Reading update

This is a combined reading update and unread shelf project update. … Mostly it’s a reading update as I haven’t made much progress on my unread books.

Guys! I finally finished the ebook I’ve been reading for 3 months! Halle-freaking-lujah!

Sadly, other than that one ebook and a couple of the magazines that I bought over the past few weeks, I didn’t make any progress on my unread shelf. Heck, I don’t feel like I read much at all. This is partly because of life getting in the way, but I think I was also just bored with reading for a few weeks and more interested in working on other projects or perusing my new art books (thanks, dad!).

In addition to not reading much from my unread shelf, I also didn’t do a good job of keeping track of what was being added. I bought a lot of books, in April. Thankfully, most of them were reference books that weren’t added to the unread pile (reference books and copies of books I bought to keep). Unfortunately, I kept forgetting to make a note of what I bought and why. I’m sure that my numbers are a bit off, but this is what I think came and went:

  • Items out:
    • Read – 1 ebook, 2 magazines
    • Weeded – half a dozen (I think)
  • Items in:
    • Bought and added to my unread shelf – 4 books, 3 audiobooks, 4 magazines
    • Bought and added to my general collection – 1 colouring book, 3 previously read books, 3 nature guides
    • Given and added to my general collection – several art books

I’ll do a reset count this month, but I’m not too worried about the numbers. Yes, I added more than I removed from the unread shelf, but I don’t regret the purchases I made. Especially not the book club selection, The Great Alone – it’s enthralling!

As for what I actually read, there were some really great books, but there were also a lot that bored me.

March:

  1. Dead Reckoning – The March book club selection. This is a non-fiction book about a woman who decided to contact the man who murdered her father when she was a kid. It was interesting, but I have to admit that I skimmed through quite a bit.
  2. Manhattan Beach – This was one of my favourite books of the month. It was a great story with interesting characters. This is my review.
  3. The Little Book of Hygge – I had a few weeks in February and March when I was a bit obsessed with hygge (cozy) and lagom (enough). This is a good introduction to the concept with some good ideas for making your life a bit more hygge, but I was bored with hygge by the time I read this book.
  4. The Strays – I loved this book so much that I bought a copy to keep. This is my review. I loved the story, the drama, the art, and the characters.
  5. Chasing Slow – I read this as part of my year long goal to embrace “slow.” While it wasn’t one of the most inspirational books I’ve read recently (that award would go to The Year of Less or Soulful Simplicity), I found the content quite useful  and I have several pages of notes and thoughts about the authors suggestions. But, I did get a bit bored after a while and I skimmed through most of the second half, focusing more on the chapter summaries.
  6. The Nature Fix – Last year I tried to read Your Brain on Nature, which I found to be painfully repetitive and long-winded (yes, I actually wrote that on Goodreads). The Nature Fix, though a bit slow at times, is written in a more conversational manner, so it’s much easier to read. It’s also quite interesting. Basically, get outside if you can, bonus points if you can find a wooded park or an actual forest.
  7. Unplug – I quit this in the first chapter or so because the author annoyed me. I can’t remember exactly what she said, but after going on about the science behind the benefits of meditation (which I support wholeheartedly) she decided to slap science in the face and disregard it for her own convenience (science says that you benefit the most from 30 minutes of mediation daily, but her business is based on quick fixes, so she decided that 10 minutes is more than enough). The silly thing is that she’s not entirely wrong (science also says that 5 minutes a day is still better than 0 minutes), but the way she did it made me lose all my trust in her, so I quit the book.
  8. You Can Buy Happiness – Another book that I quit. I think this book is probably very good and useful for people trying to embrace slow living, simplicity or minimalism, but I got bored with it. I may give it another try sometime.

