July has been a slow reading month for me and for the last few weeks I’ve only been able to listen to audiobooks. I don’t seem to have the ability to sit down and read a book lately. And it’s funny because less than a month ago I couldn’t figure out how to listen to more audio because I was reading with my eyes so much. Everything ebbs and flows for me and I’m thankful to have the flexibility to capitalize on whatever happens to be working at any given time.
We finished two readalouds over the last couple of weeks. Meet Josefina was my pre-bed reading with Bronwyn. I never read any of the Josefina books when I was little and I’m really enjoying her story, Set in the 1800s in New Mexico, Josefina is the youngest of four sisters living on a rancho with their father. Their mother recently died and they’re all working hard to make her proud. I love all the Spanish vocabulary and this family. I’m looking forward to more Josefina stories!
Bryce and I read Flora & Ulysses each night before he went to bed and I really enjoyed this one, too. As usual – Kate DiCamillo is just so darn funny. Flora was such an interesting little character and I caught myself laughing out loud so much. I think there’s a movie version on Disney+? I’m hoping that we watch it soon to compare the two.
When I start to despair about my reading life, I turn to The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. I just do and it always helps. I listened to this book twice last year and I’m not embarrassed to say that I just might listen to it twice this year too. Every time I read it, I laugh out loud all over the place. And in other places, I put my hand over my heart and lean against a counter because it’s so moving. I love this setting and these characters.
Some of you know that this is also my annual Christmas movie. After I put the kids to bed on Christmas day, I boil water for hot cocoa, crunch across the wrapping paper-strewn living room floor, and settle in with this on Netflix. Knowing this movie is coming is what gets me through the sugar fueled hurricane of a day and it always makes me so happy. So yes – I love this book and hope to keep returning to it!
But I can say fairly confidently that I will never return to The Books of Jacob. I am so relieved to be finished with this thing! This is mostly set in 18th century Poland and follows Jacob, a Messianic-like figure. The positives for me: I loved the setting and how the author illustrated how a charismatic leader can create a following. I was also quite interested in the mystical beliefs about ancient Jewish texts and the history of the Jewish people in the region. But there were so many characters and it just seemed to go on and on and on and on and on. I couldn’t wait for it to end.
I was also annoyed by how readily people seemed to believe in Jacob and to follow him. I have some unpopular religious beliefs and am very skeptical about any claim of a Messiah (including the big one in Christianity – I’m very sorry, I’m not trying to insult anyone, I just have a very difficult time with it ALL), and this book reinforced all of my mistrust. So to be clear: I thought Jacob was disgusting and found him to be a predator and an opportunist. And I’m still confused about all of the characters and the point of 965 pages of this. But maybe the point of this book was to spark my outrage? If so, then it worked. So I gave it three stars on Goodreads. And I’m glad it’s over.
I swear that I’m trying to read books with my eyes but I am not making any sort of progress. Here’s where I stand with my books in progress:
- Civil to Strangers and Other Writings by Barbara Pym – this is a buddy read with Laila at Big Reading Life and I’ve barely made it through 50 pages. I have been laughing out loud — it’s funny. I’m enjoying it. But I can’t seem to sit down with it long enough to make any progress.
- The Painted Drum by Louise Erdrich – this is the most recent read for the Erdrich-Along and again — I can’t make it past 50 pages. The book is fascinating and beautiful and so interesting… but my brain can’t handle it right now.
- Tomb of Sand by Geetanjali Shree – a buddy read at Fiction Matters. I’m still not even 100 pages in. And once again – I am fascinated by its opening pages and am looking forward to understanding what’s happening. When I can figure out how to sit down with a book again.
- The Locked Room by Elly Griffiths – I’m hoping to start this audiobook today. It’s the newest in the Ruth Galloway series and I’m so excited to find out what Ruth’s been up to. And because it’s an audiobook, I feel fairly confident that I’ll be able to make some progress on it by next Wednesday.
I’m being a little dramatic about my frustrations around not getting in much reading with my eyes. I am okay with focusing on audiobooks right now, I just think it’s funny how quickly things can change for me. I know that I will get to the books that are important to me when the time is right. So please know that I’m not really upset or feel as though I’m in a reading rut. I am doing just fine in my reading life! There’s a season for everything.
Friends — I have been reading your blogs on my phone but I always have log-in issues when I try to comment, so I haven’t been able to chime in like I’ve wanted. But I’m hoping to make some comments soon and to respond to all of your lovely comments on my own blog. And I plan to be back on Friday with another update. Until then – take good care!
I often read blog posts on my phone—am doing so right now—and I sometimes have issues with commenting. But not always. Not sure why. The mysteries of cyberspace? Anyway… your bookish post certainly illustrates how where we are determines what we want to read. Makes perfect sense.
My thoughts about The Books of Jacob are pretty much identical to yours. I could appreciate the writing and the message, but it was about three times as long as it needed to be, and Jacob and his followers just annoyed me. I was also not convinced that he really believed what he was preaching; I think he just wanted to be worshiped by others.
Mary and Margene have both been raving about Tomb of Sand, so I’ll be interested to hear what you think!
Comfort reads are simply the best, aren’t they? (I am feeling much the same about The Transit of Venus… finding the desire to just sit and read has been a struggle!)
I have been in a slump for reading with my eyes too. I just started a new to me series my Anthony Horowitz, The Word is Murder, on audio. Summer schedules make sitting with a book in my lap harder for me so I’m just trying to go with the flow
Between heat and feeling b awful with a throat infection for the last ten days the only things I have done is sleep and read! Mostly sleep…zzzzzzzzz Enjoy stories however you like.
Yay for comfort reading!
Flora and Ulysses is so fun. James and I enjoyed it too. We haven’t watched the Disney movie though.
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Thank you for the Kate DiCamillo recommendation – I’m always looking for books that work with a young boy and aren’t about monsters or space 🙂 and not that you’re looking for recommendations, but I have three! For something laugh out loud funny, I’m enjoying listening to Emily Henry’s latest Book Lovers – I still have a couple of hours to go, but hands down this is my favorite of hers so far. and I finished This Time Tomorrow (with my eyes) yesterday and wanted to hug it; I’ve seen raves for the audio (Marin Ireland narrates and she’s so good!) and that might be another suggestion. Finally, I started A Thousand Acres (also on paper) this morning and 40 pages in I can’t wait to get back to it. My library (Hoopla) has the audio and I’ve heard good things about that, too. Hugs!!
It’s such a good feeling to sit down with a comfort read! I’m over half way through A Thousand Acres, but it’s dark and I can’t read too much of it at a time. I hope to finish it soon and move on to something more comforting!
Yay! Yay! Yay! Another person who loves The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society as much as me! It is one of my all-time favorite books and also one of my big comfort reads as well. I’ve read it four times now and would you know, I’ve been planning to read it again this weekend! I’ve not listened to it on audio though. So maybe I will try that format this time around.
And yes, there’s a movie for Flora and Ulysses. We love it here in my house and have watched it multiple times. I’ve yet to read the book though. We are definitely Kate DiCamillo fans. Just haven’t gotten to this particular book yet. 🙂
I often have trouble commenting on my phone too. Crazy. And good to know about The Books of Jacob–I won’t bother looking for that one!