Hello, Wednesday! I don’t know how anyone else’s week is going, but it’s been really hard to get my feet underneath me lately. Nothing has quite gone to plan, but that’s no longer surprising in my life. Just an observation. I hope your own week has been a bit more predictable for you! But here we are, mid week, and I’m linking up with Kat and the Unraveling crew to share my stitching and reading for the week. This week’s update leans more toward the bookish side, so I hope you have a warm drink to help sustain you.
ON MY NEEDLES:
This is the same picture I shared of my Ramble shawl (Ravelry link) last week. It’s seen quite a bit of work since then, but essentially looks the same and I was too lazy to clean the floor and take another picture of it during daylight hours. The finish line on this one is in spitting distance. Do I want to jinx myself by predicting next week? I am still really enjoying this pattern and am looking forward to a nice cozy shawl to wrap up in. Last night I pulled out my Flamingo Flavor (my Ravelry project page) while I was reading in bed and squealed thinking about how squishy and lovely my Ramble will be. I can’t wait!
READING THIS WEEK:
I managed quite a bit of reading this week. Typically I pick up a sock to knit during those weird moments when I’m not needed, but I’ve been reaching for books the last few weeks instead. It’s worked out wonderfully for my brain!
Creatures of Passage is a difficult book to write about. Going into it, you might want to do a bit of research about the Egyptian gods, Nephthys and Osiris, the twin siblings this book centers around. This is set in the 1970s in the foggy outskirts of Washington DC and is full of supernatural activities that are unsettling, to say the least. Nephthys drives a haunted car and is a taxi of sorts – always arriving when the right person needs her. She charges nothing and is always paid exactly what she’s due. Her twin brother, Osiris, died years earlier and she continues to sharply feel his absence.
This was a difficult book to read, full of trigger warnings: child abuse and neglect, violence, drug and alcohol abuse. It was uncomfortable to read and showed the United States’ vast chasm between the haves and have nots. It was written almost as if the author was in a dream and boy, did she take us on a journey.
I keep making a comparison between the characters in this book and another on the Women’s Prize Long List this year: The Paper Palace. In both books, children are neglected and abused. But for the young children in this book, the consequences are much more dire. Again – we are not on an equal footing in the United States. Not by a long shot.
I’m a sucker for WWII stories set in France and The Postmistress of Paris did not disappoint. Nanée is a wealthy American living in Paris when it falls to the Nazis. She immediately begins working in an office finding legal ways to obtain American visas for people desperately seeking to escape. She quickly learns that her boss has a side operation using tactics that aren’t so legal, which she’s desperate to help with. Her group helps Edouard Moss, a photographer who fled from Germany with his young daughter. Moss is Jewish and took pictures of the atrocities he witnessed in Germany, which made him a Nazi target early on in the war.
My favorite part: Nanée buys a giant house out in the country and invites her coworkers and friends to live with her. Her friends are artists and they play subversive parlor games each evening, which were good fun to read about. I wanted to live in that house with those people – the writer made it seem like such a cozy and inviting space.
Migrations was such an interesting book! Set deeper into the climate change crisis, Franny is tracking the last arctic terns on what she believes will be their final migration. She manages to convince a fishing crew to veer off course and follow the birds, despite despising what they do.
Interspersed in this journey, we learn about the tragic circumstances that led Franny to this point. While rooted firmly in a passion to slow climate change and preserve the flora and fauna of Earth, this is full of Celtic lore about selkies, which was a real treat to read about.
“You tried to find a way to write about refugees and break the wall between reader and subject. You said you wanted people not to dismiss the suffering, not to read about the loss and sorrow, feel bad for a minute or two, then go back to their glass of overly sweet chardonnay. But you failed, of course.”
This is exactly what the author managed to achieve in The Wrong End of the Telescope, a powerful book about the Syrian refugee crisis. Alameddine has cleverly put the reader in his shoes, exploring the beaches as boats wash ashore in Greece, meeting the people fleeing the horror of their beloved homes.