April:

  1. Solitude – This is the ebook that took me three months to read. It started really strong, but eventually strayed from what I thought the book was about and, frankly, got a bit whiny about “kids these days.” But, it was still interesting.
  2. Cruising Through the Louvre – I went to the library with my brother and I found this while we browsed the graphic novel section. He was nice enough to borrow it for me (we live in different provinces, so I didn’t have library borrowing privileges) and it was an interesting story with really lovely coloured pencil art and sketches of pieces in the Louvre.
  3. Flat Broke With Two Goats – I borrowed this on a whim. It was the Overdrive/Libby pick for their book club, which they do periodically. Honestly, I didn’t think that I would stick with it, but I found it very interesting and amusing. It’s non-fiction about a family who go from living the American dream to being close to having no home. I appreciated the author’s honesty about the tough times and strains in their relationship.
  4. Glacial Period – This is another graphic novel about the Louvre (there’s a series of them, all by different authors/artists). It was more of a sci-fi story (in a distant future when the world is covered in snow) with a bit of a fantasy twist. It was interesting, but I wasn’t really in the mood, so I mostly skimmed through it.
  5. Life Reimagined – As a middle aged person, this was a tough read. I spent most of the book lamenting about how I’m going to die immobile, demented and alone. And, no, I am not making light of dementia. The book focuses on how our current choices can have huge impacts on our mental and physical health when we’re older. We always hear about fitness and nutrition, but this book also talked about how our social lives can affect our future mental and emotional well-being. It was hard to read and it’s hard to not feel a bit despondent about how many things I need to improve if I want to avoid being immobile, demented and alone when I’m old. But, I’m glad I read the book because now I know about some things that I need to do to improve my current and future well-being.
  6. Moonshot – This is a collection of short comics by indigenous artists/authors. Some of the art was quite fantastic and many of the stories were really interesting. There were one or two where I lacked the context to understand what was going on, but overall, I really enjoyed this collection.
  7. Meditation for Fidgety Skeptics – I know the benefits and science enough to be bored with these types of books, but I keep looking for ones that might hit that sweet spot of inspiration. This was not the book for me, so I quit. I found the humour to be annoying – it felt like they were trying too hard to be cool.
  8. The Corrections – I keep hearing about how great Jonathan Frazen is, so I decided to read one of his books. This started pretty strong and I can see why a lot of people enjoy his writing, but I didn’t like the characters and I didn’t find this to be even remotely funny (the synopsis promised me a “darkly hilarious” book, but I wasn’t even particularly amused). I considered reading to the end, but I’m reading two books that was much more engaging.

So, my big question this month is this: should I give Jonathan Frazen another chance? If so, what should I read?

 

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This past weekend …

This past weekend was an odd one, weather-wise. Saturday was gloriously sunny and warm, but Sunday was grey and colder by the hour.

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Not realizing that the weather was going to change so drastically, I decided to do a big spring clean on Saturday. I swept, I washed, I scrubbed, and I stayed inside all day. Then, I checked the weather and lamented about a beautiful day wasted inside.I don’t regret the spring cleaning – my place looks and feels better, plus I accidentally discovered a minor change in furniture placement that made a huge difference in the balance and flow of the whole space. But, I was still a bit sad about missing out on a beautiful day.

Instead of being grumpy about it, I decided to just add a bit of spring to my space. I was going to buy some flowers on Sunday, but when I woke up I decided that it would be more interesting, more economical, and more environmentally friendly to find some interesting branches. We’re not yet in bloom season here, but the wee little buds are starting to burst with leaves and I love greenery just as much as I love flowers. So, armed with a warm jacket and a pair of branch clippers, I went for a short walk to look for interesting branches.

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Before you accuse me of being a monster to damages my neighbours’ bushes, I should mention that I live next to a promenade with an adjacent wooded area. It’s a small wooded area (a couple meters of buffer between the promenade and a road), but it’s full of interesting trees and bushes, including many that flower. As I said, we’re not yet in flowering season, but I’ve been living here long enough to remember the approximate location of my favourite trees. Also, the area surrounding my building’s parking lot is full of neglected lilac bushes – given their neglect, I think they’re fair game, too.

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I was only going to pick a branch or two, but I couldn’t help myself and ended up with several (most of which are flowering). They may not be fancy flowers, they may just be sticks with a bit of green, but it’s still a nice treat. I’ve loved watching the leaves emerge and grow, and, if I’m lucky, they may last long enough for a few blooms. If not, I’ll head out with my clippers again.

As for the spring clean, I don’t regret “wasting” a sunny day on my apartment. To me, it’s like a bit of self-care because I love a clean, fresh home.

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Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott

9781921372476I’m not entirely sure what made me decide to pick up this book last year. I like to write, but I don’t want to be an author. I guess I was just curious to read the book because I kept coming across references to it. It’s often noted as a book that’s very important for writers and very inspirational.

