Reading Log, May 2008
This is a somewhat belated list of the books I completed in May. As will be seen, May was a month of book-gluttony at a level that I am not capable, or desirous, of sustaining. June's list will likely be shorter.
The Case of Jennie Brice by Mary Roberts Rinehart -- An audiobook mystery (Librivox!), most interesting to me because it was set in Pittsburgh, and I grew up near there. Very twisty ending!
The Cat Who Saw Stars by Lilian Jackson Braun -- A reread, very light reading, which includes talk of knitting, wool, and homeschooling. And UFO's.
Emma by Jane Austen -- Yet another reread, but just as good as ever. I never grow tired of Jane Austen, and whichever one I happen to be reading is my favorite. I love them all.
The Lost Boy by Dave Pelzer -- Nonfiction, the sequel to A Child Called It, about an abused child. This book is about his time in foster care, which, although he had a lot of issues and fears to work through (a lot of messed-up thinking from his earlier abuse), was mostly a positive experience that eventually helped him to "make good."
Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton--Audio book at Librivox, read by Elizabeth Klett (the best). This was a very well-told story, but hard to explain. It's the story of a young man in a fairly out-of-the-way New England town. He has dreams and desires, but...it is a pretty sad story. However, the writing (and Elizabeth Klett's reading) are fantastic.
Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen -- Another reread, which I picked up as soon as I finished Emma. I didn't read any Jane Austen at all in 2007 (something that hasn't happened for ten years), and I guess I am making up for it this year. Once I got started, I just couldn't stop. No one can stand up to multiple readings like Jane Austen. It was probably the 8 or 10th time I've the book.
Small Island by Andrea Levy -- This book won the Orange Prize in 2004. It was also fantastic, and one of the few books I blogged about properly when I read it.
They Met in Moscow by Rosemary Timperley--Published in 1966 (the year I was born!), this is the story of a tour group in Moscow. It is not a mystery, not an adventure story, not a thriller or romance. It is just a story about a random group of people, thrown together, against the background of a very interesting city at a very interesting time. I always prefer character-driven stories to plot-driven ones, so the book held my interest although it was not "great." I live in a former Iron-Curtain country, so any books that deal with life behind the Iron Curtain or communist-era interests grab my attention anyway.
The narrator is the most interesting character in the book, although she is never named. She was a well-known, highly acclaimed English actress until an automobile accident disfigured her. A great deal of plastic surgery was required, but her appearance is clearly not altogether normal. She is very lonely and misses her life on stage dreadfully. She sees the world as a stage, and views everyone's actions in light of a theatrical performance, making her narration rather dramatic. I couldn't resist writing this much, but I hope I haven't made anyone really interested in reading it, because I'm afraid it was probably never published in the US.
Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh--I've never read this before, and like some other 20th century literature I've been reading, I don't think I would have cared for it much if I had. This was definitely a book worth reading, and worth writing about at greater length, and maybe I'll do that.
The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro--This is the third book I've read by Ishiguro (and I will read more). All of his books have some things in common--a single narrator, a sort of passionless, detached tone of narrating even the most emotional situations, and that "unreliable narrator" quality which lets you in for a surprise at some point. I don't think I'd classify Ishiguro as a "great" author, but he's really, really, really good.
I also had another book that I started an abandoned in May: Daughter of Jerusalem by Sara Maitland. This is not my kind of book. At all.
And that makes ten books read in May. If I maintained such a pace, I'd read 120 for the year, which would be sort of extreme, even if some of them are audiobooks.