Bookish Chatter | Recent Finishes; Women’s Prize Shortlist; May Plans

Happy Wednesday! I usually share books and knitting on Wednesdays, but I’ve made so little progress on my stitching that it’s not worthwhile to share this week. Let’s talk books instead. Today’s post is about what I’ve recently finished, the Women’s Prize shortlist that was announced this morning, and my May reading plans. My morning coffee just finished brewing and a steaming cup is sitting at my side, so I can’t wait to chat with you!

FINISHED READING THIS WEEK:

Coming Home was my first novel by Rosamunde Pilcher! I picked it up thanks to a Fiction Matters buddy read and couldn’t put it down. I have tried to write a summary but am finding that difficult because it was such a sweeping story – following fourteen year old Judith from pre-war Cornwall through WWII and the release of the prisoners held in internment camps in the East Indies by the Japanese. So many people came into Judith’s life to help her through some difficult times and I loved meeting each and every one of them (except one or two horrible people).

Pilcher’s writing is top-notch. I loved her descriptions and highlighted so many beautiful passages. Her settings made me want to take a dip in the sea, nurture my flowers and gardens, and bake steaming loaves of bread. Every scene felt intentional and carefully drawn. The homes she described fit the characters well and were so cozy. I loved how she told this story, moving from character to character, allowing us to understand their states of mind and intentions. I laughed, cried, and read furiously to find out what was going to happen. My edition is 930+ pages long and it was a strange juxtaposition: I wanted to know the resolution but I absolutely didn’t want it to end. I can’t wait to pick up another book by Rosamunde Pilcher in a few months.

If anyone has any interest in a buddy read: I’m planning to read The Shell Seekers in August and Winter Solstice in November. It’s so much fun to read books together, with no pressure or timeline, and to chat along the way!

You didn’t think you’d have to miss a week without reading about our Captain Underpants adventures, did you? I’d hate for you to feel like something was missing in your life. Yes, we finished another Captain Underpants last week. Yes, we’ve started another and are nearly halfway through. The one we finished was The Invasion of the Incredibly Naughty Cafeteria Ladies from Outer Space and the Subsequent Assault of the Equally Evil Lunchroom Zombie Nerds. In this one, aliens from outer space start working in the cafeteria and turn all the students into zombies. It’s up to George, Harold, and Captain Underpants to save the day. Now we’re reading The Preposterous Plight of the Purple Potty People. Much easier to say in one breath!


WOMEN’S PRIZE SHORTLIST:

The shortlist was announced this morning! I spent yesterday evening on pins and needles waiting for this and leapt out of bed when my alarm went off. I knew the Fiction Matters group was going to be chatting about it on Discord first thing, so I did my best to ignore my phone while I took care of the kitties, poured my coffee, and got my morning started. I have to say that I’m quite pleased with the five books they chose. I have two left to read and am planning to reread a third before the announcement of the winner in June. Here’s who they chose:

🔲 Great Circle by Maggie Shipstead – I’ve tried reading this several times in print and on audio and have struggled with getting going. I’ve been assured by multiple sources that it’s amazing and that it all comes together. I still have it out from the library – I will keep trying! TBR

✔️ The Island of Missing Trees by Elif Shafak – read and loved. Here’s my blog post about it.

🔲 Sorrow and Bliss by Meg MasonTBR.

✔️ The Bread the Devil Knead by Lisa Allen-Agostini – read and enjoyed. Here’s my blog post about it. And the Kindle edition is currently $3.99!

✔️ The Sentence by Louise Erdrich – read and loved. Here’s my blog post about it.

✔️ The Book of Form and Emptiness by Ruth Ozeki – read and adored. This is my top pick so far and I’m planning to reread in June. I wrote a One Little Word post about it in December and it made its way into my 2021 Bookish Highlights.


PLANS FOR MAY:

After this morning’s Women’s Prize announcement, I’ve shifted my plans for May just a bit. This week I’m focusing on The Books of Jacob and Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell. Next week I’ll be shifting gears and getting to The Last Report on the Miracles of Little No Horse for the Erdrich-Along hosted by Mary. After that, my ambitious TBR is:

If any of these strike your fancy, then please read along with me so that we can chat about it throughout the month!


Okay – there’s a lot of books in this post! Tell me – what are your thoughts about the shortlist? Did one of your favorites make it? Were you hoping for another to make the list? Have you read any of the books I’m planning to read in May? Or would you like to join me? Have you ever read a Rosamunde Pilcher book?? Will you read The Shell Seekers or Winter Solstice with me later this year? And most importantly – which Captain Underpants is your favorite? Inquiring minds want to know. Let’s chat!

