Tag: reading

My week in books

I’m in the midst of the same books I’ve been reading, so I don’t have a lot to report on the book front for this week for the weekly “Sunday Salon”.

First a little bit about when I read and how (playing off my brother’s post from last week). I read any hardcopy books during the day and books on my Kindle I read mainly at night so I can use the backlight on the Kindle, but not use the way-too-bright book light I bought on Amazon for my hardcopy books. So, I usually have at least two books going at a time – one hardcopy and one Kindle.

This week I’m reading the fourth book in The Cat Who series (The Cat Who Saw Red) on the Kindle and the fifth book in the Mitford series by Jan Karon in hardcopy version. I could have bought the Jan Karon book on the Kindle, but it was $5 more on Kindle than a paperback and I got stingy and bought a used copy of it online instead. I bought that used copy and then realized I actually had a copy of the book in my collection so I didn’t need to buy it after all. Oops. Now I have two copies.

I read the Mitford series years ago – or so I thought. It turns out I missed a few books so I’m going back and rereading them. Book 5, ‘A New Song’ takes place on White Cap Island, which is obviously not the main character’s hometown of Mitford. Actually, Mitford isn’t Father Tim’s hometown, but it’s where he’s lived for 16 years since becoming the parish priest of the local Episcopal Church.

If you haven’t already guessed, or don’t know about the Mitford series, the books follow the everyday life of Father Tim Kavanaugh and the characters he meets, adopts, or has becomes friends within the small North Carolina town of Mitford. I can relate to these books because my mom is originally from North Carolina and she is even familiar with some of the towns mentioned in the book, except for Mitford, which is fictional. Plus I live in a small town and some of the characters in the fictional Mitford remind me of real-life characters in the small town I grew up in.

Almost all of the books in the series take place in or around Mitford, with exception of A New Song and A Home to Holly Springs (when Father Tim returns to his hometown). In A New Song, Father Tim has retired from his parish in Mitford and has been assigned, temporarily, to a church on an island, so we are introduced to an entirely new cast of characters, while also hearing from the old ones.

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I won’t mention too many other characters other than Father Tim or I’ll spoil some of the books for you. If you’re looking for something hard hitting, you won’t find it in these books. They do feature some tough moments, some moments that will bring tears of sadness to your eyes, and maybe a cringe or two from the seriousness of the subject, but for the most part, you’ll take a peaceful walk with Father Tim, with a bit of drama thrown in from time to time. In other words, you’ll laugh, you’ll cry…etc., etc. You get the drift. I find I run to Mitford when the rest of the world seems to be crashing down around me. It’s a great, often light-hearted escape (unless Mrs. Karon decides to kill off a favorite character or two and then I end up bawling about how her books are too stinking real and life sucks and hand me the chocolate ice cream already!)

The Cat Who books by Lillian Jackson Braun are similarly fairly light, but are mysteries. As I’ve mentioned before, the books follow Jim Qwilleran and his two Siamese cats Koko and Yum Yum. Koko is mysteriously brilliant for a cat and always seems to help Qwill, as he is called affectionately throughout the book, solve mysteries that Qwill shouldn’t even be involved in. Braun refers to Qwilleran as Qwilleran throughout the books. He’s a newspaper reporter who often gets assigned the lame beats, like fashion or cuisine, or something else he deems as beneath him because his start was in the crime departments of bigger newspapers than where he is working now.

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I can relate to the Cat Who books for a couple of reasons. First, Qwill is a newspaper reporter, which I was for 14 years and my husband still is. Second, Qwill is in his mid-40s and I’m almost in my mid-40s. Braun does seem to describe him a little too often as graying and old, which reminds me I’m graying and old, but Qwill’s quirky cats and personality make up for that for me.

So how about you? What are you currently reading this week? Want to see what others are reading this week? Then join Readerbuzz’s Sunday Salon, Or Caffeinated Book Reviewer, where other readers (most of them really cool book bloggers, unlike this blogger who is sort of a “whatever blogger) and if you want, add your own post about what you are reading, watching, doing, thinking, eating, or whatevering this week.

