August has been a slow month on the blog, but I did do a lot of reading! We’ve also been enjoying the waning days of summer with picnics, park and splashpad visits, and Colorado peaches!
I’m linking up with Modern Mrs. Darcy’s Quick Lit. I’m hoping to pick up the entries again now that we’re back into the swing of school schedules.
Here’s the roundup:
This sweet book follows Don Tillman, an Australian genetics professor who decides to embark on what he calls The Wife Project to find his perfect partner. Don likely has Aspergers syndrome, and he figures his best chance of finding someone is using a scientific approach. Along the way, he meets Rosie, a woman he quickly eliminates from The Wife Project, but who intrigues him with her search for her biological father. He quickly jumps into The Father Project in the first of many bursts of spontaneity and excitement that Rosie brings into his well-ordered life. More info →
What I love about Beautiful Ruins is how it plays out the smaller-scale dramas of the people caught in the wake of the over-the-top dramas of Hollywood--in this case, Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor. Minor characters in the novel, their relationship reverberates through the lives of the people around them, even decades after the fact. We follow the story from the Italian coast in the 1960s to modern day Scotland and Hollywood. I like stories that fully humanize people who appear to be supporting characters, and Beautiful Ruins is a great reminder that everyone has a backstory, and everyone is the protagonist of their own life--even after the so-called main characters have left the spotlight. More info →
I've seen this memoir recommended by readers for years, but it was actually the movie trailer that prompted me to pick it up. My impression was that the book was dark and heartbreaking, while the trailer gave the impression that it was about a carefree, inspiring family. I haven't yet seen the movie, but I did find the book heartbreaking. Walls seems to cling to the uplifting moments of her childhood, when her father in particular infused their family with a reckless sense of freedom and privilege in their free-spirited rootlessness. While there are appealing elements of his spirit, ultimately the parents' selfishness and neglect is breathtaking, but the resourcefulness of the children is inspiring. More info →
I listened to this one on audiobook, and at long last I think I've landed on the kind of audiobook that works for the way I listen: short, non-fiction, personal vignettes. I've gone through periods in my life where I did a lot of running, but I wouldn't count myself a runner now, nor do I particularly miss running. Nonetheless, I found Murakami's running memoir fairly compelling. Some of the race recaps were maybe a bit detailed for my taste, but I enjoyed his insights on running and writing (and how he actually doesn't think much about writing or stories while running!). I loved his thoughts on the physicality required to be a writer. As a former competitive swimmer, Murakami's efforts to improve his own swimming for triathlons particularly stood out. Any athlete--especially endurance athletes--will appreciate Murakami's insights into running, his successes and failures, and how they bleed into other areas of his life and work. More info →
I'm not generally drawn to mysteries, but I've been hearing so much about Louise Penny's Chief Inspector Gamache series and Three Pines that I had to check it out. Three Pines is a small, artsy town in Quebec that has almost no crime--until one of its beloved elderly residents is found dead in the woods, shot through the heart with an arrow. Is it a hunting accident, or something more? Gamache brings his team in from Montreal to investigate. The great thing about this book is the kind but flawed people at the heart of it. Gamache doesn't follow the bitter-but-brilliant investigator trope; he doesn't always see the answer, but he does know how to lead and relate to people. The people of Three Pines have formed a sort of family against a backdrop of quirks, past hurts, and current struggles. The characters drove me through this book more than the mystery, and I look forward to more visits to Three Pines. More info →
Wolf Hollow is a strong contender for one of my favorite books of 2017. A Newbery Honor winner, this middle grade novel blew me away with its spare but insightful, searing writing--especially in the first few chapters, so I was hooked from the start. Twelve-year-old Annabelle is content with her life in school and on her family farm until Betty shows up in town. Betty quickly proves herself a cruel bully who has it out for Annabelle and anyone near her, including Toby, a reclusive World War I veteran who has befriended Annabelle and her family. As the stakes rise, Annabelle's strength and compassion are put to the test. More info →
I’m reading a few books at once right now, which is unusual for me. In paper form, I’m reading The Red Tent, a female-centered novel set in biblical times.
On the iPad, I’m reading I Let You Go, about a mother who lets go of her child’s hand in the street for a brief moment and loses everything. I borrowed this one for the brief moments of the day when I’m drawn to a screen (in hopes of reading, rather than scrolling social media). I can’t do focused reading for long on a backlit screen, though, so if I continue this I’ll have to make sure the books are short and easy to digest.
My daughter and I are reading the illustrated version of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. She’s six now, and the story seems to be sticking with her in ways the first one didn’t (I probably started a little too early). We talk through the characters and what’s happening, and she begs for a few more minutes before bed. We’re reading for 45-60 minutes each night–amazing!
I’m thinking of diving into Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier next, and if my daughter is still on the Harry Potter bandwagon, we’ll probably run out and get the next one (has anyone heard if more illustrated versions will be coming out?).
Our family watched Sing, which is very cute. For days afterward, my three-year-old ran around saying, “Oh. My. Gosh. Look at her butt,” and laughing hysterically. Of course, that’s the one thing that sticks! I might complain about the inappropriate line if it wasn’t so hilarious.
I’ll be finishing up Gilmore Girls soon, and my husband and I have almost finished the new season of Orange is the New Black. This is one of the shows we watch together, so we wait until we’re both available to move on. Next we have to catch up on Orphan Black.
Looking forward to:
The live-action Beauty and the Beast on Netflix. I’m hoping for a glimpse of that library, and that it won’t be too scary for the kids.
I feel like I should leave this section off entirely. I’ve been doing a ton of writing and editing for work, but not so much for my personal projects. I think I had a summer slack off. Now that fall is almost here, I’m feeling the pull to write more, both on the blog and on some ongoing and new projects that are percolating. I’m also thinking about how best to share some of my other writing projects in a way that feels comfortable to me and interesting to anyone who’s reading the blog. Hopefully more to come.
On the blog:
What did you read, watch, and write in August?