Book #58 of the year was a reread, and in this post you can read what I wrote about it back in May when I first read it. The book is Such a Fun Age, by Kiley Reid. I reread it because we talked about it in my book group. It was my choice, and as I always find, nobody else liked it quite as much as I did. But we did have a good discussion, which is, of course, the goal.
Book #59 was The Long Run: Meditations on Marriage, Dementia, Caregiving, and Loss, by Richard Sherry. This is a beautiful book, and one I'd recommend to anyone who is facing dementia in a loved one. Dr. Sherry was a professor of mine in college, and his lovely, intelligent wife worked in the library at the same institution. I was surprised when I saw her at a reunion, and she recoiled from me when I tried to hug her. Clearly she had no idea who I was. I soon found out that she had begun to develop dementia. That was our last class reunion she attended. This book goes into the details of how difficult the whole transition was for both of them, but especially for the caregiver husband who narrates the story. Looking back at memories of their whole long marriage, and including updates he posted on Facebook as things progressed, he shows us beautiful, painful glimpses of their life in those last few years before her death. I appreciated his honesty and the practical details he explained, and was inspired by the love that survived, in spite of everything. He ends with some reflections on life after losing his wife of over fifty years, including how hard it is to stop taking care of everyone when that is the pattern you have fallen into at home out of necessity.
Book #60 was The Thing with Feathers: The Surprising Lives of Birds and what they Reveal about Being Human, by Noah Strycker. This was a gift from a friend who left Haiti early in the pandemic, and I enjoyed reading it and remembering her and her thoughtfulness. She's a fellow bird lover, and she knew I would be fascinated by the essays in this book, which deal with such topics as how birds remember where to migrate, and whether birds are self-aware. I'm sure I'll reread this one.
Book #61 was Brazen in Blue, by Rachael Miles. This is the fifth in the Muses' Salon series. I pre-ordered it and read it as soon as it came out, as I did with the first, second, third, and fourth. I enjoy her knowledge of the regency period, and these are all fun reads.
Book #62 was Orlando, by Virginia Woolf. This was the second Woolf book in my quest to read all her novels. I didn't enjoy it as much as Mrs. Dalloway. It is written in a breezy style reminiscent of Voltaire's Candide, which was entertaining for a while but began to pall as Orlando lived for centuries as first a male and then a female. I did enjoy gems like: "Green in nature is one thing, green in literature another."
Book #63 was The River, by Gary Paulsen. I am reading the first book in this series, Hatchet, with my eighth graders right now. I didn't like the second as much, but it was fast-moving and now I can tell my students a bit about it.