Bookish Chatter | Recently Finished and Currently Reading

Goodness! I feel like Alice falling through the rabbit hole. Time is slipping by so quickly and I’m trying hard to find my bearings. Wednesdays have been an anchor for me for a long time – it’s always a big blogging day! Today I’m sharing the books I’ve recently finished and my current reading rotation. I have a lot to talk about today, so I hope you have a cozy beverage nearby.

Recently finished books:

I didn’t want The Weight of Ink to end! This book is full of my favorite things: a bookish mystery, hidden closets filled with centuries old documents, cracked leather volumes, and moody academics. The writing was beautiful, the characters were intriguing, and I was anxious to understand how the storylines were resolved.

The Weight of Ink has dual timelines: mid-1600s and 2001, both in London. In both timelines, we meet academics who are all struggling with their internal dilemmas: the pressure to marry, the pressure to retire well, and the pressure to finish a dissertation that might not have a resolution. I enjoyed sitting with Ester as she took dictation from her beloved rabbi, burning candles all night so that she could read and study on her own, and yearning for time of her own. I loved being in the rare manuscripts room with Helen and Aaron trying to unravel Ester’s identity and grappling with their own rush to publish their findings before being scooped by other historians around the world. The story was scintillating and vivid. I can’t believe this has just sat on my shelf for almost four years!

The Housekeeper and the Professor was on Ruth Ozeki’s reading list last month. It was a quiet, thoughtful book that shows us how caring for others can shift our points of view. The professor, a brilliant teacher and mathematician, had a car accident in the 70s that damaged his brain and left him with a memory that lasts only 80 minutes. The housekeeper is a young, single mother struggling to make ends meet. The professor insists that the housekeeper bring her son to ensure his safety. The professor and her son bond each day anew over baseball while the professor makes the housekeeper feel important and significant. It was a beautiful reminder that we have power in the world, just by offering kindness and respect.

I love books set in Japan and am on a mission to find more. I recently remembered that reading more Japanese literature was one of my bookish goals for this year, so it’s all the more reason to keep searching!

Bunny was such a bizarre book! It was sort of like a collision between Mean Girls and The Secret History. I found it thanks to the Fiction Matters Paperback Summer Reading Guide and it’s such a great fit for its category: “deliciously strange books.” It’s set at a prestigious MFA program in New England and is from the perspective of Samantha, a student who feels like an outcast surrounded by wealthy, bubbly women who call each other “bunny.” One day she gets an invitation to join their “Smut Salon,” a writing workshop they hold just for each other. She finally decides to go and is utterly floored when she finds out what’s happening there. This book is full of twists and turns and total weirdness. Also: Kate Bush is referenced, which is kind of funny given how popular she is right now thanks to Stranger Things. This book mentions her song, Wuthering Heights, and it is totally worth the time to watch the music video. Again and again. Because Kate Bush is a very interesting woman. !

The ending? Well, it was satisfying in some ways and frustrating in others. I’d love to discuss it with anyone who is also struggling!

Currently Reading:

I’ve realized that I have a reading rotation that’s been working over the last few months. I have one fat book going in the background that I make bits of progress in while reading shorter books, as well as an audiobook, a book of poetry, a book of writing inspiration, and a handful of chapter books we’re reading aloud. It has been the perfect balance lately and I’ve been pleased with my ability to get through several doorstopper books using this strategy. So that’s how I’m organizing this week’s currently reading list.

  • Current tome: Tomb of Sand by Geetanjali Shree – the Fiction Matters buddy read started last Friday and I was anxious to get going on it! A few other members of the group have read it already and adored it. I’m only about 75 pages in and am intrigued, but not hooked (yet).
  • Current shorter book: Civil to Strangers and Other Writings by Barbara Pym – I’m reading this with Laila at Big Reading Life. She’ll be a Pym completist once she finishes this one. Isn’t that amazing?!
  • Current audiobook: The Books of Jacob by Olga Tokarczuk – I started The Books of Jacob in April and was annoyed by it. It got pushed to the backburner because I was trying to get through several other long books at the same time, but I do want to finish it. I was about halfway through when I stopped listening so I’m hoping I can finish it in the next couple of weeks. I listened to a big chunk of it yesterday while cleaning and found that I’m not as annoyed by it right now, which was a relief. (this one would also count as a tome!)
  • Current poetry: The Peace of Wild Things by Wendell Berry – Berry knows my love language, sigh. He makes me want to move to Kentucky and build a little shack on his farm.
  • Current writing inspiration: Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg – I don’t think I made any progress on this one in the last week but that’s okay. Just keeping it on my book cart gives me a jolt in the right direction every day.
  • And a smattering of readalouds: Finn Family Moomintrolls, Meet Josefina, and Flora & Ulysses.

