Tuesday, October 26, 2021

Reading Update

It's been so long since I've written a Reading Update post that I have sixteen books to report. I don't know if I'll get to all of them today, but time to make a start at least.

Book #72 of the year was Birding Without Borders: An Obsession, A Quest, and the Biggest Year in the World, by Noah Strycker. I thoroughly enjoyed this book, in which Strycker spends a year traveling the world in an attempt to see 5,000 species of birds, which is about half of the species that exist, in twelve months. Here's Strycker on birding: "It's a tough activity to pigeonhole, though many have tried; birding is hunting, collecting, and gambling rolled into one. Nobody can decide whether birdwatching constitutes an addiction, a release, or just a game played by khaki-clad eco-nerds." And here: "Birding is about appreciating life's infinite details -- and if subtlety is beauty, then a birder will never run short of wonder." True! True! At the end of the text, full of wonderful stories of the friends he made, the adventures he had, and the birds, you've only read 19% of the book. The rest of it is the list of all the gear he used, the birds he saw, and more birds he saw. Well, Noah Strycker, I've seen some birds you haven't, because you didn't come to Hispaniola! Eat your heart out! 

Book #73 was The Crossing Places, by Elly Griffiths, the first in the Ruth Galloway series, murder mysteries about a forensic archaeologist. I really enjoyed this, and tried to read the second one right away, but the library only had it as an audiobook. If subsequent books are as absorbing, I might add Griffiths to my mystery authors list along with P.D. James and Elizabeth George and Louise Penny. 

Book #74 was The Scent Keeper, by Erica Bauermeister. I enjoyed this, a recommendation from a friend, very much. I wish I had written about it before allowing it to vanish from my Kindle, as I can't quote anything. 

Book #75 was Home by Marilynne Robinson, and #77 was another in the same series, Jack. (The other books in the series are Gilead and Lila. I read both in 2015, but, frustratingly, I didn't record anything about them.) Robinson draws her characters so that you experience them the way we experience real people; we know some about them, but only in pieces. They are sometimes inexplicable and always imperfect. They are people with a lot of beauty in them, but often unable to be at their best with those they love most. I would like to go back and read all four of these books together. They are challenging but nourishing.

Book #76 was The Limits of the World, by Jennifer Acker. It's about an Indian family that emigrates from Nairobi, Kenya, to the United States. The family has secrets and complexities, and some of these come to light when an accident sends everyone back to Nairobi. The main character, Sunil, is a philosophy student struggling with his dissertation and with how to live. There's a lot to this book, and I think I gulped it a little too quickly.

Book #78 was intended to be read more quickly. It was Keep Moving: Notes on Loss, Creativity, and Change, by the poet Maggie Smith. Although I'd rather read Smith's poems, I did enjoy this collection of little affirmations she wrote to herself each day, and published on Twitter, as she was going through a divorce. Although she was responding to a divorce, the pieces she wrote apply much more widely than that. I took photos of some that struck me most, and here are a few: 

Well, I'm going to stop there for today, and I'll write about the rest of the books on the list another time.

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