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July reading report

August 3, 2012

I am returning to blogging after being out most of July with health problems and various crises.  As June ended I had started writing on several topics that interested me–such as writing about Indigenous people.  I have gone back and completed several of my reviews and begun posting them.  More to come.   I plan, as well, to go back and comment on other people’s posts that I missed while out.

Books read and heard in July

Finding something to read when I am not well has never been easy.  My best choice turned out to be The River Midnight, by Lillian Nattel, who I found blogging about historical fiction.  A review will follow.

Some of what I read was fine, but I wasn’t inspired to write reviews.  Here is my list of books read and brief comments.

From Harvey River: A Memoir of My Mother and Her Island, by Lorna Goodison,

A delightful memoir of her mother’s biracial family in rural western Jamaica and later in Kingston.  By a favorite Caribbean author of mine.

The Gate to the Women’s Country, by Sheri Tepper.

Feminist fantasy at its best in a world where gender is even more strictly defined than in our own and male warriors think they rule the land with their violence. By another favorite.

 Expert in Murder, by Nicola Upson.

The first in her mystery series featuring crime writer, Josephine Tey, set in the London theatrical community.   (see previous review of Upson)

The Shadow in the Wind, by Carlos Ruiz Zafon.

A rousing novel set in post-WWII Madrid about an adolescent boy who has the only existing copy of a mysterious book.  A coming of age story, with a foul-mouthed mentor, lots of suspense, violence, and love.

Tooth and Claw, by Jo Walton.

Amusing fantasy based on Victorian novels, except all the characters are dragons–literally prone to eat any weaklings, including their friends and relatives.  Thanks to Booklust for suggesting it.


Listening rather than reading was a fine idea, as suggested by Alex and Litlov.  I will do it again.  Yet, I still prefer reading to listening.  I miss being able to skim ahead during less engaging sections like those narrated by self-centered invalid Frederick Farilie in Woman in White.  I missed even more being able to mark passages and go back to reread them. As with ebooks, I was grateful for having my choices of reading expanded, but still give me books.  Falling asleep was a problem.  Luckily several of the audiobooks came from Librivox for free and had Gutenberg versions online to fill me on what I had slept through.

The Secret Garden, by Frances Hodgson Burnett. 

A total return to the childhood comfort of being read to.

A Song Flung Up at Heaven, by Maya Angelo.

Her autobiography of her life in the 60s. Full of people like Malcom X and James Baldwin, memories of her four years in Ghana and her lover from there, and her own attempt to make it as a writer.

Bleak House, by Charles Dickins.

Enjoyable but I kept falling asleep and waking disoriented; somewhere else with a strange new group of characters.  Finally I gave up.  Maybe I will try again listening to one of his with a less diverse set of subplots.

Woman in White, by Wilkie Collins.

Classic Victorian novel about love, money, and mystery.  I enjoyed it immensely.  Collins pleasantly surprised me in his treatment of women characters.  Various characters made demeaning statements about women, but Collins seemed to ridicule such ideas and at times prove them wrong.  Of course, Collins was conventional enough to let Walter love Laura best even if the more interesting, unconventional Count preferred Marion.  The emotional closeness of the two women was presented as a major theme.

5 Comments leave one →
  1. August 3, 2012 12:21 pm

    Marylin, I think you had a full month even though you were not well and that is remarkable. Now, I am intrigued by Maya Angelou’s autobiography about her life and lover in Ghana for good four years. Come to think of it, I remember vaguely that she was here. I would very much love to read this book. I just recently bought her novel ‘Iknow why teh Caged Bird Sings’, my first, and I intend to read and review it when I am done.

    That said, welcome back and hope August is even more fruitful.

    • August 6, 2012 5:08 pm

      The Caged Bird is something of a classic over here. I look forward to your review. Her autobiography is good also, but not as powerful as Caged Bird. It starts just as she flies out of Ghana, leaving her college-age son and her lover there. She doesn’t write directly about Ghana, but she keeps referring to it and her time there. She is breaking up with her Ghanian lover, and her descriptions of him are rather negative–more than just cultural differences, I think. But read it and tell me what you think.

  2. August 3, 2012 2:08 pm

    I’m sorry you’ve had such a rough time. I wondered where you were. I have to admit that when I’m really ill my listening is usually to something that I already know so that it doesn’t matter so much when I drop off because I can reorient myself fairly easily. ‘The Secret Garden’ was a wonderful choice. It never fails to thrill me how generation after generation of children rediscover that book and make it their own. And I am seriously jealous of the Jo Walton. She is hard to find in our library system.

    • August 6, 2012 5:15 pm

      You have the right idea about listening to books you know. I will do that next time. I was just so excited to see the list of audiobooks of good Victorian novels I have never read or read so long ago I have forgotten them that I started there. But it wasn’t the right time.
      Secret Gardens was surprisingly fresh for me. Chosen by my daughter the philosophy prof, who understands that Plato isn’t everything.
      I got Jo Walton from Paperback Swap. You might try there or other online sources listed on LibraryThing. It was fun, even if the humor was a bit broad.

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