June 2022 books read

  • The Future We Choose: Surviving the Climate Crisis (alternate subtitle: The Stubborn Optimist’s Guide to the Climate Crisis) – Christiana Figueres and Tom Rivett-Carnac, 2020. For Nature & Environment. I thought I had marked quotes, but apparently not? It was as encouraging as a climate change book can be and still be realistic… sigh.
  • Mary’s Neck – Booth Tarkington, 1932. A Jonathan recommendation I loved discussing with him. It’s the tale of a Midwestern family who try to join the in-crowd at a summer resort in Maine. Lots of humor that builds over the episodes, with recurring characters whose foibles create suspense as you wonder what social disaster will ensue this time. I probably wouldn’t read it again but I’m glad I checked it out.
  • The Letter of the Law – Carole Berry, 1987. I love books set in workplaces, and Jonathan recommended this Bonnie Indermill series because she’s in a different environment each time. This is the first, featuring a law firm. I did finish it but it wasn’t very satisfactory – it felt like there was no there there, with not enough humor and a boring mystery.
  • Scarred: The True Story of How I Escaped NXIVM, the Cult That Bound My Life – Sarah Edmondson, 2019. I picked this up after listening to part of an episode of the A Little Bit Culty episode. I’m intrigued by cults in general and had heard a bit about NXIVM but haven’t watched the documentary (The Vow, HBO). NXIVM seems to be like Scientology in combining features of religion, self-help, and MLM. I did finish it, but it left me puzzled about why the cult was able to attract and keep so many people.
  • The Dutch House – Ann Patchett, 2019.
  • Les Misérables – Victor Hugo, 1862 (tr. Isabel F. Hapgood, 1887). I’m reading this slowly in French with the Amherst group but finished it fast in translation for Great Books, so will end up with two sets of quotes. In case I don’t get to this ever, giant plug for the amazing Les Misérables Reading Companion podcast, which I am enjoying alongside our weekly discussions. I wish there was something similar for more books, but it’s a tremendous amount of work. Thank you, Briana Lewis, for your labor of love! (I did kick in a donation to help cover the costs because it’s so great)
  • The Last Battle – C. S. Lewis, 1956. Re-read for #Narniathon21.
  • Leaving Mundania: Inside the Transformative World of Live Action Role-Playing Games – Lizzie Stark, 2012. I enjoyed this, and it would make me want to try LARPing if I had all the time in the world…

The Dutch House – Ann Patchett, 2019

Read for Second Monday book group. I loved it, not surprisingly as I find Patchett’s writing enchanting (although I threw Bel Canto across the room after reading it because I was so upset by the ending!).

  • “[My sister’s] hair was long and black and as thick as ten horse tails tied together. No amount of brushing ever made it look brushed.”
  • “The linden trees kept us from seeing anything except the linden trees.”
  • “To list the things I didn’t ask my father about would be to list the stars in heaven.”
  • “I thought of them as a single unit: Norma-and-Bright, like an advertising agency consisting of two small girls.”
  • Fluffy, prone to blushing: “This was a woman whose biology betrayed her at every turn. Emotions stormed across her face with a flag.”
  • “Fluffy, who had not stopped talking since I walked in the door, shut down like a mechanical horse in need of another nickel.”
  • “When she walked away, she turned back to look at me so many times she appeared to be going up the sidewalk in a loose series of concentric circles.”
  • “‘You’re picking the woman you like the best from a group of women you don’t like,’ Maeve said. “Your control group is fundamentally flawed.'”
  • “She had so much energy. I had forgotten the way she was in the morning, like each new day came in on a wave she had managed to catch.”
  • “Her wrist looked like ten pencils bundled together.”
  • “Though I had been a doctor for only a short time, I knew the havoc the well could unleash upon the sick.”
  • “Men leave their children all the time and the world celebrates them for it. The Buddha left and Odysseus left and no one gave a shit about their sons. They set out on their noble journeys to do whatever the hell they wanted to do and thousands of years later we’re still singing about it.”