Bookalicious – 8 August 2011

My shelves are too bookalicious for you, baby.

New feature! I read a lot. Well, not a lot compared to some people, but way more than is probably normal. I hardly ever write about what I’m reading here, but I’m inspired to give you guys a weekly update. Sometimes the books I’m reading from week to week will be the same, but I’ll endeavor to let you know what I’m thinking about them as I make progress (or don’t). I am and always have been a poly-reader – meaning I read multiple books simultaneously – so sorry if I give you whiplash. Without further adieu, here’s what’s on my nightstand these days and how I’m feeling about it!

  • The Reservoir by John Milliken Thompson
    Status: in progress
    Pages read: 283 of 345
    Dave and I have volunteered to help out the organizers of the Virginia Festival of the Book by reading submissions they receive and reviewing them to help determine if the authors should be invited to the festival or not. I saw this one on their shelf a few weeks ago, but they hadn’t logged it into their system yet, so I waited to borrow it. Rebecca over at The Book Lady’s Blog had recently reviewed this one positively, and because of that and the fact that it’s set in Richmond, a city that’s nearby and one that I like a lot, I wanted to read it to. I’ve had a hard time putting it down, to be honest. The story begins in the 1880s in Richmond with a young pregnant woman found dead in the city’s reservoir, and the rest of the novel is devoted to sorting out exactly what happened to her. The first thought is suicide, but evidence quickly points to murder. A suspect is identified early on, but it’s hard for the reader to determine to what extent he might be guilty. As a blurb on the back of the book from Holly LeCraw states, it “is not a whodunit but, even better, a did-he-do-it,” an apt description from what I’ve read so far. I’m looking forward to the exciting conclusion!
  • Committed: A Skeptic Makes Peace with Marriage by Elizabeth Gilbert
    Status: in progress
    Pages read: 167 of 233
    I’m currently reading this in ebook form on my Nook. I borrowed it from my local library, which has a pretty awesome system for lending ebooks and MP3 audiobooks. I have another 7 days to finish it before it expires, which I don’t expect will be a problem. I picked up this book because I so enjoyed Eat, Pray, Love a few years ago. This book is very different, though. Gilbert started doing research on marriage when she found herself in a situation where she was going to have to marry her sweetheart, although neither of them particularly wanted to be married to anyone. Both had been through awful divorces, and while they loved one another, they did not want to marry ever again. Now, faced with no choice in the matter if they wanted to remain together, Gilbert read and interviewed and wrote about marriage, trying to make her peace with it. The book has research and reports interspersed with stories she collected about marriage and then her own thoughts on her failed marriage and her current relationship. I’m enjoying the book, though it’s not nearly the example of storytelling that Eat, Pray, Love was. The marriage information and research makes me think more about my own marriage – which is happy, thankfully, so thinking about it is a positive experience. I do think, though, that the chapters are too long – even the sections of text within the chapters are too long. If I feel like just reading it for 10 minutes, there are times that’s impossible if I want to get to the next section break.
  • Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln by Doris Kearns Goodwin
    Status: in progress
    Pages read:55 of 754
    I first became interested in reading this book in 2006, when I heard Doris Kearns Goodwin give a keynote speech at a conference I was attending. She was so wonderfully academic, such a history professor (which, of course, she actually is) but also a good storyteller, and I’d never really thought twice about Abraham Lincoln more than what you learn in school, so I was intrigued. It’s taken me this long to get around to reading the book, though. The basic premise is that Lincoln was sort of a political genius because he made an unprecedented move by asking his political rivals to join his administration once he was elected President. So far, it’s a bit slow-going for me. I’m interested in the topic, but the book is loooooooong. You can see above that the page count is high, but what you can’t tell without looking at a copy of the book is that the print is tiny and the margins are miniscule – there are a lot of words in this book! So far, I’ve read about each of the four candidates for the Republican nomination – how they came to run for the nomination and what they were doing on the day the caucus was meeting to choose a nominee. I’ve also nearly finished a chapter discussing the childhood and formative years of each potential nominee. This one is going to take me a while to get through, though. I have a feeling I’ll pick it up for a chapter or so and then put it down again for a few weeks to read some other things.
  • Moon Women by Pamela Duncan
    Status: in progress
    Pages read: 34 of 495
    My sister-in-law lent this book to me the last time we were visiting because she knows I have an obsession with Southern literature, and she’d read this recently and thought it was pretty good. I grabbed it on my way to the hair salon on Friday because all of the other books I was already reading were too big and/or heavy to throw into my purse to take with me, and this one is quite a bit smaller. So I didn’t get very far into it while I was waiting for my highlights to process, and I’ll probably put it down for a while so I can finish a few other books for which I have deadlines to finish them, but what I read was enough to make me wonder what’s going to happen next. I suspect it’s going to be about women of all generations in a family going through some hard times together and bonding because of it, which is certainly a pleasant enough sort of book to read.

On deck: When I finish Committed, the next book I’ll probably pick up is Bonk: The Curious Coupling of Science and Sex by Mary Roach, which I need to read for my next book club meeting in September and which I currently have out (in hard copy) on loan from the library.


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