Monday, 27 July 2009

Mailbox Monday and Summer reading


You know that feeling you get when you have a lovely gift certificate to a bookstore, and 20 minutes or even, fabulously, an hour, to spend just meandering around, pulling books off the shelves? I didn't have an hour, but I did have a gift certificate, and a list of books I wanted, and this is what I bought after 20 minutes in my local independent bookstore, Collected Works, last Saturday:

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
- Stieg Larsson

(the buzz for this one goes on and on, I'm very curious now)

Child 44 - Tom Rob Smith -

(At last! I've been waiting a year for this one to be in paperback!)

Strike/Slip - Don McKay.

(I had just been on CBC's website that morning, and came across a link to the 10 best recent Canadian poets to read, and McKay and this book were one of the 10. I was so surprised to find it - serendipity, one might say, as I finish volume 2 of Mary Oliver's Selected Poems (I keep lingering over this book), here is a book of poetry by a Canadian that looks interesting - geography and trees and people. A book for Canada 3 Challenge!)

Jane Austen Ruined My Life - Beth Pattillo

(On sale! for my Jane Austen challenge! I was so happy when I saw this!)

Three Day Road - Joseph Boyden

(Did you think I was kidding when I say I plan on finishing this Canada 3 Challenge this time around? And this book has been garnering awards and word of mouth for over a year now. I just had to gear myself up to read a book about war, that's all. I do like the plot, and I love myths and spirits and folklore, bravery and courage, and this book has it all!)

I don't know which is more exciting - that I bought two Canadian books at the same time!!! Or that between my gift certificate and credit at the store - when you buy a book, you automatically generate dollars towards a purchase in the future and if you save enough (er, that's really buy a lot), like I do, sometimes everything's free! I paid $1.93!!! I also love my mysteries....sigh. There is nothing like buying a new book to read.

So what came in your mailbox this week? Do you have any summer reading you plan on doing?


Here in Ottawa, we have had rain. We are thisclose to breaking the 30 year record for rainfall for July. We get a day of sunshine, three days of rain/storms/humidity. I'm not complaining! It's just an extraordinary July, cooler than normal and much much wetter. It's been hard to believe it is summer - if my children weren't on holidays and at daycare all day now, I wouldn't know it was summer! So the usual temptation to buy a beach read hasn't hit me yet. I suppose Child 44 comes closest....I also have a pile of mysteries that are moving to the front of the TBR pile, and while it's not beach reading, I'm in the mood to tackle 1599, A Year in the Life of William Shakespeare, which also has me excited. I might actually read 3 non-fiction books this summer, for the challenge! But a big fat beach read - nothing has really grabbed me yet. So I was wondering if any of you, my Gentle Readers, have come across a really good beach read this year? A summer read that you completely enjoyed?

I know I am behind on book reviews. I am in the mood when it's 10 am at work, but by the time I'm at home and after dinner etc, I'm too tired to think of all the wonderful things I thought about the books. I do promise that I will do some book reviews, because I have some really good books I've been reading lately. I find that in my attempt to get to 56 books read by the 31 of this month - that's THIS Friday, and even if I was on holiday, I'm not sure I could read seven books in five -oops, 4 now - days! - I rush to pick up the next book instead of writing a review.

A lot of bloggers in June did their favourite reads of the year so far, books they loved. I thought about doing this, but then I realized that for now, one book stands head and shoulders above everything else I have read: Middlemarch, by George Eliot. I just love that book. It's not my only favourite, of course, but it's the one that really stands out. I think while I read everything else, Middlemarch is still working its way into me, so I haven't picked up any classics to read for the other challenges yet. It's like I want to hold on to Middlemarch, to the characters and the plot and the events for a little while, and while I have read plenty of other good books, nothing has dislodged Middlemarch yet. I'm not sure I'm ready for anything to, yet. If that makes sense! It was such a wonderful rich experience of a novel, and I think I'm absorbing that this is what novels are supposed to be like. Not many are like Middlemarch.

I also, as mentioned above, have been reading Selected Poems Vol 2 by Mary Oliver. I have been reading a poem or two every night just before I fall asleep. It's the quietest part of the day for me, when I have a precious few minutes to absorb them, to be swept up by her open honesty about how nature moves her, and to fall into my own reveries about how I love the natural world, before sleep claims me. I have never had this experience of falling in love with a poet before, and her poems and how she writes are illuminating a path for my own writing. I have written poetry since I was about 12, and this is the first time that I have found the same kind of openness about life around her in poems, that I strive for in my own. So I'm learning and absorbing here too, and rereading my favourite poems - some very quickly, instantly are favourites, others linger and grow, and I find it hard to finish this book, even though I have Volume One still to read, and Ted Hughes' The Birthday Letters to finish, and now a Canadian poet to discover! I know that it's not fashionable to read poetry, that there is a fear of not understanding it that I learned from my years in English Lit at University - but I have always loved poetry, and always had some with me. So rather than say 10 best books read (or favourite reads) in the first six months, I'd have to say I have two - Middlemarch, and Selected Poems.

