Friday, September 04, 2015

From the bookshelf

Since I'm catching up on blogging, I figured I should catch you up on what I've been reading.  I tend to read lighter fare in the summer -- so I've read a good assortment of cozy mysteries, girlfriends-at-the-beach novels, and thrillers.  But I've read some unexpectedly great novels, so I thought I'd share the ones I especially liked.

"Go Set a Watchman" by Harper Lee is first on my list.  I have to confess that I was apprehensive, after comments I'd read suggesting that a lot of early readers were surprised at the portrayal of Atticus Finch.  But I didn't expect how much I'd love this.  I listened to this in audiobook format on a roadtrip, and I loved Reese Witherspoon's reading.  The story follows Scout, now grown up Jean Louise, on a trip home from her working life in New York City.  She's seeing her family and town through grown-up eyes, and the contrast between her childhood illusions and the grown-up reality she sees are the focus of the novel.  So Atticus? He came across as a real man of his place and time. Harper Lee's writing was gorgeous, too.

The House We Grew Up In by Lisa Jewell was a surprise.  I've read other novels by her, and they were good (in an ordinary sort of way.)  This one, though, told a complex family story in a fascinating way.  The story focused on the Bird family, mainly as the oldest daughter and her daughter come home to clean out the family home after their mother's death.  The mother, it develops, became a hoarder as she got older. So the family's story is told moving back and forth in time, to show how a quirky but functional loving family became disfunctional in various ways.  It could have been a grim story, but it wasn't.  It showed the characters as multi-dimensional, likeable - and there were a lot of surprises along the way.  This is definitely an unusual story, but one I enjoyed a lot.

And here's what I'm reading now: The Last Bookaneer by Matthew Pearl. I love books about books, and this one gets good reviews and I was delighted when I found it on the new book shelf at the library.  It uses first-person narration, too, which I especially like.  So far it's a story in a story -- narrator starts, then introduces an acquaintance who begins telling him a story, so narration shifts to the friend's point of view.  And it tells the tale of a mysterious "bookaneer": a thief who, because of the loose copyright laws in the 1800's, could steal an international manuscript and then sell it to a publisher in another country, out from under the author.  So far, it's good and the concept is fascinating.  I'll let you know what I think.

Have you read anything good lately? 


  1. Like you, I finished reading "Go set a watchman" a couple of days ago. I also approached it with a little trepidation, fearing that the content would seem a little out-dated in Today's world.
    I could not put the book down. I will also be re-reading the book in the near future.
    Harper Lee's "look" at the NAACP and the political issues of the fifties and sixties made me realise how often the "good citizen" is influenced to act (or not act) by the radicals. A complex question, but it illustrated the growth of conscience and awareness of a hitherto socially protected young woman.

    Another book of an entirely differing genre is "I am Pilgrim" by Terry House.

  2. Spool of Blue Thread by Anne Tyler.

  3. I am reading The Martian about the astronaut that was left behind on Mars. Wasn't sure at first if the book could keep my interest with 395 pages of log entries but amazingly it kept getting better and better. Its amazing how some people can comprehend science and technology and even though I don't understand it, it kept me interested enough to keep reading.