This book is told from the point of view of Mina, a Lebanese-American doctor who arrived in Greece when her friend begged for her to help with the refugees. Mina is smart, funny, and uncomfortable being so close to Lebanon, her childhood home. While living in Lebanon, she was known as Ayman, a little boy who never quite fit in his body. After winning a scholarship to Harvard, he realized that he should be living his life as a woman and transitioned to Mina. Her family in Lebanon immediately disowned her and she had to build a new life in America, all on her own.
Throughout this novel, Mina is in conversation with the reader (you!), who she believes to be a much admired author who had a nervous breakdown trying to interview and write about the refugee crisis. The book is brilliantly structured and written so elegantly that it’s almost impossible to not shed your own skin and walk into the identity of Alameddine himself.
Alameddine packs in the stories of so many refugees and is told in the most humanizing and uplifting way. Their stories are tragic and moving, but this book manages to not be sad. It is a reminder that we are all human, living on the same Earth, and all deserve an equal chance to live happy and safe lives.
Bryce and I have been reading some heavier pre-bedtime books lately and he was itching to get back to his favorite, Captain Underpants. He chose to reread the fourth one, The Perilous Plot of Professor Poopypants. 🙄 But if you can’t laugh at a mad scientist who changes his name from Pippy TeeTee Tinkletrousers to Professor Poopypants, then what can you laugh at? In this book, Professor Poopypants shrinks the school and all of its occupants, and only The Waistband Warrior (Captain Underpants) can save them all.
I’m telling you, my 8 year old loves these books. They’re funny to me too, but that probably tells you a little too much about my own sense of humor. And I’ll read pretty much anything Bryce wants me to read before bed. Last night he decided to start the sixth one, Captain Underpants and the Battle of the Big, Bad Bionic Booger Boy Part I: The Night of the Nasty Nostril Nuggets. Can I get with another eyeroll emoji here?? Just kidding.
And that has been my week of reading and stitching. I hope to be back on Friday with a different sort of update and to catch up with all of your blogs in the next couple of days. Until then – stay safe and cozy!
Sounds like a great reading week! Hope you’re doing well xx
Wow — I don’t know how you read so much while home schooling and doing all the other things you do! But I so appreciate the reviews and the reading suggestions. I’m reading The Paper Palace right now and was immediately drawn into the story. I’m loving her language and descriptive details. While savoring it, I’m also just SO curious to get to the ending after reading your review. Next up after that? Why Captain Underpants, of course!
I love the bedtime reading. Remember any book is better than no book. I had to read Dennis the Menace and football magazines to my youngest, he’s now reading Tolstoy and Greek myths as a 30+ something year old. Oh and he reads to the baby now.
I bet “Captain Underpants” is exactly what you needed after such a heavy week of reading. Speaking of heavy…after reading about “The One and Only Ivan” on your blog, I borrowed it from our library. (Because I write YA books, I enjoy reading YA and Middle Reader books.) Oh, how I loved “The One and Only Ivan.” So beautifully written, so sad. It will be one of my personal starred books of the year. I even ordered it for my daughter for a birthday present.
First… your shawl just looks so squishy! Really… gorgeous, Katie! 🙂
But your reading! Wow! I have added several of these books to my reading queue (and checked out Migrations just now!) But, Hurrah for Captain Underpants! I have fond memories of Sam reading those books… they made for some … er… interesting conversations, lol!
I know I’ve said many times that I’m amazed at how much you get done in your day-to-day life, but I’m especially impressed that with all that’s going on in your house, you still manage to read some really tough books! I’ve got The Wrong End of the Telescope on hold at the library; it came up in our last Zoom session (Mary’s Sunday group), and someone said it’s what they wanted What Strange Paradise to be. I’m looking forward to reading it. I’m also looking forward to seeing your finished shawl!
Oh your shawl is looking beautiful Katie! I’m so glad you enjoyed the Postmistress of Paris, I bought that book a few months ago from the Book of the Month Club. Like you I enjoy reading books around the time of WWII.
oh that shawl is going to be so squishy! (and thank you for sharing your Flamingo Flavor – what a fun and useful shawl!) and what another great week of reading. Great review of Wrong End of the Telescope – it was a favorite of mine this month for sure.