Books – March 2019 Roundup

LOL. Remember how I hoped that Baby B would sleep well during my vacation so that I could get some reading done? Yeah. That didn’t really happen at all. Instead, she cried for much of the time when she should have been asleep, and during them time she was asleep, she insisted on being held. So despite a 14 hour flight there and back, two 2.5 hour flights internally, 3+ hours on trains, 2 hours on a bus, and nearly 2 hours in an airport shuttle, neither the boy or I made serious progress in any of our books. And since the big girls weren’t especially helpful (Airplane entertainment units are pretty decent these days), we didn’t have a lot of opportunities for reading OR sleep. And when sleep is a tenuous visitor, you don’t spend much of your free evening time reading. I’m just glad I finished ANYTHING this month!

FINISHED:

Less by Andrew Sean Greer
I didn’t know a lot about this book going in, and it turns out, sometimes that’s the best way to enjoy a story. It’s about Arthur Less, a novelist who came to notoriety by being the lover of a great poet, but who is going through some heartbreak, and so decides to take the opportunities presented to him that allow him to travel and distract himself from that heartbreak. This book is not like much else I’ve read. It has some elements of the travel memoirs I used to read, but it’s fiction. And because Arthur goes from place to place it feels like a volume of related novelettes instead of one continuous story, but in a really good way. I love the characters. I love the way that you sort of see things coming bit by bit. How the conclusion wraps things up nicely. Highly recommended.

The Paper Menagerie and Other Stories by Ken Liu
This was really interesting book, but damn – some of it was super gory. It’s a collection of short stories/novellas that are all connected somehow to Asian cultures and history. I started reading this for my book club in February, and didn’t finish it, and then read it in fits and spurts on the trip to Japan (which felt apt, since some of the stories took place in Japan, or had Japanese characters), and then finished it up. Most all of the stories are pretty incredible. A few of them are downright gross with too much intimate description of torture and mutilation. But some of the stories are just unbearably beautiful. The title story won a trio of highly prestigious science fiction awards, and is really touching. The kind of book that is easy to pick up and put down (yay short stories!), and DEFINITELY worth reading!

Designing Your Life by Bill Burnett & Dave Evans
So I technically haven’t finished this one yet, but based on the amount of driving-in-the-car time I’ve got this weekend (before the 1st of April), it looks like I’ll be able to finish the book. This is another self-help sort of book (which I seem to be reading a lot of lately?) and it seems like a pretty good one, and makes me regret the fact that I’m listening to the audiobook instead of reading it, because when you read a book like this, you can usually stop and do the exercises that it recommends. Whereas, if I want to finish the book with any amount of speed, I can’t just stop for 30 minutes to write up my philosophy of work, or whatever else the authors want me to do. Fortunately all the worksheets they mention in the book are available on their website, but it doesn’t have the same effect to go back to the worksheets days later when you don’t have the authors’ words to guide you in completing it. I mean, obviously I’m going to finish listening to the book, but it might be the kind of thing I need to re-borrow in order to fully do the life-design program, which I’m still deciding at this point if I want to do.

IN PROGRESS/IMMEDIATELY NEXT:

The Food of a Younger Land by Mark Kurlansky
Book club book for April. Which, again, I am only just starting to read, and lets see if I can actually finish it before book club again. Eep!

There There by Tommy Orange
So, I think I’m about half-to-two-thirds of the way through this book. The problem is that it was my audio book just prior to the trip, and it’s not like listening to an audio book is really going to happen when a baby is awake and angry, and likely to rip the headphones out of your ears. So it disappeared when it came due. I’m back on the hold list, but the wait is…19 weeks. UGH. Look for a follow-up sometime in August.

The Thousandth Floor by Katharine McGee
Another one I borrowed just before the trip. This one was on Kindle, and while theoretically I still have it on my paperwhite due to being on airplane mode, and maybe it didn’t get sucked out of my system because it’s not connected…I have no idea because I hardly have time to read my Kindle. Didn’t make much progress, but this is another one with a bit of a wait, so don’t look for an update anytime soon.

***

Oof. So behind on books. By not being able to read much on vacation, I got very behind this month, but luckily I had been very ahead prior to this, so it’s not a huge problem, and instead I’m still on target (if not very slightly ahead). But man – I think I need a baby-free vacation if I’m ever going to get to read a lot again.

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