April 2019 books read

  • We Need to Talk About Kevin – Lionel Shriver, 2003. Quotes pulled, post tbd.
  • The Aeneid – Virgil, 19 BCE; Robert Fitzgerald translation, 1983. Quotes pulled, post tbd.
  • The Uncommercial Traveller – Charles Dickens, 1869. I read this on my phone over the course of about a year and a half, continuing in my Dickens/phone tradition. A mish-mosh of essays, which worked well to read in fragments (I’ve since started Our Mutual Friend and I’ve already forgotten who’s who!)—some sentimental, some funny, some perceptive.
  • The Bullet Journal Method: Track the Past, Order the Present, Design the Future – Ryder Carroll, 2018. I enjoyed it very much and might try the method at some point—probably not before I retire. It sounds like a lot of work to ramp up but potentially rewarding. Currently I use very small notebooks (no spine) that fit in my purse, just for running notes, and plan/list separately; I can see the advantage of combining them.
  • Trace: Memory, History, Race, and the American Landscape – Lauret Savoy, 2015.
  • The Islandman – Tomas O’Crohan, 1929; Robin Flower translation, 1937.
  • Skippy Dies – Paul Murray, 2010. Quotes pulled, post tbd.
  • Assassin’s Apprentice – Robin Hobb, 1995. I saw rave reviews and I’m glad I read it—will go on to the next in the series eventually. Wonderful dog characters.

The Islandman – Tomas O’Crohan, 1929; Robin Flower translation, 1937

Irish Writers Book Group selection, a bonus on top of Skippy Dies because the copies came in late.  A sort-of memoir of life on the Blaskets, islands off the coast of Ireland, by a farmer-turned-writer born in 1856. Mildly interesting but weirdly detached and full of gaps (he marries and has 10 children, but only one sentence about his family, after a child dies). This Irish Times review sums up the tedium by calling him a “Blasket bore.” The funniest/strangest strand is about his nemesis, a poet who keeps interrupting his farming to declaim his verse for hours and insist that O’Crohan write it down. Bonus: people are always sticking their hands “under their oxters” (armpits).

Trace: Memory, History, Race, and the American Landscape – Lauret Savoy, 2015

Nature and Environment book group selection. I very much enjoyed most of it—it’s a little scattered—but I didn’t have my post-it flags with me as I read it (note to self about how important that is) so didn’t mark my usual notable passages. The prologue haunted me throughout: Savoy (who teaches at Mount Holyoke, so is local) stands on the ice of a pond, reflecting how it captures time: “The recent past lies beneath me in these marcescent leaves, plucked and blown here by January’s heavy winds. Inches away, they are out of reach.” Her rootedness in/exile from California, her love of place names, her perspective as a person of color on the land ethic (fascinating take on Aldo Leopold)… I would like to read it again!