On one hand, I can see why people find it inspirational, but on the other hand, I feel like I learned more about the author than about being a writer. That’s not necessarily a bad thing – I’ve been inspired and changed by many books that were, on the whole, just autobiographies and a scattering of tips and life lessons.

The one part of the book that made me sit up and pay attention was her discussion about how perfectionism is like a cramped muscle:

I think that something similar happens to our psychic muscles. They cramp around our wounds – the pain from our childhood, the losses and disappointments of adulthood, the humiliations suffered in both – to keep us from getting hurt in the same place again, to keep foreign substances out. So those wounds never have a chance to heal. Perfectionism is one way our muscles cramp. In some cases we don’t even know that the wounds and the cramping are there, but both limit us. They keep us moving and writing in tight, worried ways. They keep us standing back or backing away from life, keep us from experiencing life in a naked and immediate way.

I struggle with perfectionism. You’d never know it to see me or speak to me, but that’s because I tend to hide it well. I also default to “if it can’t be perfect, there’s no point in trying,” so people rarely see my perfectionism in practice. This “go big or go home” attitude is both ridiculous and immensely unfair to myself.

When I read this, I immediately recognized myself and many of my issues with moving forward with art. As I’ve mentioned in the past, I used to aspire to being an artist – studying art, doing art daily, etc. But, I let life get in the way and eventually found that my skills had diminished and I’d lost my path. Being a perfectionist, my reaction to this was to become despondent and to assume that there was no hope. So, I turned to other creative endeavours, especially hobbies that looked easy enough and still allowed some room for creativity. But, I was never satisfied and I could never stop thinking about how I had always wanted to be an artist.

While the book didn’t leave much of an impression on me, this paragraph did because it became the catalyst that started to move me forward. I started to sketch more (now daily, where possible), I started to look for and take art classes, I started to evaluate what I needed (and wasn’t getting) from the art classes I was taking, and I started to remember how great it was to make art. So, I guess the book had it’s intended effect on me. Sure, I’m not planning on quitting and heading to art school, nor am I interested in becoming a professional artist. But, I make art, I aspire to learn more, and I finally feel comfortable calling myself an artist again.

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Vacation photos

My vacations with my family are always pretty interesting. We don’t do anything touristy and tend to spend most of our time hanging out, reading (so many bedtime stories), and just being together. Highlights of my vacation include:

  • Being goofy with the kids
  • Joining my niece’s class for a field trip to the post office and then to a forested park (and, enjoying it, but also being really glad I don’t have kids)
  • Going to the library with my brother (I’m such a nerd)
  • Taking the kids (and my brother) for a nature walk to do a nature scavenger hunt
  • Helping the Easter bunny hide eggs and create a fun little scavenger hunt for the kids
  • Eating dinosaur shaped grilled cheese
  • Doing a puzzle with my brother
  • Having many long chats with my sister-in-law
  • Finding the first crocuses in their garden
  • Reading bedtime stories several nights
  • Playing indoor “hockey” with a large ball, a play golf club, and a play mop
  • Playing hide and seek or tag several times
  • Visiting some cute shops in a small town and buying a cool tin (which I now use for my markers)
  • Getting some great art books (and a screwdriver) from my dad
  • Eating way too much chocolate (serious! so much!)
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This weekend

It’s gross and snowy right now. But, Saturday was gloriously sunny and spring-like. Even better than that, I spent a bit chunk of the day with one of my all time favourite people (she’s so smart, interesting and lovely, and I’m lucky to have her as a friend).

We started the day at The Duchess, where I had a coconut, orange and coriander danish, which was so good! I didn’t take any pictures because I’m trying to be more present when I’m with friends, which  means leaving my phone in my pocket. But, she gave me a bunch of recommendations for TV shows and such that I should check out. She always has great documentary recommendations, so I’ll be checking these out a.s.a.p.

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I also acquired some homemade goodies she made: relish, strawberry marmalade, pear and rose white tea jelly, and hot chocolate mix. As an added bonus, she said she’d teach me to make preserves this year. My family made preserves when I was growing up and I used to help, but its been a couple decades and I feel intimidated by the idea of doing it on my own, so I’m pleased as punch that she said I could be her assistant.

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We then went for a wander in the neighbourhood, where I did a bit of shopping. Those Smarties are British Smarties, which are a million times more delicious than Canadian Smarties. And, yes, I do use natural deodorants (90% of the time, anyway). I’m still looking for the perfect one, but these two Routine samplers have been great so far.

