Sunday Bulletin – January 13

mabel

Mabel helping me reorganize my shelves.

Hello! I hope you’ve all had a good week. I spent my evenings reorganizing my bookshelves and am not even close to being finished with the project. I got a wild hair last Sunday evening to alphabetize all my novels by author’s last name (they were organized mostly randomly before) and have worked a bit each evening on completing the project. I am only through the J’s as of last night. It has gone a lot slower than I thought it would and my house is a complete wreck! But I have five days off beginning on Thursday and will finish getting them all in order then. How do you organize your books?

Books finished this week: The Stranger Diaries by Elly Griffiths sounded so good when I saw it pop up on Goodreads a few months ago. I was able to get a review copy from the publisher and spent most of the week utterly engrossed by it. However, when I got to the end I wasn’t satisfied. I think I had such high expectations for the book that it was bound to disappoint. The mystery was fine, the characters were okay, and I did like it – it just wasn’t the knockout that I thought it was going to be.

Did you finish anything wonderful this week?

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Sunday Bulletin – January 6

nine

Happy New Year! I hope you’ve all had a grand start to 2019. I spent mine working and reading and pondering how I want to spend my time this year.

A few times during the past week I found myself making lists of books that I need and want to read in January. And then I tore them all up because I don’t want to conduct my reading life that way in 2019. I want to read one book at a time this year and choose books by whim as I go along – unless it is something I really do have to read for work. I was asked by my boss to lead two book discussion groups at the library beginning this month so I do “have” to read two books a month for work, but as I get to choose the books it shouldn’t be too much of a chore.

Books finished this week:

The Nine Tailors by Dorothy L. Sayers is such a gem! I read Gaudy Night a few years ago and thought it was enjoyable, but I wasn’t interested in reading more of the Lord Peter Wimsey mysteries. Then when I was in the hospital in November and I saw that Miranda from the Tea & Tattle podcast had chosen this for the T & T winter book club I thought it was time to try another one. I liked this one so much better than Gaudy Night. It is set in a small village in the Fens and has a very clever plot, great secondary characters, beautiful (but not too excessive) descriptions of the countryside and a whole lot of information about bellringing, of which I knew nothing and which Sayers manages to make interesting. I can see why this book is a favorite of golden age mystery fans. It’s excellent. I own a couple of the early Wimsey mysteries and I want to read them sometime this year – but I’m not adding them to a list!

Have you read the Lord Peter Wimsey mysteries? Have a wonderful week!

Sunday Bulletin – December 30

IMG_0273.JPGDid you all have a nice Christmas? Mine was a really good day spent with parents, brothers, sisters and many nieces and nephews. Then on Wednesday I was straight back to work for the rest of the week, but it was not very busy so felt like I was still enjoying the holiday!

I’ve spent the past few days thinking about things I want to do and accomplish and learn and undertake in 2019. And naturally that includes things I want to do in my reading life. I want 2019 to be a much better reading year than 2018 has been. I haven’t really loved very many books I read this year and I’ve spent lots of time feeling guilty for reading books that I want to read that are not library books. The guilt has nearly frozen my enjoyment and many times has stopped me from reading anything at all. So I’ve decided that 2019 is going to be my “Year of Reading Selfishly”. Of course, I’ll still read the books I am required to for work, but otherwise I am going to read whatever I want and I’m not going to feel guilty about it in the least. If I want to read Nancy Mitford or Elizabeth Jane Howard or Elizabeth Taylor or Elizabeth Von Arnim, then I am going to. And I am not going to mentally berate myself for reading them though my library doesn’t own any of their books. I’m hoping to return to the pleasure and pure delight of reading by whim.

Do you have any reading resolutions for 2019?

Books finished this week:

None, but I started The Nine Tailors by Dorothy L. Sayers and am loving it so far.

Happy New Year to you all! Have a lovely week.

 

 

 

Sunday Bulletin – December 23

Village

I’ve been struggling to find a way to post here regularly because I want to post, I intend to post, but by the time I get home from work in the evenings I have no motivation to post. I rarely turn my computer on at home and am usually too tired and busy to think about blogging.

Then I remembered that about 4 or so years ago I used to post a Sunday Bulletin where I would talk about my week and give short reviews of any books I’d finished. Great idea! This is something I can do every Sunday that is low pressure and still keeps me blogging and talking about books like I used to here. I do so miss being a part of this community and I want to return. A weekly bulletin is just the way I’ve been looking for to be able to do that.

Some of you may be wondering about my trip to England in October. Well, I didn’t get to go. I had to have my gallbladder out instead. Not a very fun alternative. And then I had complications, was hospitalized for four days and had to have two additional surgeries. I was out of work for a month and spent lots of time at home (sadly, not reading) recuperating. But I am mostly all cured now and am going to reschedule my trip to late April/early May.

Books finished this week:

Village Christmas by Laurie Lee – I bought this book after I saw it was the December choice for Emily’s Walking Book Club. I always like to buy a few Christmas themed books every year and this looked like a great choice – and it was. However, only the first two essays are actually about Christmas. The rest of the essays discuss various themes, but the overriding theme is change – mostly change to the landscape. Lee is an easy companion and his writing is friendly and funny so I didn’t mind reading the entire collection. It was a joy to spend time in his company and I now look forward to reading Cider with Rosie sometime in the new year.

A Tudor Christmas by Alison Weir and Siobhan Clarke – This pretty little book uses the twelve days of Christmas as chapters and starting points to educate the modern reader on how the Tudors celebrated Christmas. The authors detail many traditions that I had heard of but didn’t really know the meaning of (like yule logs, the Lord of Misrule, mummers) using poetry and song lyrics to illustrate the short chapters. I enjoyed learning about the origins of some traditions we still follow today and was grateful that we have done away with others (like making a boar’s head the center of our Christmas dinners). I recommend this if you like microhistories.

