Yesterday I realized I’m in the middle of six books, and listing them feels less daunting than talking about books I’ve finished– no pressure to pronounce judgment or present a finished analysis. Just a snapshot:
Animorphs #20, The Discovery, by Katherine Applegate (1998). I keep the Animorphs on my phone for comfort…? reading and reading-while-waiting. Apparently this one’s the start of a several-book arc about David, and sanguinity passed on a long tumblr post about this that’s waiting in my email. I’m loving how Animorphs discussion is still low-key humming along while I’m making my way slowly through the series.
Borrowed Summer, by Elizabeth Enright (1946). Short stories with the same avid descriptions of nature and well-tuned dialogue as the Melendy novels and her other children’s books. I mostly got this one because I was trying out our public library’s interlibrary loan services (because someday I won’t have university library privileges!) and Enright was the first author who came to mind who I knew had hard-to-find stuff I’d want to read. Something about the scope and rhythm of the stories reminds me of reading fiction in my mom’s magazines when I was a kid– Ladies Home Journal and Redbook— but maybe with a few more odd corners and less romance.
Les Miserables by Victor Hugo, translated by Isabel Hapgood (1862/1887). Reading this via Les Mis Letters with one installment every day of 2023. I am loving this! The installments are usually long enough to get into something but not so long as to be burdensome. Sometimes I get one or two days behind. Victor Hugo is working his way into my heart.
Victory. Stand! by , , and
The Summer Place, by Jennifer Weiner, read by Sutton Foster (2022). My current audiobook, soapy and good for extended housework sessions. Tons of secrets all building to a climactic wedding day, so we’ll see how that goes.
Seventeen Syllables and Other Stories, by Hisaye Yamamoto (expanded edition, 2001). The stories are dated from 1948 to 1995. Most are about Nisei families in the U.S. My favorite so far is a short memoir called “Life Among the Oil Fields”– my dad might find it reminiscient of his childhood in a tenant-farming family, and it also calls out to the Valley of Ashes in Gatsby.
Just finished Dandelion Cottage, by Carroll Watson Rankin. 1904, middle-grade by today’s categories: four girls get to use a delapidated cottage, owned by the church on their block, as a summer play-house. I checked it out because Beverly Cleary mentioned in A Girl from Yamhill that it was a childhood favorite of hers. (And I see, browsing Goodreads, that I’m not the only one who read it for that reason.) There is lots of housecleaning! And entertaining a real live boarder for three weeks, and a culminating dinner party for the kindly landlord and favorite neighbor.
One thing stood out compared to contemporary books: the rotten new girl who steals, wrecks stuff, and otherwise makes things no fun doesn’t get the note of sympathy or redemption that would be required now. Laura’s parents are mean and negligent, and although the four Dandelion Cottage girls keep reminding each other not to sink to her level, no adult or narrator points out that Laura hasn’t really had friends before, has a tough family life, et cetera. I wonder when sympathy for bullies and “bad kids” became de rigueur– sometime before Mary Stolz’ A Dog on Barkam Street led to The Bully of Barkham Street in 1963?
There are two brief mentions of playing Indian, early in the book. No other content warnings that I can recall.
Dandelion Cottage would make a lovely pair with Elizabeth Enright’s 1958 Gone-Away Lake. And it has a school-story sequel called Girls of Highland Hall, which I have snagged to read on my phone.
The rest of my current reads:
- The Swan and the Seal, by Kristi Lee. She went indie with her sequel to the m/m novella Surprised At Nothing and changed the point of view to my favorite character!
- The Amulet of Samarkand, by Jonathan Stroud. Audiobook. I like the relatively subtle questioning of right-and-wrong, and Simon Jones does a wonderful sardonic Bartimeus! The disappointment is that I was sure Martha Underwood would turn out to be sneaky and powerful. She got Nathan’s real name out of him in the first five minutes! She walked right in on her husband’s meeting with Lovelace! But no, apparently not. :(
- The Boy in the Black Suit, by Jason Reynolds. He has such a strong, easy prose style. It makes me feel like I know the characters, like we hang out all the time.
- Year of the Griffin, by Diana Wynne Jones. I think I’ll always have a book of hers at hand for odd moments, because something interesting happens on every single page. Moment-to-moment interestingness.
Both the Google doodle and Writer’s Almanac are celebrating Zora Neale Hurston’s birthday. I thought I’d mention again that I loved the audio edition of Their Eyes Were Watching God read by Ruby Dee. Multnomah County Library has it on CD, for locals.
Eatonville is still around and home to about 2000 people! I don’t know why I thought it was gone.
I had a lovely holiday season with family and friends and road trips. I didn’t take many photos, but here’s one of sanguinity with her BFF Miss Piggy, on the night that thrihyrne and evannichols led us through the annual Extreme Holiday Lights display around the corner from their place:
I’ve finished pulling together the list of books I read in 2012. You can see the complete list here as a Google doc if you want.
I’ll be adding these nine to my LibraryThing collection, bringing my collection there to 90 books in all:
- Me…Jane, by Patrick O’Donnell (picture book)
- How to Die of Embarrassment Every Day, by Ann Hodgman (middle-grade memoir)
- Black Hearts, by Holly Black (YA)
- Please Ignore Vera Dietz, by A.S. King (YA)
- Every Day, by David Levithan (YA)
- Dairy Queen, by Catherine Gilbert Murdock (YA)
- Code Name Verity, by Elizabeth Wein (YA)
- Middlemarch, by George Eliot (adult fiction)
- Adrift, by Steven Callahan (adult nonfiction)
You know, I was going to write a blurb about each one of these, but so many end-of-year book lists have gone by on my screen in the last few days that I don’t think I really need to add another. Maybe instead I’ll call out the audiobooks that got me through a lot of dishwashing: Ruby Dee reading Their Eyes Were Watching God, Natalie Moore with the perfect Wisconsin-teenager accent in Dairy Queen, and Steve Martin talking about his stand-up days in Born Standing Up.
Happy New Year to all, and best wishes for a happy and fruitful 2013!