Book #19 of the year was the ninth Inspector Gamache book, How the Light Gets In, by Louise Penny. I liked this one, but I think I was half asleep as I was finishing it, and my checkout from the library had already expired, so it's gone from my Kindle now. I have the impression that a whole lot of stuff got resolved in the last few pages as I faded in and out, or I might have just dreamed all that. In any case, I put a hold on the next one, so I guess I'll find out. (And how great is it that Leonard Cohen allowed Penny to use his lyric as her title for free?)
Book #20 was A Piece of the World, by Christina Baker Kline. I love books about paintings, and this novel is about Andrew Wyeth's painting "Christina's World." It's the story of Christina Olson, Wyeth's friend and muse. She lives a difficult, narrow existence in rural Maine, with little choice about what happens to her, and a disability, to boot. Late in her life, Wyeth's interest in painting her house, surroundings, and Christina herself enriches her life. Here she is on Andy's effect on her: "Through his perspective I see familiar things anew. The pale pink wallpaper with tiny flowers. The red geraniums blooming in the window in their blue pots. The mahogany banister, the ship captain's barometer in the foyer, an earthenware crock on a shelf in the pantry, the blue pantry door scratched by a long-ago dog." I enjoyed Christina's prickly personality, her pride, her refusal to be anyone but herself, and the glimpses into the young woman she used to be.
Book #21 was another one set in New England, this time in Rhode Island. A Hundred Summers, by Beatriz Williams, takes place in the thirties, and it's full of secrets, drama, and terrible weather. Who knew that was just what I was craving? I certainly didn't. But I enjoyed this one immensely.
Book #22 was The Contemplative Writer: Loving God through Christian Spirituality, Meditation, Daily Prayer, and Writing, by Ed Cyzewski. The title pretty much says it all. This was a quick read, but very inspiring and helpful.
Book #23 was Chased by the Light: A 90-Day Journey, by Jim Brandenburg. This book was published in 1998, and it's the result of Brandenburg setting himself a photographic challenge, to make one picture each day for ninety days in the northern woods of Minnesota. I had a couple of thoughts while reading this. One was how ludicrous it is to call anything I might do "photography," when artists like this exist in the world. A...ma...zing. These are ninety absolutely gorgeous photos, and the essay that goes with them is equally gorgeous. (And I don't call what I do photography; I call it "taking pictures.") Another thought was of the dear friend who gave me this book, someone whom I very rarely see any more, and whom I miss. That feeling was underlined by the melancholy of the October through December landscape of Minnesota.
Book #24 was Oprah's current Book Club choice, An American Marriage, by Tayari Jones. I wanted to read this, but of course so did a bazillion other people. I had it on hold at the library and I was something like 175th in line, and then suddenly four days ago the book became available, so I guess they must have bought a bunch more copies. This is the story of Roy and Celestial and their marriage. They have been married a year and a half when everything changes for them because of Roy's arrest and incarceration. This book pulled me in and made me feel all the feelings. Tayari Jones already has Oprah's recommendation, so she certainly doesn't need mine, but she has it anyway.
I am glad I got in the habit of keeping track of my reading on this blog, because so often when I am writing these posts I get a sense of the overall theme of the books I've consumed lately, and a chance to reflect which would probably be missing if I just barrelled on to the next book I'm going to gulp down. This particular batch includes some mighty fine reading, books that introduced me to other lives in masterfully told stories. The ideas on contemplation and the beautiful photography were icing on the cake.
This post is linked to the March Quick Lit post at Modern Mrs. Darcy.
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