Today is the last day of August! Can you believe we’ve made it through such a difficult month and cozier weather is just around the corner? You already know that I cannot wait. Today’s post is predictable: I’m sharing what I’ve read since last Wednesday and my goodness, it’s an eclectic bunch of books. I also have an update on my progress with the Booker titles and my TBR. There’s lots to chat about!
FINISHED THIS WEEK:
The Girl Who Drew Butterflies was a beautiful and fascinating book. Maria Merian lived in the mid-1600s in Germany and was obsessed with painting and learning about the life cycle of insects. It was commonly believed at the time that butterflies and moths simply sprang up out of nowhere. But even as a young girl, Maria suspected otherwise. She applied the scientific method to discover how butterflies and moths were created and authored beautiful books illustrating the process. At the time, it was extremely rare for women to do anything outside of the home, much less change people’s understanding of how the world worked.
Maria lived an incredible life. She reminded me a lot of Esther from The Weight of Ink – someone who yearned to do more than what was expected of her and found ways to buck convention to allow her passions to lead her life. The drawings included in this book are gorgeous and we pored over them all summer. This would be a wonderful addition to any Charlotte Mason homeschooling library.
Where the Wild Ladies Are was the Fiction Matters group read for August and is a collection of ghost stories inspired by Japanese folktales. They have a strong, feminist lean and were fun to read. The stories were interconnected, so familiar characters would often pop up and it was exciting to see them again. My favorite story was What She Can Do, about a single mother who has to leave her young daughter alone at night while she works to support her. A ghost feels compassion for this small family and stays at night to ensure the daughter’s safety. Over time, she helps out in other ways by washing dishes and doing some tidying. It was such a sweet story and had me wishing that I had my own ghost to help out a little.
Moominpappa’s Memoirs was the third Moomin book we read this summer. In the previous books, Moominpappa was always working on his memoirs and tucking away with his fountain pen to write. And now we’ve finally learned what he’s been writing about! We read about his early days in an orphanage and his great escape, as well as the wonderful adventures that led him to meet Moominmamma. These books are wonderfully cozy when taken in small doses. It was fun to dive into this world but it’s become a little tedious for me and I’m looking forward to reading new things soon. But who knows? Maybe we’ll try to read three more next summer?
Case Study is on the Booker long list and quite a mind bender. Its structure is interesting and includes notebooks sent to the author written by a woman investigating the death of her sister. This woman believes her sister was led to commit suicide by her therapist. Interspersed with these notebooks is the author’s own research on the therapist, Collins Braithwaite. We watch the slow unraveling of the author of the notebooks as well as the therapist. It was a fascinating look into the history of therapy, London in the 1960s, and the changing mores of the times. I loved all of the details of London at the time and the games the author played with the reader – what is real? What is fantasy? How much of this can you believe? (Nothing. I believe nothing.)
My copy is covered in blurbs calling it hilarious and wickedly funny. I chuckled a few times but didn’t find it that funny. I suppose it’s because my sense of humor has been sophisticatedly sharpened by rereading Captain Underpants novels dozens of times in the last several years.
Bronwyn and I finished Josefina Saves the Day this week. In this installment, Josefina and her family travel to Santa Fe to trade the blankets they’ve been weaving and their father’s mules. While there, they meet an American named Patrick O’Toole. The Montoya family has traded with Patrick’s father in the past, but are unsure whether they can trust Patrick. As they get to know him, their suspicions begin to lower and they feel as though he is honest and kind. After Patrick helps them organize some big trades, he disappears without completing his end of their agreements. He works as a scout for his father’s company and he’s been sent to check out their next trade – can the Montoya’s trust him to keep his end of the bargains or has he cheated them out of all they’ve worked for this year?
I thought this was the last Josefina book that our library has, but there’s one more! Changes for Josefina is up next. She’s still my favorite American Girl!
Maps of Our Spectacular Bodies is also on the Booker long list and — oh my word. It’s a beauty. This is the story of Lia, a woman who is dying of cancer. We meet her daughter, Iris, on the cusp of adolescence and her husband, Harry. We also meet the cancer that has been hiding in her body since Lia was a young girl and who has witnessed everything that’s left its mark on Lia, including her first love. Friends, this is gorgeous. In all of the ways. It’s heart-wrenching and hopeful. It’s lyrical and boldly told. It’s life, in all of its sticky, sickly, happy, hidden, secret-filled, and vulnerable facets. I listened on audio and feel like I need to reread it on paper soon. This is a serious contender to win the whole prize.
BOOKER AND TBR PROGRESS:
Here’s a look at where I stand with the Booker titles. The boxes that are filled in are the ones that I’ve read. The short list will be announced next Tuesday (!) and I’m so anxious to see what titles make the cut. No matter what — I plan to read the entire long list. I am on waitlists for Nightcrawling and Trust; I’ve started The Seven Moons of Maali Almeida (amazing, so far); and I have After Sappho waiting on my book cart. I don’t feel like I can make predictions for the short list because I’ve enjoyed all of these books, other than Treacle Walker. And there are still 3.5 that I haven’t read!!
And here’s a look at my current TBR. The books crossed out are the ones I’ve decided against for one reason or another. I’m hoping not to add anything until after October* so that I can go back and get caught up with the Erdrich-Along and read the books I wanted to get to this summer, like Tomb of Sand, The Anomaly, and Fresh Water for Flowers. I’d like to go into the winter with a fresh crop of books!
How’s your reading life going? What have you read lately that you think I’ll love? I’m so looking forward to reading more in September and writing my August Reading Wrap Up, which I’m hoping to work on this weekend. But before then, I’m planning to be back on Friday with a few more joys AND to get caught up with all of your comments and blogs. Until Friday — take good care!
*I’ve already added another title for October since taking that picture. The Marriage Portrait by Maggie O’Farrell.