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When I got home, I did boring chores, spent some time with some art books, and eventually settled in with The Fifth Element, which continues to be one of my favourite movies – the costumes are awesome, there’s lots of action, and the characters all amuse the heck out of me.

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It was a nice weekend and I’m looking forward to when the weather goes back to being spring-like.

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The unread shelf project: general update

IMG_20180410_172150.jpgI’ve decided to shift how I complete and account for my unread shelf project.

I skipped my March update partly because I was on vacation and partly because I didn’t finish a single book from my unread shelf. I was working on a couple and I weeded a couple, but I didn’t finish any. I don’t consider this a failure, just a slow reading month that wasn’t worth a blog post.

Before leaving for my vacation, I took a long hard look at my unread shelf and I realized that I was down to a fairly manageable number of unread books. I haven’t hit my target, nor am I at a point where I feel comfortable with removing my book buying ban. But, the number is low enough for me to feel less overwhelmed.

The other thing that I’ve noticed is that I’ve started to regret weeding some books. Up until now, I picked my least favourite books to remove each month and I didn’t mind donating them. But, I have a mild sense of regret attached to some of the books I donated in March. It’s a bit of a mix of “I want to read that book” and “I should read that book.” The latter is something I’m trying to get over. There are lots of books that I “should” read, especially books by and about minorities. The problem with “shoulds” is that I let them overwhelm me with guilt and I start to feel like a bad person. Yes, I absolutely should be reading more by and about minorities, but I can only read so many books in a month and books aren’t the only way to support groups and causes. I had intended to just read what I have this year and not worry about what I “should” read and I think that’s the best option for me right now. Once I have my unread shelf to a reasonable (for me) size, I can start looking at reading more books that will help me to be a better citizen and neighbour.

As for the rest of the books that I regret getting rid of: oh well, c’est la vie. I have a lot of other things on my plate right now and I probably wouldn’t have gotten around to reading them for a while, anyway. Plus, they’re mostly available at the library.

So, where am I now? My unread shelf is still bigger than I want it to be, my unread shelf is much smaller than I expected it to be by now (heck, it’s at about the number I expected to have at the end of the year), I still want to read everything I have left, I’m still bad about borrowing too many library books, and I might possibly have maybe sort of kind of bought a few books and magazines while on vacation. Also, for January and February, I only gave updates on my progress with the unread shelf project, but I miss talking about all the books I read or quit.

Going forward, I’m going to go back to talking about everything I’ve read or quit reading. I’ll include my unread shelf project progress, but I’ll also talk about library books I read.

I think this will work better for me because I enjoy reflecting on what I read in a month and I enjoy being able to promote good books without writing a separate review.

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Book review: The Strays by Emily Bitto

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“More than thirty years later, the scars still sleep on my wrists.”

I seem to really love fiction relating to art and artists and The Strays, by Emily Bitto, was no exception. I loved the story, I loved the language, and I loved the way art was part of the story.

Synopsis:

On her first day at a new school, Lily meets Eva, one of the daughters of the infamous avant-garde painter Evan Trentham. He and his wife are attempting to escape the stifling conservatism of 1930s Australia by inviting other like-minded artists to live and work with them at their family home. As Lily’s friendship with Eva grows, she becomes infatuated with this makeshift family and longs to truly be a part of it.

Looking back on those years later in life, Lily realises that this utopian circle involved the same themes as Evan Trentham’s art: Faustian bargains and terrible recompense; spectacular fortunes and falls from grace. Yet it was not Evan, nor the other artists he gathered around him, but his own daughters, who paid the debt that was owing.

The Strays is an engrossing story of ambition, sacrifice and compromised loyalties from an exciting new talent. [Source]

Lily, the first-person narrator, is the bored only child of ordinary parents. She’s drawn to Eva and Eva’s family from the start and seems to live very much in their shadow. She allows their lives to happen around her and to her, quietly observing and absorbing everything. But, as the family starts to fall apart, she becomes more entangled and, later in life, she is forced to bare the weight of her actions (or, inactions, as the case may be).

“ ‘An artist is someone who sees the structures of order and recognizes them as arbitrary.’ ”

It’s a fascinating story and it’s told beautifully. I loved reading about the art and about the artists’ perspective on art, the art community of the time, and the need or desire to expand beyond the more conservative art that was accepted and expected at the time.

