Monday, January 15, 2018

Monday Malarkey

When I look at the stack of books I acquired, this week, I feel like one of those characters in a movie who has done something terrible and shouts (as he's being handcuffed), "I can explain!" All of this week's acquisitions were purchased. I'll tell you why there are so many, in a bit.

Recent arrivals (top to bottom):

  • Caesar's Vast Ghost by Lawrence Durrell
  • Three Tales by Gustave Flaubert
  • In the Skin of a Lion by Michael Ondaatje
  • L'Amante Anglaise by Marguerite Duras
  • The Red and the Black by Stendhal
  • The Book of Ebenezer Le Page by G. B. Edwards
  • Raise High the Roof Beam, Carpenters and Seymore, an Introduction by J. S. Salinger
  • Emily L. by Marguerite Duras
  • Summer Crossing by Truman Capote
  • The Fountain Overflows by Rebecca West
  • Wildlife by Richard Ford 
  • Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead by Tom Stoppard
  • The Lords of Discipline by Pat Conroy
  • The Heart of the Matter by Graham Greene
  • Some Horses by Thomas McGuane
  • The Go-Between by L. P. Hartley
  • War Birds: Diary of an Unknown Aviator by John MacGavock Grider, Ed. by E. W. Springs
  • The Castle of Crossed Destinies by Italo Calvino

OK, so why the huge stack? Our local secondhand bookstore (the only bookstore within 30 miles, actually), Pentimento Books, is going out of business. Normally, I seldom go there because they're a bit pricey but at 50% off the prices were reasonable. I decided to focus on books that are either classics or by well-known authors I've enjoyed (I often like their less famous books better), authors I've had on my mental radar but not gotten around to, and WWII.

The WWII pile is not shown, apart from War Birds, because it's doubly embarrassing. I bought Churchill's entire history of WWII in one volume and The Greatest Generation by Tom Brokaw, along with a very thick "Armed Services Edition" of a History of WWII. A couple of the books in that stack are just random titles that piqued my interest. The Go-Between just sounded fun and I've got one book by Lawrence Durrell, so I bought it a friend. Not pictured is a book I've already read, If This Isn't Nice, What Is? by Kurt Vonnegut. It's a book of speeches which I probably will not recommend, although there are bits of wisdom between its covers. It made me want to read more Vonnegut, so I ordered a couple Vonnegut books and they'll show up in next week's arrivals.

Books finished since last Malarkey:

  • Braving the Wilderness by BrenĂ© Brown
  • The Dry by Jane Harper
  • Milk and Honey by Rupi Kaur (ebook)
  • If This Isn't Nice, What Is? by Kurt Vonnegut

Huh. Now that I look back, I can see that I didn't like much of what I finished last week. The Dry is excellent, but Milk and Honey didn't do a thing for me and If This Isn't Nice, What Is? was a bit on the repetitious side. Braving the Wilderness is a book that I sometimes enjoyed and sometimes found a yawn because I honestly could not entirely discern its purpose. But, I'll tell you more about that when I review it. I'll probably do a single post with mini reviews of those three.

Posts since last Malarkey:

Not a big posting week, unsurprisingly after the heavy posting of the week before.

Currently reading:

  • A Nest for Celeste by Henry Cole
  • The Radium Girls by Kate Moore
  • Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes

Oy. I can't say I'm in love with any of these books, either. A Nest for Celeste is lovely to look at and has its charming moments but it can also be brutal (the mouse watches a rat get killed by the cat of the house, a bunch of people shoot "thousands" of passenger pigeons out of the sky, and then the famous illustrator, Audubon, shoots an ivory-billed woodpecker and lets it slowly die before pinning it up to illustrate). It's harsh, to say the least. The Radium Girls (bought for discussion) is deeply sad because it's the true story of a company hiding the fact that their painting process was causing the slow, torturous poisoning deaths of its former employees -- the reason for all those "burdensome" regulations on corporations in a nutshell. And, Flowers for Algernon is also sad. But, I really want to finish it because I want to get back to reading a classic per month. I'll definitely need to find something a bit more upbeat to read after all this.

No other news, today. It wasn't a particularly eventful week, apart from visits to the bookstore that's going out of business and my very first Paint Night with a friend. We painted a snowman with sand mixed into the paint to give the snow texture and glitter spinkled on top of the snowman's body. Fun!

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  1. Flowers for Algernon is probably one of my favourite books ever, but we do have a bit different tastes in books. It is sad, though. And, I know it is a classic, but it is more of a look at a possible future.

    1. I tend to dislike anything extremely sad but Flowers for Algernon is a well-written book, so I think you could say I appreciate it without enjoying it.

  2. Ha ha! No guilt! Enjoy those books. I kind of love when I walk away from a book store with a huge stack. Sorry your recent reads haven’t been amazing. My years off to a rather slow start as well.
    Guess what! I got the water bottle lid on my cat for like five seconds. Sadly I didn’t have my phone handy to take a picture. Sigh!

    1. Well, the first few reads of the year were excellent, so there's that. I ended up enjoying A Nest for Celeste and am reading the next Celeste book, so that also turned out okay. I'm not worried. I've got so many wonderful books waiting for me that if a few are duds, no biggie. I'll either ditch them or finish and move on.

      Oh, darn, I would have loved to see a picture of Bellly wearing a bottle hat! ;)

  3. What a lovely stack of books! I did something similar for the first time in ages, but not because of a bookstore closing. I had some gift cards and birthday money, so I decided to go on an Amazon shopping spree and bought a stack of books (posted on my blog yesterday). It's literally been years since I've done that! I'm not even going to shelve them so I can just read one after another and not let them linger on my shelves for a decade. ;)

    Wasn't The Dry outstanding?! Rod's reading it now. My mom loved it, too.

    1. I haven't gotten a gift card for books in ages, so I just have to find my own way to splurge without breaking the budget. So fun. But, I hate it that the bookstore is closing. I'm not going to shelve mine because I'm out of shelf space but that's next on the purge list - going through shelves to see what I can part with.

      Yes, The Dry was excellent! I enjoyed it. I like Aaron Falk and loved the atmosphere. I've got an ARC of her next book, Force of Nature, and I'm really looking forward to that even more, now.

    2. Oh, how lucky are you! I miss getting ARCs from work...

    3. Yes, I am definitely lucky to have gotten a copy of Force of Nature! I won't be getting as many ARCs, this year, because I want to read off my shelves but I'm happy that I still have plenty.

    4. Also, I was kind of wondering if you missed the ARCs! I peeked at your pretty gift card pile, last night, and that came to mind.

  4. Anonymous7:53 PM

    I loved Lords of Discipline! In The Skin of a Lion, though, fell flat for me when I read it for my book club last summer. It wasn't bad. it just never quite came together for me...but many other members of the group loved it, so I hope you feel more like them and less like me!

    1. I don't think I've ever read Pat Conroy, before, so I was excited to find one of his books. It didn't even matter to me which title; I just want to read something by Conroy. So glad to know you loved it, Gabby! I'm a fan of Michael Ondaatje but there have been times his writing didn't thrill me. I do love The English Patient and The Skin of a Lion is supposed to be its predecessor, so fingers are crossed that it will work for me. I think the best discussions are the ones in which not everyone agrees about the book, so I'll bet that was a fun book club meeting!


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