December 2018 books read

  • Literary Hoaxes: An Eye-Opening History of Famous Frauds – Melissa Katsoulis, 2009. Introduced me to some interesting stories I didn’t know, but not great.
  • The End of Nature – Bill McKibben, 1989 – quotes pulled, review tdb
  • The Beautiful and Damned – F. Scott Fitzgerald, 1922 – quotes pulled, review tdb
  • The Testament of Mary – Colm Tóibín, 2012 – Read for Irish Writers group, which I wasn’t able to attend. This is the 3rd Tóibín I’ve read (all for book groups) and I am just not a fan, at all. At least this was short, and the viewpoint/topic (Mary telling the Jesus story from her point of view) interesting but not as much as I’d hoped.
  • One Train Later: A Memoir – Andy Summers, 2006. The Police were the first band I really, really loved and dove into deeply; my younger self would have relished this in a way I can’t quite. Writing’s not so good, but the part that covers the origin and rise of the band is compelling. A really abrupt ending: the hours before a 1983 concert in Bridgehampton are sprinkled throughout as intros to the chapters, and then the afterword is basically “so, we broke up, and I’m still not feeling closure.” Which I hope the reunion tour in 2007-2008 provided.
  • A Christmas Carol – Charles Dickens, 1843 – Never ever gets old in my eyes.
  • The Wolves of Willoughby Chase – Joan Aiken, 1962 – I saw the description of this so many times in the back of Puffin paperbacks from the ’60s and ’70s that it’s hard to believe I never read it; I think I tried it from the library at least once but I didn’t have much of a taste for gothic as a child. What finally got me to try again was Captain Awkward mentioning it as a favorite. Enjoyed it quite a bit but didn’t love love it. – Edited to add: I pulled out a bunch of the Puffins I still have and found what may be the blurb I was thinking of, which is actually for Night Birds on Nantucket and just mentions Wolves:

    Many years ago, late in the middle watch of a calm winter’s night, a square-rigged, three masted ship, the Sarah Casket, was making her way slowly through northern seas. And on the deck a child lay sleeping in a wooden box, so still and pale that she seemed more like a wax doll than a human being. It was Dido Twite, and she had been asleep for more than ten months. (Dido was missing, presumed dead, at the end of Black Hearts in Battersea).
    Suddenly the lookout yelled from the crosstrees, ‘Whale-o! Dead ahead, not more’n a mile,’ and Dido woke at last, only to find that she was aboard one of the strangest vessels that ever sailed the seas.
    This is Joan Aiken’s third fantasy (the first was The Wolves of Willoughby Chase) and it is as deliciously outrageous as ever. Warmly recommended for readers of ten and over.

    It’s in the back of Doctor Dolittle and the Secret Lake, one of my all-time favorites, so it makes sense I would have read it many times. I found it compelling but creepy enough that I didn’t particularly seek to read the book. Now I’m intrigued!

  • A World Made by Hand – James Howard Kunstler, 2009 – The “mantasy” aspect has been widely criticized, but I was willing to overlook that for the sake of a good entry in one of my favorite genres (has dropped through the ranks but still in the top 10), post-apocalyptic fiction. But the world outlined here makes no sense. As an insightful reviewer asked, “If everyone is still around, why can’t some of the electrical infrastructure be rebuilt? If almost everybody is dead, why are they making their own shoes instead of scavenging?” Same with the power dynamics. Disappointing.
  • Sister Age – M.F.K. Fisher, 1985 – The beginning, about a weird portrait on leather of the unknown Ursula Van Ott that Fisher bought in a Swiss antiques store, is gripping, as are the memoir pieces. The short stories… not so much, alas, even the ones that center on food.
  • Le Petit Prince – Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, 1943 – Re-read of course, on New Year’s Eve while trying to stay awake until midnight, so the last book of the year!

I probably missed a few, but if my monthly posts are accurate I read 99 books this year. I have posts to write for most of the book group books, some of which are still hanging around full of post-it flags of quotes to pull. So I’ll be either back-dating a lot of posts or giving up on that part of this blog as being too ambitious. I’m happy I’ve stuck with the monthly lists though!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.