Friends, it’s been another rough week, hasn’t it? I’ve been feeling the weight of so much that’s been happening on the news and I’ve been thankful to find so many kindred spirits here in my little blogging world. It helps to know that I’m not the only one who is struggling with it all so intensely right now. Growing up in Texas meant that I always felt alone in my newly-fledgling political identities and that was hard for a person who doesn’t enjoy debating or standing out. I “fit” a little better in New Hampshire and even more perfectly here at The Cozy Burrow. So thank you.

To take care of myself, I’ve been hopping on my spin bike and running up that hill (sorry, couldn’t resist another Stranger Things reference), sinking into good books, and — most excitedly — knitting! What has been helpful for you?

I hope to be back on Friday. The bergamot is just beginning to bloom and I can’t wait to share their spindly legs with you. I’m also hoping to share some knitting progress, which is thrilling to me. Until then – please take good care.

21 thoughts on “Bookish Chatter | Recently Finished and Currently Reading

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  1. Thank you for this list! I have added the first two and Wendell Berry to my list of books to look for at the library. I see you have The Poisonwood Bible on your shelf. It is an excellent read. I love that you enjoy reading in different forms and incorporate it into your life!

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    1. I hope you enjoy all the books! I read The Poisonwood Bible in high school but I was so young and that was a long time ago. I’d like to read it as an adult and see what I think about it. 🙂 I hope you have a great weekend!

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  2. I agree with you about Bunny – it takes a very bizarre turn. I have an interpretation of the ending that I think might make sense but I’d probably have to read the novel again with my idea in mind to see if it works!

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  3. I like that you have such a wide range of books TBR and currently reading. I loved “The Professor and the Housekeeper” and, like Cindy above, I noticed “The Poisonwood Bible” on your shelf – one of my favorite books! I’m currently reading “The Lincoln Highway” by Amor Towles (after being in queue forever…) and am finding it to be just ok (so far).

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    1. Thanks, Juliann! And I didn’t mean to overhype the knitting progress. ANY knitting is something to celebrate around here right now 😉

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  4. Added The Weight of Ink to my list! I do the same thing as you (or at least I try to): I have one fiction, one nonfiction, and one audiobook in rotation at a time. But then I always inevitably add more which adds up to about 5 books going at any one time.

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  5. I will read Civil to Strangers next – so hopefully you won’t mind waiting on my for a week or so! 🙂

    Isn’t it fun how many names bee balm (bergamot, monarda, horse mint) has? I just bought a scarlet bee balm plant and I don’t know if it will flower this year or not, but I can’t wait to see the blooms. All the other bee balm in my yard is a lavender color (grown from seed.)

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      1. Of course I don’t mind! It’s going to take me a bit to settle with it anyway and there’s no pressure or even any expectation. Just agreeing to read with me motivated me enough to pick out a Pym 🙂

        I love your comment about the bergamot (or bee balm, or whatever!). I call it bergamot because I love the word, ha. No matter what it’s called – it’s so fun to have around!

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  6. oh I LOVE reading about your books and reading! I read Weight of Ink a few years ago (pre-COVID) and wondered how that story line from the 1600’s would hit for today’s readers? you didn’t mention it, so maybe it was ok? I’ve decided to finish The Painted Drum before starting Tomb of Sand – I have a hard time multi-tasking those tomes 🙂 I don’t have ANY idea what bergamot looks like; I do hope you’ll share a photo on Friday!

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    1. I can’t speak for every reader of course — but I LOVED Ester’s story line. Despite all the differences, I could relate to her wanting to do something of her own. I was so happy with her relatively happy ending.

      Oh gosh, I didn’t realize The Painted Drum was a tome. My copy is supposed to arrive today. I might just push everything aside and get started on it!

      Bergamot pictures are up today!! They’re still baby blooms; more to come 🙂

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  7. I enjoyed your post! I love seeing what others are reading. I have added The Weight of Ink to my TBR as it sounds like a book I would love!

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