Sunday, November 15, 2020

Reading Update

Book #72 of the year was The Mother-in-Law, by Sally Hepworth. I found this novel about a mother-in-law and daughter-in-law and their relationship to be readable but also quite forgettable, and can remember little about it. 


Book #73 was Virginia Woolf's first novel, The Voyage Out. "'D'you know,' said Mrs. Elliot, after a moment, 'I don't think people do write good novels now - not as good as they used to, anyhow.'" I haven't found any Woolf books as good as Mrs. Dalloway yet, but I did enjoy this.  


Book #74 was Ahab's Wife, or the Star-Gazer, by Sena Jeter Naslund. I haven't managed to get all the way through Moby Dick yet (though I'm still working on it), but I picked up this novel imagining a marriage for Captain Ahab, on the recommendation of a friend. It was well-written and readable, though full of highly traumatic events and taboos, "the catastrophic superimposed itself on the ordinary," as Una, the wife in the title, tells us. Whaling, lighthouses, childbirth, shipwreck, women's suffrage, slavery, art: all these things are explored in the story, as Una makes her way through an extremely eventful life. 


Book #75 was Anne Bogel's Don't Overthink It: Make Easier Decisions, Stop Second-Guessing, and Bring More Joy to Your Life. Normally I would start my review by confessing to be something of an overthinker myself, but Bogel's first suggestion is to stop thinking of yourself as an overthinker. Here's a taste: "At my church, we regularly sing a song in which the chorus repeats, 'God will delight when we are creators / of justice and joy, compassion and peace.' The first time I heard it, I was captivated by the idea that we don't have to settle for merely yearning for these things; we can also create them." This is a quick but useful read.


Book #76 was a recommendation from my daughter, Piranesi, by Susanna Clarke. Fascinating and enigmatic, this book begins with an epigraph from The Magician's Nephew, by C.S. Lewis.  Think about the place in that book when the children wake the statue of Queen Jadis - a place like that is the setting for this one. 


Books #77 and #78 were both mermaid stories. In Into the Drowning Deep, by Mira Grant, an oceanographic cruise sets out on a voyage of mermaid seeking, and much mayhem ensues. These mermaids are apex predators, better called sirens, and boy, can they cause trouble! In The Deep, by Rivers Solomon with Daveed Diggs, William Hutson, and Jonathan Snipes, mermaids are descended from the people thrown overboard during the voyage across the Middle Passage. This painful history is too much for them to live with, so they entrust it to one mermaid, the Historian. But it's too much for her, too: "History was everything. Yetu knew that. But it wasn't kind." This is short - it took about an hour to read - but intense and worth discussing. 

1 comment:

The Runcible Pen said...

I haven't read The Voyage Out, but my favourite Woolf novel is Orlando, rather different from Mrs Dalloway or To the Lighthouse. It's been called a love letter to Vita Sackville West, but I also see it as a prose poem to England. I reread it when I just want to revel in language for its own sake!