Happy Wednesday! This week has been wonderfully fall-like with rain all day on Monday and Tuesday. The rain has cleared out but the forecasted high is in the mid-70s. That’s just about perfection! I haven’t been able to squeeze in too much reading time since we chatted on Wednesday. Typically my late evenings are spent with my nose in a book, but I was much too tired from all of the extra cleaning that last week’s illness required. Instead, I collapsed on the couch and started the first season of Grantchester on Amazon. It was a lovely way to spend those quiet hours and I highly recommend it when you feel too tired to do anything else. But I did manage to finish two books and they were both outstanding. I can’t wait to share them with you, but let’s chat about the Booker short list first.
The Booker Prize announced their shortlist yesterday and here are the chosen titles:
- Glory by NoViolet Bulawayo – my thoughts are here
- Small Things Like These by Claire Keegan – my thoughts are here
- Treacle Walker by Alan Garner – my thoughts are here
- The Trees by Percival Everett – my thoughts are here
- The Seven Moons of Maali Almeida by Shehan Karunatilaka – my thoughts are in THIS post!
- Oh William! by Elizabeth Strout – my thoughts are here
The biggest surprise for me was that Treacle Walker made the list. Looking back at my thoughts on the book, I did enjoy the magical bits where the main character stepped into different worlds. But other than that, I really struggled with it. Maybe it was all over my head because I could never find my bearings and had a hard time following what was happening. But Alan Garner is turning 88 on the night of the awards ceremony (October 17), so I bet he’s going to win.
My biggest disappointment was that Maps of Our Spectacular Bodies didn’t make the list. But Mortimer is very young and I’m looking forward to her next effort!
My frontrunner is Seven Moons of Maali Almeida, which I’ll talk more about below.
Would anyone believe me if I said that I’m a little disappointed that I’ve finished the shortlisted titles? I AM because I was hoping that the shortlist announcement would give me enough momentum to finish my last three titles on the list. I feel like the wind has been knocked out of my Booker sails now that the anticipation of the short list is over. But — I’m still aiming for one a week until I finish the list. Wish me luck (and focus)!
FINISHED READING THIS WEEK:
After reading Oh William! back in July, I knew I needed to go back and start the Lucy Barton series from the beginning. I have to say – Strout’s writing works for me. I know it’s not the case for everyone, but I really like it. And Lucy? I think we’re kindred spirits. I identify with so much of what she says about her past and her feelings. I listened to this one on audio and was breathless. My Name Is Lucy Barton is mostly set during Lucy’s time in the hospital from an infection after a surgery, but we learn so much about her as she lies in her hospital bed. The next book in the series is Anything Is Possible and I’m hoping to read it (or listen to it) in October. My librarian is also a big Elizabeth Strout fan so they have all of her books! I was pleasantly surprised to see Oh William! on the shortlist yesterday and am happy to know that more readers will be meeting Lucy Barton in the coming weeks.
I finished The Seven Moons of Maali Ameida early on Tuesday morning, just in time for the short list announcement. And wow – I hope it wins. This is the 20th century Sri Lankan history lesson I didn’t know I needed. Maali Almeida is a photographer who contracts his services to the different factions in the country. We meet him just after his death and go on an incredible journey with him as he races to ensure that his secret photo negatives fall into the right hands. He hopes that his photos will be the impetus to end the war in his country and he goes to great lengths to guide his friends from the afterlife. The last 80 pages or so were heart stopping and I was cheering him on the whole way. This book is full of ghosts and demons (our own?), incredible insights on religion, and thoughts about what it means to live a good life in difficult circumstances. I read this book slowly, savoring each new landscape and idea. Sensitive readers should be aware that it’s set in a war-torn country and describes war and violence. It didn’t cross any of my personal lines, but your mileage may vary.
As I think ahead to next week, I’m realizing that I might not have much to share on Wednesday. I’ve embarked on Kristin Lavransdatter and September and they’re both chunkers. But I promise to check in with my progress regardless of how far along I get.
Now tell me – how did you feel about the short list? What have you been reading lately? Have you found anything wonderful that you think I’ll love? I’d love to hear from you in the comments. I hope to be back on Friday with an update on our week. Until then – take good care.
(And I apologize that this post is choppy. I was almost ready to publish and then – bloop! – it disappeared. No kidding. So I threw it all together again and am just pushing publish regardless of its state. That’s how it goes sometimes!)
