Reading Update

I usually title these posts Reading Challenge Update, but since my previous post on the subject I have reading nothing towards the Reading Challenge. So I’m still only half-way done, but I’m working on the summer blockbuster challenge now. Just to let you know, Blue Willow has adopted and adapted the Thoughts from the Back reading challenge for a June-July-August challenge of their own. If you read four books for that challenge, you are entered into a drawing for a Blue Willow gift card. That should provide a little motivation for all you slackers out there.

I have been reading, though. Some good, some bad, some meh. I’ve been faithfully writing reviews over at Goodreads, but haven’t been posting lengthier reviews here. It’s harder than it sounds to write a book review, honest. (Must get back in practice.)

I have been honored with a “Nancy Recommends” shelf at the bookstore. It’ll be up for a week or so, at least until they think of a marketing use for the shelf that will actually result in book sales.  I don’t take this responsibility lightly. I forgot to take a picture of my shelf so I hope y’all don’t demand proof, but here are my picks:

In the Keep Cool category are Galore by Michael Crummey (paperback) and Touch by Alex Zitner (hardcover). Both are Canadian family sagas with a feel of family myth and lore about them. I actually prefered Galore, but  Touch, which takes place in the northern woods has more chilling descriptions of ice and snow and harsh winters. Brrrr, just what we need to be reading in Houston right now to balance the oppressive heat outside.

In the On the Lighter Side category are What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty (hardcover) and Noah’s Compass by Anne Tyler (paperback). Moriarty’s tale is still holding up as my favorite new, fun summer read.  The gist: Alice Love has it all – three elementary-age children in a myriad of activities, over commitments to school and other volunteer causes, strained family relationships, and a crumbling marriage. She awakens one day, after hitting her head falling off a bike in spinning class, with no memory of the last ten years. I read it with low expectations, but Moriarty pulls it off nicely. Anne Tyler, one of my long-time favorite authors, is aging right along with me, writing characters that I can continue to relate to. The gist: Anne Tyler has once again created a perfect characterization of an imperfect human; this time his name is Liam Pennywell. Liam is 60 years old, widowed, divorced, a father of three and recently laid off from a teaching job that he was overqualified for. After moving to a new apartment, Liam wakes up in the hospital and can’t remember how he got there. Liam is bothered, even obsessed, by this gap in his memory and his quest to find a way to remember this lost event allows him to find his way through his past and into a contented present.

For my final category, Learn Something, I chose two non-fiction books, Fire Season by Philip Connors (hardcover) and The Big Burn by Timothy Egan (paperback). Egan tells the story of one of  the largest American wildfires, the Big Burn of 1910 which raced through the Northern Rockies. Fire Season recounts one of Connors’ years as a fire watcher in the Gila Wilderness area of New Mexico. Among lots of other interesting history, The Big Burn tells the story of the beginnings of the US Forest Service and Fire Season provides tales of the Forest Service and their wildfire policies thru the ensuing years. The books are great alone, together, and as supplements to Ken Burns’ National Parks documentary (which I rewatched a part of the other night).

So keep cool, have fun, and learn something…no matter what you’re up to this summer.

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