July fields of gold…
July was another fun reading month. I am revisiting favorite books from my growing up years, reading books I missed as a child, pursuing my garden reading passion, starting a new “reading around the world” focus, and simply enjoying my time outside reading on the porch!
I read ten books in July, and spent quite a bit of time going back and forth to the library. My favorite book of this month was Susan Hill’s Howards End is on the Landing. And I loved reading two children’s classics that I hadn’t read as a child: Pollyanna (review coming soon), and A Dog of Flanders. Overall, a very pleasant reading month!
One benefit of summer was that each day we had more light to read by.
~ Jeannette Walls, The Glass Castle
The books I read in July:
My June reading was a total pleasure! I didn’t read as many books as I have in each of the last few months, but I enjoyed every minute of the books I did read. It was the beginning of my summer reading, and the weather was nice enough to allow me to sit in my favorite reading spot on the porch for much of the time. July will get too hot for afternoon reading out there, but for now it’s just perfect.
It’s hard to choose my favorite of the month because I read some terrific books! I absolutely loved The Ravenmaster, by Christopher Skaife, a book recommended to me by my bird-loving daughter. The audiobook is the way to enjoy this book because Christopher Skaife narrates it himself which adds tremendous fun to the experience. His stories of the ravens that live at the Tower of London are both fun and fascinating. I learned so much about ravens from him!
I just loved Cider With Rosie, by Laurie Lee, which I also listened to on audiobook and which was also narrated by the author. Mr. Lee’s voice was full of nostalgia and emotion, and I felt as if he was sitting right next to me sharing his memories with just me. I was reminded of my grandfather, and my father, both great storytellers.
A different type of memoir stole my heart next — Susan Hill’s The Magic Apple Tree is one of the loveliest books I’ve read in a long time. I was so captured by her beautiful writing and her remembrances of her life in the English countryside! Even before I finished the book, I started searching for two others that she wrote in a similar vein. They were hard to find, but I ordered them from Abe Books and was delighted when they arrived. More summer reading!
Some time spent reading The Hunt for Red October, by Tom Clancy, and then re-watching the movie with my husband was fun. A light mystery, a classic science fiction novel, and a return to my childhood with a re-reading of Cherry Ames, Student Nurse rounded out the month.
I hope you are enjoying your summer reading as much as I am enjoying mine!
I must start this post with an apology for disappearing into silence on this blog. April and May have been a particularly busy time for me as well as an emotional time. (We call May our “tender-hearted month” in my family.) Unfortunately, once I get off track with my posting, I find it hard to get “back in the groove” again. But I have continued with my reading, even being able to read on the porch again when time has allowed, and I am here now to say HI and to reflect on my May reading.
May has been a completely enjoyable reading month. I’ve squeezed in as much reading as I can in between multiple trips to Washington State helping our daughter move and get settled into her new home; helping my husband with his shed building project in our backyard (I’ve always been his construction assistant); trips to the State Legislature with my Moms Demand Action group; and my continuing efforts to get the yard and garden in shape (it still feels like a wilderness area!). I’ve read mostly mysteries, and all have been very enjoyable. I am also half-way through the audiobook of Ken Follett’s Pillars of the Earth, and am almost finished reading Tom Clancy’s Hunt for Red October which I wanted to read before Hubby and I watch the movie again (one of our favorites). I also downloaded the audiobook version (free) of the Mueller Report and am very slowly making my way through it. I feel it is a very important work to read, no matter how long it takes me.
Busy, busy time…and as my friend, Les (Coastal Horizons) said, “Who knew retirement would be so busy!”
Here are the covers of my completed May reads.
My reading time in March was more limited than during the winter months. The nicest reason for that was the arrival of spring blooms and occasional warm-enough days to spend outside cleaning out garden areas, and preparing one area of former garden for the big construction project my husband is undertaking — building a half-garden and half-bicycle shed. That required some transplanting, which we did in the rain.
I also increased my walking time in March, preparing for and then participating in the Shamrock Run in downtown Portland. I was very proud of myself after being relatively sedentary during the cold and icy months. It felt so good to be outside (however soggy) and back in training!
Anyway, I did enjoy my March reading, I just wasn’t as focused on reading projects, which is really OK, I tell myself. And right now, I am happy to have some gardening time (between rainstorms) and as far as my reading goes, I am particularly enjoying reading mysteries again!
Books read in March:
Favorite quote from March reading:
Eugenia Lincoln was very fond of lists. They helped her think. Lists calmed her. They made the world seem orderly and reasonable and manageable, even though the world was none of those things.
~ from Eugenia Lincoln and the Unexpected Package, by Kate DiCamillo
Some photos from March:
That’s me in the purple hat.
The month of February turned out to be our real winter this year. January was mild and spring-like. February brought arctic air, snow and ice, many snow days, and dark gray days. Just the thing for staying inside and reading! So I did, and I read a lot this month.
I spent time with a couple of new-to-me mystery series, thanks to recommendations from friends. I’ve been captured by the Ruth Galloway series, by Elly Griffiths, and by the D.I. Nikki Galena series by Joy Ellis. I also revisited an older series that I read many years ago: the Mrs. Pollifax series by Dorothy Gilman. I listened to the first of that series on audiobook, The Unexpected Mrs. Pollifax, and loved it all over again. There’s nothing better than having a good mystery series to enjoy!
