Wednesday, August 10, 2016

What Are You Reading?


I'm reading everything I can. Having written THE END to the never-ending work in progress, I'm flitting from book to book like a humming bird stoking up on nectar while the flowers are still in bloom. 

I just began Erik Larson's DEAD WAKE, the story of the last voyage of the Lusitania and I'm captivated by the writing and the detail.

Waiting in the wings is Ann Patchett's THIS IS THE STORY OF A HAPPY MARRIAGE. A friend sent it to me, saying it made her think of me so naturally I'm eager to dive in and find out why.


A few days ago I read this charming little book - EXIT LADY MASHAM by Louis Auchincloss. Many years ago I was enthralled by the BBC series THE CHURCHILLS about the Duke of Marlborough and and his wife, the redoubtable Sarah and the close relationship she had with Queen Anne. This book is the story of Sarah's poor cousin Abigail Hill who Sarah places as a chambermaid to the Queen and who eventually supplants the Duchess in the monarch's affections.  I found it fascinating.

I also treated myself to a re-read of some five collections of James Thurber's short pieces. These books date from my college days and are mostly falling to pieces. But Mr. Thurber's quirky humor (which dates even farther back) can still make me laugh out loud.


And there's this curiosity: a book written in the early 1900s about a family in Virginia on a plantation with sixty slaves during the Civil War. I had it around as part of my background reading and dabbed at it, mainly enjoying the really lovely pen and ink illustrations.  But it was still around so I read it all the way through, and realized that this said so much about the South  -- the South my grandparents believed in and that today's rebel flag wavers still believe in.

It's insidiously charming -- the few slaves that are on stage are happy and loyal, even when their mistress tells then they can leave. And after the war though all leave to taste freedom, many return. 

There's a good essay waiting to be written about this book. If any of you are interested in reading it, it's free or very cheap on Kindle. (My copy was acquired at a library book sale. The last time anyone checked it out was August 25, 1958.)

11 comments:

Ms. A said...

I don't ready books anymore and very few blogs lately. I read threads on Facebook, by miserable, damaged people in pain, all while admitting even more to join the ones already there. So sad that groups like this have a need to exist.

Vicki Lane said...

Sad, indeed, but at least FB provides people who may have little other social life a place to find like minds and maybe some comfort.

Phyllis Wild said...

Sadly I do most of my reading online. I've been slowly rereading The Prince of Tides and enjoying a memoir by Rosanne Cash. I've found tons of intriguing used books lately. Thought I'd spend hours reading on the porch this summer, but it hasn't happened.

Anvilcloud said...

That's quite a collection. I have not been reading much lately although I just read one set in 17th or 18th century Germany that I wasn't too impressed with.

Frances said...

Vicki, I am reading Pat Barker's Toby's Room, the "middle" book in a trilogy. I've already read the other two books, Life Class and Noonday. I've also borrowed the first book in another of her trilogies, Regeneration. It's very interesting to be reading about WW I.

Another book I'm making my way through, slowly, is Slavoj Zizek's Violence. It provides exercise for my mind.

Also on the pile of books I found in the library stacks are The Country Girls Trilogy and Epilogue by Edna O'Brien. (I recently read her newest book, The Little Red Chairs.) And I've also got Jane Austen's Sense and Sensibility and Claire Tomalin's JA biography.

I cannot imagine finishing all of them before their due dates, but the library is quite obliging about renewals.''

xo

Martin Hodges said...

I'm not juggling quite such a long list. Just two in fact. Richard Flanagan's 'Sound of One Hand Clapping', and Stewart Lee's 'Content Provider', for the laughs.

Elizabeth Varadan, Author said...

What an interesting array of books. At present I'm reading a book called The Piano Shop on the Left Bank. I'm a sucker for any book involving Paris (Cara Black mysteries springs to mind), but this book is nonfiction and utterly absorbing. It's simply about a man who lives with this wife and family in Paris, and one day he goes into a piano repair shop that he passes everyday on the way to taking his kids to school, and a whole world opens up to him. Because actually it's more than a repair shop. It's a lovely read, and it pulls one into French culture in an understated way. You learn a lot about pianos, too.

NCmountainwoman said...

I have enjoyed all of Erik Larson's books. He is such a talented writer.

I just finished "Truly Madly Guilty" by Liane Moriarty and thoroughly enjoyed it. I'm struggling through Kate Atkinson's "Life After Life." I don't like it at all and would stop reading except that it's a book club selection for next month. It seems to have equal numbers of people who really love and and who really hate it and I'm among the latter. I'm in the midst of "The Nest" by Cynthia Sweeny. Yet another book about dysfunctional families and not-so-likeable characters. Next is "End of Watch," the final book of Stephen King's detective trilogy.

Non-fiction read is "White Trash" by Nancy Isenberg. Another book with widely varying criticism and praise. Not a barn-burner but an important read although she does not treat my beloved Appalachia very well.

Louise Penny has "A Great Reckoning," a new Chief Inspector Gamache mystery coming out the end of the month. She's doing a reading in Asheville with Malaprop's.

Misty Barnes said...

I am currently reading Return to Peyton Place by Grace Metalious. I just finished Peyton Place. The book, movie, and TV show were before my time. It is a perfect summer read-hot and steamy!!

Vicki Lane said...

More books for the list! I remember when Peyton Place came out and how scandalous it was. There was a copy that got surreptitiously passed around amongst my friends. All these books you all are reading sound good. (Adding to the list.)

Jim Egerton said...

A little late to the party. Mostly mysteries. Currently Michael Lesters INNOCENT BLOOD.
The hero John Jordan, a young man possed. I got it on Book Bub online book store with some free ones. Of course anything by John Sandford. Favorite of mine is John Le Carre.