Enjoy the rest of your week. I hope to be back on Friday with some flowers!

25 thoughts on “Bookish Chatter | Recent Finishes; Women’s Prize Shortlist; May Plans

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  1. Phew – that’s quite a list, and has left me breathless! I ALWAYS appreciate hearing what you’re reading and your thoughts and recommendations. (And it’s a good thing May has 31 days.)

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  2. That’s a lot of books in the TBR pile. I feel your excitement. I have never got into the prize list thing, not quite sure why. Too many books to read anyway.Enjoy all your choices.I am getting back into poetry at the moment now I have found a real life group. I treated myself to two new poetry books yesterday.

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  3. Woo-hoo! I, too, was left breathless. In an absolutely delighted way. Few people love books as much as I do. With you, I think I might have met my match. 😉 I’ve never read anything by Rosamunde Pilcher. Do you have a recommendation for a first book to read? I’m reading Maureen Corrigan’s delightful “Don’t Bother Me, I’m Reading.” Another one who loves, loves, loves books. Finally, I was relieved to read that “Captain Underpants” is still on the agenda.

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    1. I love reading about people who loving reading! Books about books is one of my favorite genres 🙂 Coming Home was my first novel by Pilcher so I’m not sure about what to recommend. I do know that MANY people love The Shell Seekers, which I’m planning to pick up in August if you’d like to join me!

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      1. Will do! As for books about books…I’m reading “Leave Me Alone, I’m Reading” By Maureen Corrigan. Really enjoying it. From time to time, I hear her reviews on “Fresh Air.”

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  4. Oh boy! That is a ton of books and very ambitious plans for May (especially given that you are a Mom with young children!!). I read Island of the Missing Trees and LOVED it. Shell Seekers is a wonderful book (and the only one – so far – that I have read by Pilcher). I have a Barbara Pym book in one of my bookcases, but have never read it…might be time to do so. I just picked up French Braid from my library, but Ann Tyler is hit or miss for me…mostly miss! Finally, I just started reading Young Mungo last night and wow the writing is fabulous!!

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  5. I added Sorrow and Bliss and The Book of Form and Emptiness to my TBR list this morning after seeing the tweet on the short-list. I am pulling for The Sentence… for me that was the most incredible book! One that tied life now with life past in the most incredible, thought-provoking way. And I simply am a total Erdrich fan girl! 🙂

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  6. I’m excited to see the short list! I’ve already read three of them, have two others on hold at the library, and just bought The Bread the Devil Knead (it was $1.99 for me because I had a credit). Of those I’ve read, The Sentence was my favorite. I really liked Great Circle, but I know a lot of people who didn’t like it at all. And I’ve just started the next Erdrich and am absolutely loving it!

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  7. I’m so happy you are enjoying Coming Home! Rosamunde Pilcher has been a favorite author of mine for many years. You will enjoy the Shell Seekers, but I would recommend following with September as it is a sequel.

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  8. So much bookish enthusiasm here, Katie – yay! My only gripe about the Womens Prize short list is that it’s missing Popisho, which I adored. I was glad to see the other titles, though, and just need to read Bread to finish it up. I will be totally delighted if Form & Emptiness or Sentence wins the prize. I’d love to read-along for Winter Solstice – I just read Shell Seekers and know you’ll love it. I have September on my shelf and wondering if I can get a buddy read together for that in … September 🙂 And I’ve almost finished The Last Report. It’s lovely and not nearly as hard to follow as Love Medicine (or as dense as I thought it might be).

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    1. Oh Mary, I have been happily “sipping my own dark sustenance from ink” lately (And still thinking about Ghost in the Throat, obviously!). I think I’d like to try to join you with September in September. I’m not sure if I’ll have the motivation for another Pilcher book so quickly, but I’m going to write it in my calendar and see how I’m feeling then!

      I started Last Report yesterday because I felt stuck with my other books. Oh goodness. Those early chapters are just so beautifully written. “It was as though her soul were neatly removed by a drinking straw and siphoned into the green pool of quiet that lay beneath the ripping cascade of notes.” I read this line again and again. Breathless. I am breathless!

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  9. I love your ambition! I *might* read The Shell Seekers with you in August. I’ve never read Pilcher before but I’m curious.

    Rebecca at Bookish Beck follows the Women’s Prize very closely – do you read her blog? I think she’s on a Shadow Panel about it.

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    1. Yay! I’ll be posting about it as August gets closer. No pressure either way – but I’d love to read it with you! 🙂 And I don’t follow Bookish Beck, but thank you for pointing me in her direction!

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