October 2023 books read

  • Record of a Spaceborn Few – Becky Chambers, 2018. Number 3 in the Wayfarers quadrilogy, the one I accidentally skipped. I really like this one as well, but they do start to blur a bit. The focus on funeral rites was very interesting.
  • Small Things Like These – Claire Keegan, 2021. Quotes pulled, TBD.
  • Project Hail Mary – Andy Weir, 2021. My sister loved it and recommended it, and it did not disappoint. A very similar tone to The Martian but on a bigger scale. Unputdownable, and the ending was satisfying and touching. In the cold light of day I don’t 100% buy the way the alien encounter evolves, but Weir’s narrative drags you along pell-mell.
  • Black Boy – Richard Wright, 1945. But the edition I had didn’t include the second part, so I need to finish it. Quotes pulled, TBD.
  • The Brilliant Abyss – Helen Scales, 2021. Quotes pulled, TBD.
  • Great Short Books – Kenneth C. Davis, 2022. I love books about books, and this seemed especially helpful for my Great Books group. We’ve read a lot of doorstops and people are thrilled when one of our titles is short! I added a few to the suggestion list. A mildly enjoyable read – a bit too much of a survey (for each title, there was a bio of the author, a description/review, and a list of other books by them) without much personality.
  • You Only Live Twice – Ian Fleming, 1964. Read for the Massachusetts Center for the Book October challenge, “A bestseller from the year you turned 18” – oh no, I screwed up! This was a bestseller from the year I was born! It sure seemed like a challenge to pick one…. I turned in my submission without realizing I did it wrong, so here’s my description: “The first James Bond novel I’ve read – much stranger and less of a typical thriller than I expected. I’m not sure how accurate the Japanese setting is, but the garden of poisonous plants is fascinating.”
  • How to Be Perfect: the Correct Answer to Every Moral Question – Michael Schur, 2022. I learned about this book from a profile in Harvard Magazine, and since I loved The Good Place I requested it from the library. It’s quite good – the humor seldom landed for me, but the philosophical review seemed good as a lay person. I wish I could have talked about it with my dad.
  • Dorp Dead – Julia Cunningham, 1965. The creepy cover of this book drew me in as a child when I was reading my way through the public library, and I checked it out a couple of times. I haven’t seen it since and didn’t remember much about it except that it was strange and scary. Re-reading it as an adult – hoo boy, I cannot believe this was on the middle-grade fiction shelves between Susan Cooper and Roald Dahl, although those can be scary in their own ways. Dorp Dead is super-dark and twisted, but also feels like it’s 90 degrees from a traditional story. Still unsettling after all these years. I remember being equally fascinated and mystified by her other title on the shelves at the 79th St. library, Burnish Me Bright. I see it’s illustrated by Don Freeman, author of one of my all-time favorites, the heart-warming picture book Norman the Doorman (as well as Corduroy, Dandelion, and Tilly Witch), which must have added to my confusion. I’d love to re-read that too, and now I wonder what her other books are like.
  • In Love: A Memoir of Love and Loss – Amy Bloom, 2022. I heard Bloom read an excerpt on This American Life and I was mesmerized. It’s amazing.
  • There Is No Good Card for This: What To Say and Do When Life Is Scary, Awful, and Unfair to People You Love – Kelsey Crowe and Emily McDowell, 2017. I had some extra time in downtown Amherst and spent a very enjoyable half an hour browsing the Jones Library shelves. This impulse pick-up was bite-sized encouragement with colorful illustrations.

Short stories

Calmgrove’s #LoveHain is finishing up with Ursula K. Le Guin’s stories in the Hainish cycle, October focusing on A Fisherman of the Inland Sea. I don’t have that book but the Library of America boxed set has the Hainish stories from it: “The Shobies’ Story,” “Dancing to Ganam,” and “Another Story.” I left a comment on the blog.