Bookish Chatter | Reading is a Comfort

Oof. Here in the US, we went to sleep with more tragic news. I could only watch a few minutes of the coverage after the kids went to bed last night. It is heartbreaking and devastating. I spent the night tossing and turning, both because of the news and this wretched cold. But at one point in the night I reached for my current book and found it so comforting to fall into Barbara Pym’s little comedic world and let things go for a minute. I hope we can all find little bits to hold on to while things continue to be so difficult.

One of the benefits of this cold has been that I haven’t felt guilty about sitting and reading. I enjoyed quite a few books this week and we finished a couple of longer read alouds, so I have a lot to share with you. On the knitting side, I managed just one round on my sweater this whole week. !! I’ll spare you another picture of that project until I finish at least 2 more rounds. 🙂

FINISHED READING THIS WEEK:

Emily St. John Mandel has such a distinct voice. As soon as I cracked open The Singer’s Gun, I settled right in with the author because I knew we were about to go on some sort of journey together. I keep saying that Mandel’s writing is sharp and edgy; I’m not sure if that’s the accurate way to describe it, but everything feels so careful and particular while being laidback and easy to follow. She makes it seem so easy!

Like so much of her earliest work, this book is set in the present day and follows an unlikely hero, Anton Waker. Anton grows up in his family business that sells stolen furniture and decorations. As a teenager, he turns to selling fake passports and social security cards. By the time he graduates high school, he’s looking for an honest office job. When he finally gets it, he watches his life crumble around him and spends his days looking over his shoulder. Would I call this a mystery? A thriller? Maybe a low-key combination of the two. When I finished, I took a minute to think, now what was the point of that? The point is that it was a good story, well told (phrase trademarked by Anne Bogel). Sometimes that’s enough.

And I am now an Emily St. John Mandel completist! She has one published short story that I haven’t read and I will probably try to get to my hands on that to make it official official.

It’s been a few weeks since I’ve shared a Captain Underpants finish! That’s for two reasons: 1) this one was a little longer than some of the others, and 2) my throat has been extremely sore so I was only able to manage a chapter each night. But we finally finished The Terrifying Return of Tippy Tinkletrousers last week. This one had us go back in time to when Harold and George met as Kindergarteners and had to defeat the school bully: Kipper Krupp. These genius kids had quite the setup, including summoning the spirit of the ghostly Wedgie Magee. We’ve gone back to the 7th book in the series: The Big Bad Battle of the Bionic Booger Boy Part 2: Revenge of the Ridiculous Robo-Boogers.

I preordered Call Us What We Carry but never got around to reading it. When I saw the audio version was available on Libby without a wait, I decided that poetry in my ears was exactly what the doctor ordered. It was lovely hearing Gorman read her own poetry. I don’t have a lot of experience with contemporary poetry, but I found her reading to be approachable and understandable. She tackled so many of the big challenges we’ve faced over the last several years: the pandemic, masking, lockdowns, the murder of George Floyd, January 6th, the 2016 election. I’m glad that I have this on my Kindle as well because I’m looking forward to settling in with her words more closely.

Popisho was such a surprise! It’s hard to write anything because one of this book’s gifts is watching each and every strange thing unfold exactly as its written. It’s set on a tropical island and all of the citizens of Popisho have a magical gift. Maybe it’s the ability to heal, a stretchy neck, your lungs attached to the outside of your body, super sonic hearing, or a tail. It’s different for everyone and is embraced by all. But there’s a storm on its way to Popisho that is going to upend everything.

Again – I don’t want to say too much, but I found this book to be quite a ride. I wouldn’t recommend it to readers who try to stay away from provocative themes, but this might be for you if you’re okay with reading about the spicier side of life. (You might have seen this book with the title This One Sky Day — they are the same book!)

We finally finished reading Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets! I hadn’t revisited this particular book in at least 15 years, so I was very happy to crack it open again and enjoyed my visit to Hogwarts. I’d actually forgotten a lot of the plot because it’s not even one of the movies that I tend to put on (I tend to rewatch The Prisoner of Azkaban and the Half Blood Prince the most). But I don’t think we’ll be reading anymore of these aloud; I’m sure you know that they only get longer from here and this one took us nearly 3 months as it is. We’re moving on to our summer reading plans for our homeschool: The Moomins! (And would you look at this cup? Too bad they’re $20/piece because I’m tempted to buy several for our afternoon tea times!)

