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.)


"I don't believe in ghosts, but I see them all the time."

Sherman Alexie cancels book tour for memoir about his mother.