Friday, October 31, 2008


Bookwise, I have to thumb all the way back to February 1998 in my reading journal to find a time when I did less reading than I managed this month. Back then, I encountered Steven Millhauser's superb Edwin Mullhouse at the same I was dealing with Anglo-American cataloging rules, and that was it for February. This month, after a distracted slog through Muriel Barbery's The Elegance of the Hedgehog, I realized there was no point in bothering with a book until after November 4. I have been totally engrossed in the election. No doubt some of you will be grateful that I've spared you a running commentary on all of that.

But my birthday was this month and so the books kept stockpiling whether or not I was reading.

Adalbert Stifter's Rock Crystal. One of the latest NYRB titles. I have almost a complete shelf of NYRBs by now.

Drusilla Modjeska's The Orchard. I'd not heard of this book before it showed up as a potential read for The Slaves of Golconda; while Jeanette Winterson's Sexing the Cherry was ultimately chosen for our January discussion, this one (suggested by LitLove) looked too good to pass up.

Andrew Crumey's Sputnik Caledonia. I think I heard about this one via Readerville.

Mary Ann Shaffer's The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. My mother-in-law insisted I have this one.

Francine Prose's Goldengrove. Probably the most obvious book on the stack for me to have.

Charlotte Mosley's The Mitfords: Letters Between Six Sisters. Finally out in paperback. . .

Ron Rash's Serena. An Appalachian Macbeth? We'll see.

Nadeem Aslam's The Wasted Vigil. (Review copy)

Alan Cheuse's To Catch the Lightning. (Review copy)

See you on November 5 when I resort to my normal default settings. In the meantime, go vote for Obama.


  1. The Orchard is too good to pass up, I have reread it several times. I was a little disappointed to see that it wasn't chosen for Slaves of Golconda, especially given how relatively well-known Jeanette Winterson is, so I'm glad to see that it was at least brought to the attention of one reader who had not known of it before :).

  2. Happy birthday, thanks for sharing your tasty stack with us. Don't worry, I've already gone forth and voted. Since it's such a bother to vote over here, everyone wishes it could count for more than one. Oh well, the U.S. Embassy gave me positive strokes for voting when I went there.

  3. One of my daughter's friends started teaching in Korea this fall and he told her that he wasn't going to bother to vote. :(

    He volunteered for the Obama team here in North Carolina in the spring, so I hope he's just jerking her chain and has already sent in his ballot.

    Evie, usually too many worthy books are presented at one time for the Slaves. I voted for the Winterson because I've always had a mental block about that one. I'm glad to hear you think The Orchard is a good one.

  4. Happy belated birthday! I was thinking of you the other day and figuring your quietness was election related. I imagine the polls will be so busy Tuesday you won't have much time to read!

  5. Argh, S, when I glanced at your book stack I thought "phew, nothing here for me, just move along." But MacBeth in Appalachia, when I"m on a prolonged Shakespeare kick, and just finished MacBeth this morning and am going to see a production tonight?

    Rats. I'll be posting a book stack of my own, soon. And voting on Tues!

  6. I love Adalbert Stifter, so will be interested to see what you make of him. Indian Summer was just an amazing book for me. I'm also going to read The Orchard - it did look too good to pass up.

  7. Happy birthday! That is quite a good pile of books you have there.

  8. I'll be curious to hear what you think of To Catch the Lightning. It wasn't what I expected.... Hope the lines aren't terribly long the polls tomorrow! Although it's never awful for bookish people, we just take something along to read!

  9. Crissy12:46 AM

    You have been missed, Susan.
    I'll be thinking of you and wishing you a problem-free day at the polls tomorrow.

  10. That's quite a nice stack of reading matter. I wish my own mother-in-law had such excellent taste in books! I thoroughly enjoyed the "Guernsey" book, even tho' the title put me off at first. Such a shame Shaffer is no longer with us.

  11. I look forward to hearing what you have to say about "The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society" and "The Mitfords". I have heard so many favourable reports that I am keen to read them myself.

  12. Hey, just stopping by. I'm curious about the Mitford letters -- I worked on a book about Jessica a few years ago (was it *her* letters? I think it was and that I am getting old and forgetful) and quite fell in love with her and went on a Mitford kick . . . what a strange and fascinating family.

    (And yay for the election! Everyone I know locally was pro-Obama but then we all voted for Gore and Kerry too so we were on absolute tenterhooks 'til it was clear which way it was going.)