Thursday, October 29, 2015

what I read in October [from the book pile: 2015]

some of October's "have-read" pile mixed with some of November's "to-read" pile


29  Elegy For Eddie: A Maisie Dobbs Novel by Jacqueline Winspear (Harper Collins, 2012. 331 pages)

Reading challenge category*:  a book set somewhere you've always wanted to visit (London/Lambeth/etc., etc.)

I learned about the incorrigible Maisie Dobbs from Katie Gibson at Cakes, Tea and Dreams (one of my favorite recommended reading sources).  I have no idea why, but mid-twentieth century Britain takes almost all of my attention these days.  Murder mysteries solved by good-hearted people in mid-twentieth century Britain?  A trifecta.


30 Among the Mad: A Maisie Dobbs Novel by Jacqueline Winspear (Harper Collins, 2009. 303 pages)

Reading challenge category*:  a book set during Christmas


31  Leaving Everything Most Loved: A Maisie Dobbs Novel by Jacqueline Winspear (Harper Collins, 2013. 338 pages)

Reading challenge category*:  a trilogy (sort of, there's more than 3 books in the Maisie Dobbs series, but I read 3 in one month so I say it counts!)


32  The Care and Management of Lies: A Novel of the Great War by Jacqueline Winspear (Harper Collins, 2015. 352 pages)

Reading challenge category*:  N/A

I grabbed this book off the shelf along with the other 3 Winspear titles, not realizing it was not part of the Maisie Dobbs series.  This new release is a stand-alone title published to coincide with the centennial of the start of the Great War.  I enjoyed the hearty protagonist, Kezia, left to care for the farm of her husband's family after he enlists.  I enjoyed the subplot centered on the London suffragette movement.  I hope there's more to this series, though; otherwise, the reader is left with much loss and not much reward.


33  My Salinger Year by Joanna Rakoff. (Knopf, New York, 2014. 249 pages.)

Reading challenge category*: a book set (sorta) in my hometown

An interesting, related article: Betraying Salinger by Roger Lathbury (I scored the publishing coup of the decade: his final book. And then I blew it.)

My sister-in-law Macia recommended this title to me, and I'm so glad she did!  Joanna Rakoff's memoir provided a fun non-fiction pause in the midst of a month full of novels.  I think Macia recommended this to me because it's the story of a woman who loves reading, writing, and an old-school corner of New York City (the publishing agency Rakoff works for by typing on a Selectric all day rather than the new-fangled computers everyone was learning in the mid-90's.)  Turns out Macia was absolutely right.

I left Rakoff's story realizing I'm woefully uneducated in Salinger's stories.  I need to remedy that soon.


34  In the Company of Others (A Father Tim novel) by Jan Karon (Penguin, 2010. 399 pages)

Reading challenge category*:  a book set somewhere you've always wanted to visit, #2 (Ireland!)

All of the women in my extended family enjoyed Jan Karon's Mitford Seriesand so, I joined the fan club a few years back. Jan Karon's follow-up to that series are three books called the Father Tim novels. (although I'm a bit confused about the difference, honestly.)  I read the first of that trilogy, Home To Holly Springs, back in 2011 (see review in this post).  After dinner with a friend a few weeks ago, discussing my own preacher father's retirement she reminded me of the Father Tim stories.  

In this middle book, Father Tim and his spunky, artist wife Cynthia take a long-hoped for trip to Ireland.  The story is good -- full of quirky, wounded characters who endear themselves to the prayerful Kavanaugh couple, eventually requiring priestly prayers and spiritually-attuned eyes and ears.  I like the story, but have to admit -- with my own Ireland trip dreams -- I was hoping to enjoy a lot more vicarious travelling than the house-bound priest and his wife were able to provide.  Guess I'll have to make my own trip a reality, instead.


35  Somewhere Safe with Somebody Good: The New Mitford Novel  by Jan Karon (Penguin, 2015. 511 pages.)

Reading challenge category*: a book with more than 500 pages

Somewhere Safe with Somebody Good tells the story of Father Tim's identity crisis after retiring.  My dad recently retired after pastoring for almost 45 years.  Everyone who knows a good pastor knows they never really retire.  The same seems to be true for Father Tim, who refused to leave Mitford even after giving up his pulpit at Lord's chapel. If my dad were Episcopal instead of a non-denominational stripe, and if he'd waited until he was in his sixties to marry my mother instead of marrying at the usual age and fathering 6 children, then Father Tim Kavanaugh would pretty much sum him up. There's a few other differences between the two, but I guess that's why I'm a sucker for these books.  

At times I find myself wishing Father Tim was a little less good, or at least, a little more deep.  I wish he'd actually say out loud some of the poetry and mystery he thinks in his head.  I wish he'd be a little bit more John Ames in his day to day interactions, perhaps.  But then, isn't that how it is in community?  We live in the tension between our ideals and our present, real-life circumstances? 

Someone asked me if Brian and I were hoping to find a Mitford experience when we find the congregation God chooses for us.  I laughed and thought, Close, but maybe more Gilead than Mitford. 

The truth is we will find neither.  We will find the particular people and place that is exactly itself and we will strive to become like those who've gone before while being exactly our re-created selves in their midst.

May it be so, amen.


*This year, I'm using a fun challenge checklist with a Facebook group of friends (and sisters!).  You can find the checklist here:  Take Our Ultimate Reading Challenge  If you'd like to join our Reading Challenge 2015 group on Facebook, let me know and I'll send you an invite! *

Go to my Book Pile page to see my reading lists from 2015 and previous years.

What are you reading right now?

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