Happy Wednesday, friends. There’s only a handful of days left in October and I’ve been savoring these last few days before Halloween. The weather has been beautifully Halloween-y: rainy, cloudy, plenty of fog. The slippery leaves on the ground add an extra layer of eeriness! I have been so pleased by the fall this year. And as the weather becomes less hospitable outdoors, I’ve been turning inwards and plugging away at my little TBR. It was another good week for books and reading around here and I’m excited to share it all!
FINISHED THIS WEEK:
I am trying to get caught up on the Erdrich-Along so The Plague of Doves is the second Louise Erdrich novel I finished this month! And it was such a good one. Although I bought a hard copy, I ended up listening to this on audio to help fit it in my rotation. Louise Erdrich is a genius — I have no idea how she has all of these characters in her head and then connects them all together. But fit together they did, in the most heartbreaking and brilliant ways. While Nanapush doesn’t make an appearance, Mooshum is a Nanapush-like character, someone who knows the whole history of their little community. I really enjoyed the scenes he was in and wanted more of him. This one deserves a reread from me because I don’t think listening on audio was the right format for me, so I’ll plan to revisit this in a couple of years.
I have been waiting so long to read Trust! There was a whole saga at the library with their copy: they leant it out on interlibrary loan and the borrower was almost two months late in getting it back. It was A Thing. I told my librarian that I wasn’t in a hurry to get to it (although I kind of was at first, but then it didn’t make the Booker shortlist so I wasn’t in a hurry anymore), and it was finally returned earlier this month. I was so happy to crack it open last week! The financial stuff was way over my head; I know next to nothing about high stakes trading, shorting stocks, etc. But that didn’t take away my enjoyment of this novel. This is mostly set around the big financial downturn of 1929 and showcased how a select few were able to gain advantage from the country’s suffering; perhaps even caused it? There were lots of interesting themes running throughout this cleverly structured novel: how we see ourselves vs how the world sees us; how we invent our own pasts and justify our actions; just how much control The Very Rich has in our society. There was a lot to unpack here!
Frankenstein in Baghdad was this month’s group read for Fiction Matters and I confess: I would have never picked this up otherwise. But friends — it was so interesting and thought-provoking! It is set in Baghdad just after the US invasion in the midst of so much death and destruction. Hadi, the local junk dealer, stitches together body parts that he finds on the streets in the hopes of creating a full person to be given a proper burial. But then a strange storm blows through and the dead man disappears from Hadi’s hiding place to become a vigilante on the streets of Baghdad, avenging the people responsible for the deaths of the people who belong to his new body parts. (following me here?) WHAT a powerful book, exploring what happens to a city that’s been invaded in such a brutal way. I read this without first reading Frankenstein and I think a general knowledge of the original story is sufficient for understanding what’s happening. I do wonder if this would have been even richer by reading Frankenstein first?
Bryce and I finished the tenth Captain Underpants this week, The Revolting Revenge of the Radioactive Robo-Boxers. This is the second time we’ve read this in 2022!! The kid loves this stuff, so what can I say? This is the one in which they travel back in time to the Stone Age and we learn the real story behind The Big Bang and the ice age (all Captain Underpants related, of course). We also learn what happens when children vow to have no fun and stay on the straight and narrow path: they become boring and mean adults! So stay wacky and goofy kids, your future selves will thank you.
And finally, Bronwyn and I finished Kirsten’s Surprise last night. This is Kirsten’s first Christmas in America and she and her cousins decide to surprise their families with a Saint Lucia celebration, which is a tradition in Sweden. One big problem: the white gown and red sash required are packed in the Larsen family’s trunk, which is still being stowed in town. When Kirsten’s father is finally able to get away from the farm to bring it home, Kirsten begs to be allowed to go with him. And it’s lucky that she did, because a massive blizzard moved through and her father needed Kirsten’s bravery and growing expertise of the area to stay safe. We are starting Happy Birthday Felicity tonight!
SLOW & STEADY:
I am still delighted with Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell and have had no problem reading at least 40 pages a day. I’m now on page 681! Because there’s just over 300 pages left, I suspect that soon I’ll be turning my full attention to this one and getting it finished. I don’t want to jinx myself and say that I’ll have it finished by next Wednesday, but I suspect I’ll be pretty darn close.
So much has happened since we last chatted about it, including the defeat of Napoleon thanks to Jonathan Strange’s magic on the front lines. The war scenes aren’t as compelling to me as those of the characters sitting around a cozy fire in their libraries surrounded by stacks of paper and pots of ink, but they do have a certain War & Peace feel to them. And oddly, have me considering a Russian classics theme for 2023. But I digress. I’m now in Part 3, which is about the origins of The Raven King, the original English magician. I am so excited to see where this is going!
And here’s a visual update of this month’s goals. Purple checks are the books I’ve finished and purple dashes are the books in my current rotation. Not bad! I’ve never had a month when I haven’t veered off course so I am very impressed with my willpower to stay focused in October. And I’m so happy that I’m making progress on the books that I own. But I’m looking forward to cracking open Babel on November 1st!!
And that’s it for me today! This morning will be a quick dose of school because we’ll also be getting ready for a Halloween Story Time at the library. Bryce and Bronwyn will get dressed up in their costumes and they will have treats for the kids – we are all so excited! I plan to be back here on Friday with an update on our week; I can’t wait to share what I’ve been working on for the past few days. Until then – take good care.