Monday, September 19, 2011

Weekly Reading Update #5

As reading weeks go, this past week was not one of great quantity, but I enjoyed what I read and am loving my current reads. I finished The Oracle of Stamboul (<----link to my review) in record time because it so thoroughly sucked me in. Loved the characters, the setting, the storyline. It was just an all-around great reading experience and I highly recommend it.

Next up was my mystery book, the unpublished manuscript by my friend, Greg Moffatt. I'm trying to make sure I focus on finishing at least one of the books that have been lurking too long in my sidebar, each week, and I was anxious
to get back to this one. Greg is multi-published, with several psychology books on violence, crime, etc. and one on parenting but his new manuscript is a coming-of-age memoir. I enjoyed it. Greg's a very good writer and I have no doubt he'll find a publisher for this book, as well.

Since I finished Greg's book, I have been running around like a chicken with its head cut off, running numerous errands, going to the gym, taking pictures with my new camera (I finally got a lens, after several weeks of borrowing) and cleaning like a madwoman. Our house has had a clutter problem for ages and we've been hacking away at it, but this week was one of those weeks that I was in "just let's toss it out, for crying out loud" mode. Sometimes, don't you just wish time would expand to fit all the things you need to accomplish? I felt that way, this week. My reading suffered due to all the cleaning and errands, but I've started two more books. I'm nothing if not an addict.

Learning to Bow by Bruce Feiler has been on my shelf for several years and when I decided now is the time, I didn't actually know quite where to look for it. As it turned out, I'd placed the book on a fairly prominent shelf. Wahoo for that! I thought I'd read two of his books, but after looking at Bruce Feiler's website, I realize I've only read one: Abraham. It was excellent and prompted me to collect the two other titles I own: Walking the Bible and Looking for Class.

Learning to Bow is about the year Feiler spent teaching in Japan and it is absorbing, so far. Japanese customs are so very far removed from those in America that it's easy to appreciate the author's occasional discomfort and utterly fascinating to read about his conversations with co-workers, internal thoughts, comparisons to life in the U.S. I don't have the book handy, but the publication date was the early Nineties. I can't say what, if anything, may have changed in twenty years, but Learning to Bow is an engrossing read and hopefully still fairly accurate.

To the Moon and Back by Jill Mansell is an ARC from Sourcebooks. I started reading it about 2 days ago and managed 97 pages, during about 80 of which I had tears streaming down my face. As with all of Mansell's books, there is a major change that takes place in the life of the heroine at the beginning of To the Moon and Back. In this case, a woman is widowed after her husband suffers a severe head injury in an automobile accident. The bits where he was in a coma were rough reading for me, simply because they were so authentic and I've been through watching a loved one linger in a coma then having to contribute to the decision to unplug life support when it became clear that brain function was gone.

But, of course, the tragedy is just an opening to yet another fun, romantic storyline. I am crazy about Jill Mansell's books. They're consistently enjoyable and every story is unique. Mansell has a terrific sense of humor and a wonderful way of tugging the heartstrings.

I'm also reading my camera manual. Exciting, no? I'm not sure which of the two remaining lurkers I'll focus on finishing, this week -- probably Jamie Durie's The Outdoor Room, since Haiku Mind is a book from my personal library and The Outdoor Room is one that was sent to me for review.

Incidentally, that last post about my review policy (which seems kind of pointless, since I'm not going to accept any ARCs till I've read or attempted everything I've already received) was awfully fun to write because it gave me a chance to reflect on what it is that I really love to read and the few types of books that don't interest me. Odd timing, though, writing a review policy as I've come to the conclusion that it's not fair to anyone for me to accept any books, eh?

I am slowly returning to some minimal blog-hopping, when I can find a spare moment, plus a bit of twittering. And, I plan to continue working on updating various bits of the blog. Next up, I hope to improve my author links and then update links to other blogs. As always, if you're a regular visitor and I haven't managed to add you to my blog roll, please feel free to ask me to add you. I can use the nudge. Since I've given up using Google Reader, I realize that I didn't transfer some blogs I was reading regularly to my blog roll, so there are probably at least a few people out there who are baffled as to why I suddenly stopped visiting. I need to amend that problem.

How was your reading week?

©2011 Nancy Horner. All rights reserved. If you are reading this post at a site other than Bookfoolery and Babble or its RSS feed, you are reading a stolen feed. Email for written permission to reproduce text or photos.


  1. Argh, I wish I could have some of your get in and get it done energy! I'm feeling so weak and tired lately. AKA lazy!

  2. Jenny,

    I think several months of working out has really helped a lot. I was having trouble even getting from room to room -- aching knees, fatigue, blah, blah. And, then a friend invited me to Zumba, I joined a gym and my energy level has been on the uptick, since -- well, since I got over the initial exhaustion, anyway. Just FYI, when I was really tired for a long time and thought I'd become hopelessly lazy, it turned out I was anemic. Don't be afraid to get yourself checked if it drags on too long!!!!