There was an interview on BBC radio this morning with the author of Treacle Walker, I only caught the very end but it maybe available on BBC Sounds. Just started the Shell Seekers, and the chapter of life in Ibiza.
I hope you’re enjoying The Shell Seekers, Cathy. And thanks for letting me know about Garner’s BBC interview. He seems like he might be pompous and unlikable? Maybe this will change my mind 🙂
I simply adored Oh, William! And I am glad that you are spending some time with Lucy… she is such marvelous company! 🙂
I finished The Shell Seekers this week and I just got September, so I should be on track with you all! XO
Lucy is lovely — I’m looking forward to the second book in the series and then the newest one published soon!
Haven’t read any books on the short list. Going in a different direction… have you ever read any of the Miss Read books? How I love them. Little gems of portraits of village life in England in the mid-twentieth century.
I LOVE the Miss Read books! A coworker recommended them to me when I lived in Austin and I devoured my library’s collection. And my current librarian gave me a stack of them when she cleaned off the shelves a few years ago. They are such fun little books where nothing important happens, at all. Just life. I love it.
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Not surprised you have the Miss Read Books and love them. But, too bad your library got rid of them. I suppose they are too old fashioned for most modern readers.
I think so. I have a little fantasy of owning them all, but space is an issue at my house. So – interlibrary loan it is!
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P.S. Reading Pilcher’s Coming Home right now.
I LOVED Coming Home. I hope you’re enjoying it too.
I was a little surprised by the short list, to be honest. Granted, I’ve only read five of the books on the long list so far, and two that made it to the short list, but I really expected Maps and Colony to make the short list. Moons will be the next on-paper book I read, and I’m looking to see where I can get the others because they’re not yet available from my library (at least not digitally).
Sarah, I can send you my copy of Treacle Walker. I will NOT be rereading it 😂 I listened to Glory on Audible and am unable to share it and borrowed The Trees from the library. I am happy to drop TW in the mail to you today or tomorrow!
Love Elizabeth Strout. Just finished September on audible books.
Ahhh!! Did you enjoy it?? I’m making progress on September – last night I made it to Vi’s picnic. I am so anxious to find out what happens!
At times I liked it more than Shell Seekers however, overall that is still my fav. Maybe because I have read it more than once and have listened to the Audible book and watched the movies too.
I finished September last night and have to say that I agree with you. There were moments in September that were so compelling and interesting, but overall: The Shell Seekers is the winner!
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I’m not a huge Elizabeth Strout fan, but Kat suggested I try the Lucy books audibly…so I will (eventually) give that a try. The only book I read from the Booker long list was Small Things Like These which I enjoyed. I don’t feel compelled to read form any list…just read what comes across to me in any manner!
I enjoy Elizabeth Strout but I’m behind on her stuff. She’s a fantastic writer.
I can totally see how the shortlist announcement would take the wind out of your Booker sails. I wish you focus and good reading for the remaining from the longlist!
I finished Northanger Abbey last night and my goodness, was it a fun reread. I bet it had been since college or shortly thereafter since I read it. I remembered nothing! Ha ha! I’m going to start Linda Holmes’s new one, Flying Solo, today. Still also reading Braiding Sweetgrass and just began Ann Patchett’s essay collection These Precious Days on audiobook. She’s such a delightful narrator.
I’m so glad you’re savoring Braiding Sweetgrass – it’s such a lovely book! And I have to get to These Precious Days – everyone is raving about it!
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I’m not sorry I have another book to read (not sure how I feel about it being Treacle Walker) – did you see the Six Things post on the Booker website? https://thebookerprizes.com/the-booker-library/features/six-things-you-need-to-know-about-the-booker-prize-2022-shortlist … I can see why they chose the books they chose (and I have no idea who will win the prize).
Thank you for that link! I hope you enjoy Treacle Walker when you get to it… And I’ll be very disappointed if (when?) it wins!!
I’m glad Oh William! and Small Things made the short list. I liked Trust, but didn’t love it. I did love The Colony and am sorry it didn’t make the cut.
Everyone seems to love Maps, but this past year a good friend of mine died after a 10 year battle with ovarian cancer and I don’t think I can handle that book, at least not now. I do look forward to reading After Sappho once it is published in the US.
I hope you enjoy Kristin L. and that you keep us updated on your progress!