The family dynamics were also interesting. It was clear, from the start, that the parents loved their children, but didn’t seem to know how to put aside their own lives and art for the sake of their children. This isn’t to say they were bad parents – they both clearly loved their children. But, each of the girls suffered from neglect in some regard or another.

“… and sometimes Eva and I sat up together and watched, quiet amongst the laughter of adults like stones in midstream.”

It was interesting to see it from Lily’s perspective because she’s a passive observer while the family builds up and eventually collapses. But, later in the book, she’s the center of the story. It ties in nicely with her own perspective of being an outsider wanting in and, eventually, finding more clarity through revisiting her own life and her own broken relationships.

“I will wake tomorrow, I thought, and this night will be inside me.”

This is one of favourite reads this year (possibly of all time) and I’m very tempted to buy a copy to keep.

 

 

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Rediscover yourself?

I’m (slowly) reading Michael Harris’ Solitude: A Singular Life in a Crowded World. It’s about the benefits of embracing solitude and how difficult that can be in Western society. It’s quite interesting and I’ve highlighted enough quotes and ideas to fill my blog for weeks, but, right now, I just want to focus on one:

I don’t want to run away from the world – I want to rediscover myself in it.

I think that a lot of people (especially some of the more social people I know) assume that solitude and loneliness are the same thing. When I tell people that I like a bit (a lot) of solitude in my life, they immediately start worrying about me being lonely or telling me that I am lonely. But, solitude isn’t about being lonely and some people love having time to themselves, even if it’s just a few minutes. Solitude isn’t about not having friends or family, not feeling connected to your community, or not being able to spend time with people when you feel like being social. Solitude is about taking some time for yourself. It’s about ignoring your phone (calls, emails, text messages, social media, etc.) for a little  while. It’s about letting your mind be blank or letting it wander off into those dusty corners you rarely visit. It’s about letting the sound of the rain, wind, crickets, birds, river, orchestra, etc. be the only thing you focus on for a little while. It’s about taking time to reconnect with yourself.

I think that this line from the book resonated with me because I was (and still am) on that journey, but I haven’t yet found the path I need and I’m still worried that others will think that my willingness to disconnect, declutter, and simplify are an attempt to run away. All of the changes I’ve made in my life these past few years were just my attempts to find my path and get back to solid ground.

Taking time for myself – whether it was early morning walks, time to sketch, or my new digital free Sundays – is just a way for me to get to know me. And, instead of disconnecting me from my community, it’s actually been making me feel more inclined to participate with my community. Instead of feeling heavy with the stress of what I was trying to make my life into, I’m feeling relaxed with the not-normal-but-works-for-me life that I’m working towards.

I know that I sometimes make finding time for solitude sound grand and easy, but it’s not. Certainly, it’s easier for someone like me who likes to take time for myself and let my mind wander, but I’m sure this sounds like a nightmare for many of my extroverted friends. Nonetheless, I would encourage everyone to find a few minutes here or there to be alone with your thoughts. Maybe that’s just stopping for a few breaths in a park on your way to work, taking the dog for a walk without your phone, sitting quietly with a loved one for a cup of tea, or meditating. The key is to take some time without distractions – no phone, no radio, no TV, no chatter from your BFF who had the most ridiculously awesome gossip. Those things can come later.

Try it, and maybe you’ll rediscover something about yourself.

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Hope brings things

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I made this note months ago:

Re. minimalism:

  • Hope brings things
  • you hope you’ll use things, you hope you’ll have friends over for games nights, you hope you’ll sew the pattern, etc. 
  • But those hopes may not be who you really are (ex: I don’t tend to invite people over, but I do sew on occasion). 

I can’t remember exactly where I heard this, but I’m fairly sure that it was in one of The Minimalists* podcasts. This idea of hope bringing things caught my attention because it’s true and it’s something that has had a huge impact on my life:

  • I hoped to be perceived as a successful adult, which I am, so I don’t know why I felt the need to prove it with a bigger-than-I-like apartment and “nice” things
  • I hoped to be a great quilter or stitcher, when, in fact, I liked the crafts but wasn’t passionate about them
  • I hoped to be more interested in cooking, which is silly because I eat very well with my simple and rare cooking endeavors
  • I hoped …
  • I hoped …
  • I hoped …

Instead of using my time and energy to become those things (or, more importantly, to consider if I really wanted to become those things), I used my time and money to acquire things that those people might have. It’s as if I was looking for that magic pill or a bit of instant gratification: “I have a quilt pattern, now I’m a quilter – yay! I feel gratified!”