  3. Learning to Bow sounds interesting.

  4. Kelly,

    It is and sometimes it's actually quite funny. I've marked quite a few passages, today.

  5. I *do* wish time would expand to fit all the things I need to accomplish. I wish my motivation would expand, too, so that I wouldn't fritter away all that extra time. ;-)

    Learning to Bow sounds like an interesting read. I enjoy stories where people have to navigate cultures that are foreign to them, and this sounds like a good one!

  6. Learning to Bow looks like one that I would really like. I'll have to check it out.

  7. Megan,

    Yes, I could use a little more motivation, myself. At the moment, the cool air is helping. I'm always invigorated in the fall, so that's good. I love fall and winter. :)

    "Stories where people have to navigate cultures that are foreign to them" is an excellent way to describe Learning to Bow. Sounds like you'd like it. One of the funniest and most fascinating parts of the book is when Feiler is hospitalized for something that would normally be an outpatient injury in the U.S. and then he's stuck until he can convince everyone that he doesn't need a wife or mother to care for him. I marked that part up like crazy!


    I think you would enjoy Learning to Bow. It's a really pleasant read and absolutely fascinating.

  8. I'm reading To the Moon and Back right now and am loving it. Jill Mansell rocks! ;)

  9. Anna,

    She does, indeed. I woke up painfully early, this morning, and I've been reading To the Moon and Back, since. I'm on page 345. Can't put it down!

  10. I read The Oracle of Stamboul as well and though I really liked it, it wasn't a total favorite for me. I had wished that Lukas had fully committed to the magical realism elements in the story and not let them languish like he did.

    You are reading some interesting things right now as well, and I am excited to see what you think of them!

    I also know exactly what you mean about all the clutter. I have clutter up the wazoo, and I need to learn to detach from some of these things so I can just get rid of them!

  11. Zibilee,

    I thought there would be more to the magical realism, too, but that didn't bother me, prob. because I liked Eleonora and the Bey so much that I just let Lukas take me where he so desired. But, I can see why you'd feel that way.

    I'm really enjoying my reading! I finished To the Moon and Back while sitting in Applebees, slowly eating a salad, yesterday. Every time the "ghost" (really conjured up mentally by the widow) appeared, I got teary. I had to bite my lip at the happy ending, so I didn't make a fool of myself snuffling in a restaurant. LOL It is a lovely story.

    Detaching is exactly what we're trying to do, here -- chiefly me. Husband can throw away anything, regardless of value and history. I look at things and see their story or their potential. I'm trying to tell myself it no longer matters that I wore *that* shirt in Edinburgh if it doesn't fit or that some stupid little tin "might be useful someday" if it isn't now. It's working, but slowly!!

  12. I wish I could take a month off from work and work on de-cluttering my house. I used to be so organized...

    Speaking of exhaustion... ;) I've been working so hard at work that I come home and pretty much veg in front of the computer. Is that better than vegging in front of the tv?

    You've mentioned Jill Mansell's books on a few occasions and I'm quite intrigued. I really need to dive into one asap. This one sounds right up my alley (memory/TBI issues).

    Have a wonderful weekend. I owe you another email already. :)

  13. Les,

    I need help on the de-cluttering, so it's pretty much reserved for weekends. Husband hasn't got a sentimental bone in his body and that really helps. Yeah, I used to be organized, too. The year we were flooded for the first time was the year that ended. We had such a huge mess -- for about 2 years because we weren't covered by insurance and just had to repair things bit by bit with boxes piled in living areas. Anyway, that was the end to my organization, but I hope to get it back.

    Vegging is vegging. I've been giving myself a lot of little chewings-out about the fact that I'm on the computer too much but actually not even doing the stuff I *should* do, if I'm going to sit around at the computer.

    Jill Mansell is awesome. Want me to send you my copy of TTMAB, after I review? I'm done with it. Loved it. It made me cry a *lot* -- so, so close to what I went through and the heroine conjurs up her husband, talks to him, imagines his responses. So, the fact that he kept coming back was kind of hard to read. But, at its heart, the book is about love and there are several different romances. Very escapist, lovely reading.

    Don't worry about the email. I'm so overwhelmed, right now, I can't seem to find myself coming or going. Take your time. :)

  14. If you don't plan to reread the Mansell book, I'd love to give it a go, especially since you've reviewed others by her that I keep meaning to try. Maybe this will give me the push to get her entire back-list. So, yes, please! :)

    And thanks for the excuse to put your email on the backburner. I have a lot going on this weekend and while I hope to answer emails, my free time may be tied up with a long bike ride. I will write...eventually. :)

  15. Les,

    I'll put a post-it with your name on the book to remind me (because I am an airhead). No, I don't plan to read it, again. It's the one Mansell book that was too emotional for me to reread, much as I loved it. The coma death just hit too close to home.

    No problem. The next few month or so should be pretty overwhelming for me -- and then, just as the holidays arrive, I'll probably get to breathe. I'm so opposite to the rest of the world. I know you'll write. But, really, there's no hurry!!


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