Friday Night Always Looks Good To Me

• Thank you to #RandomHouse #partner for these books •

No matter what, if it’s Friday, then things are looking up. Friday is for putting your feet up, cracking open a book, a bottle of wine, and eating dessert. It’s not that the rest of the week is bad, it’s just that often it’s hectic. It’s nice to know there’s a smidge of extra brightness waiting, something a little extra to look forward to.

The four books pictured above look to be very interesting and as I look at them I just want to start them all at the same time. How do you choose what you read? Are you organized, as in you read in the order you receive books (not counting library books)? In theory I try to read that way, but many times I end up reading an article that discusses or reviews a book- then I skip to reading that book.

Here is a little about these books:

1. Diagnosis by Lisa Sanders. This book is the basis of a Netflix Original documentary series. Sanders was an advisor for the medical television show House, M.D. Sanders is a doctor as well and this book is about medical mysteries.

2. Inland is Téa Obrecht’s first book since The Tiger’s Wife. Although TTW was a huge international bestseller, it wasn’t a favorite of mine and didn’t finish reading it. I think Obrecht has talent, so I am excited to give her another shot. This book takes place in the 1890s in the Arizona Territory. It follows a frontier women who is awaiting the return of her husband and sons. One in search of water and the others who left after a bad argument.

3. The Perfect Wife by JP Delaney. This is about a woman who awakens in a daze and has no memory of how or why she is where she is. She doesn’t know her husband or son, or that she is an artist. She is told by her husband (who is a huge titan of the tech world in Silicon Valley) that she has been in a horrible accident and has been brought back due to an incredible technological breakthrough. But, she begins to doubt everything and doesn’t know if she can trust him.

4. Lost You by Haylen Beck ( Amazon Synopsis). Libby needs a break. Three years again her husband left her to raise their infant son Ethan alone as she struggled to launch her writing career. Now for the first time in years, things are looking up. She’s just sold her first novel, and she and Ethan are going on a much-needed vacation. Everything seems to be going their way, so why can’t she stop looking over her shoulder or panicking every time Ethan wanders out of view? Is it because of what happened when Ethan was born? Except Libby’s never told anyone the full story of what happened, and there’s no way anyone could find her and Ethan at a faraway resort . . . right? 

But three days into their vacation, Libby’s fears prove justified. In a moment of inattention, Ethan wanders into an elevator before Libby can reach him. When the elevator stops and the doors open, Ethan is gone. Hotel security scours the building and finds no trace of him, but when CCTV footage is found of an adult finding the child wandering alone and leading him away by the hand, the police are called in. The search intensifies, a lost child case turning into a possible abduction. Hours later, a child is seen with a woman stepping through an emergency exit. Libby and the police track the woman down and corner her, but she refuses to release Ethan. Asked who she is, the woman replies: I am his mother.

Don’t these sound good?!

I’m about to eat some dinner, then I plan to dive in to the good stuff! Happy Friday, Bookworms.

Sincerely,

tmc

“There is nothing more luxurious than eating while you read—unless it be reading while you eat.” – E. Nesbit

PS. If what you are eating is dessert, then it’s even more luxurious.

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If Walls Could Talk

My introduction to Anita Shreve came many years ago when I picked up a copy of The Pilot’sWife. Something interesting about that book is that it is part of a quartet. I say the word quartet loosely because the only thing that joins these four books is a house. To me, that is so interesting. Think about how many people might live in a house in a fifty or hundred year time span. All of the living that must have taken place between those people and those walls. A house can be many things. Somewhere to lay your head or eat a meal, spend time with family, or a quiet spot to shut out the world. The walls of a house bear the remnants of tears and shouts, the expressions of joy and pain, as well as the times of heartbreak and celebration. The walls of house become the walls of a home when they continually stand steady through the many chapters of life being lived.

I believe the order to read the four ( if you want to read them as they would take place on a time line) is:

1. Fortune’s Rocks (one of my favorite books)

2. Sea Glass

3. The Pilot’s Wife

4. Body Surfing

I read that Shreve was somewhere in New England (if I’m not mistaken) and she went on a walk and came upon a house that sparked an idea. I just love that. I think a lot when I walk, (probably too much) maybe one day, thousands of miles from now I will come up with a good idea for a story!

Shreve has written many books beside the four mentioned above. I have read several of them. Usually they involve a love story of sorts. I hadn’t read a book of hers in a while when I came across this copy of Stella Bain.

