Monthly Archives: January 2019

Four books at once

Since the first of the year I’ve been reading 4 different books — each for a different purpose and sometimes in a different place in the house.

Book Group:

The Sympathizer by  Viet Thanh Nguyen

For book group I am reading Viet Thanh Nguyen’s 2016 Pulitzer Prize winning book The Sympathizer. I’ve known we were reading this for months and started and stopped many times during those months. I finally had to keep going because book group is on the 24th of this month.

I don’t like it much, although there are parts that I find interesting. I think the biggest problem is that I know very little about the Viet Nam war and the book is about the Viet Nam war, its aftermath, the refugees, the Viet Cong, etc.

I’ll keep going, finish it and put it behind me. Often when I read about something I knew little about I’ve been compelled to learn more, but not with this book, although I might watch the Ken Burns’ series about the Viet Nam war.

I am reading this on my Kindle or Kindle app whenever I get a chance.

Owned, unread hard-copy book:

Points of View: An Anthology of Short Stories edited by James Moffett & Kenneth R. McElheny

I picked this out to read sometime late last year because I didn’t have the energy to devote to a novel. I’m enjoying it — skipping the stories I have already read. I was surprised to really enjoy a longish short story by Henry James called “A Bundle of Letters”.

I am only reading this in the living room on the couch and usually onlywhen I wake up in the middle of the night and don’t want to use a device that might mess up my sleep even more.

Owned, unread eBook: Chocolat by Joanne Harris

I bought this years ago when someone in book group chose Peaches for Father Francis, the third book in the Chocolat series. I’d hoped to read Chocolat and The Girl with no Shadow before Peaches for Father Francis so I was up to date on everything with Vianne and Anouk. I ended up finishing none of them.

This is my fun read right now. Enjoying this book immensely. I’ve seen the film several times and love it more each time I see it.

I am reading this in bed before I fall asleep on an old Nook after my other book obligations have been met.

Year-long challenge: The Books of Earthsea by Ursula K. Le Guin

I mistakenly asked Clare for an illustrated copy of Ursula Le Guin’s Earthsea books, thinking I’d finally read books that I’d meant to read years ago and she obliged. The book weighs a lot and holding it, even for the three pages a day that I decided would get me through all 1008 pages, is a chore.

It took a couple chapters, but I can now say I am getting into the book although as it turns out that the book I’d been meaning to read by Le Guin was The Left Hand of Darkness.

Oh well, three pages a day is nothing — and I am building up my arm muscles in the process.

I am only reading this when I sit on the couch in the living room, usually while I drink my coffee in the morning.

Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris

This book has a little history for me. Clare read it in high school as a project — they were to read a book from a list of books and write an essay explaining why the book they read should be put in a time capsule to explain to future generations what this generation was like.

I’d never heard of David Sedaris when she was reading this (must have missed his name when he did his segments on NPR or something) and when she told me the name of the book I was appalled. Making fun of people who cannot talk well? What on earth was her English teacher thinking? Clare assured me it was not making fun of anyone with a lisp or stutter, but didn’t explain any more.

I finally discovered David Sedaris and have read several of his books, and love hearing him on NPR whenever I catch him. This was great — slightly dated, but great.

He comes to this area quite a bit (we were going to see him a few months ago but regretfully changed our minds at the last moment) and I have always planned on telling him the story about Clare reading his book and my reaction when he signs a book for me someday. He might get a kick out of it.