Welcome to November, friends! While it looks like November in New Hampshire – everything is brown, the trees are bare – it hasn’t felt like it. The highs have been in the mid-60s and that’s felt relatively warm in the last week or so. I’m looking forward to a more crisp feeling! But every once in a while the wind blows and it reminds that winter is indeed coming, so I won’t get too worried. Alas – it’s Wednesday! So let’s talk about books, not pine for winter. This has been an inspiring week of reading for me and I can’t wait to talk about what I’ve finished, so let’s catch up!
FINISHED THIS WEEK:
I am delighted to say that I finally read Fresh Water for Flowers and wish I would have picked this up over the summer like I’d planned! I wanted to crawl into this book and live with Violette, a caretaker of a cemetery in France. This book is full of the most lovely details: flower and vegetable gardens, cozy homes, and good friendships. It is beautifully written (and translated from French), with a tragic mystery running throughout. This reminded me a lot of Jayber Crow, one of my favorite books of all time. I walked away from both of these books with a renewed gratitude for the people around me and for the eccentricities of human beings. It’s about embracing a simple life, right here and now.
This would be an amazing book to get revved up for gardening season, so I’m putting it on my list to reread in May. I cannot wait to revisit Violette and her friend, Sasha. This book will have a home on my tightly patrolled and often culled shelves for a very long time!
At this point, I’m not even sure what to say about Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell, other than I am so glad that I committed the time to reading it. I started this in April and decided it wasn’t the right time for it, but picked it up again earlier this month and read 40 pages a day until the last hundred pages or so. And then I couldn’t put it down! This book is set in the early 1800s and is about the return of English magic. It is full of old country houses with amazing libraries and bustling London homes — also with amazing libraries. Susanna Clarke is such a clever and talented writer; so many scenes in this book are sharp, clear, and jaw-dropping. It’s written like a Regency novel so it took me a while to find my footing, but I was able to settle into it relatively quickly. The heft is off-putting, but it was worth every one of its 1006 pages.
If you’re an atmospheric mood reader, then please note that this book is perfect for fall and winter reading (which, for those of us in the Northern Hemisphere, is NOW!!).
Unlikely Animals was such a treat and will likely be one of my favorite books of this year. It was hilarious and heartwarming and somehow struck the perfect balance between humor and heaviness. I borrowed a hard copy from the library but ended up listening on Libby instead and the narration was perfect – I laughed out loud throughout the whole thing. This story is told by a ghost in the graveyard who seems to know about everything happening in Everton, New Hampshire, so the reader has a very interesting perspective on Emma’s return home from California, her family, and the search for Emma’s best friend, Crystal.
This book effortlessly tackles so many difficult topics: finding your true purpose in life, watching loved ones decline, the opioid epidemic in NH, and learning to enjoy our perfectly imperfect lives. And thanks to this book, my new aim is to be mediocre in everything I do and just enjoy the ride. Thank you to Laila, who put this on my radar!
Thank you, friends, for all of your kind words on my One Little Word post on Monday. I won’t plan to publish a post on Friday because I’m going to spend that writing time getting caught up on your comments and everyone’s blogs – I don’t know how I let myself get so behind so often! I have been reading and following along on my phone, but much prefer typing anything while I’m sitting at my computer. I am looking forward to connecting with you all because I’ve felt like a satellite lately – sending information out into the world, receiving information in a disconnected way, but no real communication with anyone! So I hope your inboxes are ready for me!! Take good care.