. . . and the trouble it gets you into.
Ana Coqui is doing weekly #RomBkLove prompts on Twitter, and this week’s is about summer reading. (I’m grateful to Ana for starting this because I have enjoyed having more book talk in my Twitter feed again). I responded that summer is when I have the time and energy for longer, more complex books and reading projects. It’s during the school year that I’m more likely to need the break of “beach reads.”
And that project reading is the trouble I’m in.
I’d resolved to read TBR only for the rest of the summer, but then I mentioned in my #RomBkLove tweet that last year I’d read some of the Man Booker longlist–I thought I might read the whole thing, but because work ramps up with a vengeance in late August, that proved too much. Rosario, who usually reads some, asked me if I was going to try again. And I am, because this year’s list, announced last week, looks pretty interesting. So far I have read zero and own one (Colson Whitehead’s Underground Railroad on audio). Now I have ordered four from Book Depository and requested the rest from my library. See? Trouble.
This could spell disaster for my other summer reading project, Summer of Lymond 2. I got about 1/4 of the way through Dorothy Dunnett’s Queen’s Play on vacation. So there are still 300 pages of that left to go. . . . I feel a little over-burdened now. But I am reminding myself that all of this is For Fun. If I’m not enjoying a Man Booker reading, I can quit. (That’s easy for the library books. And the ones I bought can join the ones I didn’t read from last year on my poor ignored TBR).
What Else I Read on Vacation (Not As Much As I Wanted/Planned!)
Without You There Is No Us, by Suki Kim Kim spent about 6 months in North Korea teaching English to the sons of the elite at PUST, a university funded and largely staffed by Western Evangelical Christians. She had reported from North Korea before and was essentially undercover during her time at PUST. A Korean-American, Kim had relatives in both her parents’ families who were trapped in the North during the war and never heard from again. She reflects on this history and what it means to her as well as the lives of her students–which remain largely opaque to her, despite how close she is to them in some ways. It’s a fascinating read and especially thoughtful on the paranoia and protective lying fostered by life in a totalitarian society. Not only can Kim not really know her students, can they ever know or trust each other?
Heaven’s Queen, by Rachel Bach This is the third in Bach’s Paradox space opera trilogy, and made great plane reading as it’s action-oriented. It has been a couple of years since I read Book 2, and while the Save the World plot came back to me well enough to be swept along in the big denouement, I think I would have been more engaged in the human stakes and the resolution of the romance plot if I’d remembered details about past events better. It was still a fun end to an enjoyable series, with a kick-ass mercenary soldier heroine who has to grapple with moral decisions and find a way foward other than ass-kicking (though there’s plenty of well-written action, too).
About Those Man Booker Books
The ones I would probably have read anyway:
- Zadie Smith, Swing Time
- Colson Whitehead, Underground Railroad
- George Saunders, Lincoln in the Bardo
The one I’d never heard of that I’m most interested in:
- Fiona Mozley, Elmet sometimes the best thing about prize lists are the quirky books that you wouldn’t otherwise discover/read (Paul Kingsnorth’s The Wake was that book a few years ago). This a debut novel that Mozley wrote while in a PhD program.
The ones I am least likely to get to:
- Sebastian Barry, Days Without End Cross-dressing Irishmen in 19th century America who adopt a Sioux girl, the horrors of war. One problem with these lists for me is that the books are often pretty dark. (I haven’t read Barry before and the fact that he writes about people in these same two families in multiple books is intriguing).
- Paul Auster, 4 3 2 1 Because it’s like 800 pages. Doubtful.
The one I thought I wasn’t going to read until Frances of the Shadow (Wo)man Booker Panel bloggers said it was her favorite so far:
I’ll report as I go and look forward to seeing what other longlist readers have to say. The best thing about a project like this is following the conversation. And I hope to have something to say about Lymond 2 soon as well. I’d better get reading!