I've always been a reader, I guess. In third grade I was the most popular girl in my class. You could tell because I often spent my recess with a book. Or two, depending on their length.
As I got older there was less and less time for reading. Or more assigned reading. So instead of my usual bags of books from the library I spent time with textbooks or handouts. And then when I got into photography I focused on photography books and blogs, almost to the complete exclusion of all else.
Then I discovered ebooks on my iPhone, and racked up quite a few purchases for reading on the bus. For convenience, ebooks can't be beat. For price, well, that's a different story.
But last week I got a library card, and I feel like a new woman! Imagine, books for miles, all for free, and then you don't even have to store them after you read them! What a deal.
Here are some of the books that ended up coming home with me.
bird by bird by Ann Lamott: Written in lovely flexible prose full of vibrant metaphors, Ann Lamott takes us through the sometimes painful but ultimately worthwhile process of writing. I picked this up because I often have trouble figuring out what to write on the blog, and I'm not exactly sure what 'my voice' is, if that doesn't sound too pretentious. The book focuses on writing fiction, but a lot of the advice is applicable to any kind of writing. And Ann's humanity is palpable. You just want to give her a hug and say, "Thanks so much for the advice. I'm going to go home and write, now."
Major Pettigrew's Last Stand by Helen Simonson: I admit, I picked this one up purely on impulse, because there were a few copies of it displayed prominently in the library and so I figured it might be worth reading. I haven't gotten over the initial giddyness my library card engenders; any book is worth a look. Plus, I must admit, I judged it by its cover, and that was enough for me. The book centers around a middle aged British widower living in a quiet country village, sort of the last of the 'old guard.' He's surrounded by people who are more surface than substance, including his own offspring, a rather self-centered Roger. There is one bright spot, however: his friendship with the local Pakistani convenience shop owner. Like him, she enjoys literature and a good cup of tea. However, the townspeople don't approve of their friendship and so a few difficulties are thrown in their path.
I enjoyed this book much more than I expected to. The characters are all well drawn, and the author has a high enough opinion of the reader that she leaves much to nuance, rather than spelling it out. We area able to sympathize with almost every character, even as we find them to be horribly wrong or cruelly ignorant. The Major himself is not without fault; but he at least is endowed with a sense of dry politeness that never fails him. I highly recommend this book for some late summer reading. Perfect for a visit to England, even if you never leave home.
Gaudy Night by Dorothy Sayers: Now I've been a fan of Sayers for some time, probably since the first time I picked up one of her books for a quarter at a local library sale. No one spins a plot better than she; I am almost always surprised by the denouement, and I also enjoy her characters a great deal. But Gaudy Night is something more special still. It's set at Oxford, in a fabricated women's school, and has the distinction of being one of the few mysteries I've enjoyed where not a single soul bites the bullet. There are shenanigans galore, but no one gets seriously injured or hurt.
I would highly recommend all three of these books, depending on what takes your fancy. Happy Reading!
What good books have you read lately? I'd love to know.