Saturday, July 08, 2023

A bang, not a whimper


Two months into L.'s retirement, and I'm finished with the stockpiling of books. No more book purchases! Or at least, no purchases until I am ready to start the book instead of having it on hand for the future. 

The books that I succumbed to before transitioning totally into this new stage:

The Novel: A Biography by Michael Schmidt. A 700-year history of the novel, this tome concerns itself with "the creative dialogues between authors and between books, and suggests how these dialogues have shaped the development of the novel in English." 

The Way the Day Breaks by David Roberts. Mental illness in 1980s Yorkshire.

One Afternoon by Sian James. This first novel won the Yorkshire Post Book Award in 1975 and has been reissued by Persephone Books.

Space Crone by Ursula K. Le Guin. Somehow I've allowed Le Guin to be a gap in my reading. Must remedy that.

The Love of Singular Men by Victor Heringer. The latest title from my Peirene Press subscription by a Brazilian author who died in 2018 at the age of 30.

I am Homeless if This is Not My Home by Lorrie Moore. Moore's a favorite, an automatic buy. Between the subject matter and some of the reviews, I'm almost afraid to read it.

To Battersea Park by Philip Hensher. A novel set in London during the pandemic.

Cousins by Aurora Venturini. An Argentine novel published when the author was 85 and had already published more than 30 books; it's her first translated into English.

Still Life at Eighty : The Next Interesting Thing by Abigail Thomas. These days I'm interested in books with elderly narrators/protagonists, so when Stephen King himself raved about this memoir on Twitter, I was quick to both order and read it.

The Lie of the Land and The Three Graces by Amanda Craig. I'm currently reading The Three Graces, the story of three women in their 80s living in Tuscany, and The Lie of the Land, an earlier Craig, features some of the same characters.

Windmill Hill by Lucy Atkins. Elderly main characters who live in a windmill. I've already read it and it was delightful.

Who's Your Founding Father? by David Fleming. An exploration of how Thomas Jefferson plagiarized the Declaration of Independence from the Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence. Local history!

The Blazing World : A New History of Revolutionary England 1603-1689 by Jonathan Healey. Heavy sigh. I have so many history books stockpiled I should really try to schedule a year when I read nothing but.

The World : A Family History of Humanity by Simon Sebag Montefiore. I read the sections on Oliver Cromwell in conjunction with Robert Harris's Act of Oblivion last month. 

Oblivion : An After Autobiography by Robin Hemley. Hemley's memoir about his sister, Nola, is one of my favorites. The only reason this joined the stockpile instead of being read immediately is I don't want to subject it to my usual a-bit-here-a-bit-there reading approach. I want time to read it without interruption and it's hard to manage that.

The Lola Quartet and The Singer's Gun by Emily St. John Mandel. I started reading Mandel with Station Eleven and need to loop back to her earlier novels.

Mischief Acts by Zoe Gilbert. English folklore.

Reynard the Fox by Anne Louise Avery. French folklore. 

The Year of the Cat by Rhiannon Lucy Cosslett. Yet another pandemic novel set in London.

Under the Henfluence : Inside the World of Backyard Chickens and the People Who Love Them by Tove Danovich. There's a country store within walking distance of the house we're renovating that sells baby chicks; I can't wait until we can put together our flock.

Beaver Land : How One Weird Rodent Made America by Leila Philip. There are beavers in the creek on L.'s mom's farm and I think they're awesome.

At the Table by Claire Powell. I think this is supposed to be in the vein of Meg Mason's Sorrow and Bliss.

In Ascension by Martin Macinnes. I love literary science fiction and I am very much looking forward to this.

Big Swiss by Jen Beagin. I read this one right after purchasing. I enjoyed it, but should probably have waited to get it from the library.

The Woman Who Climbed Trees by Smriti Ravindra. An impulse buy from an actual trip to an actual bookstore instead of my usual online method. The author went to NC State.

Forbidden Notebook by Alba De Cespedes.  I help select popular reading titles at the university library and I put this one down to order in January. It is still yet to be purchased and that's why I obtained by own. I hope to have it read before Her Side of the Story comes out in October.

Humanly Possible : Seven Hundred Years of Humanist Freethinking, Inquiry, and Hope by Sarah Bakewell.  This will join How to Live and At the Existentialist Cafe on the shelf and perhaps they can work it out among themselves which one I should read first.

The Stone World by Joel Agee. The first novel by James Agee's son. For when I'm tired of reading about old folk.





Sunday, March 19, 2023

The penultimate stack post

Let's be dramatic about it: we are entering the dark wood of a transitional stage of our lives. L. is retiring in six weeks! (Unfortunately, I am still close to four years out from my own.) He's been on the verge of retiring for at least a couple years now, but the ability to work from home and the bear market kept him going. His employers now insist on half time in the office and between that absurdity (everyone sits at their office desk to zoom into meetings with people) and his age (68 this summer), he's said enough, and we will just have to hope for the best when it comes to the sequence of returns risk. Perhaps deferring social security until 70 will help offset any financial chaos enough for us not to run out of funds in our later years. I will admit to being quite paranoid about money and the state of the world, now and in the future, and did a bit of lobbying for him to postpone the loss of his reliable paycheck until after we knew if the Republicans would default on the debt, but he's eager to work on home projects, not computer code, and I can't blame him even if I am awfully worried about our 401(k)s.

