Books read in August

A variety of reading styles this month: several “read aloud” volumes were finished, a poem book, book group books, a play, and an excellent piece of thick juicy fiction. But wait, there’s more! Read on to find out what other winners there were this month.

All Night Lingo Tango
Barbara Hamby
These were enjoyable poems by someone I would guess is either a night owl or has insomnia issues. Hence all the classic movie references. The middle section are sonnets and reading them, I was quite confused as they did not follow the sonnet format I had read about. However, at the end, Hamby explains they are what she calls abecedarian sonnets, which she explains as, “There’s one poem for each letter of the alphabet, each poem except one opening with its title letter and then following the alphabet through the poem.” When I looked back, I saw this was true and found this to be a rather amazing feat of writing.
Favorite poems:
  • Sonnets from the Psalms
  • Ode to Airheads, Hairdos, Trains to and from Paris
  • I find an Entrance to Hell
  • Ode to Cake, Catcalls, Eggs with a Minor Scary Reference to the End of the World
  • Ode to Little Boys
Anne of Avonlea
L. M. Mongomery
I found the incredibly underdeveloped character of Dora to be quite a distraction in this book. Davy, her mischievous twin was delightful in his badness, but she was a blank slate. Other than that, Anne’s navigation through early adulthood (although that started sooner then as she is 17-18 in this book) was enjoyable. Some of the “teacher” chapters were particularly amusing.
Freddy and Fredericka
Mark Halprin
I got this book from a booklist at the library, one of those “if you like this, you might like this” sort of things. I can’t find what the “this” was that led me to the book, but I quite indeed like this book and I’m thankful for the list for steering me to it.
In an alternate present, the Prince of Wales (Freddy, son of Phillipa, not Charles, son of Elizabeth) is sent by the mysterious Mr. Neil to travel incognito with his glamorous wife to conquer the United States of America. The book skewers everything: the British press, the American press, the monarchy, the parliamentary system, the constitutional form of government, political campaigns, etc. etc. etc.
It’s also quite generous with its use of words. The “sending of Freddy to conquer the USA” is first breached on page 170, all that comes before is establishing background. Halprin is clearly not worried about electronic age readers attention spans as he often takes more than five pages to set up a hilarious scene, which results in the reader working for the laughter, but many funny moments. There are also several touching scenes, one of which brought tears to my eyes, which was unfortunate as I was riding the Max train at the time.
For a busy person who only has time now and again to dip into this book, I would say, don’t bother. But if you have the time to put into it, this is a very rewarding read. Perhaps it will do for your next vacation, no?
My Antonia
Willa Cather
Read for Kenton Book Group.
Ah, there’s nothing like settling in with a book that you know you enjoyed before. It was enjoyable this time too. I think Willa Cather is the landscape painter of early twentieth century fiction and not only that but she can spin a yarn, too. Both times I’ve read this book I’ve been on deadline (first for a “History of Westward Expansion” class in college, now for Kenton Book Club) and I probably wouldn’t have made it through this book without the deadlines due to its early twentieth century “you have to pay attention” prose and it’s meandering pace and my book ADD, but it is such a marvelous book I’m glad that I’ve twice had the incentive.
Pride & Prejudice
Jane Austin
Matt & I read aloud
I actually finished this earlier in the year by reading it in bits through Daily Lit. However, I forgot to mark that momentous occasion via Goodreads. I read for the second time this year, because it was my selection to bring along for “read aloud” on the Bike Trip. The book was chosen because Matt and his friend Jeff wandered through while I was watching the miniseries and they started making fun of the story, categorizing it as “Mr. Darcy needs fixing and once the lady does, he’s so much better.” This isn’t the point of the story at all, but after making a few attempts at getting that point across that were resoundly booed by both Matt and Jeff, I figured it would be much better if Matt read it for himself. And so the book was chosen.
I find this book quite funny, and enjoyed the characters. There was a point where I felt the narrative was a bit slow (it was post-Lizzie’s visit to see Mr. & Mrs. Collins and pre-Lydia’s scandalous behavior) but the story is so rewarding, I can overlook that. It was fun to read aloud and do the different characters. I especially enjoyed being Mr. Collins. Also, Matt saw the error of his ways, which is always nice.
AND the introduction of the edition we read (1994 Tom Doherty Associates, LLC,) was quite good. It seems to not have an author listed, but was called “The Life and Times of Jane Austin.”
Much Ado About Nothing
William Shakespeare
Rumor mongering can kill a girl. And don’t you forget it. My favorite part? “Yeah, that Hero girl is dead, but my brother has a daughter just like her. You want to marry her?”
Yep. Those women sure are valued.
On Beauty
Zadie Smith
I’ve had a great streak of big, thick books about families. First there was Freedom, by Jonathan Franzen, then Freddie and Fredericka by Mark Helprin. Now, another good entry comes from Ms. Smith, an author I’ve heard about, but never read.
I enjoyed wandering through the Beasley family’s life, seeing the perspective from many different family members. I look forward to reading more of Zadie Smith.
The Order of the Stick Volume 2: No cure for the Paladin Blues
Rich Burlew
Matt & I read aloud.
The story continues with humor and more stick figures. The humor included a joke about a druid and a tree that had me laughing so hard we had to pause while I moved into silent laughter territory.
Order of the Stick, on the Origin of PC
Rich Berlew
Matt & I read aloud.
I’m a sucker for back stories, so I was happy with this slim volume in the OOTS canon.
A Single Man
Christopher Isherwood
I found this to be very spare writing that normally I would discard before I read too far in the book. Only the fact that I was constantly comparing it to the movie kept me reading. The characters in the movie were flavors of the characters in the book and the “one day” premise was the same, but many other things were very different. I did appreciate, as someone in one of the movie commentaries pointed out, that Isherwood was writing very matter of factly about the gay “lifestyle” in 1962.
A New Earth
Eckart Tolle
The insomnia I thought I had banished forever returned this summer and because I was not required to be at work at a certain time I was not proactive in getting rid of the insomnia by setting firm “go to bed/get up” times. What’s a girl to do for and hour or two when she’s awake in the middle of the night?
It turns out, listening to Mr. Tolle read this book was a highlight of my summer. His quiet, oddly accented voice was incredibly calming, and I took away a lot of his “live in the now” philosophy. I glanced at a printed copy of this book at Powell’s and I think I can say that I would not have made it through this book if I had to read it. It seemed a little bit dry on the page, but was quite interesting to listen to. If you have chunks of time where you can do nothing but listen this might be an enjoyable book for you.

3 thoughts on “Books read in August”

  1. I say it every month – I'm always amazed with your level of reading. I had a book goal on Goodreads, to read 1000 books (put in late – this summer). Now I've downgraded to 75. It will likely be more in the 50 range. Next year 1000 will be my goal and I will actively seek it!

  2. 1000 books is quite a lot. 🙂 (I know what you mean.) My goal this year was actually to read no more than 75 books, as I felt my 97 were indicative of too much time reading and not enough time "doing." I'm at 71 books so far this year and that doesn't include all the October ones I've yet to post. So I've also not met my goal. But in the opposite way of you. In the end of the year summary, I will break out poetry, plays and YA books as they are a bit different reading experience.

  3. Oh boy! 1000! Seriously the difference a zero makes. He is the Hero, she is the place-value holder. You knew I meant 100. Seesh times 100!

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