For those of us who celebrate Easter – I leave with you one of my favorite Easter songs, adaptly titled “The Easter Song” by Keith Green.

 

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There are a few bad things about getting back into reading

In the last several months I’ve cut way back on social media and found myself very lonely. The loneliness sometimes leads to depression, which isn’t good, but what is good is the fact I’m now back into reading and writing.

I find I now look forward to bedtime, not because I have time to mindlessly scroll through social media without feeling guilty that I should be spending time with my family instead, or not because my old age makes me want to sleep more. Now I look forward to bedtime because I can escape into a good book before sleep. In fact, thanks to the diminutive appearance of my Kindle I can escape into a good book almost anywhere.

I can not tell a lie – I feel a bit of a rush of rebellion when I stay up late with a book and I know it’s because of all the nights I spent with my head under the covers with a flashlight so Mom wouldn’t catch me up reading pass my bedtime. To this day I still feel the urge to pull the covers up over my head when reading a book after midnight. I realize I probably need therapy. My mom wasn’t against reading, in fact she read so much it’s probably why I have a love for it, but she was against me being very tired for school the next day because I had been up too late reading.

 

Rekindling (pun intended) my love for reading is almost entirely a good thing. Still, it does have its’ drawbacks.

First, there is the fact I often stay up too late when I’m caught up in a good book and pay for it the next day when grogginess causes me to forget to turn on the stove to cook dinner or that I put the dog out an hour ago. Much to my chagrin, I have to admit my mom was right about that needing sleep thing.

Then there is the fact reading, much like blogging and writing short stories, is yet another way for me to procrastinate cleaning the house, folding laundry, loading the dishwasher or feeding my children. Why are kids always so hungry anyhow?

Another drawback to returning to the love of reading is the reminder of how stupid I really am because I have to keep highlighting words in the Kindle dictionary to learn the meaning of them. Truthfully, I could skip the word and keep going but since that nifty dictionary feature is already built into the Kindle it seems a shame to let it go to waste the same way I apparently let my brain go to waste.

Then there is the drawback to being able to look up words with the tap and slide of a finger: realizing you’re not only stupid for not knowing words but also because you keep trying to tap and highlight words when you are reading an actual, hard copy of a book.

Yet another drawback is when a book either is too exciting or jumps the shark and leaves me laying there in the dark all pissed off, tossing and turning, fuming, writing letters of disgust in my head to the writer. I was recently in the midst of a very well written Christian fiction book when it went off the rails into fantasy territory and I was left all theologically pissed off because miracles don’t happen like that in real life. So there I laid lost in deep thoughts about why we don’t see miracles today, instead of accepting that it’s JUST A BOOK! Hello! I decided then I needed to read less theological books before bed, instead focusing on books like The Cat Who… books or The Mitford series.

Despite the disadvantages to becoming a voracious reader again, I’m glad to have a way to escape from both the mundane boredom of my own life and the insanely, way too exciting events of the world around me. Currently, I’m switching between a Cat Who book by Lillian Jackson Braum ( a series of books about a newspaper reporter and his crime-solving Siamese cats) and the fifth book of the Mitford series by Jan Karon.

How about you? In the midst of any books you are using to avoid the responsibilities of life?
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To read more from some readers who read more and write more about what they read, you can click over to Readerbuzz’s Sunday Salon on her blog, or on Facebook.

Wrestlers, degenerate reporters and a president on this week’s reading list

This post is part of the Sunday Salon, which is a group of bloggers who join together one day of the week to share what they’re reading, watching or simply what’s up in their life, although it’s mainly about what they are reading.

I’m finally finishing some books I started months ago and either wandered away from when a new and shiny book caught my attention (squirrel!) or simply filed away in the Kindle because it didn’t hold my interest.

shawnFirst up this week to finish was something I don’t normally read – the autobiography of a professional wrestler. Shawn Michaels, also known as the Heartbreak Kid, or by his real name of Michael Shawn Hickenbottom (no, really, that’s his real, non-showbiz name), wrote this second autobiography, “Wrestling for my Life: the Legend, The Reality, and The Faith of a WWE Superstar” several years after his first (that’s what you write when you’re too lazy to look up the date of his first autobiography)  and after becoming a Christian.

