December is a good month for reading. For those of us not preoccupied with holiday activities, there is plenty of time to read (bead, knit, etc.) and bookstore sales to help feed the hunger.
The second half of December is very quiet in my office. A lot of people take time off, which provides those of us still at work the opportunity to catch up on the little tasks that just never get done. However, enough is enough, and I only worked two days this week. I would love that to be my new norm. 2 work days each week, but full time pay. That would be nice!!
I think a lot of people were reading this month because I received 5 books from my library holds list. The Marriage of Opposites by Alice Hoffman didn’t even make it to this month’s Reading list. I just knew I wouldn’t get through the other books, so I re-entered its Hold line.
Slade House by David Mitchell had been on my To Read list, and my Daughter gave it to me as a holiday gift. Its reviews referred to it as a haunted house story, so I did not want to read it before bed! I spent two hours one afternoon to read it. Among the many reviews –
“An eerie haunted house tale that takes as much from quantum mechanics as from traditional supernatural lore.”
Dean Koontz, #1 New York Times bestselling author
I read it in one sitting because I knew if I put it down, it would be unlikely that I would pick it up again. The characters were not really developed, except perhaps the Slade House inhabitants; I would not recommend it, but I’m glad I read it so I can take it off my list!
Books Read December 2015
|Stringing, Winter 2016||Magazine||Good|
|Betsy Beads||Betsy Hershberg||Thumbs Up|
|How to be Both||Ali Smith||So far so good|
|Black Box Thinking: Why Most People Never Learn from Their Mistakes--But Some Do||Matthew Syed||Only a little way in|
|Slade House||David Mitchell||2 stars|
|1,000 Foods to Eat Before You Die: A Food Lover's Life List||Mimi Sheraton||Downloaded a Sample - on the fence about next step|
|Season of Salt and Honey||Hannah Tunnicliffe||Not for me (see below)|
|Four Funerals and a Wedding||Jill Smolowe||What was I thinking?|
|The Rosie Project||Graeme Simsion||Ugh|
|100 Days of Happiness||Fausto Brizzi||Not for me (see below)|
|The Improbability of Love||Hannah Rothschild||3 stars|
The Improbability of Love was my primary read this month. I give it 3 stars because I skipped a lot of pages that seemed extraneous story telling, but there were 2 primary concepts that kept me engaged. The main character, Annie, is recovering from divorce and restarting her life. She buys a painting in a thrift shop on a lark, and part of the story that was interesting is about discovering its origins and artist. The other portion of the story that really fascinated me was about her work as a cook for large dinner parties that were based on certain paintings. She would research the food, decor, etiquette and customs of the time of the painting, as well as the painter’s and the painting subject’s lives, and then create a meal and decorations around it. The author should have done more writing in this vein, rather than some of the other avenues she chose.
I’ve really just started How to Be Both, but it seems to be similar in taking an older painting and seeing how it re-introduces itself in modern life: “How to be both” is a novel all about art’s versatility. “Borrowing from painting’s fresco technique to make an original literary double-take, it’s a fast-moving genre-bending conversation between forms, times, truths and fictions. There’s a renaissance artist of the 1460s. There’s the child of a child of the 1960s. Two tales of love and injustice twist into a singular yarn where time gets timeless, structural gets playful, knowing gets mysterious, fictional gets real – and all life’s givens get given a second chance.”
I believe I was undergoing some unconscious need for grief counseling or moving on or something this month, when I selected Season of Salt and Honey, Four Funerals and a Wedding, and 100 Days of Happiness. Okay, yes for this theory with Four Funerals and a Wedding which is blatantly described as “With humor and quiet wisdom, and with a lens firmly trained on what helped her tolerate and rebound from so much sorrow, she offers answers to questions we all confront in the face of loss, and reminds us that grief is not only about endings it’s about new beginnings.” I only got this as a sample, because I hate trite sentimentality like “not only about endings it’s about new beginnings.” I think I knew I wouldn’t like it, but somehow couldn’t resist. Season of Salt and Honey was from my library’s Holds list. By the time the book’s in my queue, I’ve forgotten what it’s about or why I wanted to read it. Given my recent trip to Italy, I can see why I might have been attracted to this novel: “A NOVEL OF LOVE, GRIEF AND ANTIPASTI.” However, it starts out at the Italian equivalent of a shiva for the main character’s fiance. That was enough for me. Done. Book over. Finally, I don’t know what I was thinking when I put 100 Days of Happiness on my account as a Hold. “What would you do if you knew you only had 100 days left to live? For Lucio Battistini, it’s a chance to spend the rest of his life the way he always should have—by making every moment count” drew me in for some reason. When DDSO was undergoing chemotherapy, he sent emails to his friends about his experiences. This book reminded me of that. I definitively closed the book and said if I wanted to read this, I would look for those emails. Enough said. No thanks.
I downloaded a sample of Mimi Sheraton’s 1,000 Foods to Eat Before You Die: A Food Lover’s Life List. (I like using the word “sample” with this book because it always makes me smile thinking about getting a sample of each food!) I perused the first chapter, which is centered on English and Scottish food. As one of my friends said, English food is not even supposed to be good – why is that included?! Maybe the author was starting off with the simpler foods in life – like cheddar cheese and clotted cream. Anyway, I think it might be fun to have this book and check off foods as I have them. I haven’t quite decided if this is what I want to do. Maybe a library book version next?