For my own celebration of Black History Month, I finished reading Americanah, by Chimamanda Ngozi Adiche, and read Zora Neale Hurston’s Barracoon. Both were beautifully written, powerful and moving stories.
My favorite audiobook of the month was Ken Follett’s Eye of the Needle. My favorite children’s book read this month was Ordinary, Extraordinary Jane Austen, by Deborah Hopkinson.
Quite a varied month for me. The only problem is…I’ve fallen way behind on my review posts! But I will just keep plugging away, one review at a time, and eventually I will catch up, right? Or not! So many books, so little time!
My January reading was a pleasure! With renewed energy for the new year, I focused on my new reading challenges, continued with series I had started, and found many new reads at my library. I read a little poetry, some mysteries, some classics, some children’s books, a photography book, and some Shakespeare. What a mishmash! I enjoyed every moment of my January reading!
Favorite book read in January: Farther Afield, by Miss Read
Favorite for the beauty of the writing: The Country of the Pointed Firs, by Sarah Orne Jewett
Favorite children’s book: Haroun and the Sea of Stories, by Salman Rushdie
Favorite graphic novel: Book Love, by Debbie Tung
My January Gallery:
Today is my seventieth birthday. In all the old classic books I’ve read, the female characters that are 70 years old are really old ladies. Actually, they are portrayed as really old ladies at age 60! But I don’t feel that old and am probably in better physical condition that I was ten years ago, before I retired, thanks to being able to spend time at the gym and keep a challenging walking schedule on top of that. I’ve had a number of friends who are already well into their seventies and eighties and are very active, involved women so I am inspired to follow in their footsteps.
I embrace this birthday and this new decade! I’d like to read a lot, love a lot, and do what I can for the people around me, and try and make a little bit of difference in this crazy world.
by Mary Oliver
I wish I was twenty and in love with life
and still full of beans.
Onward, old legs!
There are the long, pale dunes; on the other side
the roses are blooming and finding their labor
no adversity to the spirit.
Upward, old legs! There are the roses, and there is the sea
shining like a song, like a body
I want to touch
though I’m not twenty
and won’t be again but ah! seventy. And still
in love with life. And still
full of beans.
December was … fun, tenderhearted, busy, and full of books! It was a time of holiday and birthday fun. Our son and grandson both have birthdays between Christmas and New Year’s Day, so we have a week of celebrations each year! December was also “tenderhearted” because it was the first Christmas without my Mom. Of course it is always completely busy with holiday preparations and last minute gift shopping. And this holiday was full of books for each family member!
Despite the busy-ness of the month, I loved my reading and finished thirteen books (and am about halfway through my Classics Club “spin” book, Americanah, by Chimamanda Ngozi Adiche). The December book I enjoyed the most was The Outermost House, by Henry Beston. A close second was Zora and Me, by Victoria Bond and T.R. Simon. It’s a fictional account of the childhood of Zora Neale Hurston for middle grade students. A Literary Christmas, full of delightful traditional holiday stories, was a fun audiobook to listen to while running all those errands. All in all, it was a very nice reading month.
I hope you all had a warm and book-filled December, too, my friends!
With the darker, colder days arriving, I found it much harder to keep my spirits up during November. That’s not unusual for me, or for many people at this time of year, especially in the Pacific Northwest. Seasonal Affective Disorder is real. The change of light, the shorter days, and staying indoors more on colder days can lead to melancholy or depression. My reading is my personal antidote to that SAD feeling. It broadens my perspectives and gives me new ways of looking at the world. That cheers me up and also gives me a new appreciation for friends and family.
So with that said, November turned out to be a pretty good reading month for me. I enjoyed getting lost in a variety of books — a mystery, some classics, a Christmas book. I read a number of graphic novels this month, and I’m liking that genre more and more. I especially loved Debbie Tung’s Quiet Girl in a Noisy World, and look forward to her new book, Book Love, to be released in the U.S. on January 1st. My favorite book this month was Michelle Obama’s, Becoming, because it was full of courage and dignity, and hope.
For those of you living in the northern hemisphere, I hope your reading in November was enjoyable and an antidote to the darker, colder days. And for the rest of you, I also hope your November was spent immersed in wonderful books!
My November reads:
As Anne says in L. M. Montgomery’s timeless classic, Anne of Green Gables, “I’m so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers.” This October was a particularly beautiful one here in Oregon! It was also a wonderful reading month for me. I thoroughly enjoyed my reading for the Readers Imbibing Peril-XIII challenge, and Dewey’s 24-hour Read-a-thon. Here are the covers of books read during this very successful reading month for me:
My husband and I also did a little bit of traveling this month. We spent a couple of days in the Seattle area where I met with my former teaching teammates and had a wonderful reunion lunch while Byron went on a bike ride. Also while in the area, he and I visited our favorite garden center, and the Yakima Fruit Market, and went out to eat at three of our old favorite restaurants. It was a great get-away!
We also spent a couple of days hiking in Silver Falls State Park. We enjoyed our first hike there so much we returned a week later and brought our daughter with us. We all loved hiking amongst gorgeous the autumn colors.
So all in all, it was a just a great October!