Hello! How has your week been? I can’t believe that it’s already the second Sunday of March, though I’m sure that most of you are joyful that we’re swiftly moving toward warmer weather.
This week has been a heck of a good one for reading for me. I finished Frog Music by Emma Donoghue, Rainbow Rowell’s Landline, made progress on The Leopard, and am deep into The Trip to Echo Spring: On Writers and Drinking by Olivia Laing. This book is beautiful and absorbing and I can’t wait to write about it further when I finish, though I don’t really want it to end.
Yesterday I realized that my first Big Book Discussion meeting at the library is quickly approaching and I have only read about 10 pages of Bleak House. So, next week my reading really must focus on reading the first third of this tome. I’ve had a few people express interest in attending the discussion – I hope they do actually read and show up at the end of March.
On Thursday, I was excited to see the longlist for the Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction announced. Of the twenty titles I have read two – The Lowland by Jhumpa Lahiri and The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt. I have a dream of one day reading all the titles on the longlist, but this year won’t be the one. A few of the books aren’t even available in the US or won’t even be published here until after the winner is chosen. I was glad to see that most of the titles that are available here are checked out at my library and are being read. Do you pay attention to this award at all?
I wish you all a wonderful Sunday!
The Receptionist is a book that I’ve wanted to read since it was released a few years ago. Anything set in Manhattan in the sixties always appeals to me and to have it set in the literary world is especially enticing. I was gathering books for a Mad Men display at work and this title kept popping up on various book lists online – instead of putting it on the display I decided to read it last weekend.
Unfortunately, it was somewhat of a disappointment, I think because of my expectations. It isn’t so much a chronicle of the author’s 21 years working at The New Yorker as an exploration of one young woman’s midcentury identity crisis, which, though interesting, isn’t quite what I thought the book was going to be about.
Janet Groth was raised in the Midwest with an alcoholic father and an aloof and beautiful mother. As soon as she finished college in Minnesota in 1957 she hightailed it to New York and, through a connection with E.B. White, secured a position as receptionist on the 18th floor of The New Yorker. There she stayed for the next two decades, assisting the magazine’s staff writers and becoming a part of their lives by babysitting and housesitting for them and socializing with them after work.
The book is not laid out chronologically, instead it contains a series of chapters that move back and forth between detailing the author’s personal struggles and romantic entanglements to profiles of people she met at the magazine. The chapters that focus on her own story slowly overtake the book. I do like reading coming-of-age tales, but as the book progressed I missed the chapters that featured the magazine or people she met through it, such as her chapter on Muriel Spark (which is wonderful and worth reading the book for).
Overall, this is a fast read that has very descriptive writing, with some lovely chapters on the writers and editors of The New Yorker. However, it also has too many angsty chapters that were not quite unique enough to capture my interest.
Hello there! I hope you’ve all had a great week. Mine was another busy one and I didn’t get as much reading in as I had hoped. I am stalled with Frog Music, but I will pick it up again soon – it will probably be my lunch break book next week at work.
My book club met on Tuesday evening to talk about The Chosen and we had a good discussion about the two Jewish boys at the center of the novel, Reuven and Danny, and the different expectations their fathers set for their lives. I enjoyed the novel, but I have to admit that I did miss the lack of a strong female presence in the lives of these two boys. I suppose I read so many domestic, female-centered novels that reading a male focused book felt alien to me. Our March selection is The Painted Veil by W. Somerset Maugham.
I have several books to write about, but I find myself not knowing what to say about them when I sit down at the computer. I think I let too much time pass between reading a book and writing down my thoughts about it – do you do that ? Or do you write about them soon after finishing?
March is going to be the month that I finally finish several books that I’ve had on the go for a while. The Homemaker by Dorothy Canfield Fisher, The Leopard by Giuseppe di Lampedusa, The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton, Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter… and I believe there are several others that I’m forgetting. I’ve got to break this terrible habit of abandoning books that I like for no other reason than that I am capricious.
Have a lovely Sunday!
1. Penguin Clothbound Classics // 2. Vintage Classics // 3. Everyman’s Library //
4. Vintage Classics // 5. Signet Classics // 6. Headline Review
Sunday’s and Nicola’s recentish posts on Northanger Abbey triggered memories of the only time I have read this lovely novel. I was just out of graduate school, living with my parents and unable to find a librarian job. I was pretty discouraged and used books (as always) to cheer me up. Northanger Abbey was one of the bright spots in my life at that time so I’ll always have fond feelings for it.
As for the covers, I like no. 3 best. Which one do you like?
I’ve had a very productive week, have been busy every evening so there’s not been much time to read. I did finish The Chosen early in the week, but haven’t really clicked with anything else, though I started Frog Music by Emma Donoghue at lunch yesterday and I think it is going to be a good one. There is something about her writing that hypnotizes me and keeps me reading even if I’m not crazy about the setting or the plot (as with Room).
I’ve bought a few Viragos lately from awesomebooks.com. I like their very low prices, but sometimes the books are not in the best condition…oh well, I’m just glad to have them. Here are the green beauties I’ve received in February:
The weird shininess on A Wreath for the Enemy is due to a plastic covering it came in.
A Wreath of Roses & The Sleeping Beauty by Elizabeth Taylor – I still intend to read all of Taylor’s novels, though I have not made much progress lately.
A Pin to See the Peepshow by F Tennyson Jesse – I don’t know much about this author or this book, but doesn’t it have a fantastic title?
A Wreath for the Enemy by Pamela Frankau – I bought this after reading Scott’s post on “Possible Persephones” at Furrowed Middlebrow.
The Return of the Soldier by Rebecca West – This book is on the list for the Librarything Great War Theme Read. I am behind on reading along with the group, but I hope to catch up.
Mansfield Park by Jane Austen – 2014 is the year I WILL read Mansfield Park and Emma, the two Austens I’ve never managed to finish.
I am working today so won’t be able to read until I get home in the evening, but that anticipation of arriving home and settling down with a book and a treat will get me through the afternoon of helping people print and finding books for desperate school children who have reports due on Monday (our typical Sunday crowd).
Enjoy your day!