Anyway, the plan is to completely renovate my parents' 1958 ranch house between now and when I retire. I was adamant that I would never even consider moving back to my home town until we became caregivers for my sister after she was diagnosed with ALS and I had to face some hard facts. We live in a two-story house, on a hill, and even if we put in a stair lift, and added a downstairs bedroom suite onto the back of the house, continuing to live here would be complicated. And there's the change to the traffic flow on the highway our neighborhood feeds out of which stresses me to no end! There are days I drive miles out of my way to avoid it altogether. Let's move where we can hear donkeys and cattle and see the mountains when we look out the windows. Let's raise chickens and have a garden. Let's finally have a basement.

Another thing I've been adamant about: I'd quit stockpiling books when L. retired. Most of my reading consists of library books and Netgalley fare anyway; yet the fact that I've been freewheeling through the 21st century buying books whenever I found something the library didn't have, or couldn't get to me soon enough (usually to sit unread on my shelves long past when it did become readily available), makes this change one that's apt to prove difficult. The books above were supposed to be the last purchases of the year except for a couple automatic buy items being published later in the year and yet I already have another even taller stack with three books still en route. 

I am returning to blogging to bring some accountability to my reading life. Read what's at hand. Plan some projects to counter the urge to buy something new.

Now for the books above:

The Lioness by Mark Powell. Eco-terrorism in the Appalachians. I want to pair this with Eleanor Catton's Birnam Woods.

The Guest Lecture by Martin Riker. I intend to read this along with Sigrun Palsdottir's History. A Mess. and Lucy Ives's Life is Everywhere for an academic life project.

The Bethrothed by Alessandro Manzoni. Reading this now with A Public Space. Somehow I'd never heard of this classic before. It's good!

A Good Horse Has No Color and Song of the Vikings by Nancy Marie Brown. Because I love Iceland and Icelandic horses and horses in general. I probably won't read these until after I retire.

The Deluge by Stephen Markley. I am considering devoting my summer to reading nothing but science fiction and dystopian fare. This would be one of the first I'd tackle.

Collected Works by Lydia Sandgren. A Swedish addition to my Scandinavian shelf. I'm reading A System So Magnificent It is Blinding now, so maybe this one should be next?

Sunday, January 01, 2023

Reading by Year, 2023

Keeping a Reading Record

Books Read in 2023

(in backwards order)

To The Lighthouse. Virginia Woolf

The Three Graces. Amanda Craig

The Forbidden Territory of Terrifying Women. Molly Lynch

Commitment. Mona Simpson

A Very Easy Death. Simone de Beauvoir

A Novel Called Heritage. Margaret Mitchell Dukore

Act of Oblivion. Robert Harris 

The Parrot and the Igloo. David Lipsky

Still Life at Eighty : the Next Interesting Thing. Abigail Thomas 

My Stupid Intentions. Bernardo Zannoni 

Windmill Hill. Lucy Atkins

Uncommon Kitchens. Sophie Donelson 

The Years. Virginia Woolf

The Future. Naomi Alderman

Big Swiss. Jen Beagin

Beyond the Burn Line. Paul McCauley

The Dog of the North. Elizabeth McKenzie

Delta Wedding. Eudora Welty

The Last Animal. Ramona Ausubel

Birnam Wood. Eleanor Catton

Let Us Descend. Jesmyn Ward

Games and Rituals. Katherine Heiny

Welcome Home, Stranger. Kate Christensen

The Terraformers. Annalee Newitz

The Vulnerables. Sigrid Nunez

Biography of X. Catherine Lacey

The Betrothed. Alessandro Manzoni

All of Us Together in the End. Matthew Vollmer

Strong Female Character. Fern Brady

The Undertow: Scenes from a Slow Civil War. Jeff Sharlet

Decent People. De’Shawn Charles Winslow

A System So Magnificent It Is Blinding. Amanda Svensson

Call It Horses. Jessie van Eerden

The Seven Moons of Maali Almeida. Shehan Karunatilaka

Barbara Isn’t Dying. Alina Bronsky

Diary of a Void. Emi Yagi

Reproduction. Louisa Hall

What You are Getting Wrong About Appalachia. Elizabeth Catte

Take What You Need. Idra Novey

The Latecomer. Jean Hanff Korelitz

Generations. Lucille Clfton

Mouth to Mouth. Antoine Wilson

Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow. Gabrielle Zevin

Psalms for the End of the World. Cole Haddon

Summer Light, and Then Comes the Night. Jon Kalman Stefansson

Babel, or the Necessity of Violence. R.F. Kuang

Looking for the Hidden Folk: How Iceland’s Elves Can Save the Earth. Nancy Marie Brown

Singer Distance. Ethan Chatagnier

My Volcano. John Elizabeth Stintzi

Delphi. Clare Pollard

A bang, not a whimper

  Two months into L.'s retirement, and I'm finished with the stockpiling of books. No more book purchases! Or at least, no purcha...