July 2021 books read

  • Harding’s Luck and The House of Arden – E. Nesbit, 1909 and 1908. I was looking for comfort reading on my e-ink reader and realized I didn’t remember Harding’s Luck. I had actually never read it! Finding a new-to-me E. Nesbit, and realizing it was good – wow, that was a thrill. It’s actually a sequel to The House of Arden so I read them out of order, but they are self-contained stories. I had heard the word “Mouldiwarp” but didn’t realize it was from these. It’s a magical white mole, a typically-Nesbit cranky and cryptic mentor, but in Harding’s Luck we also get the Mouldierwarp and the Mouldiestwarp! Not quite as great as Five Children and It or The Phoenix and the Carpet, but wonderful. I look forward to re-reading these.
  • Home Made: A Story of Grief, Groceries, Showing Up—and What We Make When We Make Dinner – Liz Hauck, 2021. I loved this sort-of memoir of cooking and eating dinner weekly with the residents of a communal foster care home. Touching and compelling.
  • Periodic Tales: A Cultural History of the Elements, from Arsenic to Zinc – Hugh Aldersey-Williams, 2011 – quotes pulled, TBD
  • The Periodic Table – Primo Levi, 1975- quotes pulled, TBD
  • The Country Girls – Edna O’Brien, 1960 – quotes pulled, TBD
  • The Adventures of Pinocchio – Carlo Collodi, 1880. I re-read this because the Far Out Film group watched A.I. and then Mind Game, both of which have Pinocchio references, and I remembered it as being super-weird and dark, like the Mary Poppins books (as opposed to the movies).
  • In the Wet – Nevil Shute, 1953. Oh my. I remembered this was a strange Shute (one of my favorite good-but-bad or bad-but-good novelists). It’s centered around a future England where the Queen takes refuge in the colonies, and I’ve been watching The Crown and was reminded of it. The novel also continually raises and doesn’t answer the question “but WHY should this ordinary woman be assigned this arbitrarily powerful role?” But it’s full of crazy-bad stuff I had forgotten, like the mixed-race protagonist willingly adopting the N-word as his nickname (!?!??!!), and plural voting justified because “the people” were voting wrong.
  • Souls – Joanna Russ, 1982. Since I’ve been more-or-less keeping up with these lists, I see I’ve re-read this novella annually for at least the past three years. It captures something about the human condition in a way no other artwork does for me.
  • Anne of Green Gables – Lucy Maud Montgomery, 1908. I watched the first few episodes of Anne With an E with my dad and stepmom a few years ago. I have access to Netflix now so finished the first season, but its darkness (combined with that of Souls!) sent me back to the original, one of my ultimate comfort re-reads.