The Beet Queen is full of the most interesting characters! I loved catching peeks of some of my friends from other books in the Love Medicine series and getting to know a few more. This gives us the backstory of Dot Adare – the woman who married Gerry Nanapush in Love Medicine. Dot’s family history is fascinating and I loved every minute of reading about it. We also saw a little more about one of Sister Leopolda’s “miracles” that was alluded to in The Last Report on the Miracles of Little No Horse. I am having so much fun with this series!

I gave this one 4 stars on Goodreads because I felt like there were a lot of unresolved threads at the end of this book, but I’m pretty sure they’ll be tied together as the series go on. I reserve the right to change my rating in the future.


Despite my slow start in May, I’m making some progress on my plans for the month. I won’t finish all of the books I’d hope to read, but they’re not going anywhere. June — I’m coming for you!

I plan to be back on Friday with another update. Let’s all try to be careful with our news consumption over the next couple of days and spend a little time outside with the sun on our faces, taking deep breaths. There’s so much to do and we have to take it all one moment at a time, especially in times like these. Take good care, friends.

16 thoughts on “Bookish Chatter | Reading is a Comfort

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  1. Sorry to read you all have been sick. Your flowers look beautiful though and you certainly are having a good time with reading! As I wrote on my blog this morning, the world is a crazy and heartbreaking place. Just so sad.

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  2. I have been reading Amanda as part of my morning meditation… she is so good. I told my daughter who teaches at an elementary school that perhaps homeschooling is something to consider.

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    1. Reading Amanda as part of morning meditation is brilliant – thank you for the idea! Homeschooling is a wonderful option to consider for all sorts of reasons and I would be happy to tell her so 🙂 Sadly though — it feels as though we’re safe nowhere.

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  3. I loved The Singer’s Gun. Mandel has a way of making me care deeply about her characters who don’t particularly make good choices.

    There are no words for what happened yesterday. I’m heartbroken. I’ve donated to Everytown and I have emailed and called my senators and rep. If there’s a march in the area I’ll try to go. I’ve got to do something. I can’t just cry and be sad and forget about it in a few days. When I’m having serious thoughts about moving to another country, it’s time to start acting. Time to get in some “good trouble” as the late John Lewis said.

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    1. I agree with you about Mandel!

      And I’m totally numbed over any sort of action. I feel helpless and like it’s not going to do any good. I’m hoping I can snap out of it and do SOMETHING at some point, but right now…. I’m thankful that people like you ARE doing something. Thank you.

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      1. I think that’s a natural grief reaction Katie. I suspect you will rally in a few days and make some calls or send some emails to your reps. There will be a day of national marches on June 11 (unfortunately I work that Saturday, ugh!) But I’m hoping to find another rally or March to attend. I tried to meditate yesterday and ended up breaking down in tears, so I think I’m not letting myself properly feel my sadness yet. Know that I am with you, that I can’t tolerate a country that lets this continue to happen.

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  4. Such tragic happenings. I felt like this after Sandy Hook – what if you couldn’t feel safe sending your child to school? And here we still are.
    On the sickness front, I hope you are feeling better. xo

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  5. I hope everyone is healthy (finally?!)!! Love the reading wrap-up. I’m about halfway through Beet Queen – just finished the chapter where Karl visits Sita’s house and his chair sinks into the grass. I almost spit out my water I was laughing so hard. These three books seem to be filling in some holes in the family stories so they’re interesting, but I agree they’re not quite as impactful as the first two we read together.

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    1. That’s the point when I went onto Discord and said “things have gotten really weird.” It was still such a good book and I love learning more and more about these families!! And no – we’re not healthy yet. In fact, we’re a little bit worse, if you can believe it. It’s so bizarre!!

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  6. I love seeing what you’re reading. Because of your recommendations I’m now on my second Ruth Ozeki book (A Tale for the Time Being).

    I was just commenting this morning that I would like to read more poetry. Maybe Amanda Gorman is the place to start….

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    1. Yay for Ruth Ozeki! I hope you’re enjoying her. A Tale for the Time Being was just wonderful. I only read it last summer but I’d like to reread soon. Sigh.

      Amanda Gorman would be a wonderful place to start with poetry. I also just finished The Carrying by Ada Limón, which was another wonderful book of poetry. I found both of those poets to be accessible and understandable. Good luck with your poetry journey!!

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