Old(er) Ladies

I’ll turn 50 at the end of this year, and maybe that’s why I’ve been drawn to novels with older protagonists. Or maybe it’s pure chance that I read one featuring a 68-year-old woman and (most of) one featuring an 85-year-old back to back. I can’t say that the WASPy, gun-toting PI of Peter Heller’s Celine is exactly someone I aspire to be, both she and the former ad-woman in Kathleen Rooney’s Lillian Boxfish Takes a Walk refuse to fade quietly into the background as they age–they’re right there in the titles!–and that’s something to emulate. Come to think of it, maybe just at this moment I needed to read about older women refusing to fit in the boxes society built for them and if not triumphing, surviving and insisting on being themselves. Continue reading

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Recent Reading: Memoir and Poetry

I’m not going to do any of these books justice, but if I’m going to blog regularly I’m going to have to plow ahead without worrying too much about that. (And, I’m sorry to say, without editing my posts).


Nell Stevens, Bleaker House: Chasing My Novel to the End of the World:  I love Dickens’ Bleak House, which featured largely in my PhD dissertation, so how could I not read a book with this title? As part of her MFA program, Stevens had an international fellowship allowing her to spend 3 months anywhere in the world. To the horror of her family and friends, she chose Bleaker Island in the Falklands, which lives up to its name in her descriptions. For a few weeks, she’s the only human resident. Stevens packs up her laptop, a copy of Bleak House, and all the food she’ll need for her stay (strictly limited by weight), and sets off to see if she can write a novel. She doesn’t, or at least not a good one. Instead, out of the wreckage, she later produced Bleaker House, woven together from her Falklands notebooks, bits of the failed novel, and a few short stories.  Continue reading

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I Actually Read Some Romance!

The word that describes my reading lately is “scattered.” I didn’t read a lot while I was grading final papers (but I did read a couple of romances that I’ll write about here). When I finished grading, almost two weeks ago, I had a backlog of library books and couldn’t quite figure out how to start. So I’ve got way too many books on the go. My goal for next week is to organize my “summer”–I have a harder time setting work goals and structuring my time when I’m not teaching–and that includes settling down to more focused reading and making time for blogging regularly.

The pair of Harlequin romances I blasted through at the end of long days of grading reminded me of what I love about category romance: short, escapist (the quick read providing a needed sense of “accomplishment”) but with real emotional issues at their heart. I wasn’t the most attentive reader on those evenings, and some details are vague to me now, but here’s what stuck:  Continue reading

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Reading List

I’m about to enter a spell where my main reading will be student research papers–the end of term marking often leaves me with little energy for fun reading. But I squeezed in another book first, so I thought I’d squeeze in another blog post.

My favorite book podcasts are those where a couple of people chat about what they just read/are reading/may read next (current favorites: The Readers, Book Cougars, and Reading Envy). I don’t even care if I get ideas for books to try–I’m just nosy about what books people choose and why and how they feel about them. So that inspired today’s post. Continue reading

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Enchanted Islands, by Allison Amend

enchanted islandsI think I learned about Allison Amend’s Enchanted Islands from the Tournament of Books longlist. The cover images of exotic flora and fauna caught my eye, and when I saw it was about a couple who go to the Galápagos as spies just before the outbreak of WWII, I was sold. A spy story–and a marriage of convenience, because their marriage is cover–in an exotic locale seemed like just the book for a hard winter. By the time my library copy arrived, it was spring, and the novel isn’t exactly what I expected either, but it was good. Continue reading

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