Bookish Chatter | Nearing the End of October!

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.

15 thoughts on “Bookish Chatter | Nearing the End of October!

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  1. So glad you were finally able to finish Plague of Doves! I agree that Mooshum is a lot like Nanapush, and I love that L.E. always seems to have a funny older man in all her stories who is both the source of history to the other characters and a source of comic relief. (Mooshum is also in The Round House, though so far he hasn’t played a major role.)

    Funny you should mention Russian classics — just yesterday, while I was sitting in car line at school pickup, I was thinking that next year I might want to tackle War and Peace and Dr. Zhivago!

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  2. Tell me more about Captain Underpants? I think this series became popular about the time I was still teaching in the public schools. I admit. I judged the book by the title and cover and rolled my eyes. But my son will only read things on his own if they make him laugh tremendously so I’m wondering if I should consider them. Your honest opinion? How old is Bryce? I can’t recall the typical age range…my guy is 12 but doesn’t like to challenge himself to read at his actual instructional level so….

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    1. Oh, Captain Underpants. The books I love to hate!! Just kidding — I actually do enjoy them. My son is 9, but we’ve been reading them aloud together since he was about 5. But honestly — he’s just now getting most of the jokes and he’s probably at the appropriate age for it. The books are funny and actually pretty smart. The author uses a ton of literary devices to tell his stories and the books are full of puns. There’s also a ton of potty humor, but that doesn’t bother me. I think a lot of homeschooling moms try to decrease the amount of potty humor their children read? I’m not one of those. I’m of the mindset that reading is reading and I’m happy to see it in all of its forms. I think this is a great place for reluctant readers of all ages to start!

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  3. I, too, have been so pleased with the Fall season this year! It got cooler earlier than normal for here, and we have had such bright, brilliant colors on the trees. It’s been so beautiful! We had a good bit of rain yesterday and today’s temp is only to be in the 50s. Perfect!

    I am intrigued by Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell. I may have to add that to my TBR. I’ve read War and Peace twice and a few other Russian novels. I would like re-read The Brothers Karamazov at some point. And I have a short work on my shelf called A Dog’s Heart by Bulgakov that I might read in November for Novellas in November. I haven’t decided yet….

    Hope you have a wonderful Library Halloween outing! 🙂

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    1. How wonderful to hear that you’ve had a lovely fall, Karen! You have so many awesome books in the queue. I think you’d really enjoy JS & MN – it’s just quite a commitment!

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  4. The Halloween storytime sounds fun!

    Glad you’re chugging along with your reading plans. I still have never read Erdrich. I have Love Medicine on my Classics Club list still to read.

    This month, I realized that I am wanting to turn away from frontlist and turn towards backlist books. Which means I need to get a better handle on my library holds list!

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    1. Laila – you’re in for a massive treat when you get to Erdrich. I didn’t realize it when I read Love Medicine, but it’s a series of short stories to introduce the reader to the characters that Erdrich has spent her career with. It was a hard book for me at first, but I ended up loving it.

      And I’m with you about reading backlists lately! There are a few new books that I want to read, but there are so many older books that I REALLY want to make sure I read. So fun!

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  5. I am so excited for the FM bookclub discussion… the monster was such a great way to show how complicated war is. and I started Round House this week – the story seems to pick up right from Plague of Doves and I’m so glad I read it first (and recently enough to remember… also the family trees are a huge help)!

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    1. I have no idea how Louise Erdrich keeps all of these families straight in her head while she’s writing. She must have entire walls devoted to these families! Round House is a reread for me. It was my first Erdrich novel back in 2020! I wasn’t wild about it then but I’m enjoying it a lot more now and I think it’s because I have so much of the backstory now. It’s fun to see these characters pop up again and again!

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