So what are you reading for this summer? Do you have any days set aside just for reading? Do you find it easier or harder to read during the summer?

Some books I'd like to read while the days are long (*even if we don't have much sun):
Child 44 - Tom Rob Smith
Girl With the Dragon Tattoo - Stieg Larsson
The Dead Hour - Denise Mina
What The Dead Know - Laura Lippman
A Restless Evil - Ann Granger
Fearless Fourteen - Janet Evanovich
1599: A Year in the LIfe of William Shakespeare - James Shapiro
Jane Austen Ruined My Life - Beth Pattillo
Friend of the Devil - Peter Robinson
The Various Haunts of Men - Susan Hill
The REz Sisters - Thomson Highway
In The Woods - Tana French
A gentlewoman in Upper Canada - Anne Langton
Three Day Road - Joseph Boyden

Ok, I can hear you all laughing now. That's 13 books! In one month and 4 days, before Labour Day and the end of summer! I don't care that the equinox is on Sept 21, summer ends in Canada on Sept 1 when we might have hot days, but the nights are much cooler.....and if I read all three of the Canadian books, I will have read 4 by the end of summer, which is more than I read this past year for the challenge!!!! Amazing what a little failure will do!

I hope wherever you are, dear reader, you have a good, fat book to curl up with this summer.


Table Talk said...

We have already had more than double the average rainfall for July here in the UK and you should just see the forecast for tomorrow. I think I'll need to take a boat to go and have lunch with my friend Margaret rather than the car. If I vanish from the blogging waves again it will be because I've been washed away. so I can really sympathise with your weather issues. Where you reading list is concerned do read the Tana French and then go on and get the follow-up, 'The Likeness' which I think is even better. She is one of the new writers on the block about whom I'm most excited. The other one I'd really push (and there are several there that I've very much enjoyed) is '1599'. It's excellent. Very scholarly (we have it on our MA reading lists) but also very readable. He's in the middle of writing one about the Shakespeare authorship question and I can't wait to read it.

DesLily said...

good that you mentioned that you really like mysteries.. I think you will like In The Woods! I am not a big mystery reader but the ones I've read I've really enjoyed and this was one of them. (the others being: all of the Laurie R King Mary Russell books, Laurie R Kings Touchstone, and the Thirteenth Tale.)

Debi said...

I hear you on the summer(?) weather. It's been an odd one here, too. Already twice as much rain as is usual for July. Record low temps. Only once in the whole month have we reached the normal average high. Personally, I don't mind the cool weather one iota...but it sure would be nice to have a dry day now and then.
I've had a truly horrible reading summer thus far. :( Can't seem to get anything finished. I'm hoping that August will be better. But I'm not counting on it.
Here's hoping you meet all those summer reading goals!!!!

Kailana said...

All it has done lately is rain! I don't know where we are with averages, but it's that type of year. Depressing summer. I am so excited to see you have Three Day Road! I love that! I have his other book but haven't got to it yet. I read five books this month by Canadian authors. Very proud of myself.

Daphne said...

I adore Mary Oliver. What a fun post. So many books to think about!!

Daphne said...

Oh, and I really enjoyed In The Woods. Creepy and great atmosphere.

JaneGS said...

Middlemarch--always good for a reread!

Susan said...

Ann: I will be starting In the wood next (thanks!) and 1599 next week. :-D I'm glad to hear that you have read it and think it's very good!

So, did you float away in the past few days? We had another huge storm on Thursday, broke all kinds of records.....but today was sunny! Here's hoping you have a good weekend there too!

Deslily: So you read In the Woods too? I seem to be the only one who didn't yet!!! I like Laurie King - all her non- Sherlock HOlmes books. I guess I'm a traditionalist, because Holmes would never put up with a woman telling him what to do, so I can't read the mysteries. I am going to go see the new movie when it opens this fall, though! I'm glad to see you read some mysteries too!

Debi: rain, rain, go away....we're back to one good day, one cloudy day, one rainy day....but at least it's more sun than we had all month! We're cool too - not cold, just below normal most of the time. My husband (from England) loves this, since he finds our hot humid summers almost unbearable He thinks this summer is great! I say it reminds him of England - rain and cool! lol

I hope you get something read soon!!!

Kailana: I'm anxious to read Three Day Road!

As for the rain - my mother lives in Kitchener, down your way, and all they've had is storms and rain too.
You should be proud to have read five Canadian books this month!!

Daphne: see, I am the last person to read In the Woods!! lol and you love Mary Oliver too. One day I hope you and I get to meet! I think we'd have so much to talk about...actually I think that about most of my regular commentators, which is everyone here on this post too!

Jane: I won't reread it yet! I just read it. I will again though one day. Are you going to reread it soon? What do you love about it?