 

I hope you all have a very Merry Christmas!

Some Books I’ve Liked This Year

jamaica

Hello everyone! How have you been? I’ve been well, but it has been a bit of a down reading year for me. I haven’t read very many things that I’ve absolutely loved this year.

Part of the problem is that I spend about 8 months out of the year reading books for two Book Buzz programs that I do for work – one in the summer and one in the fall. And though I do enjoy presenting these programs at my library, it limits the time I have to read by whim. I do really miss those days of picking up something just because the cover catches my eye and finishing it in a day or two. This rarely happens for me anymore. I have to plan pretty far in advance which books I am going to read for my programs. And I can’t always go just by my taste – I have to make sure to include titles that I know will appeal to a broad range of library users. So, my reading life is much different these days than when I was regularly blogging years ago.

During my “free” months I do manage to read some titles that are just for me and these are six that I have loved:

A Wreath of Roses by Elizabeth Taylor

High Wages by Dorothy Whipple

Jamaica Inn by Daphne Du Maurier

Confusion by Elizabeth Jane Howard

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte

Agnes Grey by Anne Bronte

Have you read and loved any of these too?

I hope you’ve all been well. I miss the blogging community and would like to jump back in for the rest of 2018 and beyond. I’ll try to also stop by and visit your blogs this week before I leave for a trip to England on Monday.

 

Mary’s Monster by Lita Judge

IMG_8579As you all probably know, 2018 is the 200th anniversary of the publication of Frankenstein by Mary Shelley. There are lots of books and articles being published about the book and its author (when I have time I want to read this one from The New Yorker) in this commemorative year.

One of the most intriguing of these tributes is Mary’s Monster: Love, Madness, and How Mary Shelley Created Frankenstein¬†by Lita Judge. It was brought to my attention by a coworker who was pondering where it should go in our collection at the library. It is an illustrated volume that tells the story of Shelley’s childhood and young adulthood in the form of first-person free verse poems from her own point of view. Can you see our dilemma? Should it go in the biography section, the fiction section or the graphic novel section?

Whatever section it is in it is a fascinating and beautiful book. The illustrations are dark and gothic (you can see some of the images here) and perfectly convey the feelings Mary has as she mourns the lack of a mother, suffers a rocky relationship with her father and stepmother, the joy yet hardship of running away with Percy Bysshe Shelley as a teen, jealousy, grief, creative intensity – Judge covers it all. The poems are laden with intensity and emotion and tell Mary’s story in a forthright and sympathetic way. I really loved it and hope it will find an audience at my library – at every library.

If you are interested in Mary Shelley and in Frankenstein I think this is one of the books about her published this year that you need to seek out.

Are you planning to read anything about Mary Shelley this year?

(How did we end up cataloging this book? As Young Adult Fiction).

The Enchanted April by Elizabeth Von Arnim

Enchanted April

It feels so strange to be writing this post as I haven’t blogged in a year now – how did that happen? I can only say that 2017 was a year of readjustment for me. After having been diagnosed with cancer in December 2016 and receiving treatment at the beginning of 2017 it’s been a bit of an emotional and thoughtful year for me. Reading was not my top priority for a few months, however, I did get back into the swing of things and managed to read 60 books last year. But – I didn’t feel like writing about them except for small snippets on my Instagram page. Though I still feel somewhat shell-shocked by my ordeal (the emotional side effects are strange and powerful) I feel that I am ready to return to blogging in 2018.

My previous blog, Gudrun’s Tights, has permanently gone away and, sadly, I didn’t save any photos that I had posted over the years so all the photos that I transferred here are now gone as well. At first I was kicking myself for not backing up my work, but now I feel that it is somehow fitting. The past is the past – and I’m leaving it there! But I’m sorry if this blog looks a little bland – I’ll soon remedy that.

So, on to my first post of 2018 and it is about a book that I’ve tried to read several times over the years without success. Despite loving the film, I’ve always had such a hard time with The Enchanted April. I’ve found it sluggish and confusing. As a fan of Elizabeth Von Arnim I can only think that the reason I couldn’t finish it on my previous attempts was because it was known that I’d need the book now.

Most of you probably know the story – four women, previously unknown to each other, rent a castle in Italy for the month of April. They all suffer from various emotional struggles whether it’s boredom, unhappiness in marriage, too much male attention or loneliness. Almost immediately after they arrive at San Salvatore one of the women, Lotty, senses the healing powers of the location, of its flowers and plants and in being near the sea and from just being away from dreary, rainy London. And she blossoms. She really becomes a happier, more content, incredibly loving person, able to read the moods of her fellow travelers and help them to also let San Salvatore heal their wounds.

I think the book is funny and warm and lovely. In this equally dreary month of January I found it to be the balm I needed to relieve winter melancholy. I loved the characters and their desire to “find themselves” but I also loved that Von Arnim didn’t have them ditch their husbands or their old lives. It’s very much a fairy tale about rekindling the romance in a marriage and finding that one true love or the kindred friends who understand and support you.

The end of the book sees everyone off with their needs met and their hearts cheerful, but I did wonder – will their transformation survive when they get back to London? I truly hope so and I like to believe that they carry on loving and caring long after the book ends.

Have you read The Enchanted April?

Now, I’m on to Testament of Friendship by Vera Brittain and I’ve also got Winter by Ali Smith on the TBR. What are you reading?