Friday, June 10, 2016

June Reading Round-Up

I'm so excited that a) I feel well enough to write a reading round-up; and b) I am reading enough to have plenty to write about. One of the beauties of regaining some energy, post-chemo, is that I am both writing and reading again!

I am like a kid in a candy store when I go the library right now, or when I peruse books online (to put on hold at the library). I probably will not finish half of these, but it feels so good to have multiple books going again, per my usual reading habits. Right now, here's what I'm "reading at":

The Flight of the Century: Charles Lindbergh and the Rise of American Aviation by Thomas Kessner. It was inevitable that I'd pick up this book once it made its way into the house as D was prepping the sweet girl's 1920s history unit. Lindbergh, for all his controversy, has long been one of my favorite American figures to read about. In my college years, I became so fascinated with the Lindbergh family that I read the complete journals of Anne Morrow Lindbergh. I like Kessner's approach, which is to look at Lindbergh not just for his individual accomplishments but as part of the bigger picture of the growth of aviation in America.

Getting into Lindbergh again also made me turn to the chapter on aviator-writers in David McCullough's Brave Companions: Portraits in History. These are based on lectures and talks he's given over the years, so they don't go as in depth as a lot of McCullough's books.  But it was a good chapter nonetheless and made me think of a lot of the aviators whose time I spent company in during those years in my 20s when I was reading so much about that era.

As I turn my thoughts toward long term writing projects again, I am revisiting the idea I had years ago to write a book about several mostly 20th century women authors who excelled at writing family stories. Some of the writers I've been contemplating grouping together include Sydney Taylor, Elizabeth Enright, Eleanor Estes, Beverly Cleary, Madeleine L'Engle, and Jeanne Birdsall. I've had a special fascination with learning more about Elizabeth Enright, so I was happy to read her 1939 Newbery acceptance speech in Newbery Medal Books 1922-1955, which also included an autobiographical note she wrote around that time.

I'm also reading Mary Oliver's Rules for the Dance: A Handbook for Writing and Reading Metrical Verse. More on this one soon, as I think I will want to post some choice quotes.

I seem to be thinking a lot about books and authors I loved in my twenties. I was a big fan of Herman Wouk in those years (though I always, always! fought with his novel endings). I've been dipping into his recent memoir Sailor and Fiddler: Reflections of a 100-Year-Old Author.  This is a nice book for dipping because he is writing snippets and scenes more than a full autobiography. You can almost flip it open at random and read a few entertaining anecdotes.

At long last, I am finally reading Susan Wise Bauer's The Story of Science: From the Writings of Aristotle to the Big Bang Theory.  It's a good chronicle of science writing down through the ages, and may be a book I decide we need on our shelves for the sweet girl's high school years.

I am also meandering my way through a not very well written cozy mystery (which shall remain nameless). Although I love the portability of my Kindle, I have discovered I do not really enjoy reading long e-books (I love the Kindle for things like my daily Scripture readings, poetry, and checking in on social media). However, I've signed up for notifications from BookBub, and they do include free ebooks in some of their selections, so every now and then I give it a go.  Fluffy mysteries are fine e-book fare, but the more I read in the genre, the more I long for the golden years of mystery writing and for books with the literary punch of modern writers like P.D. James and Deborah Crombie. Cozies are cute and fun, but the writing in them seems awfully lazy. I used to think that was a quirk of one or two writers, but I'm beginning to think it's a mark of the genre. Part of the fun for me, when I read them, is that I get to think about how I would edit the stories and revise the writing.

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