The book goes into some detail about how Michaels got his start as a wrestler, but not as much as a first autobiography would. Instead, this book is more about how his faith changed him and became the focal point of his life, seeping into every pore of his being, including professionally.  He writes about his struggles to learn what it means to be a man of faith, the stumbling steps he took toward kicking an alcohol and pill addiction and becoming a better man for his devoted wife, a former wrestler herself, and his children.  This is definitely “light reading” but as a practicing Christian myself, I see a lot of depth in Michaels’ words about his Christian walk.

lincolnA book I’m still plowing through, but haven’t yet finished is The Last Trial of Lincoln, which is about – ummm – the last, um, trial, of Lincoln. Hence the name.

But seriously, it’s a book about the final trial Abraham Lincoln served on as defense attorney before running for president. The basic plot is that Lincoln is defending a young man accused of murdering another man during a knife attack. The question is if it was premeditated or accidental. Much of the book is seen through the eyes of scribe Robert Hitt, the real-life scribe to the trial, whose handwritten manuscript of the trial was discovered in 1989 and is the basis of the book.

The full name of the book is actually “Lincoln’s Last Trial: The Murder Case That Propelled Him to The Presidency.” The author is Dan Abrams, chief legal analyst for ABC News and the book is often as wordy as his book titles (according to Amazon his last book was titled, “Man Down: Proof Beyond A Reasonable Doubt That Women Are Better Cops, Drivers, Gamblers, Spies, World Leaders, Beer Tasters, Hedge Fund Managers, and Just About Everything Else.”)

The book is good, but it’s so chocked full of words and legal jargon and flashbacks that help to paint the picture of who Lincoln was as a lawyer, that I’m finding myself needing breaks from it to rest my poor, less-intellectual brain. I don’t want it to sound like the book is so deep it is unreadable, however, because it is actually entertaining. It’s simply that there are so many flashbacks that I am halfway through it and wondering if we will ever get to the end of the trial before the book ends. I’ll let you know if that happens or not.

A book I just started and read when I want something a little lighter, with quick to the point sentences, is the second book in the Fletch series, Carioca Fletch by Gregory McDonald. Technically, according to my husband, who really should be writing blog posts about books, this is not the “second” Fletch book but it is the book that follows the first book chronologically. In this book, Fletch is in Brazil, having escaped from his past adventure with his life and some money (I won’t spoil that book for you) and is confronted by an old woman who believes he is the reincarnation of her late husband, who was murdered. Now Fletch’s new Brazilian friends, if not Fletch himself, want Fletch to solve the murder and release the soul of the already deceased man.

Since I just started the book, I’m really not sure where it’s going to go but I have a feeling, based on the first Fletch book, it’s going to be a twisted tale where Fletch’s lack of empathy and humanity is going to be showing.

The people in it are pretty sad and without feeling so far, but for some reason, I can’t tear myself away, maybe because Fletch is a crooked journalist and I worked with a few of those during my time as a small town newspaper reporter at four newspapers in Pennsylvania and New York.

When I really need light reading, I turn to something very simple and lighthearted that doesn’t require any intellectual capability at all and for the past few months that has been the Paddington Bear series. Thank you, Michael Bond, for transporting me into a second childhood late at night when I’m trying to take my mind off of the screaming outside word. I’m currently on my third Paddington book – Paddington Abroad.

x400Writing this I am now realizing I’m, again, reading about a British bear, though the other book (Enchanted Places, the autobiography of Christopher Milne) wasn’t necessarily about the “bear” but the boy who was a friend of “the bear” (Winnie the Pooh). I guess there is something comforting to me about bears and the British, maybe because I still have the Teddybear I had as a child and … I have no idea about the British thing since I have no British family members.

So how about you? What are you reading this week? What’s inspiring you? What’s comforting you? What’s making you think?