Below is the synopsis from Amazon:

When an American woman, Stella Bain, is found suffering from severe shell shock in an exclusive garden in London, surgeon August Bridge and his wife selflessly agree to take her in.

A gesture of goodwill turns into something more as Bridge quickly develops a clinical interest in his houseguest. Stella had been working as a nurse’s aide near the front, but she can’t remember anything prior to four months earlier when she was found wounded on a French battlefield.

In a narrative that takes us from London to America and back again, Shreve has created an engrossing and wrenching tale about love and the meaning of memory, set against the haunting backdrop of a war that destroyed an entire generation.

Her books have always had a solemn quality about them (at least to me),which is a characteristic I know I am drawn to in stories. Her last book published was The Stars Are Fire and came out in 2017. Sadly, Anita Shreve passed away last year.

If you haven’t read anything by her, give Fortune’s Rocks, Body Surfing, or Testimony a shot.

Sincerely,

tmc

“The reading of all good books is like conversation with the finest (people) of the past centuries.”

– Descartes

If My Mouth Is Open, I’m Probably Talking About Books

It’s all about the books.

And when it comes to talking books with someone, it’s hard for me to close my mouth. I like all kinds of books, which you should’ve gathered by now if you follow this blog. I like e-reading and traditional and feel there is a place and need for both formats.

When it comes to traditional books there are so many beautiful editions. I admire many of the collections available, but the only editions I collect are the NYRB Classics. If you aren’t familiar with these, they are an expansive set of books distributed by the New York Review of Books. They are trade-size editions of fiction and non-fiction books. These are not the traditional classics you may be thinking of, but rather a large “eclectic mix of books from different eras and times,” according to nyrb.com. Each book features a cover that is a piece of art in its own right.

I was introduced to NYRB Classics several years ago and instantly fell in love with them. You can order them from their website, but often they are more than I want to spend, because I’m a cheapskate. You can find them on various used sites and I have purchased them that way. My favorite way is finding one tucked in to the shelves at a used book store. Their tell-tale, muted solid color spines are easy to spot when you know what you are looking for. Stumbling across one is somewhat rare (but I have found several), so it never fails to feel like a treasure when I do find one.

Books just amaze me. I love reading them and reading about them. I love learning about up and coming books as well finding old books stashed away. I will always own more books than I know what to do with, and yet I will continue to acquire more.

That’s just me. Take it or leave it 🙂

-tmc

“Of course anyone who truly loves books buys more of them than he or she can hope to read in one fleeting lifetime. A good book, resting unopened in its slot on a shelf, full of majestic potentiality, is the most comforting sort of intellectual wallpaper.”

– David Quammen

Are you thinking what I’m thinking?

My experience with books on philosophy is limited to what I read in Philosophy 101 a hundred years ago. I remember the class being interesting, but also confusing. Although I find some of it fascinating, my mind tangles a bit if I attempt to dwell on any of it. Philosophers like Aristotle, Socrates, Kant, Machiavelli, Sartre, and Nietzsche are some of the greats in this field and I’d be a fool if I claimed any large understanding of their teachings. I’m just not a philosophy student at heart.

Thinking about life and what drives each of forward each day is a philosophy and I think we all live by our own personalized set of rules, mantras, beliefs, etc. Most of these derive their roots from some of the greats listed above as well as others not mentioned. We are all a tangled combination of what we’ve been taught, who we’ve been taught by, and then simply the unique basics that reside in each one of us-our specific DNAs that are the physical maps of who we are. I’m an over thinker at heart, but thinking about all that confuses me, it’s a lot to take in.

I picked up Sophie’s World several years ago and still have not read it. Night Train to Lisbon is a recent find. When I first heard about NTTL I didn’t realize it had such a philosophical background, but when it arrived I was pleasantly surprised. Even if I disagree with a belief or philosophy that doesn’t always mean I am uninterested in learning about it or it’s origins. Another thing, I want a story. Plain and simple, I do not want just a philosophy lesson, that holds zero interest. I want to see what moves people. What propels them forward or even backwards, what makes them live introspectively? I want a bird’s eye view of theirlife. I want to be invisibly perched on their shoulder and live their story with them.

Each of these books is a story about the power of words. In Sophie, Sophie comes home to find two questions in her mailbox that push her to enroll in a philosophy correspondence course. She continues to receive this mystery mail. In NTTL, a teacher of the classical languages in Switzerland has a chance encounter that completely inspires him to question his whole life. I’ve begun reading this second book and so far it’s very interesting (not tedious) reading. My mind isn’t tangled up just yet. I’m taking it slow, in part because I don’t want to be confused, but also because I think there is much beauty to be discovered in these pages.

