. Shades of Shirley Jackson or Helen Oyeymei. Some classics. I need new to me authors. Perhaps a reread or two. Fling your book recommendations at me with wild abandon. I’m going to do some online book drooling, stare at my stacks, and wander the library. Let’s see what I can dredge up with your help.

My Personal Canon

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“Stack of Old Books” by Austin Kirk is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Jillian recently created a list of books that have impacted her life and indicated that she would love to see a similar list from other bloggers. Here is my list:

The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath / Ariel by Sylvia Plath / The Unabridged Journals of Sylvia Plath

Bluets by Maggie Nelson

Germinal by Emile Zola

Memoirs of a Dutiful Daughter by Simone de Beauvoir

I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith

Jane Eyre by Jane Brontë

The Waves by Virginia Woolf

The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison

The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

I think I’d like to write about each of these books individually to really capture what they mean to me and how they’ve shaped me.

I tell you what, let me know in the comments (or via Tweet or email) which book you’d like for me to talk about first. I’ll add it into the blog rotation and write a bit more deeply about each book. I also may think of a few others in the interim.