Reading Update, September 2015

After three months of not getting much read (or, at least, not actually finishing anything), I started September on a good note, finishing 4 books in the first week. Then I went on vacation, but still managed to continue to read quite a bit. I feel a like I made up for the slacker summer months.

French Milk

Technically, this is a re-read. It’s the first of Lucy Knisley’s books that I read. Though a bit rough around the edges and lacking in the polished look and feel of her newer books, it’s still an interesting read. I re-read it because I had Paris on my mind. I don’t tend to follow her online (though I’ve enjoyed all of her work), but she’s on my very short list of comic artists who’s books I will always buy (Kate Beaton is, so far, the only other person on the list).

The Widow’s Tale

My first introduction to Mick Jackson was Ten Sorry Tales, which is a delightfully dark and surreal book. I don’t remember what I was expecting when I picked up this book. I don’t think I even read the description. I just decided to read his book based on the fact that I’d enjoyed several of his other books. What I got was an honest and touching story of a woman falling apart after her husband’s death. Unlike so many other tales about widows, this story is a woman alone, struggling with herself and her new reality. No rally cries from a horde of best friends, no new romances, no words of wisdom from a sage stranger – just a woman and her grief. It was a very, very good read.

Marilyn Monroe: Poems

I have to be in the right mood for poetry. Not because I don’t like it, but because I have never been able to shake the feeling that it’s a bit beyond me, so I need to encourage myself. But, I thought that I should finally get around to finishing a few poetry books that have been laying dormant on my Kobo ages. I decided to blow through this one first, as I wasn’t sure I’d find it all that interesting (to me, Marilyn Monroe is just another dead celebrity). But, it was really good. I really liked the poets take on things – Marilyn’s life, loves (or, “loves” as the case may be), etc.

And then there were none

I don’t remember where, but I read that this was considered to be one of Agatha Christie’s best novels. It was gripping and creepy. I started it and finished it in the same day. I even stayed up late on a work night, unable to put it down because I needed to know who the killer was before I’d be able to get to sleep! It was a brilliant psychological thriller. And, of course, being a fan of the ridiculous movie, Clue, I spent the first half of the book (before it started to get really tense) being amused at how much the book and the film had in common (except that the book had no comic relief).

Your Brain On Nature

There’s a very distinct possibility that I skimmed through a lot of this book. It had a really bad habit of stating a fact and then re-stating it a million more times, each with a new study to back the statement up. I get that they wanted to prove their statements, but I did not need to read about each bloody study (especially when so many of them were very similar – just say that 3 studies came to similar conclusions!). I feel like a Coles Notes version would have been good. It got repetitive and boring. But, the main point was that nature is good for you, mentally, physically and emotionally. So, go for a walk in a nice park at lunch or spend some time staring at trees.

Moral Disorder and Other Stories

I’m pretty sure I’ve read this book before, but I still enjoyed it. It’s a short story book. I like short stories. I also like Margaret Atwood. So, I loved this book. But, at the same time, I can see why some people find her books frustrating – at first it feels like a selection of mostly unrelated stories, but the second half feels like a novel about one person in particular. It’s a bit odd, but I didn’t care because the stories were still good. I’m looking forward to reading her new book.

Floodgate Poetry Series Vol. 1

Another poetry I’ve been sitting on, but there’s a second volume coming out, so I thought I should finally read it. My one regret is that I read most of it while on the move or while waiting for people, so my reading was chopped up. I feel that I would have gotten more enjoyment and more context if I’d just sat and read a section at a time (there’s a section for each poet). Also, I wish I’d been in a situation where I could have looked up Mao to get more context. One of the poets had an interesting series of poems about Mao and Picasso (each one getting their own poems, but the poems where in chronological order and not separated into Mao/Picasso chapters). I know enough about Picasso to have some context for the poems, but not Mao. I enjoyed them, nonetheless.

Step Aside, Pops

Kate Beaton’s latest Hark! A Vagrant collection. It was delightful. Her comics about historic/literature figures crack me up. I don’t even know half of them, I just know that her imagination is witty and fun.

Various Paris travel guides

These don’t really count, though I probably ended up reading most of two main ones: Fodor’s Paris 2015 and Rick Steves Paris 2015. I logged them on Goodreads mostly so that I would remember which ones I used on my trip. Neither are perfect, but the combination of the two made for a pretty good collection of useful information. I did, at one point, think that using a ebook version or borrowing a copy from the library would be easier (and cheaper), but I was really glad to have Fodor’s to flip through and add notes to. In future, I want to find guides that focus on just the sights and/or history. I didn’t need all of the info about hotels by the time I got there, or even the restaurants (we just looked for places that seemed reasonably priced and that had people already in them, indicating that at least a few locals liked it).

* * *

I started reading Amy Poehler’s Yes Please. I’m only about a third in, but it’s pretty good. It’s not mind blowingly funny, but it’s interesting and honest enough to keep me reading.

I’m still working on Silently and Very Fast. In theory. I haven’t actually touched it in a few weeks. I should challenge myself to finish reading it this year.

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