Quilting might be a bad example, as I’ve made a few quilts (and have one in the works as I draft this), but you get the idea. Hope, or the wish to be something, can lead us to buying things that we don’t need yet and may never need. It’s what entices us to buy the latest fashions, the better lawnmower, or the full set of gear that we think we need for a new hobby that we’ve only just began (or haven’t even tried yet).

I’ve had  many chances to revisit my past hopes over the past few years. Each time I got rid of something, I had to admit that it had just been a hope. In some cases I was sorry that the hope hadn’t turned into reality and sometimes I was ashamed about not turning that hope into reality. But, we can’t be everything and I needed to focus on my priorities and the hobbies that I loved best.

Going forward, I’m trying to be more careful of hope. When I find myself itching to buy things, one of the things that I consider is if I’m buying it because I know I need it or because I hope I’ll need/use it. I struggle with this when I’m considering art supplies. For example, I recently decided to buy a Leuchtturm1917 bullet journal, but I agonized over it for days – Do I really needed it? Am I just hoping to keep a bullet journal? Am I just hoping that this book with be better than the notebooks I already own? Why do I need it?

I did purchase it in the end because I’ve been keeping a bullet journal of sorts for a few weeks and had already tried it in several different notebooks or different sized papers. In this case, the Leuchtturm1917 bullet journal has all the things I need: a medium sized page with something to act as a guide for my layout (grid dots). For me, it was based on a preexisting reality, not on hope, so it made sense to buy the journal. And, yes, I do use it – not everyday, but certainly several times a week.

The next time you declutter or consider buying something, do a little thought experiment and consider if you’re buying something you need, or something you hope that you’ll need.

*If you’re interested in minimalism or simply need something inspirational to listen to while decluttering/simplifying, The Minimalist are a good resource. While they have embraced a fairly stereotypical minimalist lifestyle for themselves, they’re adamant that we all need to find what works best for us, whether that be owning only 50 items or keeping that random key chain collection that you love even though your partner thinks it’s silly. The podcasts do get a bit repetitive if you listen to too many in one day, but they still have useful content. 

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Book review: Manhattan Beach by Jennifer Egan

34467031Manhattan Beach is about Anna, a young woman who works in the Naval Shipyard factories and who is determined to become a diver, an idea that is laughable to the men in charge  (this is during the WWII era, when women worked only because so many men were at the front). But, it’s also about the mystery of her father’s disappearance and the influential gangster who might know what happened.

The story weaves between three perspectives: Ed’s (the father), Anna’s and Dexter’s (the gangster). Though, it starts as Ed’s story, Anna quickly becomes the primary focus. It moves back and forth through the three characters slowly (typically, a couple chapters at a time), giving the reader time to get to know each of them: their lives, their relationships, and their perspective on each other.

I really enjoyed the story and the writing, which was often beautifully evocative. I also enjoyed the interwoven perspectives and I appreciated the social commentary Egan seamlessly interjected. The social issues she touched on included turning to crime to support a family during the depression, having a physically and mentally disabled child in the 30’s onward, being a woman, being black, and being gay. In each case, she may have only added a few off-hand notes or comments, but it was enough to remind the reader of how many social barriers people faced and how easy it was to end up the topic of rumours and prejudice.

I admit that I forgot who a couple of the background characters were throughout the book, periodically having to remind myself (or Google) why a person was important to Ed as the story progressed. But, that was likely because I was listening to the audiobook and not necessarily a fault in the story telling. Given that I listen during my commutes, it’s not unusual for me to be momentarily distracted on occasion. Also, I’m not a details person (give me a family tree and/or list of characters, and I will be thrilled).

The audiobook version that I listened to was beautifully performed by Norbert Leo Butz,
Heather Lind, and Vincent Piazza. Having the different voices helped to bring the characters to life and each seemed perfectly suited for their characters, while still doing a good job of portraying other characters.

Overall, I really loved this book. It was a great story and another example of how a historic novel can be a tool for social awareness and change.

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