“I know nothing in the world that has as much power as a word. Sometimes I write one, and I look at it, until it begins to shine.”

-Emily Dickinson

It’s in Your DNA, Yeah Maybe Not

I’m debunking a popular quote as myth rather than truth, at least in my family.

“Children are made readers on the laps of their parents.”

– Emilie Buchwald

I call bull shit.

I have been reading to my boys, ages ten and twelve since birth and I have been a reader since forever. There are books everywhere in our home. There are probably too many books, but that’s beside the point. If I had placed a wager on giving birth to a bookworm(s), well I would have lost, but I wouldn’t have even questioned losing while making the bet.

Let’s go back a bit. My mom has always been a voracious reader. She read to my brother, sister, and I and was constantly taking us to the library and book shops. As much as kids think their parents are only thinking about them a hundred percent of the time, my mom was doing this for herself just as much as she was trying to instill the value and delight of reading in to us- and I love that. Some of my favorite memories of her include watching her read on her bed using her tiny reading light. When we went to the library her section and ours were on the second floor. After we traipsed up the steps we went left and she went straight. After awhile she’d come grab us, balancing her stack of books, we’d grab ours and head to check out. Those were some of the best days.

My boys just don’t enjoy reading. I don’t shove it down their throats, but that’s only because it still wouldn’t make them like it. When they get older they might develop a liking, but I’m not holding my breath. I fully understand that they have different interests. I just thought that some, or at least a smidgen of my outrageous love for reading would’ve been inherited. As in, if they would have come out of the womb holding a chapter book I would’ve smugly looked at the doctor and nodded, silently acknowledging my strong literary genes, No such luck. Recently I was going through some of the well-loved and worn children’s books that were read to them countless times. One that had been repeatedly taped up made me smile. I asked my oldest, while smiling like a cheesy Hallmark commercial, “You remember this one?” He kind of grimaced and said, “Maybe?” Maybe?!!!!! I read this so many times I still have most of it memorized! All I get is a maybe- are you kidding me?! I quickly flipped to a center page that I always made a big deal out while reading quite animatedly to him. “What about this page, don’t you remember baby llama being so upset?!” Again, not much of a response and maybe even a hint of annoyance. So I cut my nostalgic trip down memory lane short and put the basket of books away.

Maybe it skips a generation, maybe I’ll have a grandchild one day and he or she will love books. But you know what- I’m not betting the house on it.

“What kind of life can you have in a house without books?”

– Sherman Alexie

Unsaid

Cover love? Most definitely.

A few weeks back I was used-book shopping when I came across Unsaid by Neil Abramson. I held the book for a few seconds while I took in the incredible cover photography. Part of the reason this cover grabbed my attention so intensely is in part due to a back story regarding books and animal photography. At some point I think I plan to share about it on this blog.

Back to the book. I flipped to the cover flap (I love when trade editions feature dust cover-like flaps ) and began reading about the story. It begins with a husband who is a lawyer in Manhattan and his veterinarian wife who has recently passed away. She, Helena, is the narrator and is struggling with making peace with the life she left behind. She “visits” scenes with her husband as well as her former work partner. Being a vet, and also not having children, Helena and her husband had many animals, whom she cared deeply for. Before her death Helena was planning to find homes for her animals because she knew the responsibility would lie solely on her husband’s shoulders. He wouldn’t let her give them away, so after her death, the three dogs, six cats, two horses, and one pig remain. This story also reflects some of her time as a vet student and work that she did with a chimpanzee, who ultimately died because of her work. This primate work was done with a friend and fellow student and ties to the current story regarding another chimpanzee. Her friend contacts Helena’s husband for legal help, which is another fascinating facet of this story.

I’m not doing this story justice with this explanation, so if my crappy synopsis has in any way sparked your interest, find this book. The relationships between a husband and wife as well as between animals and humans are written about so beautifully.

Occasionally I read a book that speaks so profoundly that I want to tuck it inside my heart as a secret. I don’t want to share about it with anyone, because it has a feeling of only belonging to me. I know that is ridiculous thinking and of course this wonderful book needs to be shared far and wide (but this was one of those books).

Unsaid was the second read from my summer stack and I give it five stars.

“I know this is presumptuous of me, but I think God’s language is juxtaposition. His-or her-voice is heard most clearly in the reconciliation of the contradictions and contrasts of life. God lives in the peaks and valleys, the jarring transitions, not the mundane, the safe, the smooth, or the repetitive.”

– Neil Abramson