Welcome to Wednesday! Today’s post is about the books I’ve finished lately, the ones I’m reading now, and some frustrations with my reading journal. It’s been about a week and a half since I shared my recently finished books with y’all, which is why this list looks a little longer than usual. And so far, June has been kind to my reading life!
FINISHED READING RECENTLY:
I was able to squeeze Sorrow and Bliss in right before the Women’s Prize for Fiction announced their winner. I was wary of this shortlisted title because of this cover; I think it’s just awful and cringed every time I saw it. But the story tucked inside was simply amazing. Sorrow and Bliss was a unique look at mental illness that blew me away. It was hilarious without making fun of anyone and relatable in so many ways. There were many parts of Martha’s life that were difficult to witness, but it was a satisfying and hopeful read in the end. My favorite part? Is when she turns to her poet father’s library shelves for advice on how to live a good life. Literature is life saving.
I joined a Fiction Matters buddy read of Salvage the Bones because I’ve had it on my Kindle for a long time. Set in the Mississippi Delta as Hurricane Katrina approaches, you can feel the humidity in the air on every single page. It’s almost as if the heat were a character itself. I felt such a connection with the family in this book, right down to the foods they ate — it’s exactly how I ate growing up. Ward excels at ensuring her reader feels dread throughout her novels and this one was no exception. I was constantly worried about what was going to happen to these children and gave a sigh of relief in the end. But proceed with caution because trigger warnings abound. There are three books in the loosely connected Bois Sauvage series: Salvage the Bones; Sing, Unburied, Sing; and Where the Line Bleeds. I’m hoping to read the third one later this summer so that I can complete the collection.
Bloomsbury Girls was a welcomed turn to the light-hearted side of reading! If you read The Jane Austen Society, then you’ll recognize some of the characters in this one (but it’s not necessary in order to enjoy Bloomsbury Girls). This is set in Bloomsbury Books, a stuffy London bookstore in 1950 full of the quirkiest staff who are expected to follow very strict rules. Evie Stone starts working there as a cataloger after graduating Cambridge. That’s enough interest for me because one of my dream jobs is to work in cataloging, but it gets even better. She’s there on a mission: to find a particular book they vastly undervalued while auctioning off the library in the Chawton House that was featured in The Jane Austen Society. It’s full of lovely post war details in London and includes cameos by Daphne du Maurier and Samuel Becket. Natalie Jenner is quickly becoming a must-read for me!
Play It As It Lays is the group read for Fiction Matters in June. I was skeptical about reading Didion’s fiction because I find her nonfiction to be (mostly) difficult to relate to. But that’s easier for me to overcome in fiction and ended up reading this in one day. It’s short – this edition is just over 200 pages but the margins are quite large and the chapters are brief, which leaves a lot of white space on the page. And maybe that’s symbolic of Maria’s life because while she seems quite glamorous on the surface, she’s deeply in crisis. I don’t want to say too much because part of the appeal of this book is how details are drawn out, but I’d highly recommend this to anyone who is comfortable reading about sadness and grief or anyone interested in American life in the 1960s.
Bronwyn and I finished another Felicity book this week. Her attention span is growing little by little, so we’re able to read more than one page at a time now. This one was full of life and death: her beloved horse gave birth to a foal and Felicity’s grandfather passed away. As if that wasn’t enough drama, loyalists to the King are being sent to jail, including the father of Felicity’s best friend. The Revolutionary War is really heating up and the book ends with Felicity’s own father beginning to work as a commissary for the Patriot Army and doing his bit for independence. So much for a 4 year old to take in! This is the last of the Felicity books – other than a companion book that was written in 2005 (much later than these were originally published) but our library doesn’t have it, so we’re moving on to Josefina, an American Girl living in New Mexico in 1824. I don’t think I read any of the Josefina books when I was little, so this series will be all new to me.
My desk is home to quite a stack of in-progress books right now and I’m making slow and steady progress with them:
- The Weight of Ink by Rachel Kadish: I’m loving this and am dipping in/out of it as I finish other books, but I’m planning to turn all of my attention to it as soon as I finish Four Souls (listed below).
- Bunny by Mona Awad: my current audiobook and it feels like Mean Girls meets The Secret History – perfect!
- Four Souls by Louise Erdrich: the last of the three “bonus” books for the Erdrich-Along.
- The Peace of Wild Things by Wendell Berry: current poetry, recommended by Amy at Hearth Ridge Reflections. It is lovely (and so is she). Just a poem or two a day helps me look at the world in a different way. 🐌
- Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg: for writing inspiration. This is a reread for me and I’m enjoying a chapter or two a week. 🐌
Reading Journal Frustrations:
I’m trying to re-energize my reading journal. You all know that I’m a notebook person and love keeping a record of everything, but I really struggle with my reading journal. I can’t make myself take the time to sit with it regularly and write down quotes and thoughts the way I’d like. I even have a hard time deciding where to keep it: in my traveler’s notebook or at my desk? If it’s at my desk, that sometimes feels like a barrier to using it if I’m somewhere else. But I use it so infrequently that it feels like wasted space in my traveler’s notebook.
And my vision is to have a journal for every year and 2022 is nearly halfway gone — is it even worth starting again when this year’s record will be incomplete? Of course it is, because it all has to start somewhere. But my inner perfectionist rails against this idea.
I think I’m going to start today and write about Play It As It Lays before I return it to the library tomorrow. That’s as good a place as any!
Isn’t my life privileged? This is the sort of thing I worry about constantly. Notebooks. Goodness gracious.
Friends, thank you for reading today. You all keep me motivated in so many ways and I feel lucky to have this small space in such a big world. I’m happy to meet and connect with so many kindred spirits every day. I hope to be back on Friday with a few pictures, some moments of joy, and to drink a cup of coffee with you. Until then – take good care.